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Old 06-17-2012, 03:57 PM   #1 (permalink)
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That Gender Thing in Second Life

A few conversations inworld, plus the thread about lesbian clubs here sparked a bit of thought on the subject of the importance of gender to people in SL.

I was talking to someone in the Petites group yesterday, and she told me that it was vitally important to "her" that she know the real gender of the person behind an avatar before she could be friends. I asked her why it would matter, unless she was planning to hook up with the person romantically or sexually, and she mentioned it was a trust thing.

I got into a debate with her about this, stating that it wasn't my habit to say "Hi, I'm Sred, and I'm really <insert gender of choice here>" and rarely run into people who introduce themselves and immediately want to know what gender you are in real life.

I then told her that I can play male or female in Second Life pretty easily. I don't try to pick up on people, and don't bump pixel uglies, so I'm just myself. I asked her why it would matter what gender a person is as long as they're nice to you and a good conversationalist.

She said it mattered to her, and then told me I was weird for playing both genders in Second Life.

This got me thinking.

I have a strict Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. I am friends with a variety of people and have no idea what their real life genders are. In cases where I have befriended cross avatars who told me their real gender, I just accepted it and still enjoyed their company.

If I can talk to you and strike up a friendship, and there's mutual respect, it really doesn't matter to me if you're one gender and play another, and never tell me about it.

How do you feel about this? Does the real life gender of a person in SL really matter to you? Why?
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Old 06-17-2012, 04:00 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I have a strict Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. I am friends with a variety of people and have no idea what their real life genders are. In cases where I have befriended cross avatars who told me their real gender, I just accepted it and still enjoyed their company.



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Old 06-17-2012, 04:04 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I would put a yeah that there also but, i have issues when someone who is not a female speaks of women issues as one when they are not, and i would feel the same if it was the oposite scenario.
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Old 06-17-2012, 04:07 PM   #4 (permalink)
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So a person can't have an opinion on something unless they are the right gender for it? Confused.

Edit: never mind. Reading comprehenshun is your friend.
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Old 06-17-2012, 04:08 PM   #5 (permalink)
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How do you feel about this? Does the real life gender of a person in SL really matter to you?
Nope. I have male and female avatars, know many others who do. Doesn't matter in the least. Heck, I don't even care if people present as a diffenent species than in RL. ^_^





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Old 06-17-2012, 04:16 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I never even considered it at all until I joined the forums. It still doesn't matter to me either way. Isn't that the beauty of SL? Be who, or what you like.
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Old 06-17-2012, 04:18 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Other than the scenario that Ely is discussing (and I agree with her fully on that.) I couldn't begin to give the remotest tin shit about what anyone's RL gender or sex is.

I DO understand why people care in the case of romantic relationships. But I know the RL gender of the participants in my personal life (which has really nothing to do with SL), so Im all good there.
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Old 06-17-2012, 04:18 PM   #8 (permalink)
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She said it mattered to her, and then told me I was weird for playing both genders in Second Life.
You are weird... although I wouldn't say that's because you play both genders. Also, that's why I like you in so far as I know you. Well, that, and you seem to be very sweet to geckos.

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How do you feel about this? Does the real life gender of a person in SL really matter to you? Why?
It doesn't matter to me, mainly because I don't think it really says as much about a person as we like to think it does. Yes there are definite differences in experience and so on, but it doesn't really change for me how I relate to someone. Also, people cross genders for a variety of reasons. I have a female avatar in SL, but you'd call me male if you saw me in RL. The thing is, my female avatar is very much me... a fragment of me that I wanted to make somewhat concrete. She's meant to be a representation of the feminine aspects of myself that I've had to suppress for decades. I don't really act any differently as her. I'm not running around trying to pick up hot dudes with her or anything like that (and to be honest, I had more people try to pick me up when I was in my male avatar than in my female avatar). It's just that I want a chance to walk with her... to be in her shoes, so to speak.

This is maybe an overshare, but I feel that my own gender is a bit... nebulous. When I dream, I am frequently represented not by a single person in the dream but by multiple people: usually of mixed gender. In some cases, I have had dreams involving a boy, a girl, and someone of indeterminate gender... all three being me. This is not to say that I feel I was born in the wrong body or anything like that, but it does make the statement "I'm male in RL" come with a footnote or two. When I see shades of gray in my own gender, it makes it rather difficult to get worked up about what gender someone else has.
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Old 06-17-2012, 04:20 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I really couldn't care less what someone's gender, or sex is-or their sexual preference.
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Old 06-17-2012, 04:21 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I would put a yeah that there also but, i have issues when someone who is not a female speaks of women issues as one when they are not, and i would feel the same if it was the oposite scenario.
This is one of the reasons I try to be above board about my situation (I even have it in my profile in SL). Gender doesn't generally matter to me, but I don't want people thinking I'm speaking about gender issues from a position that isn't actually true. I don't want to misrepresent myself.
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Old 06-17-2012, 04:23 PM   #11 (permalink)
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It's pretty much a non-issue for me - I am male in RL, male in SL and when I'm not wearing a RP avatar such as my usual borg I've actually put in a bit of effort to make my av recognizable as "me".

I do have a female alt but you'll never meet her outside my workshop unless I'm shopping for accessories for her - Ms Slightly Gothly is an animated mannequin and model, not a full character. Because of her name I made her pale and gave her a preference for dressing in black but thats as far as it goes.

I know enough folks in RL that either identify or present themselves as a gender different from either their physical body or its underlying genetics that I've no problem accepting an av as having the gender identity they present as, no matter the physical gender of the associated typist - to me running an av of the opposite gender is no more of a big deal than cross-dressing in RL. The few folks I know who regularly use avs of both genders I'll refer to them as "he" or "she" interchangeably, depending on what they were when I last saw them.
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Old 06-17-2012, 04:25 PM   #12 (permalink)
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For acquaintances and even friends, gender (and also specifics about home life) shouldn't matter at all in SL.

I think that if you were to get very close to someone, though, at least for me, I wouldn't like it very much to find out very late into the friendship that they were not who they said they were. This could be about their gender, but also about any other personal info they would have shared with me. And no, I'm not speaking of amorous relationships.

As I said, though, for simple 'get together' friends, I don't see why it should matter.

Last edited by Isabeau Imako; 06-17-2012 at 04:40 PM. Reason: home lime WTF is that? I meant, home life. :D
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Old 06-17-2012, 04:28 PM   #13 (permalink)
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The debug setting for Gender in SL (AvatarSex) is an unsigned 32bit integer value. Not a boolean. I'm still waiting to see what our other options will be. =^-^=
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Old 06-17-2012, 04:29 PM   #14 (permalink)
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I think it would really depend on the nature of the friendship. If I am sharing my personal thoughts and issues with someone and they are hiding who they are from me, yeah we cannot be friends.

It has nothing to do with gender, it just about honesty. If you are not confident enough in who are you are, and your ability to choose friends to share your reality with people (if they are sharing theirs with you and you have that kind of tight friendship), then you are not really in a position in life to make new friends with people if you cannot be honest with them. Honesty and trust is the foundation of any healthy relationship.

The casual acquainted (which is about 98% of SL relationships), have no responsibility to disclose.
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Old 06-17-2012, 04:29 PM   #15 (permalink)
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I agree totally with Beebo and Bronxelf and Elly on this. But i was thinking about why i do.

I wonder if i would have a different opinion if i was looking for a partner in SL? (Which i'm definitely not and have no plans to.)

Sred you seem to imply by some of the ifs in your op that you would agree with that and would likely become bothered too?
If you were looking for a more intimate relationship rather than just friendship would the gender of the other person become an issue if you weren't sure?
Does that scenario also become part of the thing Elly said about people being honest about issues reflecting their supposed true selves and filter down to honesty in a relationship?

I think we've been here before in this forum before but it's always nice to refresh the opinions.
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Old 06-17-2012, 04:30 PM   #16 (permalink)
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If you have the kind of insecurities that make it vital to absolutely know the gender of the person you are dealing with, then perhaps a virtual world is not a good place for you. Regardless of how many ways you try to verify this, I don't think you can ever be 100% sure, and you really don't have the right to demand to invade other residents privacy anyway.
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Old 06-17-2012, 04:32 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Elysium Hynes View Post
I would put a yeah that there also but, i have issues when someone who is not a female speaks of women issues as one when they are not, and i would feel the same if it was the oposite scenario.
Generally, yeah, but I know RL men who speak far more knowledgeably and passionately about women's issues than some RL women I know.
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Old 06-17-2012, 04:40 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Generally, yeah, but I know RL men who speak far more knowledgeably and passionately about women's issues than some RL women I know.
I think you should read my post again.
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Old 06-17-2012, 04:43 PM   #19 (permalink)
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I really don't care what gender SL friends are in RL. If I'm going to get really close to someone, I talk to them in voice anyway, and exchange so much personal info that it really would be impossible to dissemble.

But I care passionately that SL preserve its silence on this issue. I think the ability to present as any gender/species/race/etc. is an important part of SL's strength as a platform for personal growth.

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When I dream, I am frequently represented not by a single person in the dream but by multiple people: usually of mixed gender.
I'm sure this is very common, but I'm several decades behind on my pop psychology reading, so I had an immediate "Oh YEAH! Me too!" reaction to your saying this It doesn't distress me in my dreams or when I wake - it feels kind of intriguing.

But I have to say that, altho I have a male alt, he is the most miserable excuse for a guy. I really stink at roleplaying cross-gender.
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If you have the kind of insecurities that make it vital to absolutely know the gender of the person you are dealing with, then perhaps a virtual world is not a good place for you.
I don't know if I would label that need as 'insecurity', but I agree with the gist of what you say - too many people insist that any deviation from a person's RL identity is "lying". The kindest thing I can say about that is that such folks just don't "get" virtual worlds, and shouldn't spend time in them.
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Old 06-17-2012, 04:46 PM   #20 (permalink)
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I think you should read my post again.
Whoops! Forgot my Dad's advice - always be sure brain is running before engaging mouth.

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Old 06-17-2012, 04:47 PM   #21 (permalink)
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I don't care about gender. I take each person how they present themselves. Friendship or romantically.

If someone told me later they were a different sex, I might be hurt. But, we'd still be friends.

The only thing that would damage a friendship is if a person did something specifically to hurt me.
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Old 06-17-2012, 04:56 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Gender online always seems to bring up two scenarios. Is a person who is portraying as the opposite gender really lying about it? Sometimes there are those who would deceive just because they can. Those tend to get outed pretty quickly. But those who are being themselves, regardless of gender, what should it matter?

Obviously, if someone is looking for connection offline, then there needs to be honesty about that as soon as possible. If that is not the case, though, then why is it the other person's business? How can it even be an issue of trust?
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Old 06-17-2012, 05:07 PM   #23 (permalink)
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It seems to me that there is a whole idea with people who are really insistent about "verifying" the RL sex of residents that that girl really being a guy or vice versa somehow threatens their masculinity or femininity or their sexual identity. They're insecure. Taking people the way they present themselves in SL does or says nothing about you in RL.

If you really can't respect other people's privacy, and you're self-image is seriously that fragile, I would say not as an insult, but as a good piece of advice to protect yourself, that virtual worlds are simply not the place for you.
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Old 06-17-2012, 05:09 PM   #24 (permalink)
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I'm female in RL, and my primary account is also a female.

I have a couple of male alts - not to deliberately try and "trick" anyone, but because I found it was kind of refreshing to be able to explore SL without IMs telling me how "HOTT" my avatar is, asking me to be their online girlfriend, etc. I also use them for roleplay characters, but I do not use them to "flirt" with female avs.

There are just a couple of friends who know my male alt - one of them is a male in RL, with his primary av also being a male, but he has a female alt for roleplay.

We have fun together, joke around and RP together in our different characters, and there is never an issue. We are both "attached" in RL and not looking for relationships in SL, so it's purely for fun and friendship.

I guess I might be bothered if I developed a strong friendship with someone in SL, and the whole time they led me to believe they were the gender represented by their avatar. Can't say for sure that I would be so distraught that I would end the friendship entirely, but I would probably feel a bit hurt and deceived and want to know why they waited so long to tell me.
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Old 06-17-2012, 05:10 PM   #25 (permalink)
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I always think back to a quote from one of my favorite Vonnegut books, Mother Night, "We are who we pretend to be[...]"

Someone sat down and decided to make their avatar the way it was. It's a reflection of the person, even if some anatomy is incongruent between the two of them.

I know that's not how everyone sees it, though. Context is pretty important in a virtual world you can use in any way you can think up.
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