It's true . . . Second Life is about to kill off a quarter of it's membership in a misguided attempt to make their virtual universe more real. It's been coming for some time -- voice chat in SL. But, a recent article in SL's PixelPulse Magazine reveals how it's going to affect a great deal of its membership: RL males who are women in SL.
I use the word "male" because I am most decidedly not a man, and I don't say that in a self-deprecating way. Right now, sexualities of all sorts are re-evaluating their core identities and differentiating themselves from the big-tent categories they've been placed into since Eden. First, there was man and woman, then a few years later, we added "eunich"; most recently were the additions of gay men and lesbians, then transgendered persons, then queers who didn't like any of those titles, and the "questioning" who didn't want to associated with any of the above until their real life experiences were more aligned with their wet-dreams.
Even more recently, the more macho dick-divers have dropped their bar-bells and electric body shavers long enough to declare their independence from the world of "gay" -- insisting that they are Same Gender Loving or Men who have Sex with Men (SGL and MSM). Yawn. Just because some "metrosexuals" are arching their eyebrows and getting away with it does not assign masculinity to the lispy-voiced fem-hater.
Perhaps it's time that the rest of us disassociate ourselves as well -- those of us who emerged from our mothers' vaginas asking where she bought those heels never had the luxury of a closet: everyone knew we'd eventually be on our hands and knees before we could even pronounce the word "homosexual."
Second Life has made me further evaluate my own sexuality -- I'm beginning to realize that I'm not a highly-subcategorized queer, but a female brain inside a slightly male body (most of the sexual characteristics are appropriate, except for the slight shoulders, the wide-boned hips, and the twice-a-week sex drive). Everything's in working mechanical order -- except that there's no such thing as "pre-cum" from this queen's dick.
After many sleepless nights created by this realization, I've just accepted it. No cutting, no cross-dressing. I don't need that drama -- trying to assimilate as a woman in a highly-Christian pre-fascist society is more than I can handle right now. It's not that I'm a wimp or a coward -- but I'm most definitely not a man.
The requisite harassment if I did would be nothing unusual. My life growing up was no less cruel than a black kid in suburbia, a Jewish kid in Biloxi, or an Afghan at Guantanamo. I was unusual -- so, I was humiliated, tortured, stripped, dehumanized, and ridiculed on a daily basis. And somehow, I managed to not end myself before learning how to transcend that cruelty. I'm still the biggest sissy I know, I still attract attention, and -- honestly -- I don't even perceive when I'm being mocked anymore.
I've learned to move on, I've forgiven the male gender -- god bless them, they know not what they do -- and I've tried to make a life for myself. Something still didn't sit right -- and as I mentioned in the previous blog posting -- it wasn't until SL that it all clicked.
And now, SL wants to take it all away from me by introducing real-time voice chat. How? Because of it becomes extremely popular, the pressure will be on for all to conform: speak up or get the fuck out. Of course, other residents can't kick out those real male-powered females, but we could certainly lose a lot of friendships and relationships when RL prejudice prejudges our preferred existence in this new world.
I have a bf in SL. I love his spirit and his soul. He has asked me twice if I was a man -- early on, mind you, because "as everyone knows," a great deal of SL women are indeed biologic males. As the linked article explains, some are people like me acting out transgender fantasies, while others are just guys who are into lesbian sex and want to engage in it themselves. If voice-chat takes off, he'll want me to join him and the millions of others to get with the program, and "I don't have a mike yet" will only work a month or two at best. Eventually, I will have to tell him. And, I will most certainly lose him.
I thought about this a lot today -- it kind of bummed me out. The best I can hope for is that voice-chat will be as popular as it has been in chat rooms and IMs around the internet -- which is to say it will be an enormous flop. Chats -- particularly in large rooms (on the web and in SL) are organized in chronological order -- even if 14 people are talking at once). If you're a quick read, or archive your chats, you can literally "hear" everything in the room. With voice-chat, that will be impossible. In the dance halls of SL, you wouldn't be able to hear the disco since I've never been to a popular one where no one could keep their digital mouths shut.
And it's not just the transgendered or lesbo-posers who will feel shafted by this. MOST residents are living a fantasy existence in SL -- whether they want to be samurai warriors or Elizabethan princesses, these illusions will be busted by their asthmatic wheezing and Bronx accents. Sure, the ordinary avatars powered by those without imaginations won't mind the transition to sound . . . but it's entirely possible that half the residents won't use it at all.
Or they could . . . except for most of the ladies who have penises in RL. Our fantasy lives could be destroyed . . . and if so, look for us to leave en masse.