‘I’d rather go naked than wear fur’, runs Peta’s tagline. As naturists, we’d agree on the basis of the normalisation of the nude form in society. As humanitarians, we’d agree that there is almost no reason to wear fur, ever. If you’re living in the wilds, in sub-zero temperatures for six months of the year, there’s probably some historical necessity for skinning an animal, but then, if that’s you or your society, the chances are that you’re using the animal’s meat as well for survival purposes. But that doesn’t apply to 99.999% of women (or men) today.
I’ve noticed a little bit of a growing trend for ‘fur’ to be included as part of some outfits in Second Life. My goodness, but we even got suckered into that one ourselves on a post about ‘The Masked Ball’ in which our model wore ‘fur’ and I highlighted a fur stole available for little cost. I’ll hold my hand up here and say that I was guilty of a massive oversight in that regard, and wasn’t thinking about what we were promoting. I’ve seen four examples of outfits with fur included in the past couple of weeks. It was something that was previously almost unheard of in SL, and on the extremely rare occasions it was seen it was almost uniformly labelled as ‘fake fur’. The description ‘fake’ is now missing, and these articles are being presented merely as ‘fur’.
Of course we can say ‘it’s only a game’, and quite obviously nothing has been harmed in the shuffling of a few pixels to create a Second Life fur stole or coat, and that’s correct but…but…but…
Second Life is extremely quick at picking up on real life trends. Ice Bucket challenge in real life? SL will have a pose for that in days. So a growing trend for fur in SL is disturbing in that it’s maybe reflecting real life couture and fur is making a comeback having been dismissed as part of a wardrobe for many years. I’m not certain as I don’t slavishly follow fashion.
Even if it’s not, the sudden appearance of fur in SL lends itself to a little bit of a normalisation of that – the message being delivered is ‘hey, pixel ladies, it’s now OK and cool to wear fur’. No, it’s not. It’s extremely uncool to have your avatar bedecked accordingly. I won’t remove our fashion faux-pas in the ‘Masked Ball’ post. I’ll let it stand as evidence of our error. But we won’t be promoting anything with fur in the future. We should be responsible for our actions in SL. This blog would never, for example, promote or photograph anything that illustrates the humiliation of (naked) women, and there’s a lot of that sort of thing (props, tattoo layers, ‘costumes’) going on in SL. Neither will we further promote or photograph anything that illustrates an animal killed purely for ‘fashion’.
SL does have a moral conscience. As a community we uniformly reject all manner of ‘age play’ on the grid, for example. Quite rightly. On moral grounds I think we also need to take an equally firm stand on fur, and make it clear to designers that we don’t want or need such items in SL, that we do (as we often do) link our avatar’s conscience to our own real life values. And those real life values, for me, are that the promotion of ‘fur’, even pixelated, even in a made up world, is wrong and is to be roundly rejected.