Sunday, May 27, 2007

Freedom tastes of reality

Yoiks! I got distracted in that other posting. I asked the question—why are there seemingly so many guys whose primary avatar is female?—but didn't really even attempt to answer! I appreciate the comments that entry has already received. Comments always provide additional insights. Maybe there will be more insights from this one.

I already touched on one reason that some men play women. It's more social than sexual. For all the talk of male bonding, it's women who bond more easily. Women tend to see each other as allies. They can form exclusive cliques, of course, but in general they are more welcoming. Women can form friendships at any point in their lives. For men, not so much. Heterosexual men might have other men they hang out with—go to bars, watch sports, shoot hoops, things like that—but they are rarely close to other men unless they happen to have known someone for a long time, like an old buddy from high school or university. Women can more easily get close to other women, and can share much more intimate things than men can with each other. When it comes to friendships, woman are freer than men.

Another reason is that women, much more than men in this society, can be overtly sexy. They are allowed, even encouraged, to put their wares on display. It's like the opposite of the situation among birds, where males tend to have the brighter plumage and are the ones that "strut their stuff" (and females do the choosing). Among humans, with some exceptions, that's the domain of women. Women can strive to look beautiful. Men get to be strong silent types. They can be rugged and handsome, if they're lucky, but they're supposed to do that without making much effort. If they make too much effort, that's not manly. So here again, women are allowed more freedom than men.

(Incidentally, this freedom to be sexual is very powerful. I think it's one of the reasons for the oppressive patriarchy, and why in some societies women are forbidden to make any kind of display. A woman can bring the strongest man to his knees just by being herself. Desire can sap the will out of the toughest guy. This leads to men both wanting and fearing women, which of course leads to a desire to control. You know the rest.)

Second Life, of course, helps with this freedom to preen and strut. SL is loaded with "slutwear." But it's not just that. Designers also create very beautiful clothes, not just overtly sexy ones. Female avatars can as easily look beautiful and sophisticated as hot and sexy. The range of female clothing is astounding, and new designs and designers keep on showing up. For men, the choice is limited, although not as limited as many think. Still, just as in first life, guys don't have the clothing options that women do. Women have the freedom to look beautiful, sexy, sweet, pretty, or any and all of the above. The range for women even includes most of the range for men.

It's clear from comments I have read that being female in SL is liberating in these ways and more. For some, being female allows them the freedom to open themselves up, to be vulnerable, to learn about their own emotional range. They don't get this in their first lives. The fantasy of SL, the allowance for imagination, lets them escape the chains of first life male existence. They seem to be better men for it. And some question whether they have been repressing something in themselves.

What we're seeing in SL is that many more men than might have been imagined, when given the opportunity for a fantasy existence, choose to be female. This is extraordinary. It's telling us things about what men want when given the chance. It's telling us about what is lacking in men's lives in the our current cultures. It's like a grand social experiment, although without controls. Still, someone in academia should probably study what's going on here. No doubt there is much more to learn.

6 comments:

anima said...

I agree, it is extraordinary.

My experience as a female avi is, in all kind of small ways, influencing my first life as a male.

There is a light touch, a quality of freedom I get from being a female in SL. The question is how can I integrate and realize this in my RL?

And RL doesn't help, RL doesn't want this. There is danger in men expressing femininity, it is threatening, 'not right'.

As I said in your last post, I'm happy with my RL gender, I'm content with my sexuality.

SL gives me the opportunity to allow my feminine side to flower, to play and express herself. It's incredibly liberating for me as a man to have this opportunity. I am immensely grateful for it.

Anima

Anonymous said...

And then voice came along...

- Peter Stindberg

gemini said...

Hi,

In despite of my efforts, english is not my language... sorry for the mistakes.

Veronique, you touch a good point with your articles, i think many men play a role in the FL (or RL ), , the role of the strong male , because, it is the rules of the life ...and the men who don't play this, are classified like gay or faible ... and cannot have the female ;-) lol ... it is the rule of the wild life and humans are yet animals .

In SL, it is possible to have an other game in the hand , and men use perhaps, it is an hypothese, their true personnal personnality, more emphatic, softer, womanly ..

because perhaps, they have the protection of the screen (l'écran)

gemini

Veronique Lalonde said...

Gemini, tu fait des bons points. Pour le moment, on est protégé en SL. On peut être n'importe quoi, parce qu'il est un monde d'imagination. Une grande libération!

Anonymous said...

This is a big topic barely scratched; some serious study needs done. Some thoughts- RL males are under extreme pressure to gain status by a certain time (20's) so they can offer the best-case prospect for a mate/family man/etc. Male life expectancy is lower because males are evolutionarily driven to seek out methods for putting themselves at risk in order to gain this status (it's not just stupidity ;) ). This search for risk is curtailed by law-writing males in power who perpetuate the uneven distribution of property through the textual violence of law. Marginalized males are cornered into seeking out risk in ever-more dangerous ways, for example culminating in gangs.
The phenomenon of SL (which I sense is just beginning) is just a tiny step towards freeing the mind from the physical chasis. A RL male carries X chromosomes, early on had a female body until Y-chromosome differentiation began, came from woman; I suspect there's a Freudian projection or denial of the awareness that males find women inescapable; women are like infinite gravitation, and their options at being scantily clad helps the situation not one bit. So, a female avatar in SL makes the tiniest little possibility of tapping into that deep power while also escaping out of the pressure of being male in this highly domesticated world. There is also a theatrical, dramatic, cinematic and sensual pleasure in the vulnerability of being (virtually) female. Freud would include this under the pursuit of 'mastery' (his word), or progressive gaining of control over traumatic experiences through repetition. This is like running a female virtual server with a female operating system on a male server with a male operating system.

Keep up the provocative questions!

[Male in RL]

Anonymous said...

I also have a female avatar and am male in RL
The hardest part when you are found out as a male and griefed, unfriended, ect.
I have never told anyone in SL that I am a RL female and I am usually taken a face value.
But recently it became necessary for me to reveal my true gender and now I wish I had not got in the situation. To say the least it did not end well.

I have a male avatar also but like most have problems making friends with him.. irls all think you are hitting on them and guys think you are after their girls. Oh well such is life