Thursday, 15 September 2011

Discrimination in Second Life? The Femdom 'Brand'

- by Ginette Pinazzo

I remember after ZEXPO 2010 concluded in April of 2010, there was a campaign by a certain disgruntled party to discredit the event as being too 'femdom' . Besides the fact the originator of this campaign had a precedent for smear tactics, the accusation was entirely ludicrous as that exhibition (ZEXPO 2010) featured well over 100 vendors and only TWO of them were 'femdom' places. Both places were well established on the adult continent of Zindra and have every right to be at the show.

Over the course of the following year, I noticed other examples of this phenomenon: a bizarre alarmist call to 'stop femdom' from taking over. In each case, I'd laugh to myself, because such behaviors only illustrated the continuing tradition of patriarchal manipulation, designed to shut down any and all examples of female empowerment. Even in the often enlightened virtual world of Second Life, does this form of discrimination perpetuate?

If you peruse the lands of SL, notably in the 'Adult' worlds such as BDSM regions or 'kink' lifestyles, you will find unending images of Sisters being tied, restrained, gagged or worse. Yet these behaviors are not labeled or categorized; they seem to be accepted as standard. Try to find places that use the term 'maledom' in their names or descriptions: not too common. This is because the pervasive world of 'maledom' is so accepted by cultures that they don't need the term. Yet if Sisters come together and create a 'femdom' organisation, they are seen as an exceptional threat.

Like the term 'femdom' or not (I don't love it), it's use is an effective way to unite groups and form a cultural understanding. The truth is, matriarchal interests are high in Second Life, and get higher every year. There are many reasons for this, including the impact of technology that allows Sisters to connect, unify and 'play together' as never before. Historical barriers to Sisterhood as the patriarchy has used them, become less effective every year with the advent of virtual worlds like SL. Yet the last gasps of a patriarchy still trying to shut down the natural evolution of women are still evident: these alarmists lash out out any examples of matriarchal growth.

It is a form of discrimination when countless examples of 'maledom' behavior are exhibited and never contested. Yet I see them. Many of my Sisters do. It's revolting to us, that this is accepted without question as average bdsm fare, yet the second a Sister stands up and engages in the same behavior with gender roles reversed, outcries of the 'femdom threat' are heard. I do feel these protest are a joke, as the Sisterhood gets better connected and more pervasive every year. Yet we are not out to conquer the universe, as these manipulators would have you believe. We are simply spreading love and peace, one act of empowerment at a time.

Another truth is: matriarchal movements in Second Life are organised. It's not just the use of the term 'femdom', but its the entire unification of causes. While femdom places in SL are very different, we highlight our commonalities best. We tend to cooperate, run large events, work with charities, bring people together. These behaviors mesh beautifully with the benefits of a virtual world. In short, matriarchal principles are a natural fit with an environment like SL. It is completely understandable that femdom would survive and thrive in SL.

Does the discrimination against femdom pose any real concern in Second Life? At this point, I'd call it a minor nuisance, a species doomed to extinction, but one that must still be monitored. Perhaps not normally dangerous anymore, but still a potential obstacle to progress if ignored. There a few old-fashioned mentalities walking around that still bear reformation. It's still a uphill challenge, to elevate matriarchal principles into the mainstream and to the 'standard' of acceptability that maledom behaviors have claimed for centuries.

The next time you hear someone complain about the pervasiveness of femdom cultures, realize it for the discriminatory sentiment it is. Just because Sisters decided to organise, does not mean we are any less entitled to gaining acceptability.