RE: [-empyre-] Second Life Whiteness and Privilege

See, this is a very strange thing - the point of alterity in the
virtual.  Even though I'm a white male, I've been in these positions
(only white male in the history of a certain AME church in Baton Rouge
for 6 years, have had periods of disability [periodic legal blindness,
other issues]), and the issue of exploring 'otherness' has been part of
my practice in SL.

The most common is that of the gender bend.  There were periods in which
aMANda Michinaga (following the tradition of Duchamp and Man Ray, for
which Michinaga is named) roamed the Grid with long red hair and a
little black goth dress and AK-47.  In fact, the most well-crafted
"women" that I have found online tend to be digital transvestites.

As for my main avatar, Man (most people I know have 2-3 alternate
avatars), he's a pastiche.  He has the affectations of a Romantic dandy
(complete with jabot and frilled cuffs, a skin that was billed as
Indian/Hindu, and sports Maori iconography.  As well as female

aMANda, on the other hand, usually has male genitalia.  Therefore, most
of my avatars are modern-day Baphomets.

I only wish they could have six fingers.  

Patrick Lichty
- Interactive Arts & Media
  Columbia College, Chicago
- Editor-In-Chief
  Intelligent Agent Magazine
225 288 5813
"It is better to die on your feet 
than to live on your knees." 

-----Original Message-----
[] On Behalf Of
Sent: Wednesday, August 08, 2007 7:29 PM
To: soft_skinned_space
Subject: Re: [-empyre-] Second Life Whiteness and Privilege

i once built a set of afro-american musician avatars for a virtual jazz
project at active worlds out of curiosity to re-contextualise the
'roots' of 
the music we (white guys) were playing in RL. ..paying homage etc.
this was also, inadvertently seeking privilege of 'blackness' that might

authenticate our music.
but it was funny to notice uncomfortable reactions from one of the
when he realised he was n fact black in VR !
anyway, i think in a post-symbolic way, it forced questions of
and even 'cultural borrowing' that sought answers from our inner-selves.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Ricardo Peach" <>
To: "On" <>
Cc: "soft_skinned_space" <>
Sent: Thursday, August 09, 2007 9:35 AM
Subject: [-empyre-] Second Life Whiteness and Privilege

In light of the issues raised so far I would be really interested to
from people about their own experiences of race, gender and sexuality
etc in 
Second Life. I know this is more of a cultural studies analysis, but I
these virtual worlds fascinating spaces of privilege and reification,
and I 
wonder how we could alleviate these potentially exclusionary practices!

We may even be able to subvert them by celebrating them!? I once met a
man who had a white skin and he was having a ball exploring his
in the same way I could experience heterosexuality in ways I could not
RL! Maybe SL can offer people who do not have race, gender or sexuality 
prive ledge the opportunity to experience it?

Is it just me or have others also experienced race, gender and sexuality

privilege etc. (both positive and negative) in terms of skins available
interactions with people? What can we do to complicate these

Just thinking out loud.

Dr. Ricardo Peach
Program Manager
Australia Council
Tel:  + 61-2-9215 9110
Fax: + 61-2-9215 9062
Toll free: 1800 226 912
Post: PO Box 778, Strawberry Hills NSW 2012
Street: 372 Elizabeth Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010

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