In an article entitled “Does Sexual Content Enforce a Negative Stereotype of Second Life?,” blogster Wagner James Au lamented that Second Life “… has been hurt by virtual porn, i.e. explicit graphic sex, especially of the extreme fetishistic kind.” His blog, New World Notes, has a MMO/VR industry reporting bent to it, with an emphasis on Second Life; having once blogged about goings-on inworld for Linden Lab itself in the early days. He is a frequent critic of sexual expression in SL, and championed some sort of controls on this when Linden Lab was ramping up for Sansar.
Mr. Au has never been an apologist for the libertine nature of our world, but does he even know about community in SL, or the choices one has any given day or night inworld? You can literally go meditate with an English-speaking buddist monk on Thursday night, hit some clubs on Friday night, and take a new friend home to your skybox to do what Mr. Au refers to as “virtual porn.”
I think this mindset speaks a lot about the “video-game” mentality a lot of people have about virtual worlds … that we aren’t connected to our avatars, that we all treat them as external action figures or barbie dolls. It’s not to say there aren’t a lot of people do, but for those of us who are a part of the backbone of Second Life’s societies and communities, for those of us who have virtual jobs, and tons of virtual friends, who fall in love and partner and marry … some of us find it rather insulting to be compared to “seemygf.com” or “ManHub.”
Not that we don’t all have our crazy nights … but for those of us who consider our experience in SL as an extension of our personality in another medium … we find it be as slut-shamming as you might if your real sexual experiences were compared to porn. Sure – a live sex show in virtual Amsterdam might be considered porn, but what I do in my skybox with my partner?
This obsession over imposing 19th century sexual attitudes on 21st century games and virtual worlds is honestly, and I hate to borrow a phrase from El Cheeto, “fake news.” No gamer or virtual world resident gives a damn about it … but yet, it might be a hot topic for One Million Moms, Focus on the Family, and because of that … the American news media. I nearly spewed my tea twenty-something years ago when Tipper Gore came out against violence and nudity in video games, and this was long before Second Life or Grand Theft Auto.
If it isn’t your experience, turn your head. Wanna give LL something to do? Have them improve our environment.