Scylla Rhiadra

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About Scylla Rhiadra

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  1. Sex and Gender in Virtual Worlds

    Back when I had starry eyes, and energy, and time! Always lovely, Derek. You take care too! See you around.
  2. Sex and Gender in Virtual Worlds

    Well, yes, and no. It's a universally recognized truism that the default avatars in SL are not actually very "realistic," or at least representative, of RL body types. The women are generally statuesque and wasp-waisted, with gravity-defying large breasts; the men tend to be broad-shouldered and well-muscled, with nary a beer belly in sight. They are cartoonish (or if you prefer, "idealized") versions of RL human bodies, rather than realistic representations. (In fact, of course, trying to make your shape "realistic" in terms of height and so forth puts you at a hopeless disadvantage in SL: animations don't work properly, and so forth). Well, that certainly is a problem: a world without female bits is no world at all!
  3. Sex and Gender in Virtual Worlds

    Well, really, it's pretty accidental that I happened by as you posted this, but, hey, lucky you, eh? I really don't want to get into this debate here, in part because it's not an appropriate place to get into it, and most people would be bored out of their gourd by it, and in part because I've been discussing it ad nauseum elsewhere and am limp already with exhaustion. The one thing I will note is that the comparison of Shepherd's case to that of Dicarlo is really a false equivalency. Dicarlo was a tenure-track PhD teaching and designing his own courses. Shepherd, on the other hand, is a teaching assistant who is only a couple of months into her MA program. She's not a "professor" or even an "instructor": her job as a TA is literally to support and complement the professor's lectures. She doesn't have "academic freedom": it's not her course. Arguably, doing her own thing in tutorials represents a violation of the professor's actual academic freedom. This is not conjectural on my part: I've served as both a TA and an instructor (and TA supervisor) in courses somewhat like the one Shepherd is TAing for, in the same public university system as her. Most of the media feeding frenzy around this has demonstrated an astonish level of ignorance about what universities do, and how courses like this work. We don't know an awful lot about what actually happened in that tutorial, but on the basis of what I've read, I can reasonably confidently say that 1) Shepherd was given inadequate training, support, and guidance by her TA supervisor (i.e., the professor), 2) Shepherd did an inadequate job of contextualizing the video she showed (i.e., she didn't actually "teach" at all: showing a YouTube video and then telling the students to have at it in an undirected way is not "teaching"), and 3) the response of her TA supervisor, the equity officer, and the other faculty member was appallingly poor and a really obvious form of bullying. But "censorship"? Nope. University courses teach these issues, and deal with Peterson's views, all the time (even I have, in passing). This was just really poorly managed pedagogy and supervision.
  4. Sex and Gender in Virtual Worlds

    Well, yes. In RL they are mostly, I suppose. I'm not a geneticist, so I'm not really in a position to contradict you about human morphology in RL, but in SL . . . well, your world, your imagination? One of the things that both explains SL's appeal for most people, but also describes its limitations, is that, for all of the freedom that it affords user, it is still built, really, to produce a virtual approximation of RL. So, by default we have ground, and sky. We have gravity. And, of course, we have avatars that are built to replicate (relatively) closely human ones. We can get around most of those things, but they involve a fair bit of sophisticated and complicated messing about with code. And maybe that's too bad?
  5. Sex and Gender in Virtual Worlds

    One of the really ADORABLE and darling things that I've always loved about the people here is how you all generously try so hard to pretend that I have even the tiniest inkling of what this technical stuff means . . . Ok, so I think I sort of get this. In theory at least, there are intermediate values between 0.0 and 1.0 that represent sort of "midpoints" between male and female. I suppose that's sort of like non-binary in effect. I did like this part in the link: "The avatar itself has no defined gender." That's actually pretty important, because it highlights the way that a gendered shape is an add-on, like clothing (which, of course, in actual practice, it sort of is), but that the avatar, as a sort of abstract "thing," independent of how it is rendered, is genderless. In some ways, that's a kind of analogy to how one might think of the difference between the gendered (or genderless) identity one might recognize in oneself, as independent from the biological body that one "occupies" (or, in an SL context, "wears"). That's pretty cool, and does, sort of, undercut the argument that binary genders are "hard coded" into the avatar (even if they are in practice coded into shapes as either 0.0 or 1.0 values). The idea that there is a sort of "Ur-Male," and an "Ur-Female" shape representing two poles, with all other possibilities existing only as intermediates is a bit odd, when you think about it. It's definitely not "thinking outside of the box" to imagine human physiology that way, it seems to me. It shows a distinct lack of imagination, and suggests that morphology is primarily a function of biological sex. The latter is obviously really important, but it's not the only determinant. Genetically, I should think (I don't know for sure), most elements of body shape are probably independent of, even if they are modified by, sexual characteristics. I suppose it's "good" that animations, whatever they're for, don't tend to call the shape's gender -- but still, nearly all, or surely a huge majority, of animations are in practice gendered, whether that's a component of the programming, or simply the aesthetic. I presume the point of such a call would be to "customize" the animation to the gender value that was returned? Anyway, this is fascinating. I wish I'd known more about this kind of thing 5 or 6 years ago. Thanks Innula! (PS. I never tried RLV, which is kind of odd. It was certainly of interest to me, just to see exactly what it did, how it functioned, and what it felt like, but I think it intimidated me.)
  6. Sex and Gender in Virtual Worlds

    Wow, didn't know that Innula! Probably I should have, but I never did much of the gender-bending thing. And it's been a long time. So, how hard would it be to created a non-binary base shape then?
  7. Sex and Gender in Virtual Worlds

    Interesting blog post. I'll admit to being a little surprised to hear that LL is still so backwards as to be hard-coding certain items by binary gender. I wonder why they don't also provide a non-binary option as a starter avatar? Given that SL was really pretty pioneering in its approach to gender identity, you'd have thought that they'd have done better to keep up with the times. And yes, I remember how awfully sexist Blue Mars was too. Ick.
  8. Sex and Gender in Virtual Worlds

    No, you would NOT be "sanctioned" or "suspended" at WLU. You would get a stern talking to by your TA supervisor, followed swiftly by a public apology from the university's president. C'mon, Derek, you're better than this. This is either deliberate misinformation, or just ignorance. Lindsay Shepherd was not disciplined in any way: she was told to clear her tutorial lesson plans with her teaching supervisor, which, frankly, she should have been doing in the first place. That's it. End of repercussions. No sanctions, no suspension. That Shepherd's actions were handled very poorly by her supervisor and the two other staff who were present is unquestionable: it was a royal f**k up. But you've just completely mischaracterized the consequences of her actions: there were none. Let's at least get the facts right.
  9. Abusive content/group/sims in Second Life

    Thank you! I find myself missing the place, fairly often. Or, more accurately, the people. I miss the way we all made a "place" here together. I don't get that so much in RL, for all of the other compensations that it has to offer.
  10. Race Play

    Again, a straw man argument. No one is contesting your right to free speech (or free RP). Go for it! What we are contesting is your intelligence, for wasting such an important right to spread vile and easily disproved racist nonsense.
  11. Race Play

    Most of what you say here, defending the right of people to say truly awful racist things, is a great deal of sound and fury signifying nothing. It's a straw man argument. Nobody is contesting your right to be racist, or even engage in racist RP. (See the first bullet point in my post above, in response to James.) No one has called for a ban of this. But If we grant you the right to engage in racist behaviours, then you too must reciprocate, and grant that we have the right to criticize you for it. Having the right to do something does not exempt you from that, nor from the natural consequences of your free choice. One of those consequences is that people are going to see that you are racists, and call you out for it.
  12. Race Play

    So, let's break this down. You are defending racist role play because, you say, it "mirrors the actual dynamic tensions in society," correct? In other words, you are defending a racist understanding of motivations and identity because you think that These accurately represent -- "mirror," in your words -- the real world. So . . . the racism in your RP is no longer about story arc or narrative. Your RP is racist because . . . well, because you are? I am very well aware that RP is often used -- in controlled contexts and under expert supervision -- to deal with PTSD. Arguing that it is only therapeutic If it is reductive, falsifying, and, yes, racist is sheer and utter nonsense. This is the familiar "we're paying for the privilege of being racist (or misogynist or homophobic or transphobic), and that gives us the right to be as objectionably mendacious and idiotic as we want!" Well, sure, maybe. I'm delighted to observe, however, that my even more secure right to call you out as a racist costs me exactly nothing. I think I'm getting much the better deal.
  13. Race Play

    With the greatest respect, Amanda -- and I find your argument an interesting, if deeply flawed one -- let me pose you my own question: "How much respect for or enjoyment of an action movie would we have if the foundation of the conflict were entirely built upon unpleasant and socially dangerous racist stereotypes?" I teach English literature: I get that any story lines needs a narrative arc that is built upon conflict, and that that conflict is often between protagonist(s) and antagonist(s). There is certainly nothing "wrong" with employing people who do "Bad Things" as antagonists: what is wrong is premising the performance of those "Bad Things" not upon character or circumstance, but rather upon crudely racist stereotypes. If the sole reason that your Big Bad Black Drug Dealer is Big, Bad and Deals Drugs is that he is Black, then, yeah, that's unacceptably racist, because the only motivation, the only "character" that he possesses is your utterly repugnant stereotype about what it means to be "black." The best movies -- or plays, or novels, or whatever -- don't rely for their antagonists upon racist stereotypes or cardboard figures who are mere stand-ins for racist assumptions: they employ fully-realized, complex villains who have a personal history and discernible depth of character that helps explain their motivation and makes the conflict with the protagonist more interesting and meaningful. And even the crappiest action movies can no longer get away with simplistic racist stereotypes. You want your thug or drug dealer to be black (or some other non-white ethnicity)? Fine. But make him an individual. It's lazy, ignorant, dangerous, and deeply offensive to make him representative of awful and outdated racist stereotypes. And you know what? I guarantee your RP will be more interesting, engaging, and exciting. You might actually find people want to play the villain! And you won't be contributing a social blight in the process. It's win win win!
  14. Race Play

    If you promise to poke me in the ribs whenever I appear to be too blasé or unfeeling about the travails and hardships of our juniors, I'll promise to do the same to you. (Unless there's somewhere else you'd prefer to be poked, of course.) Deal?
  15. Abusive content/group/sims in Second Life

    The government is an illusion, as you'll see if you just take this red pill. All there really is, is Maddy. Everywhere. All the time.