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Chris Frentis

Has SL challenged your gender identity?

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At some time most of us were leading normal lives and discovered a game called Second life where you could be anything you wanted to be and everything changed about what you thought about yourself.

For some they chose to be the opposite sex in world from the beginning and for others who entered SL as their biological sex  they created an avatar or account of the opposite sex later for whatever reason later.

Has your experience in this made you question how much you are like your RL gen  der stereotype?

If you are a girl or Guy RL did you discover you are more like the opposite gender  or vice versa?

If this has affected you has it made you question things in RL about your mind gender vs biological gender?



 

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Actually it has not. It has challenged my wishes, desires, beliefs, expectations, of people, creativity, imagination, etc, but not my gender. Instead it has enhanced my femininity by letting me discover myself more....

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Looking back 6years I was an electrician working in construction and workshops in a rough environment full of  blokey guys  where you had to face rough trade situations and asserive highly stresed and cranky co workers to get stuff done. a normal days work was matching that to make them see reason..

I hurt my back in a workpace accident and got taken out of that environment i was in since school so I had time on my hands  and discovered Sl out of boredom. 


As I enterd Sl I chose  a chick because it looked better than the dude and both were pretty lame back then,  a purple Ruth or Ruth guy etc.

After A litte while I got over the initial sexual attrac tion to an opposite sex avatar and discovered once taken out of the male dominated rough environment I had grown into I had a sensitive nice feminine side like a girl.  I never knew i had anything like that.  it was a really big surprise to me and has haunted me since.

 

 

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This is an interesting topic for a thread, and since I've just answered another thread about genders I figure I can give this a go.

I'd kind of like to say yes - I've explored a lot of SL, and enjoyed my time. I don't consider my gender identity to be especially interesting, and it's not anything that's been 'challenged' (unless you're talking about creeps, in which case it gets challenged all the time :P). I've gotten to see some of the questions that occupy our thoughts and can be expressed in interesting ways - there are a few exceptionally interesting people. Please don't get me wrong, I love all of this personal expression and psychologically-transformative thought. It's taught me a lot! That in itself is a good thing.

However, when it comes to SL as a whole (to answer your question), I'd say SL still quite stuck in the retrograde conservatism that sprang from the 1950s and '60s in its execution of gender dynamics, roles and expectations. Fetishism of biological status (race, gender + trans status, nationality/ethnotype, abuse/crime) runs wild, quick thrills (typically degrading exploited groups) and ridiculous preconceptions are WAY more common than someone who actually considers the effect of their playtime. Relationships are still pathetically posessive in nature (which is weird, right?), and many consider it perfectly acceptable to try and compromise (not necessarily mechanically, but emotionally) another users personal safety to quiet their own phobic paranoia (or simply because they get disagreed with or romantically rejected). People will be incensed or will turn prude by the mere passing of an otherwise invisible crosshair flicking across their vision. Materialism and appearance is more important than self-actualised thought. Conformity continues to get you more rewards than self-expression.

I'm not surprised by any of this - Second Life isn't a place filled with magical beings, it's made of 20th century mammals with the same stupid biases, beliefs and herding behaviour present within the real world (I don't claim to be an exception).

From the outset, I reject the idea that female avatars on their own make a person more feminine - people project these qualities onto the avatar (they're usually stored in the person's memory, typically derived from sisters or mothers' observed behaviour - other imprints can attach here, also), and it becomes more feminine because the user associates femininity with the female shape. Correlation != causation, and all that. Truth is that femininity can be expressed by anyone (and all people are a combination of feminine and masculine), it's not constrained to gender pidgeonholing. Anecdotal evidence suggests to me that only the ultra-masculine are concerned with limiting the expression of behaviours mixing between genders - your example of 'labourers' correlates here.

The potential's there, individuals are better examples than any grouping. I would imagine (and hope) that most of this true expression and interrogative thought is going on in the real world (in some way) these days, just as much as it goes on in SL. Hopefully that self-actualisation grows more common across all spheres.

TL;DR - No, people are the same. SL has the capability to teach those who want to learn. Perpetuating the same gender roles that have been playing through human society for the last 3,000 years is not 'challenging'.

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Chris Frentis wrote: [...] 
a normal days work was matching that [...]
 

I fondly remember an episode of the British TV series 'The IT crowd' where the two main characters plan to attend some soccer games and, to be able to better 'mingle' and since they really don't know much about it, they consult a website to learn some of the lingo... stock phrases and exchanges, etc. Not long after that they do start mingling with other supposed soccer fans, and some of them happen to use the exact same phrases, strongly implying that they, too, actually know very little and use the same website, or similar ones, to pass off as soccer fans as well.

Have you thought that perhaps some of those construction workers may have been doing pretty much the same as you... 'matching others'? I don't doubt at least some of them would honestly be as rough, cranky and whatever as they seemed... but it'd be incredibly naïve to think that no one else was acting more masculine (or, if you will, suppressing more their softer tendencies) besides you. In fact, much of that pretended assertiveness is twice as stupid from the moment that it tries to hide insecurity, the fear of rejection of what you really are. Not a lot of people (not just guys, for that matter) would admit to any fear whatsoever, yet those 'larger/tougher than life' attitudes are driven exactly from the same fear they'd never admit to having.

So here in SL, without anywhere near as much pressure into pretending to 'fit it' (because you can freely choose which ambients you mingle in, including the less testosterone-riddled ones), you may have discovered you can decently pass as a female. It's hardly surprising, and in fact you might as well use the opportunity to further free yourself of all the prejudices that have been making you to feel 'haunted' by it.

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No, not in the slightest. But I think that most or all men have a feminine side. You probably just never realised it.

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My gender identity was challenged LONG before I joined SL, but certain people I met in SL gave me the courage I needed to make it real and physical in my RL. I don't think I'd have done it as quickly, or even at all, without SL.

Also I am probably the only person in the world who changed their legal RL name (first name only) to match their avatar's name as part of the RL transition process.

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Six years ago when I joined SL, I was a guy who chose a girl avatar.  Now, six years later, I'm a girl, playing with the same girl avatar. Was SL responsible for this?  I don't know, at least I don't think so, I've always chosen a female carachter in any game, however, SL is not a game like any other and certainly does affect one on a mental level much more so than your everyday run off the mill games. I highly doubt SL was the cause of my gender dysphoria, although it most probably played a big role in making me reach my realization.

I've spent a lot of time researching the affects of immersion of this level. I came accross a study, called the Proteus effect, which is all about how the avatar influences it's operator, although the study does not take gender identity into account, there certainly is a measurable influence generated by your avatar on yourself.

well, that's my 2 cents worth ;)

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