Sex play in virtual worlds is a favourite sensationalist topic for media outlets but as the Terra Nova discussion illustrates, it’s one of the many issues the wider population haven’t even begun to consider for its impact.
I received an email today from well-known Australian Second Life resident Wolfie Rankin, with some fascinating thoughts on sexuality, furries and the issue of griefing. His views in full below – the only alterations are changes to spelling and capitalisation:
“Some interesting things have come to light during a discussion with a friend who’s an Officer at a large Furry Sim.
It turns out that a lot of griefers, including those in well known griefing groups, are Furries themselves.
This will sound strange, but here’s how it works.
Furry #1 has a bad fallout with his Gay lover on Secondlife, So rather than taking it on the chin, decides to seek revenge… returns to SL as an Alt, loads up with weapons, and griefs. He may target his former lover or grief the entire sim where they hung out.
Or another scenario is that he asks someone in a griefing group to do it for him.
How do we know for certain?
Well it turned out that quite a few from that certain SL griefing group also had accounts on a well known furry art page and had used similar names to the ones on that art page.
Once this information came to light, quite a few from this well known griefing group suddenly left it.
I’m not putting Furries down, as you know, I’m one myself… However, it’s well known that some Furries are also huge “Drama Queens” who whine a lot and cause the rest of us to grind our teeth. They’d be the best candidates for this kind of thing.
Also, I’m not saying that griefing groups are entirely made up of furries, that’s not true.
It’s very clear now, that many who go griefing and target potential gay areas of SL, have personal sexual issues… For instance, a young lad who’s having feelings, but can’t cope with the idea that he might be gay, might takes it out on others who he either thinks are gay, or are openly gay.
In other words, he’s trying to assert his heterosexuality by targeting anything even loosely considered to be “gay”
Saying that it’s done for “Lulz” is simply a thin veil hiding larger problems, when you spend hours in the day griefing SL and then making a video of it for YouTube, there’s definately something not quite right.
People who are secure in their sexuality would never worry if the bloke up the road is gay or bi or whatever”.
It’s an interesting take and there’s no doubt those sexually conflicted may adopt aggressive measures to assert one viewpoint. One of the key opportunities and challenges that virtual worlds offer is exploration of social issues like sexual identity. What are your thoughts on the issue – is the viewpoint above a valid one?
The University of Plymouth have an excellent presence in Second Life devoted to sexual health. AIDS / HIV awareness, sexually transmitted diseases and other sexual health topics are the focus. Their blog lists a lot of their activity. One upcoming event that may interest you:
“Barbara Hastings-Asatourian, Managing Director of Contraception Education and Senior Lecturer in the School of Nursing at the University of Salford, is our guest speaker for the second seminar in our bimonthly sexual health seminar series.
Her seminar will be about Contraception, and will take place on 13 December 2007 at 8:00 PM (UK/GMT time = 12:00 PM/noon SLT) at the University of Plymouth Sexual Health SIM.
We are writing to invite you to attend this event. Please also forward to colleagues and friends who might be interested in attending. We will also have Christmas celebrations, a huge Christmas tree and much more at our SIM on the seminar day!”
In the eleven months SLOz has been running, one of the most vexed questions about Second Life and virtual worlds in general in pornography. Our story on Linden Lab’s ban on ageplay is the most viewed story on SLOz and by an extremely large margin – its follow-up is also regularly read. The reason for the enormous number of views comes down to the venerable search engine.
Each day we get hundreds of views of the ageplay story, through people typing a bunch of terms into Google or other search engines. Some of the more common being used are:
– child porn
– virtual child porn
– preteen porn
– preteen panties
– virtual porn
– legal porn
– child panties
There are a bunch of other ones I won’t publish here, suffice it to say there are some sick people out there. What it illustrates is the universality of the issue across the internet. Linden Lab’s crackdown appears to have been effective in minimising overt ageplay. What it can’t do is minimise the significant demand for undesirable images nor the dilemma of defining what consitutes pornography or otherwise.
Where do you see this issue progressing in future?
The Official Linden Blog carried one of its more serious topics today – allegations of child pornography. The blog post details the chain of events. Linden Labs’ reaction certainly demonstrates their belief in stamping out anything related to child exploitation and they deserve commendation for that.
Based on the blog post, I took the opportunity to use the SL search functionality and typed in ‘child’ – the result was everything from anti-child pornography groups through to childrens clothing and body-shape stores. The second location we teleported to contained the following images:
Another location appeared more innocuous but still contained body shapes like this:
We’re not asserting that the locations we saw are involved in child pornography. However, these images are obviously of under-18’s. I saw another picture of a child-like body shape for sale in nothing but panties which contained a sales description of ‘pert preteen body’.
That on its own may not constitute pornography but it’s difficult to rationalise the use of child body shapes beyond some very unhealthy intentions. There are people in SL who want to be carefree and live like a child, but arguably this isn’t the majority of the market.
We’ve contacted Linden Labs via their PR company for comment and we’ll report any response.
Update (November 2007): Reuters is reporting that the UK have undercover police investigating pedophilia in virtual worlds including Second Life. Second Life Insider is also running a story on Wonderland sim and Sky News’ reporting on it.
Update 2: Croga is an excellent site that provides confidential information to those concerned about their viewing of child pornography online.