Friday, February 15, 2013

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One Billion Rising Dance in Second Life Causes Controversy - But Shouldn't Detract from the Many Ways SL Can Better Support Victims of Rape & Violence

One Billion Rising Second Life

Yesterday there was a One Billion Rising dance party in Second Life, an official part of the larger real world movement raising awareness of violence against women, an absolutely worthy cause. Because the event description didn't mention anything about, say, raising donations for real world violence prevention organizations, or creating in-world support groups for victims, I didn't quite understand the overall purpose. That's absolutely not the fault of the SL organizers, because far as I can tell, the RL event is also described mainly or solely as a dance party. (See screengrab above.) In any case, the event's raised some controversy, perhaps best expressed by Chestnut Rau, and also Whiskey Day, who says this:

As a survivor of sexual violence I’m insulted, not comforted, by the image of women dancing to demand an end to violence. Demand an end by addressing the very root causes of violence against women or gender based violence and rape in any form. But that’s not a pretty picture, nor a nice PR package. And dancing for 20 minutes today doesn’t help me rise above the sexual violence. It’s simply not that easy.

That's all very true, though I suppose a One Billion Rising supporter would answer that it's not an either/or question. Indeed, according Honour McMillan, who attended the in-world event, she met real life survivors and their friends and relatives there too. This suggests an even more crucial point that I hope doesn't get missed in the controversy:

As I wrote earlier this week, Second Life has proven to be an effective platform for people suffering from real world trauma. In the case of survivors of rape and violence, that includes online support communities where these people and their supporters can come together in an immersively comforting space, and express themselves through the protection of pseudonymous avatars. This anonymity is particularly important for the victims of violence who may find it difficult to speak about their suffering otherwise, especially if they are still endangered by their abusers. There are a number of Second Life support groups for victims of domestic violence and rape, and talking with several women who use SL as a respite and resource, my strong impression is it's an essential part of their healing process. I hope that isn't forgotten in the controversy. And if some of them find this support by first attending a virtual dance party, that's just as well too.

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elizabeth (16)

to get support in the places where is needed most. in the home and the circle of acquaintances. where most violence against women occurs. then have to get sustained public approval and a willingness to change. on a massive societal level

these kinds of events are designed to help with this. they not just designed to raise awareness. we already aware. the objective is to help change attitudes. to help bring about a willingness to change

it don't matter if is a dance. a speech. or a silent vigil. or a convo between friends. they all help

Cat Boccaccio

I don't know... I am leery of so-called awareness campaigns (who isnt aware of breast cancer, for example? And what do promoters stand to gain?). But are people really aware of the extent of violence against women globally? From conversations I had, many were not. Dancing of course is not enough, and several of my friends asked how to make a donation inworld. I thought OBR Second Life was quite clear that donations should be made to local protective services in RL. From what I saw, a lot of people put a great deal of time and effort into this event for no other reasons than trying to improve conditions for women and girls.

Daniel Voyager

Check out my snapshots of One Billion Rising in SL 2013. I really enjoyed the event and i'm glad many people attended during the 24 hours set for this event.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/danielvoyager/sets/72157632759100984/

My blog coverage of the event can be found on my > http://danielvoyager.wordpress.com/

GoSpeed Racer

Don't you just hate it when the "cool kids" of SL decide something is not agreeable to their world view. Then people pick up on this and make it a big deal. It's not a big deal. Their opinions in the grand scheme of things don't mean diddly-squat. (I always challenge someone who rants about some sort of "injustice" in SL to tell a family member, coworker, or even a stranger off the street about what happened to you. Ask them what sort of reaction they think they'll get.)
At worst these people generate bad feelings and negative press and spoil whatever good was coming out of it. If you demand perfection or want the world to totally agree with you then you only wind up making things worse, especially for yourself.

Dartagan Shepherd

"As I wrote earlier this week, Second Life has proven to be an effective platform for people suffering from real world trauma."

I think much more care needs to be taken with statements like this.

Nothing has been "proven" in the sense of medical research and adoption by professionals of SL as a tool.

You're lumping lots of things together.

For instance, visualization and healing has been in use for centuries. Is it SL, or is it that it's another visualization tool that may work for some? Is it a better visualization tool than other techniques?

You say that it's the anonymous nature of SL that helps these issues with women and yes that's true, although anonymous hotlines and therapy have been available for quite some time. And sometimes "coming out" to others in RL but non anonymous setting has better potential to heal.

Would AA and other substance abuse healing groups be as effective in SL? Most likely not, it needs that RL non-anonymous interaction for many people and spending hours in front of a computer would not be helping many of them.

Many good efforts in healing, improving life and causes are done within SL that can attributed not so much to SL as to what happens in many large communities both online and in RL.

It's a community thing, a people thing, not an exclusive SL thing.

Wherever people come together, there are good people who will help people.

Also remember that many events outside of SL have much further reach than SL, such as Relay for Life and possibly this particular event.

Again, healing techniques, the awe-insipiring selfless acts of people when they get together anywhere to help others ... these are not exclusive to SL.

When you say "proven", you really should back that up with not only proper medical research on the subject, but also point to its adoption by professionals in the medical community.

The general community in SL is capable of doing a great deal of good for causes.

But again, unless you've got proof in the form of research and adoption by professionals that a virtual world is the primary cause? ... It's a people and community and medical and theraputic thing, not a software platform thing. And it happens in every large community.

Context in the wider world, people and professionals are important as to not do a disservice to the rest of the world. Nothing in SL is an isolated effect on humanity and is in fact a smaller mirror of a wider world.

A huge credit to the people in SL, and a credit to good works of humanity in general. But care not to overstate the true vehicle of change and the reality of professionals.

Amanda Dallin

"Context in the wider world, people and professionals are important as to not do a disservice to the rest of the world. Nothing in SL is an isolated effect on humanity and is in fact a smaller mirror of a wider world."

This could be said of any tool including support groups such as AA. That doesn't diminish their or SL's effectiveness in improving people's lives.

Nothing works in a vacuum.

Maya Paris

The women and men of Iran, Pakistan, Congo, Bhutan, India, Somalia, Nepal, Bangladesh, Lebanon and Afghanistan (to name just a few) who organised, started education programmes, sent petitions to local and national government, created support communities and THEN danced as part of One Billion Rising, some at considerable risk to their lives, would disagree. The SL event provided information and filled 4 sims to capacity for 24 hours. I was proud to be part of it and stand alongside them. Next time you choose to cover such an event I'd suggest you extend your research.

http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2013/02/16/289230/somali-women-mark-one-billion-rising/

Archangel Mortenwold

I see several problems with such public events in general, but I'll restrict my comment here to three off the top of my head:

1.) As pointed out, while the event may help raise awareness of the problem — in this case, the horrid abuse such a huge fraction of the world's human population has to endure on a daily basis — what does it do to actually help solve it? Were there speeches or announcements of the root causes of violence and what can be done to end it? Or was it merely just an excuse for survivors and their friends to "dance" a little while?

2.) As a means of reaching the maximum number of persons, were enough people drawn to the event in such a way as it met its ostensible goal? How much preparation went into the event, and was the process an open one? I can't speak for anyone else, but I didn't even know about it until I read about it here. I sure as heck didn't learn of it through the groups I'm in, including the IFT Sci-Fi Alliance and Green Lantern Core. Events require planning well in advance in order to reach the maximum number of people. This one doesn't seem to have engaged in much of that. Maybe I'm wrong, and I hope I am.

3.) Taking both of the above together, what lessons may be learned so that future events can do more? If money is to be raised, to which organizations would donations go, and how would those organizations use that money? Many charitable organizations, such as those raising awareness about breast cancer, spend more of the donations on raising awareness and on covering the cost of events than on actual research into finding the causes and cures for breast cancer. What controls are in place that would make future events more than mere exercises in feel-good do-nothingism?

I don't mean to come off too harshly. I'm sure the organizers of this event put a lot of their time and effort into it, and the problem of domestic violence, against both women and men, young and old, is a very serious one indeed that must have a viable solution. I hope the organizers can learn from this event and make future ones more effective.

Jacob

I guess they won't be dancing in SL Gor then.

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