Friday, December 7, 2012

Ask DrFran: One Fur the Books

By DrFran Babcock

My latest inquiry deals with a topic that I call the last frontier in Second Life: Gender.

Dear DrFran: 

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.

It was at this nude beach that I met a female white tiger whose avatar just knocked me out. She was pretty and winsome, and I was immediately attracted. Even better, when we started to IM, we found that we had a lot of musical interests that were similar, and loved the same movies. This woman, whom I will call Silvercat, even knew a bit of building and scripting—two of my favorite activities in Second Life, beyond meeting beautiful furs. We hit it off so well that we planned to meet at a sandbox the following day to chat and build and show off things we had made. It turned out that she was very skilled in creating furniture and texturing it to be just perfect to my taste. I could see that I had really found a soul mate. After spending some time building, at which she really excelled, we went to a furry club, and danced the night away, chatting and laughing. 

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 telephone.)

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? 

Feeling Unfoxy

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 few suggestions:

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 wrong (wink).

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 to believe.

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 you.

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.

1 comment:

  1. My thinking is, that unless you are wanting to take a SL relationship into the RL, what the person's real gender is, is unimportant. I know several female avatars who have RL males playing them. Some are even my friends both RL and SL. It does not matter, because we are in the SECOND life in SL; hence the name. And since our species, size, sex, and clothing are all changable at will (some would say at the drop of a hat), what difference does it make?

    A question for tan fox -- would you have still liked the tiger if the tiger had been male when you met? If so, then what's the problem? Yes, it's easy to get your emotions hurt in SL; everything is perfect and nothing gets better than that. But SL is still just make believe. Be careful in falling for an avatar, for it may be different or even gone tomorrow.