The idea of Second Life being a place of sexual fantasy exploration seemed quite prevalent the moment I began to participate in the virtual world. Upon wandering through the various locations and browsing their local stores, it was obvious that sex was their biggest seller. Each place I came across included a wide variety of clothing, many of which were very promiscuous. Because of this, Brookey & Cannon’s article really resonated with my own experiences in Second Life thus far. Similar to a reaction described in the article, I feel as though I’ve seen and heard about this type of sexual activity online but to come face to face with so much of it all in one place has had a much different affect. It really has begun to amaze me that the virtual world has become that much of an escape for so many people. Furthermore, as Brookey & Cannon wrote, it is very interesting to see that many of the options for representation in Second Life are still similar to the popular culture’s definition of what is attractive, especially in the case for women. In my own experiences, the clothing and body shape offerings of many stores were hyper-sexualized in the same ways that main stream media presents them, regardless of the fact that the virtual world allows the individual to disregard these social pressures.
Furthermore, while it is very interesting to see that people still willingly engage in what are considered to be social norms on SL, it is equally interesting to see how many people willingly engage in what is not. While Brookey & Cannon used the extreme example of “rape” poses, and other sexually violent pose balls for avatars, which I have been fortunate enough to not stumble upon, I have come across other perverse interactions. The most disturbing of which occurred in London City’s adult content area in which a naked male avatar was pleasuring himself to a pair of female avatar strippers. It was instantly thought provoking as much as it was strange, as I could not believe someone created the animation to begin with. Just as discussed in Brookey & Cannon’s article, the idea that someone initially created the action and other people willingly engaged in it is something that could be cause for concern. It begins to make researchers and any other participants wonder who is participating in the world in such a way, why they are in the first place, and if it should even be allowed. It really does make one think about whether these actions are a profound display of repression due to social pressures or if the virtual world, and Internet as a whole, has become a home for those beginning to first discover their dark sexual fantasies. Will these people act further in reality because of it? Either way, the question of whether it is appropriate to allow such behaviors, virtual or not, to be explored in a desensitizing “game” style type of interaction is one that will raise controversy for years to come.