Silver Week has arrived, and with it, the new year.
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.
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.
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
Light Settings: [TOR] SUNRISE - Teaching
Water Settings: [TOR] Impure
Photographed by Deoridhe Quandry
Post processing: Cropping only