Friday, June 19, 2009

Child Avatars, Freedom of Expression and Agent Provocateurs

So... after Feathers' show i caught up on the raging debate/hissy that's all over the xstreetsl forums and quite a few blogs. Here's the basic setup:

A few days ago, Marianne McCann visited the new adult-oriented sim Pornopolis erm Zindra, which at the present moment is open to all residents and contains nothing but land; no buildings, no sexgen shops, nothing "adult oriented" (meaning porny bits and so on). All of the information from LL has said that the continent welcomes visitors and explorers of ANY TYPE until the new Rules go into effect July 1. Marianne is a very very old child avatar/advocate, but she is also famous for exploring ANY newly-opened continent (see her blog for more details on that) and so of course went to go see the new land.

There were Lindens; there was a spontaneous dance party. No one seemed upset about Marianne being there, dressed quite conservatively.

And then the jokers started.

The Crap Hits The Fan

If you want to read all the hilarious and hypocritical dialogue/spew, here's a couple URLs:

XstreetSL - Forum 1 - Prokofy's thread

XstreetSL - Forum 2 - The other stupid crap (as if one forum isn't enough)

Basically, what happened (supported by several people who were there and denied/obfuscated/attempting-to-rewrite -history'ing by Miss Valley-girl oops i means Miss Vryl...) is that first, some idiot put on a giant penis avatar.

The second is that Miss Shrill, oops i mean Vryl, decides that Marianne is somehow "intimidating her" and "crashing her rightz" about "free expressions" and decides to... strip naked, pose herself near the CHILD AVATAR and begin masturbating. In public.

What's most concerning me here is that the debate has been skewed towards "omg child avatar activists are coming in to adult spaces and tramplings on our rightz!" instead of the basic facts:

1- someone put on an avatar that is a flagrant TOS violation (public decency) and will STILL be forbidden under the new rules about Adult content.

2 - someone else stripped naked and masturbated herself, also in public, also a flagrant TOS violation, not to mention in bad taste, juvenile, self-gratifying (giggle) and grandstanding.

Yet all of this is turned into a debate about "cild avatrz is tramplin' us'm!"

Here's my post from the Xstreetsl forum (which has gathered a lot of support and praise, i'm proud and happy to say)-


I have a child avatar; i am small most of the time. I am an artist and my reasons for
playing such an avi are probably not the usual ones (CLEAN ONES) but I'll give things a go.

Much of the time I play "Alice," who has an ancient and dense association with cyberspace in both science fiction/cyberpunk literature and films and in cyberspace itself - there were Alices in Alphaworld and earlier worlds. My avatar is a metaphor for the mystery, wonder and freedom of cyberspace ala Donna Haraway's "A Cyborg Manifesto."

Most of the OTHER time I am a Miko, a sworn (and inviolate) Temple Maiden, who creates artwork and attends to a healing Temple (which uses sine waves and tone generation for healing work).

My choice of avatars has much to do with art, sociology and literature; as much as someone choosing to be a "vampire" or someone shy and isolated choosing to play a Sex Gawd/Dess and run around in a bling-encrusted pimp suit when they work at a normal job and might manage to purchase similar RL bling perhaps once in their lives. It is both a creation and an escape.


I agree with the comments made by many about "speech-impeded kids;" I also agree
wholeheartedly that there is a lot of "bad role play" but that is certainly not confined to the child-avi genre. Baby tawkin like dis constantly is both irritating and very uninformed; anyone past the age of perhaps 2 or 3 might misuse words or structure grammar badly, but if they spoke like that they'd need a speech therapist/dentist/tongue surgery.


When I am in my avi, I make it a definite point to stick to both Linden rules and the generally-accepted moral rules of outworld - a child avi definitely does NOT belong in an adult club, bar, bdsm mall or anything similar. Mature areas are difficult because many homes are built in those areas. But if I TP in, take a few seconds to rez and instantly recognize that it is an "adult-themed" (ok why are adults putting up with this label when we all know we're talking about 'sexual speech and activities') area, I immediately TP out and am happy to do so.

I have no desire nor need to engage in cybersex, sexual role play or anything similar on SL. It seems as silly to me as others say roller skating for the pleasure of it seems to others. It's most hilarious when people "role play" having a wedding on SL.
But fine, ok; I AM AN ADULT. If I get into a place I don't like or agree with, I LEAVE. I ignore it; I brush it off.


I definitely disagree with trying to "force" your way onto a sim/continent that is clearly marked Adult Content, as much as I disagree that "adults" should be free to hang around the adoption centers with their freepenis wagging and their latex-almost-clad simulated boobs falling out. The same codes of conduct apply whether Outworld or Inworld; what is inappropriate in one place is certainly inappropriate in the other. It cuts both ways, however; in my own experience I have seen "adult avatars" constantly pushing into PG-areas to "challenge" them, which is also BS. You can't have it both ways.


I have a plot on a PG sim by choice and will eject any rude, boorish or undressed avatar from there with ONE warning. My space and plot are open to the public but I expect the public to abide by the sim designation and act accordingly; this means you aren't any more welcome to roleplay GOR on my land than I am to role play Alice on yours.


I could begin bashing all vampires, pimps, furrys, fairys, elves, cyberpunkx and the rest of the endless genres popular on SL because of the few of each genre I have met who are lame role players, rude or insulting, boorish, provocative or any of the other usual RL reasons for disliking their company, but that would be stupid AND CHILDISH. There are many, many bad game players in SL and otherwheres; blaming an entire subculture for the crass behaviour of a few is certainly not "mature."


So let's separate the issues:
1. Do I have "validity" for my choice of avatar? Yes.
2. Are other people free to choose not to like that choice? Sure.
3. Should the choices of a few determine the overall policy of the many? No.
4. What's the real issue?


The real issue is inappropriate conduct. I am not best pleased with "child avatar
activists" who deliberately provoke by entering clearly-marked (and built and visually explicit) adult areas just as I would have the same problems and reservations with them doing so in RL.

If you are "role playing" a child, please determine your parameters; if you are playing a 6-7-8 and up avatar, try to speak like a real 6-7-8 yr old, and dress accordingly. Realize that a RL child wouldn't be able to wander freely into a bar, dance club or the like and that it isn't "repression of your choice of avatar" but in fact a condition and set of rules that you put yourself under when you chose to "play" that type of "character."


If you are role playing a child avatar, stay OUT of strip clubs, bars, adult dance clubs, weird shopping malls, "dark" places and "strange" company. You don't belong in a bdsm/GOR/whorehouse sim; if you TP in unknowingly, in 10 seconds you know where you are; TP out IMMEDIATELY and don't go back.

If you want the freedom to play in a child shape, as I do, then you don't need to/have a problem with "pushing the envelope" and should just get an adult avatar and quit trying to play both sides of the line.

Conversely, if you are an "adult avatar" who likes to live in pixel-latex and spank
everyone you come across, stay the h-e-double-hockey-sticks OUT of PG areas, kid's
playgrounds/malls, adoption centers and other plainly kid-infested areas.


If you meet someone like me, who is small, doesn't babytalk and throws quotes from Marshall McLuhan and Donna Haraway at you, try to open your mind and discover what I am transmitting to you semantically; I make it plain that I am no "baby" and attempt to make you realize that there's a lot more going on than what you are "seeing."


However, since I am in that shape, and knowing how that shape calls into question certain issues (which my character is designed to do), there are rules of conduct to be observed in that shape. That shape is not welcome in sexually-themed or open areas, and that's fine by me; in fact one of the reasons I chose such a shape was to make plain my dislike and disinterest in any kind of sexual hinting, come-ons, dialogue, role play, cybersex chat or the rest. I prefer PG rated areas just so I do not have to have my attention drawn to such things; I have better things to do in SL than play a game better played at a local bar or bowling alley or church social (getting a mate).


And if you're an adult avatar, the next time you need a flower girl for your "pretty SL wedding" give me a call; I am in frequent demand for such things and can tell you if I have an opening in my busy schedule ^_^

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

... and that about sums up this ADULT'S perspective on the hysteria and plain old hypocrisy of this stupid debate. Miss V-R-Y-L (hey, i got it right!) might be tasteless, boring and boorish, but she's free to play with herself in her own home in front of a mirror to get her jollies off, in keeping with the TOS rules and regulations... but she isn't free to do it in public spaces by those same rules and regs, child avatars present or not. And she sure isn't welcome to slut around like a cheap tramp in clearly-marked children's sims either; i'd be more than happy to AR her immediately :)

You'd be surprised how often "adults" march into kids' sims, dressed in latex with falling-out breasts, or in butt-floss lingerie and nipple-piercings, or a name like "SuxGood Oh" saying they "want to adopt a child." Really? Then try dressing like a responsible family mother and not like an escapee from a tawdry and bottom-of-the-barrel strip club, hmmm?

Yet these are the first people to throw a fit and scream "repression!" when a child avatar complains (and rightfully so) to one of the adult "monitors" (all legitimate children's areas have them as part of the SL Child safety procedures) and they are asked to put some decent clothes on or leave.

Wah wah wah, we want freedom to do as we please... but not for you. We want freedom to prance around naked... but you can't dress in a nice, mother-approved dress (my mother would LOVE how i dress in SL) and rollerskate around, play on swings or generally engage in fun activities that Walt himself would beam approval on. We aren't perverts for wanting to engage in pixellated sex out in the street, but you are, for wanting to have a nice escape that clearly telegraphs "I am not interested in sex, cybersex, sexual innuendo or sexual comeons" by its' very visual nature.


Get a life, grow up, quit yammering about your "rights" if you don't support them for anyone else.

and here's an amazingly good article in the Alphaville Herald (yes, i know!) by Jessica Holyoke that's fair and balanced (yes, i know!!!) :)

OpEd: But What About The Children?


ps - i'm booked for Flower Girl through July so if you want one it hasta be later ^_^

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