By DrFran Babcock
My latest inquiry deals with a topic that I call the last
frontier in Second Life: Gender.
I am sure I am not the first one to have had
this problem, but I don’t really know where to go with it. So here goes…
I am a male, tan fox in Second Life, and I fancy myself
rather a handsome one at that. I have spent time at Luskwood and Sunweavers and
even The Ink Spot. But I was looking for a different place to hang out one day,
and went to one of the many nude beaches. I am sure that you will understand
that I don’t want to be too specific about details in my story.
I suppose I should have suspected something was amiss when
she wouldn’t do voice chat with me. She told me she didn’t have a lot of money,
and that she didn’t have a headset, and that her computer was too old to handle
all the bells and whistles of Second Life. I guess I agreed to accept this
explanation. (In retrospect, I might have asked to phone her. Surely she had a
Eventually, our relationship moved to intimacy, and I was thrilled
at the intensity, humor, and creativity of her cyber skills. We became
inseparable, and I started to think of asking her to partner with me, and move
to my house. She was not a premium member, did not rent land, and did seem to
have limited income.
We continued to talk, laugh, make love, and I was completely
in heat. On a Saturday night, while we strolled on a furry-friendly island, I
asked her to be mine. She told me she would think about it and let me know the
next day. She then logged out, and I was left stupefied: Let me know???
Well, you might guess what came next; or maybe you won’t.
Silvercat logged in the next day, and began her IM by telling me she had
something to tell me. To spare you all the details, she let me know that she
was actually a guy, and apologized for leading me on without telling me. Then
she un-friended me and logged.
Here is my dilemma. I did not get angry at what was surely a
betrayal of me. I am creeped out that I was with a man, but the fact is, that I
didn’t know, and I really have strong feelings for her, um, him. He hasn’t
answered any of my IMs, and I guess I will have to just take the time to heal.
I understand that. What I don’t understand is why someone would do that to
somebody, and how can I keep it from happening again?
Dear Feeling, First, I am sorry for the emotional pain you
must be experiencing. I said above that gender is the final frontier in Second
Life. As a female, what I have learned is that people exist along a continuum
of ways in which they relate to gender, identity, and finally honesty.
I am someone who has always been honest about whom I am in
Second Life, and I know a LOT of, mostly men, who openly play female avatars,
and a few women playing men. However, playing a female avatar, not revealing
it, and entering into a relationship with another avatar, is, in my opinion,
unethical and mean.
I know I am in the minority in this belief. I am a lover of
Second Life, and I read the forums, have gender discussions with peers, and
generally consider myself to be open-minded. Being dishonest with someone to
the point that it hurts his or her feelings is wrong. Yes, most of the men with
whom I speak see Second Life as a role-play game. Their view is often: “Well,
if this person wants to engage with me, it’s not my fault that they don’t know.
That’s the risk they take.”
Feeling, I don’t think you have to worry at all that you are
a homosexual, if that’s a problem for you. You responded to this “woman” as a
male, because, to you, that’s what she was. Moving forward, I would make these
If you are really looking for a relationship, and your
loving descriptions of Silvercat make me think you are, I would ask for gender information
from the start. Yes, I know many view that as an invasion, or inappropriate.
Saying something like: “ I was really hurt by entering into a relationship with
someone who turned out to be a guy. I have to know that you are not a guy,” is
an honest way of requesting integrity from another avatar. I wouldn’t ask this
question until I was close to the point of wanting to cyber. I will assume by
that point that you want more of a relationship, but, being female I could be
Of course, voice is always an option. I find that folks who
have their voices modified are easy to detect.
Most of all … be careful about self-deception. Some of us,
myself included, may want things so much that we are willing to overlook
details that are important. You knew that not wanting to voice was a clue to
something. Your decision to ignore it not only let you continue your belief in
your soul mate, but probably gave Silvercat the message that you were willing
I wish you much luck in your future endeavors. Be careful
with your heart. It might help to say a prayer to Silvercat like this: I
forgive you for not being what I wanted you to be. I forgive you, and I release
Dr Fran Babcock
If you have questions you would like to have answered,
please IM me or drop a notecard. I would love to hear from you.