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Posts Tagged ‘truth’

Facing RespectA couple of weeks back I did a picture for The Gallery of Light, under the theme of “respect”. It was a subversive picture, and one that requires a bit of explaining, so here’s the explanation if you were wondering what the hell the picture’s about (and even if you weren’t).

It’s called “facing respect” because it is a face (duh) and because it’s about facing the truth of what it means to demand respect from people for beliefs that are actually dangerous and based on false-hoods. It is a comment on the modern use of the term “respect” to tell you to leave people’s beliefs alone and unquestioned – which to me is a perversion of the term and does a lot of harm.

The right side of the face is the “public face” of these requests for “respect”: The white doves in the eye is the vision of peace, the tears are for others’ suffering – everything about that side of the face is meant to suggest purity, innocence and good intentions.

The left side is the truth behind what it means when people demand respect for things that shouldn’t get it (as so often happens): The eye sees the truth of fire – the destruction caused by granting “respect” to ideas that should be exposed and revealed for their false-hoods. The lips are shut by barbed fire to symbolise the way people use the term “respect” to tell you to keep your mouth shut instead of exposing the truth. The hair line is fractured since the brain is ordered not to evaluate, not to criticize, but to quietly – “respectfully” keep it’s thoughts to itself. Where the right side had rose-petals the left side is scarred by thorns – just because something is pretty to the eyes (“respecting every one and everyone’s beliefs equally”), doesn’t mean it isn’t dangerous.

The light radiating from the body is representing the fact that the beliefs we carry are not just “internal” – that what we believe does matter and impacts others and ultimately reality; the way we treat other people, the politics we vote for, the laws we create. We should care what other people think and be ready to discuss and if necessary criticize it, instead of letting people tell us to not do so, in the name of “respect”.

I’m pretty sure it’s the last picture I’m ever doing for the Gallery of Light – even though I intended to keep up my art in Second Life, I have a feeling my personal exodus from there is going to be a bit more all-encompassing than I originally planned. Maybe I’ll get back into Second Life art with a passion at some point but I don’t know when, and it won’t be soon. It’s a shame that my last picture for the place was a tad dark but that’s the point of the picture itself isn’t it: The truth isn’t always pretty roses, sometimes it’s thorns, but the deeper beauty of knowing the truth is worth more than superficial aesthetics.

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This is another post that comes from thinking about an issue Bailey raised in her Blog ( http://baileylongcloth.wordpress.com/2008/10/15/why/ ). This time about people who play as genders in SL different than they are in RL. But I want to focus on one particular reason for what is usually a man playing as a female: The question of what their true gender is in RL. Let me explain.

Many men play as women in SL, for whatever reason, and there are many reasons for doing so. The one that I find most interesting is when men play as women because they think of themselves as women in RL, but haven’t had a sex change yet or feel they never could because of how society would treat them. Whether you view this as acceptable or not will necessarily in part reflect your RL attitude to the flexibility of gender assignment – to whether someone can be born into the wrong sexual organs, so to speak.

I openly and unquestionably accept that people can be “trapped” in the wrong sexual organs – sexuality in humans is a continuum more than a black and white thing. For some children their sex is actually “assigned” at birth because they have traces of both organs, they are declared one or the other and that is that. Sometimes they are surgically “corrected” and sometimes they are not. Hormones always confuse things further, you can change your body chemistry and enhance consequently features that would otherwise only appear on the opposite sex. Some women and men physically appear to never reach sexual maturity too. There are so many variations, so I have no problem accepting this gender continuum as readily as I accept a continuum of sexuality from heterosexual to bi to homosexual.

With this as my background knowledge and attitude, I have no issue at all with people in SL playing as what they think is their “true” gender. And they don’t owe me information about their gender according to their sexual organs. In fact you could argue the deceit is happening in RL when people look at them and see someone that they believe they are not. This is part of the beauty of SL – it can show you in some ways for who you trully are.

Having said all this, I am in no way disillusioned enough to think that this is the real reason most men who play as women, do so. It is however an interesting aspect of SL life, and of the gender we choose to play and why.

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