Ciaran Laval has a good follow-up post to that silly-ass ABC News story Iris ranted about yesterday, which breathlessly reported the non-news that female avatars bare more skin than male avatars. (Like, you know, in movies, TV shows, games, comics, etc. etc.) However, as Ciaran found (because he actually bothered to read it) the study the ABC report was based on is actually more interesting than ABC suggested (no surprise there). "One thing the researchers do seem to have discovered," Ciaran explains, "is that the preference of female avatars to show more skin is not necessarily related to sexualization of female avatars." For instance:
[The researchers] discovered that male avatars roleplaying Star Wars in Second Life were roughly revealing the same amount of skin as their counterparts in the movies, the same didn’t apply to female avatars in Second Life. Female avatars roleplaying Star Wars in Second Life reveal a lot more skin than their counterparts in the movies.
Read more analysis from Ciaran here. I strongly suspect most of this has to do with real life heterosexual males stripping down their female avatars to the bare essentials in an act that's both voyeuristic and narcisstic. In any case, the phenomenon definitely deserves more (and smarter) scrutiny.