one life is never enough: Gynarchy in ‘Second Life’

Second Life is one of those online worlds you’ve heard about. This one has a reputation for being the sort of place where alternative people run around doing their special thing. The goreans are here in force, for example, although when i turned up uninvited with my newly-inflated biceps and a really, really big sword there didn’t seem to be anyone in. Which is what Second Life is like, a lot of the time. It can be a surprisingly empty place.

There’s plenty of Femdom, i’m glad to say. And if your thing is dressing up as an animal (don’t ask) well, you’re probably here already.

i dropped in to Second Life because someone told me there are Gynarchic groups. You can join whatever groups take your fancy, partly to meet other members, and partly because they appear in your profile and show everyone what it is you’re about.

i’m just dipping my toes in to this place, wandering around and talking to people. But there’s one interesting issue that residents keep coming back to, which i thought worth a post: real life gender. It turns out that lots of people – mostly men, i’m told – turn up in SL with an avatar of the other gender. And people have very different attitudes to this sort of identity tourism.

There are some for whom SL is so obviously fantasy, where your avatar (ie the in-world you) can take on any number of characteristics that are not your own, even to the point of not being human at all, that gender is kind of a minor detail. For others, SL is so much about relationships that gender switching is a fundamental dishonesty, and they get furious. Especially in Femdom.

Of course, people like to think they can tell what gender you are anyway. As one resident told me, if She’s a ‘lesbian’ with bad shoes and pneumatic tits, you draw your own conclusions. And now that there is a voice feature, you can get ‘verified’, even if you’re one of the majority who prefer not to speak most of the time. This theoretically means you can prove you have a Vagina, and then you get to wear your verification in your profile like a medal. Except that apparently now there’s voice-morphing software that makes even that much uncertain.

Yes but…

Here’s the other side of the argument. Second Life is clearly, overtly, about identity tourism. Going there to be someone else is exactly the point; that’s what the whole role play thing is all about. And, it might be argued, if a man is here to experience life as a Woman (however inaccurately) isn’t it a good thing if he does so in an environment where Women are worshipped and obeyed, rather than running around getting ravished? (There’s plenty of that, too).

For my part, though, i will be remaining male for future visits. At least no-one asks me to prove i’m not a Woman.

More postcards from the other side soon.

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