Lesbianism in First Life is complicated, but in some ways it’s simplicity itself compared to lesbianism in Second Life.
In First Life, you’d think it would be simple: if you’re a woman, and you’re attracted to women, then you’re a lesbian, right? Fortunately, for a lot of women it *is* that simple. But then there are the complications. First of all there’s my contingent, bisexuals, who have a foot in each world but aren’t completely in either one. Then there are the people who have different sexualities based on who’s calling it: “straight” women who occasionally take a walk on the lavender side, women who are celibate but emotionally attracted to women, women who try to fit in as straight people but whose hearts aren’t in it, pre-op and post-op transgendered male-to-female women who love women… Still, if in First Life you see a woman who only goes out with other women, you can pretty much call her a lesbian and have some kind of grip on the situation.
But First Life lesbians, on average, don’t have a lot in common with Second Life lesbians. In Second Life, two lesbian partners are usually both very feminine-looking (in the traditional sense). In First Life, my experience is that most romances have one or both partners looking butch, androgynous, or boyish. In most lesbian relationships I know, at least one woman would be about as likely to wear a skirt as your average man about town. Here are a few dykons to help ground us.
Billie Jean King
In Second Life, classifying someone as a lesbian is not so easy…partly because any person in Second Life has two bodies. There’s the avatar, and there’s the First Life person. This doesn’t matter much when you’re with people who only are interested in who you are in Second Life, but some people *do* care who the First Life person is. For instance, if you’re a First Life lesbian who’s also a Second Life lesbian and you really don’t like getting emotionally involved with men, what happens if you meet someone who’s also a Second Life lesbian but whose First Life you don’t know about? If you begin to fall for her, and she’s not willing to share her First Life information when she doesn’t know you that well yet, then where does that leave you? I don’t think there’s any good answer to that question. It’s just a choice: you decide not to get involved because you don’t know about the woman’s First Life, or you decide to get involved and maybe after a while find you’re in a relationship with someone whose First Life self is male, which is somewhere you decided you didn’t want to be, or you decide to try just being friends until she’s comfortable enough to share more.
That’s one can of worms. Another pretty obvious can is the First Life male who’s a Second Life lesbian: how is she supposed to feel about himself? Another can is rezbians, Second Life lesbians who are First Life straight women, women whose sexuality changes because of the nature of the virtual world.
So it’s all either perfectly simple or incredibly difficult depending on whether or not First Life is involved. It would be nice to say it just doesn’t matter, but even for someone like me, whose gender of choice is “all of the above”, it can. For instance, if I were considering finding a First Life lover through Second Life (and I’m not, although I have acquaintances who have done this very successfully), I think the First Life gender of my lover really would matter to me – although not always in a bad way. There’s a lot to be said for a good First Life man who has enough emotional intelligence to be a good Second Life woman. 🙂
Other people may care about it because of personal feelings about gender, or because they feel gender can tell them what to expect in a person’s behavior. Although really, it’s much easier to judge someone’s behavior by their actual behavior than it is by their gender.
And you can’t blame First Life lesbians and bi women for occasionally wanting to go somewhere where the Second Life lesbians are First Life lesbians and understand something about what being lesbian or bi means in First Life. After all, the typical straight male’s idea of lesbianism seems to be two nymphomaniac lingerie models making out in a beach house…it’s taking the “woman as sex object” idea and doubling it – which is not really what the typical lesbian is going for, I hate to tell you. Not to mention the fact that the beach house thing is just lesbian-like sex and has very little to do with the whole lesbian experience. It’s like drinking a beer in front of the TV and calling it a cocktail party.
There’s more to say, but I’ve already gone on for quite a while, so why don’t I stop there and maybe come back with another post some time soon?
Don’t misunderstand: I’m entirely in favor of First Life men being Second Life women, or First Life straight women being lesbian or bi in Second Life. And I even have been known to be cheerfully supportive of a male friend’s fantasies of lesbians from time to time (you know who you are). Still, it’s strange coming from a world where, if I kiss a girl in public, I run the risk of anything from outraged looks to outright violence…and then going into a world where every Tom, Dick and Mary is prowling the lesbian clubs in a black leather miniskirt. To tell you the truth, I think that lesbianism loses something in the translation to Second Life, that First Life lesbianism gets lost a bit in the flood of virtual lesbianism. At the same time, I can’t help thinking that with so many people being exposed to virtual lesbianism so intimately, lesbianism gains something by coming to Second Life, too. What that is, I think only time will tell, as virtual lesbianism becomes more mainstream and we see whether any enlightenment can come out of that kind of sexual alchemy.
^^^\ Kate /^^^