Monday, 26 July 2010

Announcing the SL Left Unity’s “Consumer Watch”: A New Feminist Blog for Second Life.

The SL Left Feminist Network is excited to announce the launch of a new blog focused upon feminist issues and Second Life, the “SLLU Feminist Network Consumer Watch.” The “Consumer Watch” will highlight and analyze products available for sale in Second Life that tap into the lucrative market for violent pornography and role play.

Why have we decided to create this new information source?

At one time, “Your World, Your Imagination” was the sales pitch, and indeed, philosophical underpinning for Second Life. Thousands of residents took this mantra to heart, and sought to make this virtual world a place to explore their own expansive imaginations, and transcend the narrow limits of our everyday physical existence. One result has been the creation within this virtual world of unparalleled new forms of art, of landscapes of breathtaking beauty and scope, and of liberating experiments in social organization and personal identity.

But there has always been, of course, a darker side to Second Life, epitomized in the subcultures that have chosen not to see the boundless potential of this virtual world as a way of imagining something better for human kind, but rather as a means of indulging in the some of the very worst instincts that still prey upon our culture. Nothing embodies this retrograde approach to the potential of Second Life more than those varieties of role play that fetishize and indeed celebrate sexual violence. Dolcett, Vore, snuff and rape role play, sexual age play, Gor, and some of the more extreme fringes of BDSM have parasitically infested Second Life for nearly as long as the application has existed, ensuring that this virtual world reflects not only the very best that the human imagination can conjure, but also, sadly, the very worst that human civilization has wrought.

If Second Life truly were nothing more than a mere “fantasy world,” and the borders between it and “real life” as impermeable as some like to pretend, the existence of grotesquely violent sexual role play here would be offensive, but not necessarily worrisome. But Second Life is, in truth, an extension of “real life”: those who enact scenes of violence against women here are indulging their real life predilections, while those who immerse themselves in such role play are carrying those experiences and their emotional and psychological consequences with them back into the physical world. What happens in Second Life DOES matter; it both reflects and impacts upon the real world.

And for this reason, it is time to shine a little light upon the darker corners of this, our virtual world.

"The SLLU Feminist Network Consumer Watch" is committed to doing just this. Features will focus upon animations, skins, clothing, and furniture available for purchase that normalize and trivialize gender violence, or otherwise reinforce dangerous and harmful misogynist attitudes. In addition to providing an overview of such content, usually highlighting the work of an individual content creator, each blog article will include a feminist analysis of the reviewed products.

Through its examination of these products, "The Consumer Watch" will offer a frank and often deeply disturbing insight into those subcultures within Second Life that role play explicit and extreme scenarios of sexual violence. It will demonstrate that rape, snuff, and other violent forms of sexualized role play are expressions of harmful and deep-seated misogynist attitudes, and it will argue that such role play, far from being harmless "fantasy," does impact negatively upon real life perspectives on and approaches to gender equality and social justice.

Because the most democratic and effective means of responding to the sale of violently misogynist content is the consumer boycott, "The Consumer Watch" will also maintain a running "Boycott Notification" list of content creators.

We invite you to visit the “Consumer Watch,” and join in the conversations there.

The first two blog posts for the "Consumer Watch" are now online:

"Battle Royale Redivivus"

An analysis of the unresolved "Battle Royale" skin controversy that swirled around Gala Phoenix's *Curio* skin line in October of last year.
WARNING: Contains mild images of violence that may be triggering]

"In Which We Dipp into the Dark Side"

With images:

Text only:

An examination of a few of the snuff, rape, and bondage devices offered for sale by Dipp Canning's *Dip Dexines*.

[WARNING: Contains language and images of extreme violence.]

For a general introduction to the “Consumer Watch,” see:

Questions and comments regarding the “SLLU Feminist Network Consumer Watch” can be sent to:

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