Monday, 20 September 2010

Minutes of the SLLU Feminist Network Meeting, 19 September, 2010

The SLLU Feminist Network met on Sunday, 19 September: our particular focus was to follow up our discussions of the previous meeting concerning the imminent arrival on the SL main grid of 16 and 17 year-olds from the soon-to-be closed teen grid.

The meeting began, however, with a brief discussion of a notification from Ledoof Constantineau regarding a proposal to help establish a presence for the RL group Take Back the Tech in Second Life. It was generally agreed that establishing closer connections with RL activist groups would be beneficial, and that we should assist in whatever way possible. This will be a subject for a future meeting.

Discussion about the integration of teens into the main grid began with a general acknowledgment that there was probably not a great deal of point in debating the wisdom of this move by LL, despite some concerns, as it is now an inevitability. Instead, we agreed to devote our attention to ways in which we, as a group, might assist the incoming teens, and in particular, how we might best help "street proof" them to protect them from predators in SL, as well as from recruitment and potential "grooming" by groups likely to be attracted to the prospect of victimizing or suborning younger women and men.

There was some discussion as well as to how we might use this as an opportunity to bring our message to a new, younger audience, although there was concern expressed as well that this might seem too much like the very "recruitment" that we want to discourage other (admittedly dangerous and suspect) groups from engaging in. Overall, there was no clear consensus on the mechanics of this, although general agreement bringing the message of feminism to teens was a worthy goal.

It was noted that while teens on the main grid will be restricted to "General" areas, this will not entirely restrict their access to representations of misogyny and gender violence in SL. More worrisome still, there are no special mechanisms to protect teens from griefers and sexual predators and recruiters willing to venture into "General" areas in search of prey. The consensus was that the best way to deal with this was by educating teens on what to avoid, and how to deal with predators should they be encountered.

Over the course of our discussion, we determined upon a four-pronged strategy:

  • Revamp and update the SL Newbie Women's Survival Kit to include more information likely to be useful to teens, including a set of definitions of terms (such as BDSM) with which they might not be familiar

  • Include in any information that we make available to teens an invitation to join the SLLU Feminist Network, as a kind of low-key and hopefully unobtrusive way of attracting younger women and men to the group.

  • Create a "teen chapter" of the SLLU Feminist Network specifically for teens. One reason for this is that Flagg, and the current Headquarters of both the SLLU and SLLUFN, is on "Moderate"-rated land, which will be inaccessible to teens. We will need to address the issue of a meeting place for teens.

  • In an attempt to broaden our reach and appeal, to approach some other likely groups about partnering in our efforts to reach out to and educate the incoming teens. In part, this is in response to the general agreement that, as a self-identified "feminist" group, we are less likely to attract young men. Partnering with other groups will also extend our reach, generally, as well as allaying somewhat criticisms that we are covertly on a "recruitment" drive.
A number of potential groups were suggested, including the newbie instructional programme at Caledon Oxbridge, and VWER (the Virtual Worlds Education Roundtable). The SLLU itself will prove useful as a "partner" in this as well. It was suggested that we contact Carl Metropolitan, who has a long history of, and excellent reputation for his work educating and helping newbies, about partnership possibilities. Other suggestions included approaching some of the more "conservative" groups in SL, including possibly a few of the less conservative Christian groups operating in SL. The idea, raised at our previous meeting, of looking for BDSM groups with a record or interest in trying to prevent abuse in D/s relationships was mooted again, and dismissed as impractical and problematic.

Much hilarity ensued in the course of our attempts to imagine a joint SLLUFN-BDSM partnership, and the meeting ended.

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