This was the first discussion meeting held by the network and the topic was ‘Virtual Rape ... fact or fantasy’ Eleven people came along for the discussion.
The debate was lively, friendly and interesting and it’s impossible to try and summarise all that was said.
Some of the points made were:-
Searches had revealed that women had experienced ‘virtual’ rape in SL. This ranged from being ‘bumped’ by a male avi with an erect penis, being tricked into clicking on pose balls, descriptions of rape in text to accepting objects which contain hidden rape animations.
There were reports of pressure being applied in role playing sims and other forms of deception.
Some women may laugh these things off and some retaliate or just quit, however others, particularly if they have had similar experiences in RL have suffered emotional distress.
Was there a definition of 'virtual rape'? Did this definition revolve around the question of consent?
There was also a discussion on rape as part of consensual role play (it was noted that rape pose balls were for sale). While feminists have been working on an understanding of the relationship between sexual fantasy and the exercise of sexual power within relationships, there has been research which raises concerns that such role play can impact upon attitudes to rape in RL.
We wondered if it were also possible that role play may give a new insight into the impact of this kind of sexual behaviour and accepted that role play can be both damaging and therapeutic.
We discussed whether it was feasible to expect SL to issue warnings, introduce protection of offer support to particularly newbies who were the most vulnerable.
Self defence workshops are available in SL.
Suggestions made included improved warnings about the nature of some sims, demystifying virtual rape, self-defence strategies and sources of counselling or support for those affected.
It was agreed to work with the Women's Resourse Hub to draft a letter requiring Linden Lab to include warnings in newbie induction processes. (we need to check what is already included)
We ran out of time so it was agreed to continue this discussion next Sunday at the same time.
Ellie was thanked for moderating the discussion.