ReRe Sandalwood~Rape Culture Is Very Real In SL

rapecultureiswhenI was recently on SL, minding my avi business when a guy got in my inbox and began to throw some unwanted role play in my direction.

The role play seemed initially innocent enough; he began by giving me a tackle hug, then a gentle peck on the lips.  I thanked him in kind, but what happened next made me log the hell off SL for at least four hours.  The gentle role play peck turned into a long, drawn out kiss…a kiss he wrote about in detail (side eye here).

When I asked him what had gotten into him, he proceeded to describe how his tongue was beginning to slither into my mouth…all in an effort “to battle another.”  Then, dude continued on by saying, “My hands explores down her sides, ending by kneading her shrouded buttocks together ‘N’ apart gently…” He then adds…and I quote “Thought I’d get acquainted  with my Re Re agains.”

As he began to describe in more detail about his role play-imagined conquest, I cut the conversation short by not only logging off quickly, but by quickly deleting him off my friends list.

rape-culture-4-638While many may dismiss this as nothing more than written words, I find that idea a bit hard to digest.  To me, this incident is a prime example of unwanted role play, synonymous with unwanted sexual contact inherent within rape culture.

Rape culture is a real phenomenon in SL, and it is not limited to men pushing their sexual agendas onto women either.  Rape culture can also be embedded in the psyche of women, who may inaccurately believe that its the women’s fault, specifically because of how they dress and their attitude.  It can also be embedded in a woman’s psyche if they advocate assault against women via supporting those who routinely participate in rape culture.

To better understand rape culture, it is very important to clarify the definition of the term.  According to the WAVAW Rape Crisis Center website, the term ‘”rape culture” is a term that was coined by feminists in the United States in the 1970’s (WAVAW Rape Crisis Center Website). It was designed to show the ways in which society blamed victims of sexual assault and normalized male sexual violence (WAVAW Rape Crisis Center Website).  Yet, Emilie Buchwald, author of Transforming a Rape Culture, describes that when society normalizes sexualized violence, it accepts and creates rape culture, too. In fact, in her book, she defines rape culture as:

quotes3rape-culturea complex set of beliefs that encourage male sexual aggression and supports violence against women. It is a society where violence is seen as sexy and sexuality as violent. In a rape culture, women perceive a continuum of threatened violence that ranges from sexual remarks to sexual touching to rape itself. A rape culture condones physical and emotional terrorism against women as the norm . . . In a rape culture both men and women assume that sexual violence is a fact of life, inevitable . . . However . . . much of what we accept as inevitable is in fact the expression of values and attitudes that can change. 
In SL, we are seemingly given the power of choice to participate in rape culture.  In fact, there are SIMS dedicated to the whole concept of forced sex and aggression.  While I will not call out any by name, I will say this:  While there is a power of choice present, SIMs that seemingly encourage rape culture (as defined by Emilie Buchwald) reinforce the notion that sexual violence is normal.  This, in turn fosters an atmosphere where it is acceptable for men to not only push their sexual agenda on others, but to cheaply categorize women based on their own unfounded generalizations.
rape-culture-graphicIn terms of unwanted role play, forcing someone to partake in a sexual violence/assault/rape role play they may not want to participate in can also be seen as part of rape culture in SL.  Granted, many of us love to be romantically swept off our feet; we also may love the idea of a man leading the way when it comes to sexually initiating things.  However, that love should be based on both partners not only knowing one another well, but knowing one another for a long period of time, too…
As SL community members, we have to be aware of our virtual surroundings.  With this in mind, it is very important that we remember that–although there is the power of choice present inworld, that we must also choose to not force role play on those that may not want it.

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