Friday, July 27, 2007

Safety Worst

Later today I am giving a presentation on safety in SL, and this morning while working on a story about Plush Zeta, that is the red light district, I got a perfect example of what safety means.

On second life, many people are here to enact their fantasies. One fantasy that many people have, men and women, is to be abused, often as a woman. Paying for sex, or being paid for it, is a kinky fatnasy...

Plush Zeta, while it says it is about "escorts" is really a place for people who have this need to act it out. I go there and if I see a friend, I know she is really in trouble, and that I need to extend a helping hand of some kind. I have never managed to pick up a client at such a place, because they offer around 300L for :30 of the most abusive and degrading sex acts in the litany of our sexual vocabulary. That is the kind of money that only girls who are back against the wall accept, or people who that is what they want. I respect desire, and I know several people who have the need to be treated that way. However for those who are dragged down to that level, and the peopl ewho are playing set the prices, because men will say "well I can just wait for free, can you wait, stuck in that newbie skin?"

This need, and the economic servitude that turns it into a money making critical mass, because let's be blunt, it is the red light district that makes that sim worth the $50,000 USD it was sold for, creates a chance for a certain kind of man to enter the picture. And on this day, at this time, I ran into Kaz Zapedzki, who is exactly this kind of abusive man. The man who throws a few linden around, and expects women to put up with abuse, because he is surrounded by people who either want to be abused, or who can't do anything about it. They know that complaints will fall on deaf ears at both the sim level and the LL level. And since that is their whole world, and the people they are dealing with have more to lose rl than they do. It is a lot worse to be an escort, or more properly, a whore, than it is to throw money at them.

These men often do not have sex, they are not interested in sl sex. They are interested in having women crawl to them, and tell them how nice they are. I ran into this at several clubs. One patron comes in, and for $20 USD worth of tips a week, has girls eating out of his hand. They aren't going to see that much money from anyone else, and he asks only that they beahve the way he wants, and metaphorically, rather than literally suck his cock. He isn't interested in sl sex, but he does want whores.

Inthis particular case, I asked him by IM what he wanted. Now if he had been the honest sort of person, he could have said "not looking," or some varient there on. Simple enough. Instead he said he was looking for "a milkshake", maybe "strwberry."

That's what he is talking about. He then said he wasn't interested in me. I said "as you wish." Now here is the key moment, he then said "I would give you 5L." He then threw 6L at me. Now any reasonable person would interpret this as what it was, an insult.

I told him that was very stupid. He began what I call "the crazy bitch" rant. The crazy bitch rant is when a man behaves in an insulting and abusive way ot a woman, and he then tries to glower her itno beliving that she is a crazy bitch for being insulted. The words "delusional" and so on, Jesse Murdoch (Yes, that Jesse Murdoch) style, who is the most important person to give the the crazy bitch rant, figure prominently in this rant.

The reality is that they get away with tis, because people are working here for pennies. If the IRS ever came down and looked at arrangements here, they would find very quickly that many people have what would be legally defined as "jobs" and are being paid a fraction of the prevailing minimum wage. Gambling was just banned, but the real scandal of SL is wage slave services and flagrant violations of employment law.

Anway Kaz threw 500L at me, and then demanded it back. This is a textbook trick of the abusive male, for less than 2 USD, he gets himself out of trouble. Tossa Allen, an avatar who inhabited one of the first clubs I worked at liekd to do this, commit some violation of basic decency, and then throw 500L at the girl and say "we even now?" SL's slave labor wage rates make being such a person a fantasy within the reach of even people who flip burgers.

I gave him the money back after checking the transaction log, it is after all, simple enough to pop a dialog on someone's screen that looks as if they just gave you money.

Kaz then began the "it is only a game" gambit. This too is a tired try. The "it is only a game" blames the person who has been attacked and insulted for being insulteed. they have something wrong with them, "it is only a game". This isn't what it means. If you asked "what are you looking for?" rl and someoen said he wanted to cum in your nose and punch you in the face and he would pay two cents for this, you could have him arrested for assault.

In otherwords "it is only a game" really means "you can't do anything about it."

There are people who will blame this or that entity for this. It is true that social and economic arrangements make it possible for men like Kaz Zapedzki to act as they do, it is also our own inner demons, and the way we force people into the closet, and the hands off nature of LL about this kind of behavior. After all, they profit heavily from it. Let me repeat that Kaz Kapedzki is a good LL citizen, he spends money he and pumps the economy by abusing people and throwing around a few Linden to cover it over.

But the lesson for people coming into SL, other than, don't go to the Red Light District unless you are a man who likes to insult and abuse women, and there is almost always one there, smirking about how he doesn't need to pay for SL sex, and sneering at the women who are there, is simpler and larger.

That lesson is this, SL exposes more of you to the light than you would like to think. Many people simply wander round SL chattering away in their regular voice. Did you know there is software, I have seen it working in th ehands of a music producer friend, that makes it possible to mimic your voice with a large enough sample? It isn't that good yet, but it is good enough if run through some noise makers that it could pass as you on a bad cellphone connection.You heard me: voice identity theft is now in the reach of people who want to do it. And here SL is promoting voice technology, and does not have a built in voice masker. I am not talking about "voice morphing" which is radical shifts in pitch and other features of speech, but simply the same kind of voice masking that someone bloign the whistle on 60 minutes would use.

And remember, there is a Kaz out there someplace, who will tell you that you can find out his rl, and even invites you to try, secure that he can do much more to you than you can to him.

Because he is right.

Anyone using their unprocessed voice on sl is handing out information they really don't want people to have. I know people who leave an open mike in their computer room. You can hear their children going in and out of the room. With a bug still in place that lets people hear a voice chat stream even after leaving, and with the normalcy of people being on the voice client but saying nothing, this is like placing a bug in your own home, and letting anyone who wants listen in.

Of course handing out that information is something that some peole want to do, as a way of saying "look I am real! and I want an rl connection!" They may have good reasons for this, they may have manipulative reasons for doing this, but like the whore slut fantasy, it creates a situation where others can take advantage of it. I fully repsect people's needs, and if someoen needs a voice to voice rl connection, then that is what they should have a clear road to have. But at the same time, they should not be offered what looks like "a game" that is "safe" when, in fact, they are exposing themselves to danger.

This is part of "being digital," really. The idea that anything we say in digital public is now permanently recordable, and manipulable. It took a while for people to understand that with Photoshop, just because a picture looks very real, does not mean it is. The same is becoming true with voice, it is just data, and data can be manipulated by mathematics, as precisely as you can skew the perspective of a row of columns.


  1. I've seen a few of these men before... In fact one of the oddest was a male dancer who came into a strip club/escort service I worked for while I was dancing...

    As long as we prostrated ourselves on the dance poles he was full of comments about how attractive and entertaining we were. He however wasn't tipping, so I engaged him in some IM... Where he insulted us saying that what we offer he didn't have to pay for because he was 'all that and a bag of chips' as the phrase goes. And went on to add how we were two cent whores and how he'd never be with us because we were sluts and he only slept with 'real women with morals'.

    I told him if that was his view then he could watch an empty pole and enjoy the view. I then muted him and after pasting his comments in IM to my fellow dancer at the time and after talking about it she did the same. He didn't stay much longer when he couldn't insult us privately... The place we worked out would probably be upset about how we handled it, but I will not be abused.

  2. Lillie,

    Thank you for another informative post. I admit that I'm beginning to like your blog more and more.

    Abusive people...
    It's a shame that people, in general, think that the anonymity of SL gives them the right to be cruel.

    I've met far too many men and women who are willing to be mean simply because they believe that SL provides them a layer of protection. In all honesty, it's been more men than women. For some reason, men believe that they can simply be rude and cruel and sadistic on SL to women and get away with it because they have a layer of anonymity. Usually it's men between the ages of 18 and 25. I realize I'm profiling... not all of that group is bad... but that's been the usual age range of the people I've seen behaving that way.

    With some people it doesn't make a difference. They continue to be the people they are, because they're good people. But all too often it causes people to lose some of their humanity in-world. If you can do whatever you want without fear of consequence, then some people's worst side comes out.

    When I've run into situations where people were abusive they've given me the "it's just a game" excuse as well. I think this is the tiredest excuse I've heard on SL. Someone abuses you, humiliates you... and somehow YOU are the one to blame because you took offense. Obviously *you* are the one taking the game too seriously. Sheesh... I wish people who use this excuse would simply consider what they are doing.

    No person, man or woman, deserves to be treated this way on SL. Ever. In-world I have defended people and myself against this type of abuse.

    Voice theft
    To LL.... told ya so. ;) Lillie is absolutely right. I believe that anyone using unmasked or unprocessed voice on SL is foolish. Voice imitation software is out there... and it's getting better. Take a look at the "festival" research project. They're working on an experimental program here:

    To do just that. This is just one of the things that really scares me about voice and why I have been so much against it. Someone can steal your voice and imitate you. People can say I'm paranoid, but they said that about the people who were worried about photographic forgery. It's very easy to use photoshop to do something now and make it look very convincing. The research for voice transformation is on it's way as the link above demonstrates.

    Very Sincerely Yours,
    Anony Mouse
    "See, I sound like you now! It's only a game, right?"

  3. "I've met far too many men and women who are willing to be mean simply because they believe that SL provides them a layer of protection."

    It is not only SL... it is the rest of the internet too.

  4. Oh, Lillie, that's not all that happens in the redlight district. I remember a time with 2 day-old escorts up in that cheesy motel, where I paid them to come up and we spent the hour with them roaring with LOL's as they learned how my X2 worked. And another time when the most well spoken young woman complimented so politely and respecfully on my profile comments and a lovely and solid friendship was built from there. The girl still freelances Red Light and Amsterdam because it suits her... Sometimes I'll just park my av by the burned out cab across the canal and camera over to look at the remarkable assemblage of learning, pluck, beauty, goofiness, unconscious grace, and digital temerity. Rude stuff happens there, for sure, but sometimes when I'm feeling blah about SL, it's great just to go there and experience the vitality.

  5. Red Lights is all that Lillie said, it is indeed a place that often reeks of frustration and desperation, but it is not a haunted place, and may turn into something else as well.

    > the most well spoken young woman
    > complimented so politely and
    > respecfully on my profile
    > comments and a lovely and solid
    > friendship was built from there

    There are often more than a few nice and well spoken young women hanging out there, and some surprisingly shy and nice men as well. I sometimes go there for variety, when I do not feel like doing anything better. I just stand, observe, chat a bit with the girls that do not look outright stupid, I read profiles, and sometimes contact those with something interesting and original in theirs. So far the worst that happened to me is silence, the best a nice chat. I never got abused at Red Light, verbally or otherwise, beyond the usual juvenile griefing that may also be abundantly found elsewhere.

    Sometimes I even hooked a client there, but I am perhaps too expensive for the place,so it does not happen often (but it happens).