A few days ago, I narrated (and explained) in as much detail as is reasonable my background as a latex fetishist. For most of my existence in SL, this fetish of mine was not prominent; it was something reserved only for my “private time” and I had not yet allowed it to become a dominant characteristic that would define my identity, even though I actually wanted to. There were various reasons for this; some had to do with my own consumerism and some had to do with my own fear of others’ attitudes towards “taboo” topics, such as fetishistic attire, even if such attire is often shown prominently in today’s mainstream pop culture (such as the ballet heels featured in the video of the White Stripes’ song “Blue Orchid“, or the combination of latex and ballet heels worn by Beyoncé and her accompanying dancers in the video for “Green Light“, or the combination of ballet heels and a gothic-style outfit worn by P!nk in the video of her song “U + Ur Hand“).
The occasional “let’s go clubbing” latex catsuit was something I’d often wear on a night out in Second Life, but, although it did go someway towards suggesting a side of me that I wanted to express by being here in SL, and I would occasionally wear the almost “standard issue” combination of ER Fetish Doll Hood, a set of ER single- or double-tail hair, a catsuit bought either from ER or from powers of creation, a waist corset from Salid Sewell’s *KaS* store, along with her ballet boots (all of them excellent products, but their immense popularity and the fact that this combination is practically the “default” outfit for any SL latex fetishist has disenchanted me a bit, as it is now almost a uniform), but I had never seriously played with the idea of being 24/7 in latex. I knew, of course, that there were (and are) people whose only sort of SL attire is a full-body encasement in latex and ballet heels, but I was also fully aware of the fact that many of these people were living pretty much in a “cut-down” version of SL; they did very little exploring, didn’t go to happenings outside the BDSM/latex realm, avoided visiting places that were not specifically made for people who shared similar desires, and also oftentimes had very few, if any, friends outside SL’s BDSM community. The people I’m talking about avoided going to places that were not openly and explicitly specified as BDSM/latex/fetish-friendly places, simply because they didn’t want to be a nuisance to the “vanilla” crowd.
The hypocrisy of tolerance
This, of course, brings us to the “virtue” called tolerance, a “virtue” that is celebrated so much here in SL and touted as one of its community’s main qualities. I’m putting the word “virtue” in quotes simply because I don’t think that what it represents is a virtue; tolerance, at least in the sense in which it is understood and expressed by the majority of people, does not promote the understanding of others and coexistence with them. Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek (“the most dangerous philosopher in the West”) hit the nail on the head in an interview featured in Megan Erickson’s article “Why Tolerance Is Not a Virtue“. In his article “Tolerance as an Ideological Category“, Žižek points out that tolerance, which is basically the “if you stay in your own little world, away from my own little world and don’t even think of getting close to me or expressing yourself and/or your concerns, I’ll consider not attacking you, at least openly” mentality (that’s how I’m summing “tolerance” up and how a true, accurate dictionary should define it), is always promoted as the panacea and universal cure for everything that’s wrong in the world; not emancipation, not political struggle, no interaction at all – in the (neo)liberal mindset, political struggle can lead to armed struggle and violence is wrong (unless this violence is perpetrated by far-right thugs and racist vigilantes or by ridiculously heavily armed riot cops wielding weapons that they wouldn’t be allowed to use in a war).
Tolerance is a post-political ersatz and is promoted as an end. Do you know why? Because the cult of tolerance basically propagandizes the rejection of politics as a domain in which conflict, contrast, disagreement and discourse can be used productively:
The retreat from more substantive visions of justice heralded by the promulgation of tolerance today is part of a more general depoliticization of citizenship and power and retreat from political life itself. The cultivation of tolerance as a political end implicitly constitutes a rejection of politics as a domain in which conflict can be productively articulated and addressed, a domain in which citizens can be transformed by their participation. — Slavoj Žižek, “Tolerance as an Ideological Category“
Says Žižek: “Did you notice how almost automatically we tend to translate issues of sexism, racism or ethnic violence, whatever, into the terms of tolerance?” Recently, the SL part of the “One Billion Rising” campaign was slagged off by a misogynist (and, quite possibly, pro-rape, if I judge from his vehemently anti-women comments, according to which women have “reptile brains”) troll on someone’s feed, as a campaign that “condones violence against men”, “tries to take away scarce resources from appropriate areas of concern and tries to allocate them to inappropriate areas of concern”, “removes people’s attention from the fact that more men are likely to be victims of violence and rape than women” (sic), draws attention to a “fictitious drama” (that’s how he sees rape) brought up by “hysterical feminazis” etc. This “man” also went on to insult every woman he found on that person’s feed. Yet, the owner of the feed (a woman who is a friend of this “man” and should be ashamed of herself, if she has any trace element of dignity, which I highly doubt after that debacle) had the nerve to (a) give the women who were the targets of the misogynist troll a lecture for being insulted and not letting his flames and insulting spam, (b) tell us to tolerate the sexist bastard.
Here is a prime example of why tolerance is not a virtue: Women who support an anti-rape campaign are being lectured to tolerate a sexist moron who tries to sabotage and trash the campaign.
I’m going to give the true definition of tolerance once again:
Tolerance: A mentality that makes someone say “if you stay in your own little world, away from my own little world and don’t even think of getting close to me or expressing yourself and/or your concerns, I’ll consider not attacking you, at least openly.”
The misogynist’s attack on the “One Billion Rising” campaign was a clear example of tolerance according to the definition above: Women dared to express their concerns, so he had to attack them, their campaign, their cause and their right to not be brutalized and raped, their right to dignity, their right to not be discriminated against because of their gender (because rape, a crime whose victims are predominantly women and girls, is a product and an expression of sexual discrimination). Had we remained silent, had we “minded our own business” after the barbaric, brutal, cowardly and hideous gang rape and murder of that 23-year-old girl in India, had we considered this incident to be “normal”, he would have been nice to us.
And yes, we were chastised for not “tolerating” this person who “has a family in RL, a daughter, a son” and is such a “fine man” (who is so pathetic that he puts “Love” – my.secondlife.com’s equivalent for Facebook’s “Like” button – on his own comments).
Please use the numbers below to navigate between the article’s pages