Sunday, 5 July 2009

Network Meeting - June 28, 2009

This day's meeting of the SLLU Feminist Network was held at the group's exhibit for SL6B (Second Life's 6th Birthday celebration), entitled "Working Together for Fair and Inclusive Communities in Second Life." The exhibit, which is on display in one of 21 SL6B sims especially erected for the birthday celebration, continues to be on display until July 6. Thereafter, it is likely that it will be moved for at least some time to a new location, as yet to be determined. At some point in the near future, the text and some pictures of the exhibit will also be posted on this blog.

The first order of business concerned one element of the group's strategy for combating depictions of violence against women in SL. TR, who is coordinating the group's work to put together a teach-in on the subject of violence, sexual violence, and representations of violence in SL, facilitated this part of the discussion. TR explained that "teach-ins" are events where there are speakers and other forms of information available for people to learn about and talk through. One person suggested that the heated discussions that have been taking place in groups like Amnesty International in-world demonstrate that there is an appetite in SL for more exploration of these issues.

TR sought input from the group about content and themes for the teach-in. The following ideas were suggested:

  • Psychological violence in SL

  • Problems with the Abuse Reporting system, which is inadequate and unsatisfactory. In particular, it was suggested that the current system "reviolates" the victim, in that it is alienating in and of itself, and revictimizes those who seek to use it by (for example) ignoring complaints or the input of complainants.

  • Pornography and social harm

  • How to read images of violence

  • Rules and Regulations in SL regarding depictions of violence, including most obviously the Terms of Service and Community Standards documents
The hope was expressed that the teach-in would involve direct participation from representatives of Linden Lab, and should, ideally, feature speakers from LL, or at least have one or two Lindens in attendance for the proceedings. It was also suggested that participation from representatives of one or more RL organizations working on this issue would be beneficial for a number of reasons.

Another subject of discussion at the meeting was the need to produce a "history" of the SLLUFN, along with an archive, as an institutional record of the group. This would likely appear on the group's blog or wiki, as well as in-world in some form. Part of that history to be explored is the SLLUFN's relationship with its parent organization, the SLLU.

LC, explained that the origin of the group lay in the suggestion from members of the SLLU that the feminist issues raised there be formalized within a separate group. L went on to suggest that there might well be some opposing perspectives to the SLLUFN's approach to SL and violent porn, but noted as well that there was debate within our own group about this.

It was noted that, since its founding in January of 2009, the group has held weekly meetings, engaged in in-world activism, created an ongoing blog, published the Newbie Woman's SL Survival Kit, and created an exhibit for the SL6B celebrations.

Present at the meeting were two representatives from a new feminist group, "Stop Violence against Women." The group was created about a month ago; its founder, PA, explained that it had amassed a membership of over 400 since that time. She further explained that the group would soon start holding meetings, and that it would be featured in an SL radio show soon. The hope was expressed by members of both groups that the future would see cooperation between the SLLUFN and Stop the Violence against Women. It was suggested that this might include participation by the new group in the SLLUFN's teach-in.

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