It’s not that long ago, certainly within living memory of many Londoners, when boarding houses, bed & breakfast locations, would advertise vacancies but place a sign in the window suggesting they wouldn’t take anyone who was black, Irish, or owned a dog.
Appalling and disgraceful, I think we would all agree, and prevalent in the last half-century, possibly well remembered by many SL avatars.
My blog post on Gay Naturism in SL prompted a response by reader Ruth, who felt that sexual segregation within SL was possibly worse than it is in RL, with some sims putting up ‘No Women Allowed’ or ‘No Men Allowed’ signs. Which got me thinking. She’s right! We, as avatars, seem to tolerate and accept this.
Should we accept this?
Consider this: if a sim put up a sign that said ‘No Blacks’, or ‘Heterosexual Avatars Only’, what would be our reaction?
In the very early days of my Second Life I recall that there was a sim run by far-right fascists whose sim was effectively a recruiting ground for fascists, closely mirroring the policies of the far-right British National Party, the BNP. It was the closest I’ve ever witnessed to a ‘demonstration’ in SL, as avatars of a liberal persuasion would turn up at their sim border to effectively bombard, IM, and harass anyone trying to use it. People were buying particle generators to effectively flood the (small island) sim and make it unusable. And this would occur on a daily/nightly basis until those who supported the BNP’s brand of racism (I have no idea if the sim was run by card-carrying members of the BNP, the BNP itself, or mere advocates of BNP policy) shut up shop and moved off the grid.
To the best of my recollection Linden Labs were also being flooded with complaint tickets, and that it may be that LL changed their policies after this to prevent a reoccurrence of that particular loathsome problem. Thankfully, in that respect, the problem has not to my knowledge reoccurred.
Of course, this was back in the days when anyone who was anyone wanted a piece of this brave new world, Second Life, and real money could be made within the grid. Companies like IBM had a corporate presence on the grid. And with it came odious presences like BNP supporting racists and fascists.
Due to the way SL developed that corporate presence markedly declined, as did the notion that Second Life was a media outlet for the likes of the BNP -they all moved to Twitter other social media outlets- and the grid became a more benign, happy-go-lucky place.
Back then, there were also several SL ‘newspapers’, bloggers who blogged daily on various elements of the grid, something else that has declined in recent years. These papers could be read online, or ‘bought’ (they were free) from vending machines on the grid and read as a ‘book’ on screen while in world. It would be the likes of these papers/blogs who would highlight particular concerns and, very often, present the case to Linden Labs as the grid developed its own life and morality.
So…a sim that says ‘No Black Avatars Allowed’. What’s our reaction? Would we be standing at its borders briefing it with particle generators, or lodging tickets of complaint to Linden labs? You bet your life we would.
What if a sim put up a sign that said ‘No Gay avatars need join? We’re all real men and women here’. Would we complain? You bet your life we would.
So why is it that some gay sims can openly say ‘No Men Allowed’ or ‘No Women permitted here’? Is it because, if we’re heterosexual avatars, these sims aren’t going to readily fall across our radars? Is it because we sub-consciously imagine that it’s best to let the gay avatars have their own places ‘because then they won’t be bothering us’? If so, what does it say about our openness or inclusivity or sub-conscious homophobia?
I’ll go to sims where female avatars will kiss and cuddle other female avatars and speak in open chat about ‘kiss, kiss, missing you already, muuuwwwahhhh!!!‘ No one bats an eyelid. Rightly so. Why? Because, possibly, I’ve not analysed it, male avatars quite like that girl/girl fantasy and therefore it’s OK by heterosexual male avatars?
What might be the reaction if two gay male avatars did the same? ‘/me slides my tongue into your sweet mouth and explores the sweet taste of your hunky mouth‘, or similar? Some sims might not blink. Other sims might well have fits of apoplexy. ‘Can you not keep that stuff on your own sims?’ Is this what Ringo referred to in the his analysis of the division of sims by sexual orientation and gender?
The question is: have we reached a point where we should now be complaining about no men/no women rules at sims, and making for a more all-embracing, all-inclusive SL?
Shouldn’t lesbians, the rest of the LGBT spectrum and, indeed, heterosexual female avatars be welcomed here too?
My limited experience of the gay male scene in SL does, however, reflect my experience of the RL gay scene: the men are better looking, better groomed. 🙂 the music’s often great and the sheer sense of fun pervades from the screen. Why wouldn’t I, a heterosexual female avatar, not want to go to a gay club and dance too? You tell me I can’t because of the gender I’ve selected for my avatar?
Aside an aside, and as a rough rule of thumb, not an absolute, gay, male avatars will spend their Linden dollars to look like a million dollars. Heterosexual male avatars often think newbie hair, no AO and a free, permanently erect and badly proportioned and coloured penis is more than adequate. Do you read profiles? I do. So…he’s 8 years and 113 days old, and he’s still wearing newbie hair from eight years ago? At a time when better free skins, free AO’s, good free hair and even realistically proportioned free (non-scripted) genitalia are all readily available? Tragic! I get that you’re here for cybersex and without wanting to spend any RL money, but really….please!
In conclusion, then, I would say that this wrongly accepted gender division has to go, and it is an issue that is long overdue in being addressed. If not for the benefit or custom of heterosexual avatars, then at least for the sake of showing some solidarity for others in the LGBT community.
Note: I was going to add further SL photographs of signs at some sims who discriminate by gender or sexual orientation, but felt that it was unfair to ‘out’ just one or two. It is, however, an issue that I shall seek to address directly with sim owners to gauge their feelings on the matter.
Edited to add: This link leads to a report in the Alphaville Herald, one of those SL newspapers I spoke about, report France’s Front Nationale opening a ‘permanent’ presence in SL in 2006. They’re no longer present in SL.:)