You can’t touch this…
Question 8 in the survey was: When it comes to practising sex in Second Life, in which life are you more liberal when it comes to
- sexual preference
- quality of partner
- quantity of partner
Across the board, and in every representative subset, respondents said they are considerably more liberal when it comes to having sex in Second Life than in real life, and in every respect.
We’re more bisexual. 82% of respondents said they are more liberal when it comes to sexual preference in Second Life
We’re sexually kinkier. 83% of respondents said they are more liberal when it comes to kinks in Second Life
We’re have lower standards. 64% of respondents said they are more liberal when it comes to quality of partners in Second Life
We’re more sexually promiscuous. 88% of respondents said they are more liberal when it comes to quantity of partners in Second Life
We’re more sexually polygamous. 76% of respondents said they are more liberal when it comes to fidelity in Second Life.
We’re more sexually public. 73% of respondents said they are more liberal when it comes to privacy in Second Life.
Personal views and interpretations
With statistics like these, I suggest that our ability to be more sexually liberated about sex in Second Life is one of its killer apps. Second Life is a place where one can live a life with different edges, and sexual experience in Second Life is a manifestation of that fact.
There are many, many reasons people might cite for not being more liberally minded in RL, including risks to reputation, unwanted pregnancy, sexual health, and even violence. It only makes sense residents explore this aspect of their lives in Second Life, and that it is a healthy expression of sexual behaviour in general.
Much has been made about how Second Life’s association with sex in the media is a negative thing. Even this week, there was a mini-furore over an article posted by Wagner Au on New World Notes when he stated that “Second Life is a dying world” citing that one of the reasons is because “over half of the most popular locations in Second Life are pornographic.”
Many stood up to defend Second Life, which is really something pretty great to see – and I’d say makes a change from the usual negativity resident bloggers tend to spread about the platform so many of us love. My problem with many of the comments, however, was how they related to Second Life’s association with sex.
I’m not the first to point out that Au used the “Adult” region rating synonymously with “extreme sexual & violent content”. The two are not one and the same, as is crystal clear when visiting many adult regions in Second Life, including my own (Basilique).
‘Adult’ can mean ‘extreme sexual & violent content’, but it doesn’t have to. What it really means, is that sex is one of the activities that can be engaged in, and that it might not be behind closed doors.
I don’t make reference to Au’s article to further the axe-grinding (I’m much too late to the party on that account – and besides, I think the commentary and ad hominem attacks in both the comments to his post and in other blogs were somewhat of an overreaction and not a little bit of piling on).
What surprises me, however, is how many Second Life residents consider the association of sex with Second Life as either a bad thing:
“SL is sadly and overwhelmingly only known for its potential for virtual sexual experimentation and gratification”
or attempt to dissociate sex and Second Life by pointing out all the other non-sexual aspects:
“There are a lot of people continuing to create vibrant content in Second Life that does not involve sex. Music, 2d art, 3d art, dance, gorgeous sims”
or further attempt to minimise the relative importance of sex in Second Life to bolster its credibility:
“A hell of a lot of people use SL in wildly divergent ways, many may use it for sex but that is often a tiny part of the game or role play they are engaged in.”
“Sex is alive and well on Second Life, but it is by no means the sum of it.”
Some, unfortunately, go as far as denigrating those who have sex in Second Life by broadly painting them as obsessed:
“i am an adult, i enjoy sex, however i get my sex in the real world, so for me sl is not about sex. i would love for more people who, like me, do not spend all day shagging on sex sims, to find sl.”
I can appreciate that an argument could be made asserting that it’s not Second Life’s association with sex that we’re upset about, but rather that it is the media’s preoccupation with that link that gets our goat. There’s more to it than that, we say. And we’re right. Still, when it comes to sex in Second Life, we do ourselves no service by pretending it isn’t important, or even beneficial, and dare I say it: kind of awesome – just look at all the good it does!
We seem to have a tricky relationship with sex in Second Life. In some cases, we giggle at the weirdness of it, only to follow that by indulging in it with abandon. In other cases, we grudgingly acknowledge its existence, while sidestepping the issue, like we might avoid a homeless person we walk around on the pavement. In other cases still, we stick up our noses saying that’s ‘what other – less cultured – people do’ because they are either deficient, deprived, or depraved. These same people, I’m afraid, are also typically insulted when others ask them why they engage in Second Life – isn’t their first life good enough?
When are we going to grow up and accept the fact that sex is a healthy part of an adult’s life? When are we going to stop judging where and how we have sex, and start trying to understand why so many people enjoy it? When are we going to stop throwing stones in glass houses as we ridicule others of whom’s lives we know nothing about? When are we going to stop denying our basic human needs and desires, associating sex – virtual or otherwise – with deviance and perversion, or pretending as if sex is something other people do?
Second Life is great in part because it allows for the opportunity for sexual freedom, expression and enjoyment. Perhaps instead of denying that fact, we should consider not only living with it, studying it, and even embracing it.
A few limitations with my survey
A few people told me they would have chosen “the same” for last question (about literalness of attitudes), or said they didn’t understand the question. Given that it was only 4 respondents, with most people making a choice, I’m going to count that as an anomaly. With that said, I will include a ‘same’ option in future surveys.
A few people also mentioned that I should also include the answers of those who are not sexually active in SL. With this I agree, and I will include their responses in future surveys of this nature, which I can easily segment and compare.
A few significant oversights on my part is that I didn’t ask about real-life age, sexual orientation or gender (and for that matter, Second Life gender). I’m always trying to make my quizzes and surveys as short as possible, to increase the likelihood of completion. However, these characteristics would be data pivots that might show great insight, which is an area that I’d love to further explore.
I’ve now closed the survey. I hope to improve it and release it across a larger audience in the future – at which time I hope you will again take part. Thank you for participating in this one.
Love 2.0: a quantitative exploration of sex and relationships in the virtual world Second Life.
Perceived consequences of casual online sexual activities on heterosexual relationships: a u.s. Online survey.
Sex Lives in Second Life
Second Life Sex Guide