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Monday, 19 April 2010

Rape Play.

This is my contribution on the discussion the SLLU Feminist Network (Femnet) are having on Rape Play Games and Sims in Second Life. I welcome comment on this - I am here to learn.

My argument is not with those who wish to pursue erotica with other consenting adults in SL. To be honest, I feel this is healthy and should be a right.
My truck is with those who exploit . Exploitation, in my opinion, takes on many forms in our society, from the exploitation of the poor by “credit agencies” through to the sexual exploitation of trafficked men, women and children for sex. Those examples are of systemic exploitation – exploitation that happens because the capitalist society we have built can only survive by exploiting people by lying to them or forcing them into using their skills or time or thoughts or bodies in order for someone to profit or for their own survival in this market driven society.
In the UK , nearly 1 million women experience at least one incident of domestic abuse each year (British Crime Survey (BCS) self-completion questionnaire, 2007/08); Close to 10,000 women are sexually assaulted every week (BCS self-completion questionnaire, July 2008); At least 750,000 children a year witness domestic violence (Department of Health, 2002); 3% of men reported a non-consensual sexual experience as adults and over 5% of men reported sexual abuse as a child [source: Coxell A, King M, Mezey G, Gordon D. Lifetime Prevalence, characteristics, and associated problems of non-consensual sex in men].

I could go on… and of course these figures are from my own country – statistics in the USA or the rest of Europe etc I am sure can easily be found – and at a guess they will be shocking.

This exploitation is a result of many factors – some of which are systematic – the profit motive of pimps, gangs and other exploiters – and also the desperation of poor people to make ends meet or to buy a better life for themselves or their children – or to feed a drug problem caused by alienation from society and by the intolerant controls on drugs. And of course, in the case of the huge problem of violence against women, the misogyny that is bolstered by our media and power structures and the alienation of people within society etc. For violence against men, I would cite the majority of the above reasons and also from http://www.survivorsuk.org/find_out_more/about_male_rape_and_sexual_abuse.php
“Again, it [the perpetrator] could be anyone - male or female. But the facts show that more men were abused from within the family than outside, and more men were raped by people they knew rather than strangers. In our years of experience, we've been contacted by men who have been abused by all different types of perpetrator.”

Recently games have come on to the market – and of course are part of Second Life, that use representations of violence against women and men as part of the “winning strategy” or philosophy of the particular game/sim etc.

Some argue that those who are involved do so because they have the free will to do so and it is acting out fantasy. People cite support for these people to do this because, “women have rape fantasies” or “men…” etc.

Recently in the UK, a woman was brought to court for writing poetry that was about fantasies of 9/11 type scenarios. She was a muslim woman. Her husband is in prison for plotting bombings and killings in England.

Quite rightly, the woman was eventually acquitted – her poetry was not shared or public or published in wide spread publications – in fact her poetry was for her own personal outlet. It was her giving outlet to her artistic and cultural identification with those who were carrying out these atrocities. Incidentally, she is now separated from her husband, whom she says she did not know was planning death and mayhem.

My argument is not with people who want an outlet for fantasies of wanting to be raped (and let’s face it, it is a fantasy – not a want to reality), but my argument is with those who sell areas or games in SL that include visualisations and emotes of violence towards women and children, and indeed men, as “normal” or as fun. Gor, an extremely misogynistic Role Play, is a prime example of that. I have had to help quite a few people over the past few years – all women I might add – get through the de-programming that that invidious philosophy extols. There have been reports of Gor violence leading to rl injury, rape and in one case death (for evidence on gor, please ask me inworld for notecards).

I have had debates with “women” – who in the case of two inworld “reporters” turned out to be men – about the merits of violence against women in the Gor scenario.

To cut a long story short, I am also against the trivialisation (ie personal titillation) of violence and intrusion of men, children and womens well being through sexual violence. How would reinactments of 9/11 by Muslim people in SL be received – and would it be tolerated under the California based Linden Lab? How would an Al-Qaeda game – where gamers can cut the heads off Americans be received? How would a “flood New Orleans” sim be received? Or a holocaust game?

(In SL we have had some very informative representations of violence – like the Darfur sim for example - and lots of Palestinian information sims and parcels – these are quite different from the titillation motivation – and in some cases, the profit motivation of the types of games and sims I am writing about).

The fact is, across the world, millions of people, men women and children lose their lives through extreme sexual violence – or are subject to rape/violence on a regular basis through family members or through trafficking/ prostitution etc. Why should we stand by and allow the promotion of exploitative games and sims trading on extreme human misery?

23 comments:

  1. I agree, Plot. During our discussion last night, the concern arose that in calling the morality of rape roleplay into question, it was perilously close to questioning the morality of homosexuals. I disagree with this sentiment heartily. People -do- question the morality of homosexuals, yes. But has a homosexual ever hurt anyone for being gay? No. Has a rapist or serial rapist/murderer ever hurt anyone? Yes. Have they ever hurt anyone when both parties are consenting adults, and they're roleplaying the act? Yes. Here's why: The act of rape is violent, it is a horribly dangerous mindset to be in.. it is corrosive. But disregarding, for a moment, what it does to the people involved with it, view the situation from the perspective of any one of thousands of the survivors of sexual abuse and assault, who could wander onto the grid on any given day, only to find their living nightmare, this.. hate crime.. being played out because of some childish, selfish sexual fantasy. That -is- harmful! And the Lindens have not only tolerated it, they have espoused it. The profit from it, in sim tier, from classified ads, from Xstreetsl listings. You only have to search for 'rape' in world to be sufficiently horrified, including PG listings (for actual sex sims, not crisis centers). Search for 'forced' and how much more pops up. Yes. Everyone is squeamish about freedom of speech, but this boils down to profit, pure and simple. This is a corporate venture for the Lindens, and this is how they are representing themselves, as unethical, uncaring, and without responsibility. Individuals should not be policed, but the portrayal of the act of rape does not need to be a commodity that is freely available in Second Life. Condemn it to dark whispers, and private places. Let it -be- taboo, as it should be! Only in Second Life, would this be a question so open to debate.

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  2. I got pilloried on a Second Life gossip rag when they did a profile of a gentleman who spent 6-8 hours per day in a "rape sim". I was very concerned that anyone who spends 1/3 to 1/2 of his waking hours playing out rape fantasies was a ticking time bomb, eventually the simulated rape would no longer satisfy his desires.

    This gentleman's defenders attempted to turn the tables on me, and claimed that I was the one who didn't see the difference between reality and fantasy.

    I didn't even try to understand the rape fantasy role play, it doesn't make sense to me and Plot's final point is correct, send it to the dark corners of SL.

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  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  4. Thanks for your comment Starr. Here are some pieces from the SLLU archive that make interesting reading relating to the subject:


    Ledoof Constantineau http://slleftunity.blogspot.com/2007/08/whats-harm.html

    http://alphavilleherald.com/2007/08/whats-the-harm.html

    http://primperfectblog.wordpress.com/2009/11/25/16-days-of-activism-against-gender-violence-campaign/

    Democratic Socialist Perspective - http://slleftunity.blogspot.com/2007/08/reply-pornography.html

    http://slleftunity.blogspot.com/2007/10/white-ribbon-call-for-second-life.html

    http://slleftunity.blogspot.com/2007/11/white-ribbon-campaign.html

    Ms Qunhua http://slleftunity.blogspot.com/2007/11/csi-glorifying-violence-against-women.html

    http://slleftunity.blogspot.com/2008/05/why-i-am-feminist.html

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  5. Thanks for the comment Chris. It would be good if you come to the SLLU Feminist Network meeting next Sunday... it looks like this conversation may run for a few weeks.

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  6. Thanks Plot, I would love to, if you can send me a message, my Avatar name is Velvet Bikcin.

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  7. ps anonymous was Tim Mersereau

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  8. I have a number of points to make -- the first one on terminology -- and it is a language one - the word 'homosexual' refers to a 19th century medical diagnosis -at least in many parts of the community in the UK, it is increasing seen as an unhelpful and inappropriate term. It's use takes us straight into the pathologising of other people's behaviour that runs through this debate.

    Starr says 'has a homosexual ever hurt anyone for being gay?' The answer is very sadly yes. And this internalised homohpbia and its projection onto others has been a consistent feature of oppression since the world began. However, these are side points.

    My argument is that behaviour that is genuinely consensual and between adults is of no business to anyone but themselves. What takes place in RP is between the participants - and one assumes that they have negotiated roles and know how and when to stop when things get out of hand. Where consent is involved there can be no rape. No needs to mean no and be respected as such and in Ro, the realisation that consent is ongoing - that people have the right to stop at any time and can do so.

    There is real sexual harassment, real rape and real domestic violence in SL - exploitative behaviour that takes place without the consent of both people involved. Now that seems to be a crucial focus for campaigning, both in terms of people knowing how to keep themselves safe and that such behaviour is unacceptable, open to inworld sanction and should be actionable in real world. Often this happens because people are afraid that there may be real life consequences of not participating - that the person has tabs on them, knows where they are or their account will be suspended.

    As a sim owner, dealing with this kind of harassment and its aftermath is a regular part of running and mediating behaviour inworld. That this happens is appalling and seems most common when people are new to the world and are unprepared for it's immersive nature. Part of being a responsible sim owner involves making sure there are procedures in place to keep people safe. I have had been requested to take action to deal with harassment, stalking and pestering on numerous occasions and do so gladly. Safety is the first, second and third priority.

    I have to make it plain that I am writing as a gay man, I do know many heterosexuals but I do not pretend to understand the nature of heterosexual dynamics and so for me this is not primarily to do with gender but the misuse of power. And rape and domestic violence is as much a feature in lesbian and gay relationships as in heterosexual ones.

    I am also concerned that intolerance of other people's behaviour is often dominated by aesthetic concerns ((eeyuch, that's disgusting)) or by perceived offence or the possibility of giving offence. That behaviour is offensive to me, upsetting or even disgusting is not sufficient grounds for removing someone else's right to engage in it. The provision is always that it carried out by adults who both freely consent to it. If they do then it's fine. I don't need to be there.

    I am always worried about where defining and controlling other people's behaviour will end - as a middle aged gay man the reality of oppression in the UK is not ancient history - and its a real factor in many parts of the world - I fear that this kind of argument about public morality can tip towards the lowest common denominator - that anything upsetting to some one else is barred.

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  9. Tim: My sentence was not clear enough, though I think, taken in context, it's still quite clear. What I intended was, "A homosexual person never harmed anyone by being gay."

    As for rape being aesthetic? I.. am not quite clear as to how an act of such intensely horrific intimate violation can even be viewed as a fetish or a subculture to be defended. I am not unfamiliar with being queer. I am not unfamiliar with kink, and I am not unfamiliar with rape. It is disgusting. I can recount the ways in which it is, it is shameful, and terrifying, and scarring, and for someone to play pretend at it is a mockery of all of that. And my experience is minimal compared to most.

    I would dearly love to believe that I'm being taken for who I am here.. someone who is speaking with passion, yes, but also with logic, as a voice for survivors in Second Life, and in real life, to put an end to sim-wide rape play/dolcett/snuff. I have -always- advocated that for both genders. It has never been a feminist issue for me. This group is a network, I hoped, of like minded individuals that could work together for change. I am not engaging in histrionics with this, or reacting to my own crisis. Nor am I the sort of person to cast judgements against others because they believe differently than I do. I simply can't abide by rape, or racial prejudice because it is inherently hateful, twisted, and wrong. It corrodes, and damages. People have the right to think it, and speak about it, but the Lindens do not have to allow it in their ToS.

    I will state yet again, I will never campaign for the Lindens to police personal behavior, and therefore, not try to campaign for a ban on rape roleplay. Their taking tier rent from sims who advertise, and even exist for rape; taking classifieds money; percentages of sales on Xstreet from rape animation huds? It is tantamount to espousing the behavior. The whole of Second Life becoming so desensitized to the presence of these sims, and their ever-increasing traffic as a semblance of 'normalcy' within our world is a fearsome harbinger of the effect this apathy will have on society in the future. That -is-, of course, my opinion, and counts for not much, except for the weight of my conviction.

    I think I've said all that could have needed to be said, and more. So my part of the discussion is over from this point forward.

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  10. This is a great debate, with some very worthwhile points being made by everyone. I'm not going to try -- yet -- to put together a coherent response to this entire issue, but I do want to make some points.

    The first thing to remember here, I think, is that what is at issue is not sexuality, but violence. The term "anti-sex feminist" has been in use for some time now as a means of smearing those who are concerned about such things as porn and depictions of sexual violence. We need to be absolutely clear that we are NOT anti-sex. Just as rape itself is about power and abuse, and not about "sex," so too the issues we are discussing here are ultimately about depictions of violence.

    I also want to address, and second, Tim's point about "aesthetics." We need to oppose graphically violent depictions of sexual abuse not because we are "offended" by them, but because we can DEMONSTRATE that they are in some way socially or personally harmful. With this in mind, I would urge everyone to be a bit careful about how we couch our arguments. Value-laden and subjective terminology like "disgust" or "pervert" are counter-productive precisely because they ARE so clearly subjective. They also miss the point: we oppose these things not because of our personal morality, but (again) because they can be demonstrated to have a harmful impact.

    We need also to differentiate between kinds of RP. What occurs privately in someone's bedroom (or dungeon) is between them and their RP partners. In theory at least, much RP of sexual violence will fall within the realm of what is referred to in the BDSM community as "safe, sane, and consensual" (SSC), a series of quasi-formalized rules intended to safeguard against abuse. Unless we are privvy to a great deal more information than is likely available to us, we have no way of knowing whether any individual act of RP falls within this guideline; this makes it extraordinarily difficult and problematic to intervene. Nothing is to be gained from "rescuing" women or men from RP that IS consensual and safe. Indeed, the argument can be made that the existence of SSC makes BDSM play actually safer than conventional relationships, where abuse occurs without the formalized framework of safeguards. . . .

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  11. Part II . . .

    This, however, is with reference to "private" RP. What occurs in a "public" space, on the other hand, constitutes a public statement: it becomes, by definition, a kind of exhibitionism that verges on pornography. And again, if we think about this in terms of measurable impacts and harm, what occurs in public is much more demonstrably harmful. This is where the parallel with extreme pornography becomes useful, because there is a mountain of evidence demonstrating that exposure to violent porn does impact upon behaviours.

    I want, lastly, to address the issue of "banning." I agree entirely that the existence of sims like The Crack Den, Stepford, and Hard Alley is appalling. However, we do need to remember also that the production of SL pornography exists in a different context than RL pornography. In particular, the means of production of most SL porn is very different from RL porn: there is much less opportunity for the exploitation of sex trade workers in SL, for instance. If anyone knows of an example of an RL pimp forcing someone to RP or prostitute themselves in SL, I'd love to hear about it (really!!!), but for the most part, the conditions under which SL porn is produced make such harmful and exploitative behaviour much less prevalent here.

    On a broader level, I question the effectiveness of banning. A salient case is the Japanese computer game RapeLay, which was effectively banned from sale in the US by the actions of Equality Now. Unfortunately, the result has not been a suppression of the game, but rather its elevation to viral status: fans of the game (and possibly the manufacturer?) have responded to the ban by making freely available over the internet. Far from effectively combatting the game, the ban has made it more available than it ever was. For info on this, check out the recent CNN story:

    http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/asiapcf/03/30/japan.video.game.rape/index.html

    These are just some preliminary thoughts, but I want to thank everyone here for so eloquently and thoughtfully engaging in this discussion. This is precisely the kind of debate we need if we are to determine how the SLLUFN and SLLU wish to collectively approach this extremely contentious and complex issue.

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  12. Hi Scylla: =) I really -do- want to be done with this convo, but I do feel I need to quantify one thing. In point of fact, I used the word 'disgusting' in reference to real life, physical rape:

    "I am not unfamiliar with rape. It is disgusting. I can recount the ways in which it is, it is shameful, and terrifying, and scarring, and for someone to play pretend at it is a mockery of all of that."

    I feel the term is valid. If we cannot have a firm moral stance against the act itself, then my purpose here is extremely limited.

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  13. I have to say that depictions of sexual violence in SL go far beyond aesthetic. There wouldn't be harm if it was strictly aesthetic. Unfortunately, there is evidence of psychological harm from sexually violent depictions even if there is adult consent.

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  14. Hi Starr! My comment about language was really general, rather than directed at your use of the word; I actually chose "pervert" as another example precisely because no one had used it here.

    You note that you used the term with reference to RL rape, but I'd go so far as to suggest that there is a moral, and very personal dimension to our responses to these "playful" depictions of sexual violence in SL. I myself am appalled, horrified, outraged, saddened, sickened, and a whole host of other like terms by it. That's an important motivator for me: my personal morality, and my more visceral responses (including often nausea and, yes, disgust) are what actually make this for me THE single most important feminist issue in SL.

    What I was really arguing -- and maybe I should have made this clearer -- is that, as we present our case publicly, we need to use a language, and indeed an approach, that is focussed upon the objective, the verifiable, and the measurable. I made this point because this conversation is, of course, taking place in the context of our plans to produce a public document that states our case.

    So please don't imagine for a moment that I am asking you to ignore your personal responses and disregard your own moral standards. I certainly have no intention of doing so.

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  15. Hi Plot - thanks for your interesting article, this is Seren responding, as promised :0)

    Some things you might need to know about me first - I am female in RL. I also have depression, long-term.

    I'm not suggesting my opinions or experiences are any more valid than anyone else's but you've asked me to share, so I will, and I'm happy to be quite frank.

    When I first joined SL I had no idea you could have 'sex' there, until I stumbled upon some poseballs. Ever curious - I started to do some searches to find out more about what was 'on offer' At first such searches led me to BDSM places, then eventually 'rape' sims. I did not 'play' for a long time, lacking the courage and not knowing the etiquette. Once I started engaging in roleplay it was not frequent, preferring instead to hang out with friends in one such sim - Dark Alley, where we might have some rp banter - but 'sex' was often, though not always, conducted by frequent members in im.

    For me, personally, the searches that led me to such places were a way of exploring myself and my sexual fantansies in a safe environment. They are not something I would seek out in real life. If something makes me uncomfortable in roleplay I can state so, and end the scene whenever I want. This is not possible in real life. I in no way condone sex or the forced exploitation of anyone. I don't condone murder or violence either, but could play games depicting them quite easily.

    Humans have always tried to explore the very worst, and very best of our psyches - literature, music, film. Gaming is no different. We attempt to understand what we are capable of and face up to our inner demons. I find such expression healthy.

    The strongest argument I've seen is that such exploration should be kept private rather than such sims be condoned. I agree with the sentiment, but at the end of the day, if you tp to a place that describes itself as 'force play' or however else you want to describe it. You are aware of what to expect, and it is your choice to stay there or not. I find that better than being approached in non-sex sims and in actual fact I have found more aggressive people in non-sex sims than in Dark Alley, for example.

    In my time in such 'forced' sims: I have refused to play with people and my decision has been respected. I have found that people look out for each other and there is always a tacit understanding that we are there of our own free will. So we may call it 'rape' but it is not. Anymore than killing an av is 'murder'

    Psychologically, constantly and only engaging in such activities may not be healthy, but then that is the case with many things. If someone is doing that, there is usually a pre-existing reason. I don't believe role play can create a rapist, any more than rap music can create a murderer. Certainly, it may re-affirm an already unbalanced mindset. But finding an outlet for fantasies usually has the opposite affect, in my experience.

    I am lucky not to have been sexually abused. I am aware of people who have been seeking out such places as a way of making sense of things for them. That might not be the healthiest choice either, but I'm not equipped to judge. I can also understand why such places would provoke outrage in others. Every one deals with things differently.

    I'm happy to discuss this more, but this is getting a bit long. The only other thing I would like to contribute is - I have met the majority of my friends at a 'forced' sim, friends that have been with me for over a year - taken from av to av - and have been a HUGE support throughout crisises in my life and still help me in my depression. Some I have 'played' with, some I have not. But we were drawn there with similar purposes. I don't visit sex sims as much now, but sometimes it's just good to have somewhere to go where you know people will have understanding - and it keeps us from invading other sims :0)

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  16. Seren, thank you very much for this posting: it provides a very useful insight into the "other side" of this equation. It is also a reminder that many women do choose to engage willingly in these activities, and that, for some, it provides something like "therapeutic" benefits. It is also interesting to hear you comment on the strong and supportive social aspect of this kind of play: one hears much the same thing from those in various Gorean communities around SL.

    I want to comment on a few things you have said, largely to ensure that we are all on the same page with regard to what we are actually talking about here.

    "The strongest argument I've seen is that such exploration should be kept private rather than such sims be condoned. I agree with the sentiment, but at the end of the day, if you tp to a place that describes itself as 'force play' or however else you want to describe it. You are aware of what to expect, and it is your choice to stay there or not."

    I have two comments here. The first is that, again, my opposition to public rape RP isn't about personal distaste: it's about the larger social impacts of it. An obvious analogy is the internet: using Googe's safety features, I can generally avoid any and all violent porn, paedophilia, etc. on the net. But the fact that I am avoiding it doesn't mean that it's not there, and isn't having an impact. Simple avoidance may prevent me from being upset by it, but it does nothing to address the larger issues that we are trying to confront.

    My second comment relates to the way in which LL has set up its "Adult classification," which encompasses only "extreme" violence, but ALL forms of sexuality. This means, for instance, that anyone visiting Zindra in search of a way of expressing their nonviolent sexual desires is perforce ALSO exposed to the violent stuff. And it's not necessarily true, even using "Search," that all instances of representations of sexual violence can be filtered out: not every "rape" pose ball set is going to be tagged for all sims. So, it's by no means entirely true that someone interested in Adult content can easily avoid violent sexuality. Even a brief wander through Zindra makes that clear.

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  17. Part II . . . (sorry for being so long-winded!)

    "I have found that people look out for each other and there is always a tacit understanding that we are there of our own free will. So we may call it 'rape' but it is not. Anymore than killing an av is 'murder'"

    I agree with this statement entirely; in fact, I'm personally uncomfortable with the idea that even nonconsensual sexual acts in SL (of the sort practiced by griefers, most obviously) should be labelled "rape." This is why I am generally pretty careful to refer to "representations" or "depictions" of sexual violence. The analogy, again, is with extreme porn.

    Again, however, it is not because I believe that this is "real" rape that I oppose it: it is because its uncritical and pornographic depictions of sexual violence, even if the acts themselves are (as in RL porn) to one degree or another "consensual," have measurable and proven impacts on those who are exposed to them.

    "I don't believe role play can create a rapist, any more than rap music can create a murderer. Certainly, it may re-affirm an already unbalanced mindset. But finding an outlet for fantasies usually has the opposite affect, in my experience."

    There has been a fair amount of debate about this issue among scholars. I will agree that, on an individual basis, it is impossible and fruitless to try to predict how this kind of simulation is going to affect the roleplayer. My own suspicion is that it is likely to vary on a case-by-case basis. However, overall, the research shows that extreme porn use tends to escalate rather than sate the need for this kind of stimulation.

    "I am aware of people who have been seeking out such places as a way of making sense of things for them. That might not be the healthiest choice either, but I'm not equipped to judge."

    This has always been a real concern of mine. I am well aware that there are those who engage in this kind of role play as a form of "healing therapy" for RL abuse. And RL therapist do frequently use roleplay as a means of helping those who have been abused feel a sense of "control" over a scenario that was in reality about their victimization. These, however, are trained therapists, working in carefully controlled conditions. I worry very much about the possible dangers to women (and men) who seek this kind of "therapy" in the entirely uncontrolled environment of SL, roleplaying with God knows whom.

    In the final analysis, however, I am not about to tell a rape survivor how she or he should deal with their pain. That has to be a personal choice. Again, however, it is not with such personal choices that I am really concerned: it is with the public expression of such simulations.

    Thank you again for your thoughtful posting on this.

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  18. I think one of the most important points here to consider is Scylla's one - that there is a need to DEMONSTRATE harm - it is not enough to say evidence exists - we need to be clear about the extent of available evidence and to what extent it applies to the relatively new immersive experience is that is SL. If anyone knows of any scholarly articles that have been published on this it would be really useful to have links posted here.

    One element that we have to think about is the duty of care that both the Lindens and sim owners have. I am very concerned about behaviours in SL that to my mind are not just depictions of rape or sexual violence but go significantly beyond them - I am sure many who read this will know of stories where very signicant harm has been done and I am not satisfied that the existing TOS and advice on keeping oneself safe is sufficient. I know of a few cases where people have been controlled through ideas that if they resist their accounts will be suspended or some other kind of blackmail activities.

    In particular, I am concerned that people who run RP sims have sufficient information and warnings in place to ensure that minors cannot access them and that rules of behaviour are understood and followed by users. If these are not in place then I think there is a case of negligence.

    I did a search about safety in Sl and the best resource I found was material in The Woman's Resource Hub - I would think that beefing this up would be a tangible and practical way of starting a prevention campaign.

    My earlier point about aesthetics has I think been misinterpreted - and that is my fault - I was talking about the types of opposition to things like oral and anal sex where some people's sense of what appears unpleasant to them is turned into a moral principle.

    Tim Mersereau

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  19. Seren, your post was thought provoking, and well spoken. Thank you.

    I'm, once again, going to redirect the discussion towards the impact that the public nature of these sims has on the many survivors of sexual abuse and violence.

    If someone, were to, say, open a sim that allowed people to reenact in the torture, rape, and murder of a lesbian (insert ugly slur here); or someone were to want to open a sim wherein the members could replay the more violent depictions of the holocaust death camps.. how would we respond to the depictions of those hate crimes in Second Life? Someone might even present the argument: "This is cathartic to me, because I lost a relative to this kind of hate crime."

    I'm sure that offended sensibilities, and I apologize for it, I truly do. It is offensive as hell.

    Rape is no less a hate crime, but due to its sexual nature, the victim, like victims of -any- sexual abuse, end up having far less rights in the eyes of society than they should. Not only have they been violated once, but then, as in this case, end up with less rights and empowerment than their perpetrators have.

    In Second Life now? There's nothing quite like going to buy a pink strap-on and running smack into a 'Rape Her Face HUD 2.0!' Or, in less animated, and more specific terms, as in my last night, trying to simply search the word 'roleplay' under places.. and not being able to find a place to go between most all of them advertising 'forced', or 'rape' within the context of the roleplay, or... simply being places that existed for the purpose of rape, and a host of other keywords I'd not dare mention.

    Emotional pain and suffering are happening as a result of this. Just true to form, the victims are being silent. I hope we are all prepared to accept our role in how this has played out in the end.

    As for the catharsis of the roleplay for victims, I'd argue that this is an extremely small minority that is being cited over again in defense of the sims. The number of these individuals versus the number of victims that find the presence of these sims emotionally harmful is no doubt significant. It is well established that people who have been through sexual trauma often seek out pain to feel real. It occurs through cutting, sometimes, as well. Do we define that as healthy behavior? To decide that this sort of self-medicating is healthy is fairly reckless. If some type of exploration and roleplay is to be prescribed, it should be under the strict supervision of a licensed therapist. Not with a rape fetishist. That's something akin to 'from the frying pan to the fire' in logic.

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  20. Tim, there is a partially-annotated bibliography of useful sources on the SLLUFN Wiki. It badly needs updating, but there is some good stuff there:

    http://feministos.wetpaint.com/page/Representations+of+Violence+against+Women+in+Virtual+Worlds%3A+A+Bibliography+of+Sources

    On the same site, you'll also find a more up-to-date version of the Newbie Woman's SL Survival Kit, with the safety information that you mentioned:

    http://feministos.wetpaint.com/page/The+Newbie+Woman%27s+SL+Survival+Kit

    You can just click the link in my name here to get to the Wiki.

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  21. Scylla: Ideally, to me, the resources would reach out to both genders. Online safety, rape, all of these issues affect everyone.. and as a feminist I'd like to help everyone be safe and whole. I realize, though, that the websites are geared towards ladies.

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  22. Seren, I agree that there is a pre-existing condition in people who engage in rape roleplay and that doing so in SL doesn't create a rapist. I also agree that this affirms an unbalanced mindset. This is why it's a real problem as opposed to just plain tasteless.

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  23. I don't much disagree re. the resources, Starr. It's something maybe worth discussing one day . . . the degree to which we want to broaden the scope of the Survival Kit, and the Bibliography.

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Let me know what you think. Be kind!