Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The conflict of Bondage

The conflict of Bondage

One striking feature of Second Life sexual place space the the role that bondage, fetish and sadomasochistic role play.  One might ask why these emerges to prominently in a virtual reality mediated set of sexual exchanges.

An obvious answer would be that the nature of exchanges of sexual acts and messages reflects the nature of exchange taking place in the space itself.   The global internet can be seen making all identity and exchange as a commodity.  The impersonal outsourced nature of internet network exchanges is reflected in the fetish nature of Second Life sexual exchanges. 

Bondage sexuality with its fetish of roles and clothing reveal the relationships of power, gender, and commodity that govern Late Capitalist economy.  One could say that bondage RP visualizes the dominate nature of social relationships.  This could be seen as a process of making this network more attractive, but at base the monopoly of Late Capitalist consumerist ideology itself can account for its appearance within the sexuality of virtual exchanges.


But there is another side to the relationship of Late Capitalism to the tribes of virtual sadomasochists.  Second Life BDSM play is often fused with a entire setting that stresses the medieval or ancient.  Bondage play is imagined taking place in a context castles, aristocrats, slave markets, and landed estates.  It is also interesting that feudal and ancient social practices are mixed.  Landed castles are also the scenes of massive Romanian like slave. The past is combined, but it is all united by being pre-Capitalist.  This provides the strange scenes of feudal castles full of small advertisements for animations and clothing. 

This leads to the observation of a contradition: that "players" in sexual games in Second Life both embrace a radically Capitalist framework for construcing their sexuality at the same time as imagining a context that pre-dates Capitalism and promises a return to forms or exchange that predate Industry, Globalisation and trade.

This conflict between structures made possible only by the Global Late Capitalist system and nostalgia for an imagined pre-Capitalist purity run through Second Life.

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