This is my contribution on the discussion the SLLU Feminist Network (Femnet) are having on Rape Play Games and Sims in Second Life. I welcome comment on this - I am here to learn.
My argument is not with those who wish to pursue erotica with other consenting adults in SL. To be honest, I feel this is healthy and should be a right.
My truck is with those who exploit . Exploitation, in my opinion, takes on many forms in our society, from the exploitation of the poor by “credit agencies” through to the sexual exploitation of trafficked men, women and children for sex. Those examples are of systemic exploitation – exploitation that happens because the capitalist society we have built can only survive by exploiting people by lying to them or forcing them into using their skills or time or thoughts or bodies in order for someone to profit or for their own survival in this market driven society.
In the UK , nearly 1 million women experience at least one incident of domestic abuse each year (British Crime Survey (BCS) self-completion questionnaire, 2007/08); Close to 10,000 women are sexually assaulted every week (BCS self-completion questionnaire, July 2008); At least 750,000 children a year witness domestic violence (Department of Health, 2002); 3% of men reported a non-consensual sexual experience as adults and over 5% of men reported sexual abuse as a child [source: Coxell A, King M, Mezey G, Gordon D. Lifetime Prevalence, characteristics, and associated problems of non-consensual sex in men].
I could go on… and of course these figures are from my own country – statistics in the USA or the rest of Europe etc I am sure can easily be found – and at a guess they will be shocking.
This exploitation is a result of many factors – some of which are systematic – the profit motive of pimps, gangs and other exploiters – and also the desperation of poor people to make ends meet or to buy a better life for themselves or their children – or to feed a drug problem caused by alienation from society and by the intolerant controls on drugs. And of course, in the case of the huge problem of violence against women, the misogyny that is bolstered by our media and power structures and the alienation of people within society etc. For violence against men, I would cite the majority of the above reasons and also from http://www.survivorsuk.org/find_out_more/about_male_rape_and_sexual_abuse.php
“Again, it [the perpetrator] could be anyone - male or female. But the facts show that more men were abused from within the family than outside, and more men were raped by people they knew rather than strangers. In our years of experience, we've been contacted by men who have been abused by all different types of perpetrator.”
Recently games have come on to the market – and of course are part of Second Life, that use representations of violence against women and men as part of the “winning strategy” or philosophy of the particular game/sim etc.
Some argue that those who are involved do so because they have the free will to do so and it is acting out fantasy. People cite support for these people to do this because, “women have rape fantasies” or “men…” etc.
Recently in the UK, a woman was brought to court for writing poetry that was about fantasies of 9/11 type scenarios. She was a muslim woman. Her husband is in prison for plotting bombings and killings in England.
Quite rightly, the woman was eventually acquitted – her poetry was not shared or public or published in wide spread publications – in fact her poetry was for her own personal outlet. It was her giving outlet to her artistic and cultural identification with those who were carrying out these atrocities. Incidentally, she is now separated from her husband, whom she says she did not know was planning death and mayhem.
My argument is not with people who want an outlet for fantasies of wanting to be raped (and let’s face it, it is a fantasy – not a want to reality), but my argument is with those who sell areas or games in SL that include visualisations and emotes of violence towards women and children, and indeed men, as “normal” or as fun. Gor, an extremely misogynistic Role Play, is a prime example of that. I have had to help quite a few people over the past few years – all women I might add – get through the de-programming that that invidious philosophy extols. There have been reports of Gor violence leading to rl injury, rape and in one case death (for evidence on gor, please ask me inworld for notecards).
I have had debates with “women” – who in the case of two inworld “reporters” turned out to be men – about the merits of violence against women in the Gor scenario.
To cut a long story short, I am also against the trivialisation (ie personal titillation) of violence and intrusion of men, children and womens well being through sexual violence. How would reinactments of 9/11 by Muslim people in SL be received – and would it be tolerated under the California based Linden Lab? How would an Al-Qaeda game – where gamers can cut the heads off Americans be received? How would a “flood New Orleans” sim be received? Or a holocaust game?
(In SL we have had some very informative representations of violence – like the Darfur sim for example - and lots of Palestinian information sims and parcels – these are quite different from the titillation motivation – and in some cases, the profit motivation of the types of games and sims I am writing about).
The fact is, across the world, millions of people, men women and children lose their lives through extreme sexual violence – or are subject to rape/violence on a regular basis through family members or through trafficking/ prostitution etc. Why should we stand by and allow the promotion of exploitative games and sims trading on extreme human misery?