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Friday, October 31, 2008

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Princess Ivory

I have on occasion made use of my male alt when I want to go to parts of SL where I know my fragile, pretty Princess Ivory would be hit on and harassed, and frightened, and ultimately forced to teleport away.

I do not use him to delude others; I use him to protect myself in the type of settings where I have previously had bad experiences when visiting as a female. He does not seek to make friends. He is normally there for business purposes of one sort or another. He is no pretty boy. His appearance basically says, "don't 'F' with me." And people don't.

Amazing that even in a computer game the gender roles and biases play out so much like real life. And that even the appearance of the male makes a difference (my alt compared to Grapho, who was found to be "too pretty" and got hit on by women). Grapho would probably be more likely to get beat up (griefed), too.

And it is an interesting experience seeing myself onscreen in his form, instead of my own. I feel detached; like that isn't really me.

Alpha Auer

Thank you so much for these kind words! I am astounded, abashed and just totally tickled pink! :-)

The blog post on Grapho is as yet unfinished. I suppose your post will now make me hurry up and take care of this just as soon as I can. I am very thankful to be able to say that The NPIRL blog is keeping me busy and out of trouble, as all excessive self directed musing tends to end up to be. But as said, I will start to keep a better eye on my personal blogs, starting with posting the sequel to Grapho's sad tale within the next few days.

CyFishy Traveler

Nobody ever hits me me when I'm a guy. What am I doing wrong?

dandellion Kimban

Men don't understand the female psyche and women don't understand male psyche. That's so natural and that's where the most of the fun is. And it's not just psyche.

In my explorations of the opposite sex (which I sincerely recommend to all the self-aware beings) it turned out that psyche is different, but what makes more confusion and misunderstanding are social roles. To answer CyFishy's question... you're doing nothing wrong, but it is expected that guy makes the first move (send the first IM). We can talk about emancipation but some things are carved very deep in our heads. I am sorry that I have to say that it seems women are more inert on these changes.

Alpha Auer

Grapho never sent a woman an IM or anything even remotely like that, I have to say. The ladies just come out of the woodwork whenever he shows up. ;-)

I think some of it may have had to do with the locations that I visited as Grapho. Pretty hardcore role play sims and so on?

But, neither Alpha nor Xia (my utterly drop dead gorgeous alt) have ever ever ever gotten hit upon in the way that Grapho gets female attention and that is a fact.

Emk

Whenever I use my male alt, I have the same experience. Like Grapho, women are all over me -- it's astounding, and like nothing I've experienced in my female av. As a result, I've started using my male alt more and more, because he's the one that makes friends. I also find that I'm much more confident as a male av, which has led me to question myself and why I seem unable to fully unleash the strong, confident, sexy person within when I'm using a female av. Assuming a male identity is liberating, but I'm breaking hearts along the way, which sucks. I wish people would write more about this subject (gender deception, gender shifting, whatever you want to call it), because it's fascinating and, as Grapho/Alpha can attest, quite a learning experience.

CyFishy Traveler

I've written a bit about my gender experiments in SL in my own blog and will probably write more about it in future.

I think before Beginning came around I did try asking a woman to dance, just to see what would happen, and was turned down. Didn't bother after that point.

Actually, I know why I don't get hit on all that much--my profile acknowledges that my gender is subject to change, which undoubtedly puts off potential suitors. (That, and the fact that my 'partner' box is already filled in by my dearest Beginning Thursday.)

Nova Dyszel

There's a whole other element here I can't believe no one is mentioning. SL has a number of thriving queer subcommunities, which include lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and both male and female transgender users and/or avatars of various complex and wondrous configurations. Those of us who move in these communities in rl and/or sl are more used to playing with, subverting, experimenting with, and deconstructing gender. Which isn't to say we have all the answers or can construct anything and anyone, but as a butch dyke who uses (and abuses) masculinity as my own toy in rl and sl it wouldn't have been hard for me to create a convincing male alt, and my sweet feminine alt is more different than me than I could measure, but it wasn't hard, just interesting.

Truthseeker Young

See, I just wish we could just drop the whole "cross-av = DECEPTION" simplistic idiocy for a while, and actually have some actual conversation about this stuff...

I don't know if this was Linden Lab's intent, but one of the consequences of putting together an avatar in Second Life is that, in a particularly powerful way, it brings a person right up against that border between who they are on the inside and how others see you & treat them, and introduces profound level of *personal choice* into that borderland.

* That's not even a little bit fascinating?

All those layers of construct, agreement, boon & liability that we set over each-other's physical forms (as well as our own), all those hierarchical markers laid onto us *from birth*--gender, race/ethnicity, economic status, age, body size/shape, etc.--can suddenly, if we wish, be swept away with a few clicks of the mouse! And once it's all stripped away...who remains? And how does *that* person/being make him/her/itself known to the world?

* These aren't questions worth exploring & discussing?

And why, of all possible characteristics, is *gender* the one that's so damn threatening to explore?? Why does EMK's liberating discovery carry with it the extra concern over "breaking hearts"? Would that concern be there if she found a female configuration that allowed the "the strong, confident, sexy person within" to emerge? Would that person somehow be less of a heartbreaker as a female?

And OMG, Princess, do you really not see that changing genders *specifically* to elicit a different response from people IS, in fact, "deluding" them, in a way that a woman exploring & expressing her own male aspect is not? Please understand: I'm not saying it's wrong to do that, but you *HAVE* said it's wrong, previously on this blog, even. I'm just curious about your thinking here...

It'll be interesting to see how/if this discussion shifts over time, as in-world cultural conventions continue to evolve, and I'd be REALLY curious to see if people take the new ways of relating to each other they find within virtual worlds OUT into RL... Here's hoping for progress, I guess...


oh, P.S.: Nova (and anyone else interested, really), I'd love to chat more about this stuff with you in-world. Look me up!

GenderQ'd

It sounds like Truthseeker you've done quite a lot of homework and can have a discussion most people cannot comprehend.

My critique of SL is lengthy in terms of social issues. Not suited for a comment.

Two short points:
American culture is hung up on gender and sexuality in general, utopian ideals are just those. In both my girl and guy avatars, I've had interesting experiences, but in general see the worst of the worst in SL. The best example is the BDSM culture, which is about as archaic in terms of gender as you can get.

Second Point
Because individuals in SL are there for a myriad of reasons, and text-based communication is by and large prohibitive in terms of decoding people, it's very difficult to know what's going on from person to person. Some people are living out fantasies, some are crossing over fantasy with rl, some are extending rl, some live as personaes, etc, etc. Lot's of socially situated complications and complexities.
The fact that the majority seem to exemplify stereotypical ideals of anglos says a lot about where "the masses" are.

I'd personally love to have an intelligent conversation about it.


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