News & Politics

Rape Still Haunting Cyberspace




This morning Gawker has a bit about the parallel universe of Second Life, where you can buy just about anything, including — pick a role — rape. Gawker writes:

We’re not as conversant with SL’s moral conventions as your average nerd, but it surprises even our jaded souls that you can indulge in rape fantasies (options: “Rape victim,” “Get raped,” or “Hold victim”) for a trifling 220 Linden dollar things.

Which brings to mind a now ancient but never more relevant article by Julian Dibbell, A Rape in Cyberspace. What goes around comes around and, apparently, stays. Here’s Dibbell — writing in 1993! — on the brutality that erupted in the multi-user dimension of LambdaMOO:

They say he raped them that night. They say he did it with a cunning little doll, fashioned in their image and imbued with the power to make them do whatever he desired. They say that by manipulating the doll he forced them to have sex with him, and with each other, and to do horrible, brutal things to their own bodies. And though I wasn’t there that night, I think I can assure you that what they say is true, because it all happened right in the living room — right there amid the well-stocked bookcases and the sofas and the fireplace — of a house I came for a time to think of as my second home.

Should you choose to check in on LambdaMOO, you’ll want to note the unsettling Google ads on the right. Just saying.

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