Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Color Challenge: Week Nine - Silver

Silver Week has arrived, and with it, the new year.

On the Edge

For the last several months, I've been circling around an old thought cascade of mine, brought up by several interactions with people on SL. Offline, the issue of being "sexy" or performative femininity (femininity that is treated as a role with rules, like 'must wear pink' or 'must show breasts' rather than an organic expression of one's internal gender-specific feelings and desires) doesn't really come up for me, outside of the usual thin-scantily-clad-females=sex and those sorts of institutionalized sexism. My offline friends, though, don't much care, don't demand certain behaviors or dress from me, etc.. etc... and I gave up on being perceived as sexy offline a long time ago.

And on Second Life, until very recently, it didn't come up much, though it did come up. I began my tour in second life seeking out philosophy discussion and philosophical groups, which I combined with dressing up like a faerie in pretty dresses. I was usually one of the more extravagantly dressed in the discussion.

This would be the first place I ran into performative femininity with the presumed goal of it - landing a male companion - but only once, when one of the discussion holders insisted that I dressed as I did, and changed my clothing regularly, purely for the goal of garnering male attention. That I could want to change my clothing regularly and wear, what I will egotistically call attractive outfits simply because I found them beautiful, and I enjoyed making beautiful things including my own avatar was so outside of his conception of women that he literally could not understand it even when I explained it to him multiple times in multiple ways. When he finally understood what I was saying, he insisted I must be lying and that he knew better than I what I wanted, which was a boyfriend on Second Life.

This is a type of asshole most often found in the male intellectual variety, whose intellect is such (read: "whose intellect sucks") that they have experienced everything and thus when you disagree with them, even based on your own experiences, you simply must be wrong.

Little Details

Over time, I've gotten less interested in the "philosophical" discussions, especially those which seem enormously repetitive to me (after the fourth time of atheists debating why religion-which-is-amazingly-close-to-the-type-of-Christianity-they-hate-most sucks, the bloom was off of the rose). I moved more toward hunting, and freebie finding, and those tend to be largely solitary. The closest I got to a community for a while was Falln Angel Creations chat, still one of my favorite chats in Second Life.

And then I stepped into roleplaying, which is a dual layered community. You have the Out Of Character Community, and the In Character Community, and while they overlap they can be different. They influence each other, in ways which both add too and detract from the roleplay.

And I ran into performative femininity again, only this time explicitly about my desirability for romantic relationships based on how I dressed. I've been surprised at my response to it, how ingrained this idea is; that my value as a person is dependent upon J Random person finding me sexually desirable. And also at the implied relationship and roles - that I am not to desire but rather to be desirable; that I am not to look, even at myself, but rather to be looked at and wait for the opinions of others to determine my worth.

...Must Come Down

A lot of Second Life is based around relationships and sex; much of the clothing is very scanty, a lot of the activities are ones centered on romantic relationships, and within roleplay it continues to astonish me the number of people who consider any relationship other than a sexual or romantic one either entirely unimportant, or a means to getting a relationship of that sort. These sorts of exchanges aren't always based on performative gender roles, but they often are.

I've largely managed to avoid having to play along with the rules, but not without some bumps - for example the guy who assumed that because I danced with him for fifteen minutes I would be his "SL girlfriend" since his "RL girlfriend" wasn't around and gods forbid he exist without a girlfriend in a given medium. This tangle of experiences around gender was all brought up again, though, through interactions with people who assume things based on my gender and general disposition and then are shocked when they aren't true.

And I keep circling this, trying to figure out why it bothers me...

( More pictures here. )


Skin: Doux Petit, Sade Rainbow - Tone 2
Eyes: Tacky Star, Pride
Ears: Illusions, Mystic Ear - Fairy
Hair: Tea Lane, Crys - silver
Wings: Fancy Fairy, Goblin Wings - murky
Dress: Kuri Style, One Piece 145 St. Valentine (B)
Sweater: katat0nik, Strawberry Dream Sweater - Silver
Jewelry: G Field, Pearl Bracelets and CHocker "Blossom" white (fullbright removed)
Stockings: Kosh, Checker Socks - Grey
Shoes: G Field, Ribbon Slingback Shoes - Silver

1) Alchemy Immortalis, French Boudoir 1910 Stand 10
2) PDA, [NH] About a Boy
3) Long Awkward Pose, Fantasy-Faepose11

Location: Immersiva
Light Settings: [TOR] SUNRISE - Teaching
Water Settings: [TOR] Impure

Photographed by Deoridhe Quandry
Post processing: Cropping only


  1. Thanks for sharing those beautiful pics as well as the very interesting thoughts

  2. Those pics are gorgeous... and the thoughts on the idea of what is sexy are interesting. I personally think these pics of you are both sexy and exotic, dont need to flash the flesh to be sexy. I will admit to being a serial flesh flasher, it was a path I found myself wandering down due to the style I wanted for my Barbie Doll, and now when I try on the floaty dresses I don't feel they look right on my avatar... I envy the sexiness that can come off when wearing a fully concealing, fairytale dress...

  3. Honestly, I'm fond of extreme contrasts, so part of the sexiness for me in an outfit is often a lot of covering up with what is exposed. Somehow, a full length dress makes that flash of calf somehow ...more for me.

    I've had a whole lot of people respond to me in the avatar, so to speak, as if I were a prude or a sexual innocent, though. And even people viewing my pictures have commented that I am "adorable" not "sexy".

    I do have a few alts that I try for different airs with, though, and I may at some point do some contrasting pictures. One is blatant "sexy". My goad for her, as I've told people, is "walking sex." She's actually not quite as voluptuous as Deoridhe/me (I identify closely with this avatar in a way I don't with my others) but how I styled her and shaped her was meant to be the kind of sexy that is also dangerous, whereas I rarely aim for overtly dangerous with Deoridhe.

    I have another alt where what I aim for is best described as "elegant" and "impressive" which is different from "sexy" but sometimes overlaps.

    I all of the cases with my alts, though, it's ultimately about what I personally find attractive, not anything filtered through a male view. If people attracted to women find my first alt to be "sexy" that means I succeeded insofar as my goal and the perceptions of others overlap, but I don't identify with her in the same way that I do Deoridhe, who is rarely (from the feedback I've received form others) perceived as sexy, even when what I have her wearing is overtly sexual (my backless gown, which I've not photographed yet, comes to mind).

    But one of the underlying themes is that I feel performative femininity, even that which I engage in myself, is ultimately harmful to women because of the limitations it places on our value based on the perceptions of others. Some of my playing with the forms on alts is about feeling out those differences and contrasts, figuring out what they mean to me, and determining how I feel about them.

  4. wow. wow. wow.

    Really great post!