Sunday, July 29, 2012
2012 Color Challenge: Week 30 - Aqua Island
I'm swinging up from behind with Aqua Island, so I decided to go to one of the glorious islands associated with Fallen Gods and get my aqua on. I'm actually wearing mostly blue, but it's such a green-tinted blue that it seemed to fit the theme. I think that's one of the fun and challenging aspects of this; how you approach the color and interpret it is central, and you can change it from week to week. Sometimes I'm very attached to the word, and sometimes I'm very attached to the hue; the latter is much harder to pull off. I had bought a set of matching boots from Dilly Dolls, inspired by her awesome corset, but sadly a mesh issue (three rigged items break my eyes horribly, and I haz a sadz) meant I'm not showing them off. I'm still in my smaller-boob shape, and I think I might end up keeping it since it means I fit mesh so much better, and it doesn't look too different from before. The question of how to alter oneself in a place where every aspect is alterable is a fraught one, and I am particularly attached to my shape since it was the first thing I made in Second Life, and it's only minorly changed since then. I'm also on the fence about apparently being a small with smaller breasts; offline I'm anything but small, and I had tried to make Deoridhe be more on the voluptuous side. I suppose that's one of the downsides to anything that is sizing specific - we have a whole weight of offline assumptions built into size, what size we are and what that says about us. As a woman, I attempt to ignore but cannot escape the extent to which a single number determines my worth to a not-insignificant portion of the population, both online where it's relatively easy to fit desire stereotypes, and offline where it is not.
I was thinking about this sort of self-imposed (yet nonetheless real) aspect of the human psyche while watching Botgirl's Inside the Avatar show, or I should say the voice/avatar that hid inside Botgirl only to be revealed over time through human relationships. One thing which struck me strongly was the extent to which he called virtual worlds "not real" and then expanded that to offline life, where the baggage, thoughts, dreams, hopes, and assumptions we carry with us aren't physically tangible. Unlike the futon I'm sitting on, the laptop under my fingers, and the fan keeping the room cool - I cannot touch my pain, my despair, my joy, or my sense of self. I can express them through words and actions, and usually do even when I am not aware of it, but the scars I have earned in relationships with other people are fundamentally different form the scar I have from when a cat attacked me. The clothing I spend money on will never exist offline, and even the money is less something tangible like the bills and coins in my wallet, and more abstracted like numbers in a program that we hope is accurate.However, these thoughts and assumptions still cause tangible damage to people, both in terms of building in groups and out groups with institutionalized discrimination, and in terms of inspiring real violence and murder.
Appearance versus nature is always a fraught issue for women, we who are so valued for our appearance and not for our nature. One of the things which has always twigged my nerves with Botgirl specifically is how pervasive her in unpleasant sexual situations was, and relatedly how she was usually naked or in very little clothing. When I discovered the person who had created Botgirl was a man I both had a feeling of sudden understanding and the irritation increased, as this placed Botgirl once more as a woman being literally manipulated by a man and his vision and assumptions about her, nothing more than a puppet. On the other hand, what does it say that his initial philosophical influence came through the face of a female avatar? He became widely known as a woman, and one aspect of online life is that women are much more dominant than we are offline - both because it's newer, so the old boys club isn't entrenched, and because the internet is so strongly social, and women are socialized to be more social and cooperative.
Some of this coalesced in my mind with the recent mistep by Joe Peacock on CNN.com which was comprehensively taken down by John Scalzi and then discussed on the latter's blog. Peacock claimed that there were Poser Geek Girls who can be recognized because they are attractive and ignorant, the latter term left largely undefined. Ironically, he actually managed to call out a population of well known gamer women maybe only a month after the last geek guy tried to claim Felicia Day could be considered "nothing more than a glorified booth babe." The thing is, women are used to having our credentials challenged no matter what we claim to be (including beautiful - you would not believe the lovely women who are regularly called ugly dogs online), but it seems like a certain Critical Population has been reached in gamer, skeptical, and other online environments where enough women and men speak up and object, leading these issues to regularly be reaching a wider audience (though I don't think anything has yet reached the mainstream media; I presume CNN's blogs get a lot more views than their television shows).
One interesting thread that was left mostly untouched by the official posters on the topic, though, was initially brought up by A Mediated Life which points to the heart of a major point of contention and disagreement within women - that of our relationships to our bodies and those bodies being seen and judged both by ourselves and by others, and how sexism plays into that. There are essentially two sides to this. One which says women should not wear sexually attractive and revealing clothing because it reinforces sexism; this point of view usually assumes the women are unconscious of the larger context of sexism and simply want mens attention (ironically, part of Peacock's argument objecting to attractive women being at cons). The second is that women cannot be freed from sexism until we are supported no matter what we wear, and that our clothing is less important than what we do - the clothing we wear should not be an excuse to rape, molest, harass, or dismiss us. Obviously, I lean more toward the latter; while I think discussion among women about why we wear what we wear is important, I don't think shaming attractive women for being attractive is any better than shaming unattractive women for being unattractive. Women are the primary enforcers of judgement about looks on other women because we have internalized sexism, and that leads us to focus more on what other women are doing than on the larger picture that we should be able to wear what we want without the narrative that we "caused" bad things to happen to us or are somehow slaves. Keeping the focus not on the women but instead on an industry which reinforces sexism in the appearance of women I think is a better way to combat sexism than going around and telling every "slavegirl Leia" that she should put on camouflage and grab a few teddy bears.
And for the record, I'm one of the ugly ones, offline. Online I'm GORgeous.
( More pictures here. )
Skin: De La Soul, Aestali - Cream Rose
Eyes: De la Soul, RooMee Rainbow
Ears: Illusion, Seelie Ears
Eyelashes 1: *X*plosion, PrimLashes
Eyelashes 2: Flugeln Brise, 05-A
Eyeshadow: Virtual Insanity, Fairy - Sea
Lipstick: Mock, Bella Vetro Gloss - Toast
Hair: LeLutka, Versage Hair (Hair Faire)
Jewelry: Elemental, Lariat Pearls (promotional item)
Corset: Dilly Dolls, Dola Corset (promotional item)
Skirt: Deviance, Sugar Plum Fairy
Shoes: Dilly Dolls, Bastian Boots - White and Light
Poses: Long Awkward Pose
Location: Athan Selidor
Light Settings: TOR, MIDDAY - Maldives
Water Settings: Glassy
Photographed by Deoridhe Quandry
Post processing: Cropping, only