Hard Alley Protestors Issue Press Release

by Alphaville Herald on 28/11/09 at 1:59 pm

16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence visits Hard Alley in Second Life

by Pixeleen Mistral, National Affairs desk


Yesterday, about a dozen ham shaped avatars staged a protest in Hard Alley – a notorious role play sex sim – to warn against the objectification of women in the virtual world of Second Life. Could this the beginning of a wave of activism in the virtual realm – or will the Hard Alley property owners simply smile and enjoy the traffic boost?

Here is the text of the press release Scylla Rhiadra sent to the Herald's iMojo3Gs newswire:


As a part of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence, a series of events to promote an end to violence against women being held in Second Life from 25 November to 10 December, a broad coalition of activist groups in SL staged a performance protest at Hard Alley on 27 November.

Hard Alley was chosen because it is one of the most popular sims in SL featuring animations, poses, and products that depict violence against women, including rape, bondage, and violent physical abuse. Such depictions desensitize users to the violence that they represent; they "normalize" the rape and sexual abuse of women by asserting that these things are not merely "fun," but also sexually arousing. By doing so, they impact upon real life attitudes towards a horrendous social blight that annually leaves millions of women across the world traumatized, psychologically and physically scarred or injured, or even dead. Any activity that trivializes or seems to validate real life violence of women is intolerable. This protest was staged to make it clear that our society should not, indeed must not, tolerate it.


As residents of Second Life, we recognize that role play here is "consensual," and that the simulation of rape or other forms of violence against women is NOT the same as real life abuse. At the same time, however, we also understand that images and behaviours here do impact upon first life attitudes and practices, just as the images in any media, electronic or otherwise do. The media, and in particular interactive and "social" media such as Second Life, have an enormous impact, for both good and ill, upon societal values. Our protest here was both in opposition to the misogyny reflected by the form of role playing encouraged at this sim, and a forceful statement of our own commitment to ending the attitudes that sanction or create violence against women.

Because a founding principle of feminism is nonviolent activism, we chose a form of protest that was appropriately peaceful.  We were not there to "attack" the sim, nor to grief it or its users.  We did not spam visitors here, nor abuse them individually.  We are protestors, not griefers.

We chose to represent ourselves as "meat," because this is the most appropriate metaphor to describe the attitude towards women and their bodies endorsed by the activities of places like Hard Alley.  We also chose this means of protest to show that, while we take the issue of violence against women very seriously indeed, we also have a sense of humour and playfulness.  The joy of shared laughter is one of our most potent weapons against the sort of hatred towards women exemplified by sims like Hard Alley.

More information on the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence can be found online at: http://slactivists.ning.com/


120 Responses to “Hard Alley Protestors Issue Press Release”

  1. Orion

    Dec 28th, 2009


    Its not just the right to “virtual kink” as you put it. Its a matter of freedom of speech and even more so thought. What these people are fighting for is to in all essence ban certain subjects from being explored via a user controllable medium which honestly allows for no harm to be done to either person participating. The same sort of relationship I may add that we all have with anything from a book, a movie, or even an audio program. If you don’t like the subject of the book, you put it down and read another. The same with movies, audio programs, and even sims.

    I’m likely wasting my breath as those on the other side of this argument simply don’t want to listen and can’t seem to get over the fact that what they’re calling “rape” is nothing more then two consenting adults playing out a dynamically created story. The arugment they’re using is akin to banning all books, videos, and audio having to do with murder, then turning around and accusing the author them-self of being a murderer and those who read his or her works of being potential murderers.

    It seems a little silly doesn’t it? But why am I even bothering to try and explain this? Most of you people see the word “rape” and instantly think – “OMG! OMG OMG OMG! These poor people are getting attacked (in a video game) and OMG OMG OMG there are people attacking them!” I’m willing to bet that none of you have actually gone into these places and just watched, listened to the stories and chat flying by to see what they’re actually doing. If you had, then you’d realise that what you’re calling “rape” is actually more of a power game where the person getting attacked fights their attacker and either wins or looses.

    But oh well. Obviously in this society ignorance and blindness are preferred over tolerance and understanding.

  2. Donna

    Dec 28th, 2009

    Truly disgusting. It’s a disgrace to women and it affects young boys to treat women like pieces of meat. Second Life is full of child and rape porn, there has to be a stop to it.

  3. Scylla Rhiadra

    Dec 29th, 2009

    Orion, I’m not quite sure whom you are addressing these comments to. There are, as the comments that have appeared here indicate, a pretty diverse range of views in opposition to rape RP in SL. I certainly wouldn’t pretend to be a spokesperson for everyone who has posted here expressing opposition, nor indeed even for everyone who was involved in the Hard Alley protest: everyone there had their own views on the subject, and we certainly didn’t try to enforce uniformity.

    I can, however, speak to the overall intent of the organizers of the protest, of whom, obviously, I was one. I’ve said this all before, but it obviously bears saying again.

    First of all, the protest was not about “banning” anything. We did not call for a ban on rape RP, nor do I support such a ban; I am on record here, and in many other public venues, on that score. The protest was NOT a call for censorship: on the contrary, it was a call for discussion about the issues that this kind of RP raises.

    I, and most others whom I know who were involved in the protest, take the issue of freedom of speech very seriously indeed. I think, frankly, that ensuring the right of people to jack off to the violent porn of their choice does NOT quite rank up there with guarding the artistic and intellectual freedoms with which you are comparing it: a world without Lady Chatterley’s Lover or Lolita would be a demonstrably poorer world, while I suspect that the loss of the kind of “intellectual” or “artistic” content generated one-handed while sitting on a pose ball would make little dent on the achievements of our civilization. However, again, I am against censoring or banning it.

    What I am FOR is raising the issue of the kind of harm that public depictions of sexual violence can cause. This relates to your suggestion that those objecting to rape RP here are suggesting some kind of crude equivalence between rape RP and REAL rape. In fact, no one I’ve seen who has posted here has suggested any such thing. At issue are the sorts of contribution to rape myths and misogynist attitudes that such RP makes. Speaking purely personally, I am quite willing to accept that those who rape RP are NOT in training to be real rapists: my concern is about way in which public depictions of rape that imply that it is “sexy” or “fun” impact upon RL attitudes towards real rape, and about the way in which such representations reinforce existing misogynist perspectives.

    The point of the protest was not to “stop” people from engaging in rape RP: it was to ask them (and others) to think about these potential impacts, and to reconsider their behaviour on the basis of that reconsideration. No bans, no censorship, no attempt to interfere directly: we just wanted to raise the issue.

    As for the question of “ignorance,” I can not, of course, speak for all of the posters here, but I have spent over a year in SL visiting, documenting, and researching sims like Hard Alley. At least a few others who have posted here have, as I can attest from personal knowledge, done the same, including actually participating, in some cases, in the RP in order to gain more insight into it.

    Tolerance and understanding are indeed to be preferred to ignorance and blindness. I would ask you to extend those courtesies to those with whom you might disagree, but whom still have legitimate concerns about these sims. I am not about to call you a “rapist” or even a “misogynist”; I doubt very much that you are either. Perhaps you can reciprocate by acknowledging that there is at least some basis for a two-sided discussion here, rather than dismissing those with whom you disagree as merely “blind” or “ignorant.”

  4. Dragomir

    Dec 29th, 2009

    Not just on Second Life, but BAN all pornography. It’s completely immoral and does corrupt the minds and morals of anyone who uses it. Pornography can lead the user to become completely addicted to it and when that happens, it’s their families who suffer.

  5. Orion

    Dec 29th, 2009

    @ Scylla Rhiadra

    It looks to me like you’ve been caught in the cross-fire here. And I do apologise. To be tell you the truth, I’ve only skimmed over your discussions as quite honestly they’ve turned into a stereotypical statistics war where one side counters the other with whatever they can find on Lexis Nexus to support their argument. No to offend but I don’t call that a discussion or even a debate, its more of an exercise in research for a college composition course and therefore not worth my reading.

    As for claiming to represent one side in its entirety I’m afraid that’s awfully presumptuous on your part, but perhaps next time I’ll choose my style of wording a bit more carefully. As a role player, I was however addressing those with the more radical positions within the comments, as in the ones who were calling for bans, censorship, and even for those who engage in such role-play to be incarcerated. These are the ones who will radicalise an innocent and well balanced debate and turn it into a witch hunt.

    Now, since you’ve obviously spent some time in these role-play worlds and have participated then I’m sure you’ll realise that while yes, a lot of the stories that take place are of a sexual nature, there are indeed varying levels of which these stories are formed. From the lowest and most crude, meaning the ones who engage in “free sex” or “cyber sex”, to those who actually take the time to form a complete and coherent story which is integrated into their character’s overall life story. The latter being what I consider role-play, the first being a group that consists of either those who are new and haven’t learned the ropes of formal role-play or are just too lazy to bother to learn – in which case they’ll likely be snubbed continually until they drop out of the game.

    Sadly though, I must admit at present there seems to be quite an imbalance between those who engage in formal role-play and the free sexers who rely on huds, poseballs, and hyperbole based emotes. So much so that in fact I no longer bother role playing on Second Life and have moved on to begin work on my own world based on the concepts of uncensored literary role-play. When I see these people screaming that all forms of sex should be banned from the internet, that child avatars are paedophiles, and that those who engage in extreme role play are sick and should be incarcerated, it honestly sends a chill down my spine. From my view not only do these opinions resemble something straight out of WWII Germany, but are just downright evil. Under no circumstances should any creative work be deemed illegal, regardless of bad taste or moral value. To do so would only open the door for further censorship.

    As for the psychological or sociological ramifications of engaging in such stories anyone who has participated in such a role play will tell you that that rule number one is that you, as in the real life you is not and is separate from your role play character. Hence the concept of in character versus out of character (ic / ooc). Those who start taking the story out of character, or begin to exhibit signs of real life psychosis are quite frankly shunned within these role play communities and if the situation warrants, they’re reported to the appropriate authorities.

  6. Sharon

    Jan 19th, 2010

    These sims only promote the destruction to young and impressionable minds.We should protect our children from this electronic filth – get lawmakers and google to act with impact before we lose a whole generation to degradation and perversion.Ban these sims SOON!

  7. Karen

    Jan 20th, 2010

    @Scylla Rhiadra | Don’t bend to these sickosand their empty threats. Pfft they did a big petition to do away with age verification and what did that get them? Well we all know. If you feel strong enough to protest against this disease then do so no holds barred.

    @Sharon Great point but I am unsure of what Google would do other than pull their search engine from SL. One place that will have an ” Impact” is at this site. http://www.ceop.gov.uk/ Lindens Labs failed attempt at age verification allows any child to age verify using a Visa/MC debit card. This is not age verification since any child old enough to type can age verify with the debit card they found in their Christmas Stocking. We want solid ID verification not the current system. Lets get these sicko’s ID’d. A video will be sent soon to the CEOP showing this flaw using a fake 14 year old who uses a debit card sent to them from Auntie,She entered the worst of the worst sicko sims and broke a few rules to get the point made. Shock and Awe is the name of the game. One fun trick to bring the roaches into the open is to hold down shift crtrl alt and the number 9. Take a few pictures and forward them to the website above. That will create the impact you desire.

  8. Bethany Baptist Church

    Jan 20th, 2010

    Karen: As a taxpaying woman citizen, I want to thank you so much for creating this video. To add a bit more information, there exist what I call “recreational rape” Sims in Second Life. I could not believe it when I discovered years ago that there were sims where rape was artistic endeavor: where there were – and still are – rape role-play of all kinds. You name it, it was – and is – there. Shamefully, I did nothing about it. Now, on a mission this time, I have found a few more of these sims a few nights ago. It wasn’t hard. It’s too easy for children to get into. Real-life anti-woman horrors offered as titillation for the sick. After discovering more of these sims this very night, I have finally decided to do something about it!

  9. The Cleaner

    Jan 22nd, 2010

    I do understand the opposition toward those sims. There is a disturbing message that those sims reflect on our culture. My big issue is that more should be invested in nabbing the sickos that are thrilled by this role play.

  10. Karen

    Jan 23rd, 2010

    One step at a time. First we have to get a positive identification on these pervs then we can get them on a list. Hopefully this list will profile these weirdo’s RP and create a M.O. In a data base. This data base like the Sexual Offenders data base will help local Law Enforcement with unsolved rape cases. To be able to compare the sicko’s RP to RL sexual offenses. If they are similar then Law Enforcement can question and more than likely, match them to a case they are currently working on.
    I think this would be a valuable tool not to mention if they think this way to begin with, we don’t want them around our children or working in our hospitals or any other place these animals can take advantage of someone unable to fend for themselves. One way is to push for a positive ID system. If they don’t want to give up their identity, then we know they are the ones with the most to hide. Besides, since when do pervs have rights other than the right to be silent?

  11. Morals

    Feb 4th, 2010

    Good Job we need to crack down on sick people like this.

  12. Bonnie

    Feb 23rd, 2010

    Last time I checked, there was this subgroup of society called … women … who for some strange reason don’t like to be demeaned. I think Linden Labs calls them their… customers.

  13. Orion

    Feb 23rd, 2010

    You’ll actually go so far as to let your kid’s be exposed to this sort of stuff by letting them use the computer unsupervised? Without even a filtering software to stop them from getting to SL in the first place?

    You’d actually go so far as to demand thought crimes legislation. To censor what people can think, discuss, and create /fictional/ stories about instead of just taking a pro-active approach to raising your kids?

    You do realise that there’s a little thing called personal and of course parental responsibility? Censorship is a two way door, and if you’re not going to take the necessary steps to keep your kids safe – ie watching them while they’re online or at the very least installing some kind of filtering software like Net Nanny then I’m sorry but you guys are just unfit to be parents. I’d say you’re the ones who need to be put into a database and kept away from any and all children.

  14. Robert

    Mar 11th, 2010

    Yuck…there is nothing worse then when people with extreme views go head to head….here we have the classic case of the morally rigid conservatives against the sexually graphic gamers….hope SL doesnt turn into their fighting ground…although I suppose it already has… makes me want to puke.

  15. It's Unfixable

    Jun 2nd, 2010

    LOL – just got around to reading this, I know it’s old but it’s classically what’s wrong with SL. Way too many people with way too much time on their hands.

  16. Slick Munro

    Jun 28th, 2010

    I just got around to reading this, too.

    While I don’t do rape role-playing, the comments by the women here are more shocking and disturbing than the topic. Creating a list of names of users who have sexual preferences different from yours to “identify perverts”?!!!! “Nabbing” them for doing it?!!! Under what law? Real-life prison time for making pixels do something disturbing on the screen?!! Are you serious?

    Have the government take over SL?!!!

    These comments are advocating thought monitoring and widespread censorship. You’re no different than real-life rapists.

  17. JB Quinn

    Aug 23rd, 2010

    Typical jack booted over reaction to role play between consenting adults. While it is on the extreme side, it is just role play, acting out a part, not a real act. I’m surprised these “concerned females” weren’t wearing brown shirts as they were collecting the names for their virtual concentration camp.

  18. Mal

    Aug 24th, 2010

    I’m sorry, but I’ve known quite a few women who are interested in this roleplay themselves, and they’re normal, well-rounded individuals. Should they be rounded up too, or do you just want to do it to the evil men?

  19. Joseph Johnson

    Sep 26th, 2010

    People have the right to their kinks. Saying this game makes people into rapists is like saying first person shooters turn kids into killers. It’s just not true.

  20. [...] Alley may be doomed by the faltering Second Life in-world economy – a shocking development for both militant protesters and forced urban roleplay fans who are likely to lose a formerly vital [...]

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