I sometimes think about what I like in a sexual fantasy. I tend to create an imaginary scenario in which various sexual encounters could easily take place, then stick with that scenario until it no longer arouses or interests me. Last night after wandering around a few adult venues in SL, I thought about what it takes for me to feel comfortable engaging in virtual sex in Second Life, and I wondered if could I pick the perfect SL setting the same way that I create an erotic mental scenario?
One obviously doesn’t get all the same sensations or emotional support from an online encounter as one does from a real life sexual or romantic relationship. On the other hand, one can get many of these things without also having to deal with certain Real Life problems with sexual and romantic encounters.
Obviously, we can’t get an STD, assaulted or pregnant from an online sexual encounter. Many of us also know that we can get a sense of an emotional connection and friendship from online relationships. People who for various physical, financial or social reasons can’t easily make new friends or romantic partners in physical reality can often connect more easily online. People can also explore parts of their personality or alternate personas in ways that make them feel freer and more confident than they do in normal physical reality.
Given the fact that virtual encounters on a platform like Second Life are so much freer and free of real world consequences than they would be in physical reality, I’m surprised that people often carry the same social mores they have in physical reality into the virtual world. Why are people who dress as vampires or cartoon animals in SL considered weird? Why are woman who sell sexual fantasies to men still considered prostitutes and still disrespected as such, especially since what they do is often more like writing an erotic story than it is like having physical sex? Why is it often considered tacky and disreputable to engage in virtual sex with anyone other than one’s single significant other in the virtual world, even if the couple in question could be on other sides of the world in physical reality or might even be married to other people in Real Life?
I think it’s because Sex is not just a physical act. It is even more a psychological act. It is whatever excites, arouses and satisfies us sexually. Images create sexual thoughts and feelings. We feel arousal. Words remind us of real life physical touch. We feel arousal again. We imagine more than what we see or read or hear. We imagine what would arouse us more at that moment. We may touch ourselves or we might not. Ideas alone may be sufficient.
What happens then after the virtual encounter? We may feel more relaxed and closer to the other person, we might feel sexually unsatisfied, or we might even feel unhappy or icky about the encounter. We might feel like what we did was bad somehow, which might make us feel like the other person was bad too. We might think disparaging things about them or hide from them, hoping to never encounter them again.
Why? This other person is probably no worse a human being than we are ourselves. If one person pays for sexual satisfaction and one accepts money for providing sexual satisfaction, both are still engaging in a business transaction for sexual pleasure. In virtual reality, those who function as prostitutes are seldom working under duress or to support a drug habit. In most countries what they’re doing is not illegal. They aren’t spreading STDs. They aren’t supporting organized crime or terrorists. So why are SL “escorts” still treated badly, often by the same men who make use of their services?
For myself, I try to figure out what kind of sexual fantasy arouses me without also making me feel icky in some way. I personally don’t like most Domination-submission fantasies because they usually give me this icky sensation at some point. I’m not turned on by rape or abuse fantasies, but I also concede that a fantasy can provide arousal even if the real life act would not. People are complicated, and human sexual arousal can be very complicated.
I think most women who engage in virtual SL sex feel both more aroused and more safe when they’re acting out a monogamous romantic relationship. First they build an emotional connection with their partner, then they play at virtual sex with that partner. Often this partner eventually reveals aspects of himself (or herself) that don’t fit the initial fantasy the other person had of them. Both may grow unsatisfied and bored, at which point it’s easy for one or the other to break up. I think serial monogamy with occasional cheating is very much the norm in SL – much as it is in RL – because we tend to act out the same psychological needs, expectations and misunderstandings in virtual reality as we do in physical reality, though it’s also much easier to get in and out of relationships in virtual reality.
For myself, I like fantasies that involve voyeurism and exhibitionism, safe casual sex, and being in control of my sexual relationships. When I had a RL boyfriend in SL I wanted to remain sexually faithful to him, even though I wasn’t getting much sex with him in RL or SL. I ended up finding places in SL that allowed virtual sex with scripted objects, rather than with other avatars. This allowed me to interact in a virtual sex scenario without involving another person, and thus without “cheating”.
Often SL sex is basically interactive cartoon porn. If it involves other avatars, everyone involved is creating this porn together. If it’s between one avatar and a scripted object, then it’s a collaboration between the object creator/ text writer and the person who’s interacting with that object. This might be an alien creature that rises from a pond while a woman naps on a rock. It might be a stone dragon that comes to life. It might be a tentacle creature. It might be a vibrator, a sofa, or even a towel with masturbation animations in it.
I find that often I feel uncomfortable acting out casual sexual encounters in SL as my primary character. I think this goes back to wanting to be viewed as someone who’s “normal”, proper and respectable. I feel like being viewed as normal and respectable is safer than being viewed as weird and unsavory, so I want my main avatar – who I associate with being me – to be viewed as normal and respectable.
If I want to get a little kinky and sexually adventurous in SL, I sometimes go in as an alt who doesn’t have a reputation to protect. Other times I might stay as my main avatar, but change her appearance to be that of an alien or succubus. By changing her appearance like this, I imagine that normal human sexual mores no longer apply to her. As a alien or demonic succubus she may be genetically or culturally driven to have much more sex than humans normally have. She might feed on sexual energy or be curious about how various alien creatures will engage sexually with her.
I find that often virtual settings are more arousing to me than are the other avatars I might see in those settings. This is because I’m aroused by the idea of what could happen in such a place. Just walking around an empty club that promises casual sexual encounters is arousing. Knowing that my partner and I could be secretly watched or that I could secretly watch others arouses me. Sometimes I’ve been to such places with a partner. We might be busily texting each other in private IM while pushing animation buttons and adjusting our avatar positions. We might be trying desperately to keep the mood erotic and arousing between us, and then suddenly some guy in the sim IMs me and disrupts the mood. – Don’t be the noob who does this, as doing so will hardly ever result in you getting to jump on sex balls with the person you IM. Please just watch quietly and maybe IM the person the next time you see them alone in such a place.
One such place that I’ve explored multiple times as it’s undergone multiple incarnations is “U.F.O. Abduction the SexXxperience”. The theme in this venue is that of a large spaceship full of little green aliens who observe humans and other creatures engaging in a variety of sexual encounters. Last night there was only one other avatar there besides myself, and I wasn’t interested in playing with him or anyone else, but after I logged off I imagined a scenario I could play there that intrigued me. What if my avatar were asleep and wearing a skimpy little nightgown when she was picked up by these aliens? She might think she was having a particularly vivid dream. She might have been feeling horny before she went to sleep, so allowing this experience to become what she thinks is just a very vivid sex dream allows her (me) to play at casual virtual sex without attaching normal RL waking life mores to it.
This idea intrigues me. One could role-play it at various sims that encourage casual virtual sex. One simply needs to announce in local chat or to the person who IMs them or who they IM that they think they must be having a very vivid dream. If one can show up in pajamas or a skimpy nightgown, so much the better, though they may need to abide by the dress code of that sim instead.
What are you wearing when you find yourself in sex dream? I don’t think I’d ever start out naked, but sometimes I may dream that I have just a blanket or towel wrapped around me. I don’t think I have a blanket I can wear wrapped around my avatar in SL, but I think I do have a towel or a terrycloth robe.
(A naked poetry reading in SL, a scenario that mimics a possible sex dream.)