Rape in Cyberspace



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Notes on the Julian Dibbell “Rape in Cyberspace” article
We will not escape this discussion without dipping into both politics and metaphysics.

Note VR and RL are the two realities.

Description of a MOO – males might portray themselves as a female character

Consider William Gibson’s statement that science fiction is more often about today than it is about the future (e.g. 1984 was about 1948)


We can represent ourselves as anything we want in the anonymity of our online representations. Currently this is mostly text-based, though there is limited use of visual avatars, particularly in multi-player online games.
(see http://everquestonlineadventures.station.sony.com/adventures.jsp)

  • “Only with time and the acquisition of a fixed character do players tend to make the critical passage from anonymity to pseudonymity, developing the concern for their character's reputation that marks the attainment of virtual adulthood.”

  • Consider the experience of being able to converse with others in a virtual world. What are specific advantages this could bring to certain people?

Will the trend of increasing virtual representation continue? How far will it go? What will be the effects of this? How about for you personally, how will this affect you? Come up with a scenario in the future where virtual reality would make things much different in your life than it is today.

Does the virtual affect non-virtual reality?



  • Direct vs. indirect effects:
    Consider legba’s reactions: “..I'm not sure what I'm calling for. Virtual castration, if I could manage it…” Dibbell then writes:

  • ”Months later, the woman in Seattle would confide to me that as she wrote those words posttraumatic tears were streaming down her face--a real-life fact that should suffice to prove that the words' emotional content was no mere playacting.”

  • Later Dibbell writes: “what happens inside a MUD made world is neither exactly real nor exactly make-believe, but profoundly, compellingly, and emotionally meaningful.”

  • ``Where does the body end and the mind begin?"
    ``Is not the mind a part of the body?"
    ``In MOO, the body IS the mind,"

  • “People started drifting away. Mr. Bungle left first, then others followed--one by one, in twos and threes, hugging friends and waving goodnight.”

  • “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”

  • Dibbell announces the final stages of our decades long passage into the Information Age, a paradigm shift that the classic liberal firewall between word and deed …is not likely to survive intact.

Does playing violent games make players more violent? Visa-versa?



  • The affable HerkieCosmo proposed ``perhaps it's better to release...violent tendencies in a virtual environment rather than in real life" Do you agree? Disagree? Why? Give some examples.

  • In defending himself, Mr. Bungle stated: ``I engaged in a bit of a psychological device that is called thought-polarization, the fact that this is not RL simply added to heighten the affect of the device. It was purely a sequence of events with no consequence on my RL existence."

The wizard Haakon would not toad Mr. Bungle unless it was clear that the community at large wanted it done. In order to do so, the community had to define itself. Thus it was a crisis that elicited the coalescence of community.



  • How efficient is this as a form of government? Is there an alternative? How does this mirror/not mirror the real world?

  • Various personalities surfaced:
    parliamentarians,
    royalists (bring back the wizards),
    technolibertarians: use the @gag command to not see Mr. Bungle’s drivel. Problem: others still see it, and it is a representation of you (or is it?)

  • anarchists: leave it alone and don’t restrict anything

  • Consider the self-policing policy in the MOO. Is this a tenable form of government for the MOO? How about for the Internet at large? Why or why not?

  • The arch-wizard Haakon in the end instituted a system of universal suffrage. How efficient is this as a form of government? Is there an alternative?

  • Consider that Bungle apparently was resurrected as Jester. How does this affect your answer about the possibility of self-government?



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