The internet is a fascinating place for non-normative cultures and behaviors. In particularly, “non-standard” romance and sex flourish in places like Second Life. Articles by Brookley & Cannon and Gross helped to frame some of my observations from Second Life field trips.
In “Sex Lives in Second Life” Brookley & Cannon discuss Second Life locations such as “The Orchid Club” and “Bound & Determined Fetish Club”. Whether fortunate or unfortunate, I did not travel to these locations for Second Life observations. Nonetheless, Brookley & Cannon’s analysis provides insight into conversations I did have in Second Life. For example, the “liberatory perspective” refers to how users of Second Life may have “greater agency to explore and refigure gender norms and sexual roles”. As Gross explained in 2003, 6 years before Brookley & Cannon’s article, “the internet offers most young people readier access and greater privacy” (p. 261). Brookley & Cannon’s concept is essentially an extension of Gross’s initial observation.
While I didn’t observe this behavior firsthand, avatars that I conversed with mentioned “sex outlets” and the concept of being much happier in Second Life than real life. Using the liberatory perspective, it follows that some of this happiness is caused by the ability to act outside of one’s real life gender norm or sexual role.
Furthermore, if a user is on an island accompanied with numerous others similarly exploring non-normative genders or sexual roles, they will feel even more motivated and happy to do so. This sexual liberation, along with the general liberation Second Life affords, also helps explain the travel journal quote “I figure that people arent having a good life in rl, and make up for it here”.