by Urizenus Sklar on 28/01/07 at 1:07 pm
In real life, Emily Semaphore is 35 and works as a librarian. In Second Life, she roleplays as a 13 year old girl. Together, with Ian Manray (her real life husband, who she met in SL!) she manages Jailbait, a Second Life club dedicated to age-play – often involving cybersex between the participants. In this interview, we ask her about ageplay, her job as manager at Jailbait, what she considers the psychologically healing aspect of sexual ageplay, and what she sees as the troubling aspects of ageplay and society’s reaction to it.
Urizenus Sklar: Emily, what is Jailbait, and what is your job as Manager here?
Emily Semaphore: Well, Jailbait is a roleplay club for adult ageplayers. And ageplay is, as many know or think they know, is a form of roleplay related to BDSM which involves two adults roleplaying situations where one is an adult and one is underage. As manager, I keep an eye out for griefers (we get lots but they don’t last long), make sure that no RL minors are here (which is unlikely as most kids who sneak onto the adult grid are going to go pretend to be ADULTS), and generally keep things running smoothly and folks playing nicely with one another.
Urizenus Sklar: Some ageplay is sexually oriented and some is not. What percentage do you think is sexual?
Emily Semaphore: I would say it’s about 50/50.
Urizenus Sklar: Is that 50% of the participants, or 50% of the activity? or both.
Emily Semaphore: both
Urizenus Sklar: let’s take the nonsexual part first. Why do you think people like to roleplay as children?
Emily Semaphore: I think for a lot of people, they are trying to fill a void from their own childhood. Lots of people I know who are involved in ageplay were neglected at best and abused at worst as children. Being able to “play” a kid in a “safe” environment can be very healing for many people. For some folks, it’s just a free ticket to be immature, but that’s a release also.
Urizenus Sklar: what is it for you, if you don’t mind my asking?
Emily Semaphore: For me, it’s all of the above. I survived fairly extreme abuse and I ageplay with my RL husband in a “daddy” role, and from that I get a sense of kindness, love, fulfillment and security I never received from my RL father. It’s deeply therapeutic.
Urizenus Sklar: Have you discussed the value of ageplay with any rl psychotherapists?
Emily Semaphore: No, I haven’t, nor do I claim to be a psychotherapist.
Urizenus Sklar: Do you spend all your time in SL doing ageplay, or just some of it?
Emily Semaphore: I spend about half my time in second life doing ageplay. My ageplay avatar is an alt for my other account, that way I am able to separate those parts of my play, as well as keep griefers away from my other account.
Urizenus Sklar: I’m guessing that there are different kinds of ageplayers, different ages, different scenes. Do you have a handy taxonomy of the types?
Emily Semaphore: Well, I haven’t exactly charted it. It’s really different for each individual, just like any complex form of roleplay.
Urizenus Sklar: But there are they diaper kidz, and then there are the little girls, etc…
Emily Semaphore: Some people only play in a nonsexual manner, others only play sexually, many mix both. There are teens and tweens and yeah diaper kids >.<
Urizenus Sklar: Are there any internal conflicts between groups of ageplayers?
Emily Semaphore: Well the biggest schism seems to be between those who exclusively play non-sexually and those who play sexually. Many non-sexual ageplayers actively dislike those who incorporate sexual situations into their play. Also, some of the older age kids turn up their noses at diaper play and baby talk, but I haven’t witnessed many actual fights there.
Urizenus Sklar: Why do the nonsexual ageplayers object to the sexual ageplay?
Emily Semaphore: Well, I think it probably boils down to a few things. The biggest reason I feel, is that many people have a difficult time understanding the concept of roleplay and fantasy. Portraying a simulated sexual situation between an adult and a “child” is deeply controversial, and for good reason. We live in a culture where the word pedophile is used in every day conversation and Dateline NBC parades sexual predators out to convince people that everyone is out to prey on their children. So, people assume that anyone who ageplays in a sexual way, must be a pedophile, because they are being aroused by thoughts or by viewing simulated sexual situations between an adult and “child”. The current environment fuels the hysteria, which I feel is part of the reason why ageplay is such a hot topic for debate lately. But people have been playing daddy and his little girl forever, as fantasy roleplay in the bedroom. Schoolgirl outfits are all the rage among women and girls of all ages. Our culture fetishizes the sexuality of youth, but then seeks to punish us for responding to it. In SL, one is able to actually take on the appearance of a young person to almost eerie detail, in ways you cannot do in RL, and that is frightening to people who only see the childlike appearance and are convinced that something illegal or at least completely untoward is happening.
Urizenus Sklar: ok, but earlier you said that for many ageplayers their ageplay is making up for a kind of lost childhood, and is very healing. How does that square with the sexual end of roleplay. Can that be healing too?
Emily Semaphore: Yes. I was molested for years by a family member. For me, roleplaying in a sexual manner is healing because it allows me to RECLAIM my sexuality. Everything I am involved in is consensual, even if it appears not to be (i.e. consensual non-consensuality). It is as though I am placing myself back into that mindset and I can say ‘yes’, and I can say ‘no’, and I can say ‘fuck you mister”. I can also work thru issues where, and this is a deep pain for sexual assault survivors, my body responded favorably to the abuse, and tell myself I am indeed not a bad person for my biology having responded to what was done to me when I was a child. Having discussed this at length with lots of other folks, I think many people are able to use sexual ageplay to a very healing end. Unfortunately, most people have a very hard time understanding this. It’s very nuanced.
Urizenus Sklar: It must be your job [as Jailbait manager] to keep the minors out of here. Do you have a reliable strategy for doing that in the age of unverified users?
Emily Semaphore: Well, as you know, it’s impossible to reliably verify that someone is of legal age to be here. The best we can do, without unfairly penalizing the free account users of legal age, is if we encounter or are told of someone who is a minor, we immediately notify the lindens, and then we ban them. Most people who come here I feel certain don’t actually want to play sexually with RL children. So people do notify us if someone claims they are under 18 in RL. In all of those cases, the person was lying about being underage, in attempts to lure the person into webcam sex. After they were reported to the Lindens, they magically produced age-verification and tried to get back into the club, but I will not take that chance. Also, the point has been made many times, and bears repeating… kids who sneak onto the grid are NOT going to head to an ageplay club. They want to pass as adults (and considering how immature many adults are in SL, they pass pretty well) and hang out at adult clubs and such.
Urizenus Sklar: Are some people better at ageplay than others? What makes for a good ageplayer?
Emily Semaphore: Some people are indeed better at it than others. Really anyone with a strong roleplay background tends to be “better” simply because they have good imaginations, are creative and have experience constructing a story and running with it on the fly.
Urizenus Sklar: Does it help to be more childlike as a person, or is that a nonfactor when roleplay begins?
Emily Semaphore: It probably helps, if you’re the one roleplaying the child. It’s very relaxing to stop being a grownup for a while.
Urizenus Sklar: But what about the ones who roleplay as adults. Do you ever worry that there is a bit of misogyny or at least a power thing about them?
Emily Semaphore: I wouldn’t say there’s any misogyny, because there are quite a few boys in ageplay as well, both in gay and straight playing roles. As far as power goes, well that’s actually a large part of the attraction. An intentional imbalance of power, similar to a D/s relationship, is very appealing to many people
Urizenus Sklar: I mean that question to be more general — about the need to be in a power position over children *or* women, and while it is appealing, you might wonder if it is helpful. Do you think it is? I could ask the same question about Gorean masters, of course.
Emily Semaphore: I don’t think it is harmful. I don’t think the people who play the adult side get off on the power position as much as the person in the child role gets off on the “helpless” role. Most of the “kids” i see are the ones calling the shots. So as much as it may seem as though we are being victimized by the big mean people, most of us want to be, in a consensual manner. Also I’m not touching Gor with a 10 foot pole
Urizenus Sklar: As you probably know, in some countries where SL users live, *representations* of sexual relations between adults and children is illegal. Presumably the activity here would qualify. Do you worry that this might force Linden Lab to shut down the ageplay activity?
Emily Semaphore: I do worry about that. But what worries me more is living in a society where people are penalized for sexual thought crime.