Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Welcome to the SL Left Unity Feminist Network's Consumer Watch!

This electronic newsletter is intended to raise awareness of, initiate discussion of, and document Second Life content that relates to images and representations of gender violence. While the focus will be upon representations of violence against women, which comprise the vast bulk of depictions of sexual violence in Second Life, it will, where it seems appropriate, also feature content relating to sexual violence against men. Additionally, it is our intention to feature "woman-positive" content available in-world.

A new issue of The Consumer Watch will be appear every month or so. Each issue will generally highlight the products of one particular content creator in Second Life, either in-world through retail outlets, or through internet sources such as Xstreet and Because there are literally thousands of products depicting sexual violence in Second Life, reviewed content will focus upon the most egregious examples, or upon "popular" creators and retailers attempting to introduce such content into the mainstream. We welcome suggestions for content to be reviewed.

What is the Point of this Newsletter?

One of the most important projects that the SL Left Unity Feminist Network has appointed itself is the documentation of representations of violence against women in Second Life. Such representations are important because of the proven links between violent pornography and attitudes towards sexual violence and rape in "real life." While it is true that the vast majority of those who engage in activities such as rape or snuff role play in Second Life are doing so consensually (with the understanding that "consent" can itself be a problematic concept), the prevalence of such role play, and of other gratuitous pornographic depictions of violence against women in Second Life means that the activities of many in this virtual world are contributing to the continued acceptance of rape myths and other socially-harmful attitudes towards sexual violence.

This newsletter represents an important part of our campaign to bring the existence and prevalence of depictions of violence against women to the attention of a broader audience. It is a fact that, while most Second Life residents are at least vaguely aware of the existence in-world of BDSM and Gorean role play, relatively few know the full extent to which violent pornography has seeped into our virtual world. Fewer still are aware of how graphically violent and deeply misogynist much of this material is. This newsletter, then, is intended to educate residents about these issues and to generate meaningful discussion about its functions and effects.

For more information about these issues, please see the "SLLU FN Boycott Notifications" on this site, and our "Representations of Violence against Women in Virtual Worlds: A Bibliography of Sources" on the group Wiki.

Why Are You Calling for Boycotts?

One component of this newsletter will be the generation of an ongoing list of creators and merchants whose in-world businesses we believe should be boycotted. This list will be largely but not exclusively comprised of those whose products are featured here. When and if a merchant or creator removes those products that triggered the boycott call, he or she will be removed from the list, and a notice sent out to that effect.

Boycotts have been chosen as the mechanism by which to respond to this content because boycotts are democratic, participatory, and work within the existing economic system in Second Life. They are democratic because boycotts ask that everyone consider the evidence themselves, and make their own decision about whether or not to participate. They are participatory because the effect of boycotts derives from the cumulative results of individual action. And they work within the existing system because they apply the economic leverage of the individual, rather than seeking a "top-down" ban on content. Boycotts allow residents to vote against misogynist and sexually violent materials with their wallets.

No comments:

Post a Comment