Thursday, February 4, 2010

Ambiguity of Identity Project - gender

3. Men in rl/women in sl & women in rl/men in sl.

Being a polymorph my apparent gender in SL is mutable - and really does it matter what my RL gender is? My SL intimates know my RL gender (but that is my choice to reveal) however on a general public interaction level my RL gender is immaterial in almost all cases. For me not revealing my RL gender to someone with whom I am in an intimate or strongly emotional relationship is on a level with lying to my RL partner - not something to be done. One of my SL partners was severely hurt by an ex who played the opposite sex in SL to their RL sex and maintained a complete fiction even after knowing (very early on) that being the RL gender they were precluded the level of relationship they had with my SL partner. But simply wearing the opposite gender in SL to RL is not in itself bad - it is how you treat others that really matters.

During my time in SL my own understanding of my gender in both worlds has developed as has my understanding of how to "read" other avatars. Through experiences with my SL partners I have experienced many subtle and interesting aspects of how I personally relate to apparent gender and dominance levels.

I've seen different reactions form other residents depending on what gender I am or what gender they believe me to be in any given situation.


The reasoning behind wearing an apparent gender that is opposite to RL gender is many and varied - each individual has their own set of reasons and justifications.

There are people who use SL to explore their own gender identity or to express aspects of their self that they do not feel capable of doing in RL. Still more use SL as a place to explore the possibility of gender reassignment as part of their own real life journey.

Some simply experiment with gender to see how it effects the reactions of those around them.

Still others wear female shapes as it is so much easier and cheaper to dress them nicely :)

Some people cannot conceive of being any gender other than they have in RL... and some who are vehemently against avatars not being the same as their RL human,
which says a lot more about their own psychological state than that of the people who are exploring alternative possibilities.

Note: I'll add links to various research and blogs that cover this subject when I get a chance to compile the list. I'm friends in SL with several gender identity researchers.

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