Monday, February 12, 2007

Observations on Gender Communication

Well, sadly, my study on gender discourse in SL is ending. I decided to cut my research early for a few reasons. First. it is virtually impossible to verify any data. Second, I don't have RL samples of the same sort. Third, I want to work on other projects in SL. SL has been a whirlwind experience for me, but I see its value.

Since I can not verify that men are men and women are women, it is impossible to know whether the communication patterns are gender connected. Further, I can not prove my initial hypothesis - that SL, as a utopian community, fully embraces the communication structure of lifeworld and system communication as presented by Jurgen Habermas. The evidence just doesn't exist.

My research has been gathered in a dance club. Most of the other female dancers are at home moms or single moms in their 30s. None of them are dancers, escorts, etc. in real life. More than half, myself included, have ever been to a club of this type. Further, most of us, myself included, do not know women or men in this profession. Therefore,I have no real basis for comparison, and I don't intend to study this in RL.

When i first went into SL, I had designed a virtual Barbie. My idea that a Barbie with Brain would solicit a unique kind of response in a dance club was wrong. I am treated as all the others. Most people are kind and fun. Some people are not. It is just the same as real life. It is really annoying that my avie gets hit on 12 times a day, on average, by newbies looking for sex. I have learned that I would not be happy as a Barbie in RL; I couldn't handle all that attention. People are forced to love me for my wit and charm....and I prefer it that way.

I wouldn't say that the whole enterprise was a waste; I have learned a lot about myself. I also made a lot of great friends. I hope to keep them as I move on. I will likely host a college night each week at the club, but I will serve as a hostess.

I have decided that I want to use SL for other things. I really want to use it to teach, but I do not want to do research. I am working creating a houseof the Jane Austin Period. I will also do some work in Calendon. I have found a whole new world of historians and others that share my passion for teaching and learning.

1 comment:

Ian Graham said...

Beth -
I appreciate you efforts in this area and I understand what you would have had to go through to get valid comparative and verifiable SL data.

However, I wonder if you might not get some useful benefit from standing the problem on it's head. Put some RL women into male avatars, and rl men into women's avatars and have them wander Sl and record specific conversational forms - (ie a male hitting on a female, Frinedship offers etc.) I also suspect that a basic look at gender differences in kinesics and use of personal space in SL would also be useful.

The idea for this came when I needed some pictures for my shop - and so logged on (with her permission) into my wife's account to do the modeling. I'd been on for about 20 min before I got "hit on" to have sex. It was a real eye opener for me. As a guy - I've NEVER been propositioned by other than my wife in RL OR SL.

Second - I believe there is a phenom in SL that I have confronted anecdotaly many times. I am reffering to thepercieved lightning speed that close relationships of an expressed deep and "meaningful"nature form in SL. They seem to take perple by suprise as to their intensity, and some that you would assume to be least receptive to them are the first and hardest to "fall."

Just some off the top thoughts.

Ian Graham