Saturday, June 27, 2009

Cellar Gender Policy

Dear Members,

I have now spent a long time consulting a range of people. Many thanks to all those who sent me their opinions or talked to me about this issue. It is good to know that so many care about the Cellar and that it is a special place for them.

There was a huge variety amoung those that sent me their opinion. Amoung those I talked to personally, however, there was near unanimity. This is significant to me as those include many whose RL sex I know to be female. This is a difficult issue, and I am sure I will not satisfy some whatever I do. I am sorry if the policy here is not to your liking.

My general principles and inclinations are as follows.

The Cellar's female ethos is overridingly important. That is it is a welcoming, caring and helpful place - not a place for quick sex or instant liasons, but one where quality relationships are encouraged and celebrated. It is not only a place for lesbians, but for women of all kinds and orientations. Tolerance of all different kinds of sexuality, and approach/style of BDSM is essential, not to mention any kind of nationality or religion.

There are some vulnerable people who come to the Cellar due to its caring ethos. Some have bad experiences in for example from Gor, abusive D/s relationships, or RL experiences. I would like to be able to afford them some protection, but have come to the conclusion that the only way to do this in SL is via tha norms of quality behaviour in the Cellar and via the mutual support network that is available there. It can not ensure the RL characteristics of those as the Cellar and it should not give the misleading impression that it can.

The Cellar can not achieve its ends by "hard" means such as banning. This does not work in SL -- only persuasion and self-selection works. If someone is banned they can just come back as another av. However if they dont find that avs here are easy to exploit and that callous behaviour is disapproved of they are likely to go elsewhere. Thus the purpose of the policy and guidelines should be to encourage good behaviour as much as possible and discourage and abusive, uncaring or exploitative behaviour.

The Cellar is a feminist place in the senses that: it promotes the rights of women to be respected and free from abuse; it is for the mutual support of women; it promotes a female ethos. It is not, however, vindictive towards or against anyone, merely be a place where women can relax and simply socialise without threat or hassle.

Thus the new policy of the Cellar will be as follows (it is similar to the old one).

The Cellar is a place for females only. No male avs, sexuality or behaviour will be tolerated. We ask that any males who are simply pretending to be female should respect our wish to be female-only and go elsewhere. No penises or other displays of maleness are allowed.

It is recognised that there are people (TG/TS/TV) with female brains but RL male bodies. These are allowed by on some conditions: (1) they talk to me, San Mauvaise before spending substantial time at the Cellar (2) they reveal their RL status to others before any sexual intimacy or entering into a longer-term relationship with them (such as collaring) (3) they live as a female at the Cellar in all respects.

People at the Cellar will ultimately be judged on their behaviour. There will be no witch-hunt in the sense of trying to find out about the RL sex of av's and anyway this is contrary to the SL Terms of Service (which all have accepted by using SL). Avs who behave callously or abusively will not be welcome at the Cellar, even if they are RL female. TG avs who show by their behaviour that they act in accordance with the Cellar female ethos will be accepted on terms equal to any other av.

My decision on this is final. I am, as always, always willing to listen to the views of any member if respectfully put. However I will not now change this policy for at least 6 months.

San Mauvaise


Anonymous said...

It's a shame that this policy slowly empties the members from the Cellar. No longer thriving as it once was.

San Mauvaise said...

I am sorry you feel this way. However I have never run the Cellar according to what is popular, but what is right. Otherwise I would not bother, it is not a commercial enterprise.


Jilly Kikuchiyo said...

I for one don't agree that the policy is emptying the club; the traffic seems to be consistent. And I would also like to give San my support for trying to make the best decision in a complex matter.


Wildcat said...

I agree with you San and you have my support. It's a good decision and i can live with it without any problem.

Anonymous said...

I have been coming her to the wonderful club since I was first introduced to this amazing club late Nov 2007. I have seen many come and go. I have seen a few lovely collaring. I have met my wonderful girls at the Cellar. I have seen newbie subs that was welcomed here at the Cellar and now some are strong Domme. I have seen girls being protected by brats whom are also welcomed here. The Cellar is a awesome club that I have recommended for a lot of girls that seemed genuine in there desires to be in a D/s relationship.

Even when I was slave lonely I felt slave here.

San.. thank you for this amazing club.. there is no other like it.. I have seen nothing close. I do support you, and stand behind or beside you on this.

Well done.
Ms. Toni Westland

Anonymous said...

now if only I could spell..

here* to this wonderful club

Even when I was a lonely slave I felt safe* here.

Ms. Toni

Anonymous said...

The question can be as simple as asking Yourself this....why do You come to SL ?

i know i come here to live what i cant live in RL. For example, i dont have a tail and cat ears in RL.

The only thing i ask from SL is that my encounters help me thrive.

To me thriving is done in respect, care that the av is a real human soul with feelings, a soul that laughs, a soul that cries, a soul i can help thrive, one i can help destroy.

My SL is one i wish to be happy, without drama. What more could i ask from a caring soul ? and why would i ask more than care, respect ?

Sorry for my wording, but i dont f care for what the RL person is, what i care is for the soul, the way i am treated in SL.

I support Mewss San`s decision and invite the witch hunters to go hunt in a medieval sim, they are plenty out there !

Love !


Anonymous said...

Well, i love Miss Sans and it is her club.I support her in her decision.. that being said... a few years ago when i became a member it was a WOMEN ONLY club.. weather we come to SL, like Becky, to pretend to be what we aren't.. or to run a business, or to find a new way to express ourselves... there is, i think think some basic and common courtesy owed to all. Simple Honesty.. Be honest, like Becky and admit, you are just here to pretend and play, so those that are not here to pretend, are not taken in and get hurt.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
bay said...

It's my opinion that the rule rewrite leaves itself as open to misinterpretation as the last one. Therefore I would like to ask you for some clarification, if you can find the time.

The main change that concerns me is the replacement of the word "intimacy" with "sexual intimacy". How did you define intimacy formerly? And how do you define sexual intimacy now? How do you feel the two differ? And why have you made this particular change?

While awaiting your reply, if any, let me share my experiences and an opinion or two. I feel your use of "sexual intimacy" will cause as much trouble in the long run as your use of intimacy in your former rule has caused headaches in the recent past. Here is why I think that.

Males posing as women on the internet have often resorted to what I humorously refer to as the Bill Clinton definition of sexual intimacy to justify their actions to themselves, and at times to others. I call this the dipstick defence, i.e.," if I didn’t dip my stick into anything its not sexually intimate”. This is also known as I DID NOT HAVE SEX WITH THAT WOMAN defense. Perhaps more often heard ( but much less humorous ) is something similar to "Oh well ::sigh::::. i suppose it just comes down to what your definition of intimacy is".

Statements such as that one in particular, and similar ones as well, when subject to dispute by other party(s) involved in an emotionally damaging "fillintheblankhere intimacy" incident, muddy the waters for all concerned. Fairness alone, to those who suffer emotional pain due to intimacy entered into unwittingly as the direct result of a gender-lie, is reason enough for as much clarity in your rule as possible.

I suggest you not rule out revising your rule again at some future point and adopt Touch, or perhaps Physical Intimacy, as the trip-wire to use regarding when TG/TS/CD males (posing as females) make women aware of the true nature of their gender. Its very clearcut and easy to understand.

Do not touch until you inform.

Wiki defines physical intimacy as: Physical intimacy is sensual proximity and/or touching. It can be enjoyed by itself and/or be an expression of feelings (such as close friendship, love, and/or sexual attraction) which people have for one another. Examples of physical intimacy include being inside someone's personal space, holding hands, hugging, kissing, caressing, and sexual activity.

In the event you let your present rule stand and "proof" it for the mentioned six months I suggest you adopt the view that sexual intimacy should be judged using the perceptions of all the subjects involved in an incident in agregate. The professed intentions/perceptions of one should never trump the perceptions of the other(s). The principle of autonomy demands that if a woman is touched by a male who is passing as a woman prior to the required gender-inform, and she informs you she sincerely and truthfully believes that sexual intimacy occurred, her opinion should be accepted and not disputed. If you are to err, Please err on the side of the woman in this matter. It is the impact of the sexual intimacy, especially when emotional pain has been inflicted, that is most determinative of whether a violation took place.

A similar principle is enshrined in law in the EU, the US and elshwere regarding sexual harrassment,. And I use the law as my guide in forming my suggestion. To wit: . It is the impact of the conduct on the person harassed, not the harasser's intentions, that is relevant.

I hope you take my opinions, for what little they are worth, in the spirit in which they are given, a very kind regard. My comment is certainly not meant as as harsh criticism, I do admire your noble, compassionate embrace of the transgendered. And you are walking a tightrope and need no additional burden. So it is with sadness that I say that I feel an undertermined portion of your TG/TS/CD males are most likely playing your good nature like a piano, solely for their own ends and means, just as one has played me.

Tami Meredith said...

When I put on a nice skirt and walk out my door, I know I will face some nasty glares, laughter, finger pointing, and generally be considered with disdain. When I get to SL, I have the chance to be who I really am, wear what I want, and get my makeup absolutely perfect. Now I can do that in the Cellar, sitting beside my Mistress and sisters. I am very thankful for this policy and to Miss San for her efforts to address a complex and controversial topic.

There will never be a perfect solution that satisfies everyone, but this seems to be a generally fair policy. It really appears to use the simple concept of honesty as its foundation - be open and honest about who you are. However, it also shows restraint in that I don't have to wear a big flashing light or a special warning tag - I know what that is like in RL, to stand out and not fit in - please don't put me through that in SL as well.

I am ashamed of the behaviour of many men who use deception to manipulate others and obtain sexual favours. I can assure you that I find it just as disgusting, and do not advocate such deceit. It is sad that I must be associated with that part of humanity, when all I really want to do is to wear a pretty skirt, go to the salon, and get the occasional makeover.

Thank you, Miss San - now I can writhe in delight in my pink latex and feel the sharp lash of my Mistress' tongue, in a place we both really like to spend time.

Anonymous said...

I have to say that I agree with Bay. I don't really see much difference between the old rule and the new one. What has actually changed?

Anonymous said...

I am personally grateful to Miss San for all she has done in creating a unique and safe environment for women, as she has defined them in the current gender policy. Is it possible that she has excluded some who might otherwise find a safe and warm environment? Of course, but the bar she has set is a reasonable one and defensible. There are likely many of us who visit the Second Life in order to explore and express femininity in a way that seems frightening to consider in RL. And only we each know how selfish our own motivations are to doing so.

I have personally experienced revealing my RL gender before and after expressions of "physical" intimacy, and felt the terrible backwash of disgust and reproach from the revelation of what must seem like a betrayal. I don't want to ever put someone into that position again, and can easily understand the outrage that a woman must feel to discover it.

I am hopeful that, as time passes, I become stronger and more aware, more able to stand the scrutiny by others of what I "should" be, and able to reveal enough of myself to pass the test that Miss San has established, and return to the Cellar. In the mean time, I must reiterate my love and support of Miss San for her tireless efforts to help women in Second Life. She has made it possible for me to consider embracing that part of me that brought me to SL in the first place.

San Mauvaise said...

I am now closing down this discussion on this very public forum. The Cellar is based on mutual tolerance and respect coupled with high standards of care. I am always open to discussion but this is starting to get a little political, and thus has the potential to undermine that mutual respect and tolerance.

I do very much understand the feelings of those who feel they have been treated with contempt by men. The rules of a public club (like the Cellar) cannot legislate for the best behaviour but only minimum standards. It can play a role (and indeed has) in encouraging people to adopt higher standards, but this has to be by example, its ethos and encouragement and not by enforcement. The simple fact is that enforcement does not work in SL - even if you ban someone they can come back as an alt.

I do take on board the long and carefully thought out point made above on harrassment and law. I will bear this in mind when I next consider a change to this issue. However I have doubts about what works best in practice. I know a very damaged individual in SL (I only talk to her in IM) who is hurt by people simply talking to her face-face and being friendly - which shows one can not legislate based on effect (in the case of a crime one can judge the sentance on this but not the rule iteself).

So the way forward now is a period of respect and tolerance. My decision is final since I do not want a political division in the Cellar to undermine the friendly and caring ethos it stands for.

(I removed the aggressive post which interpreted the term "witch hunt" not by its current meaning but terrible historical roots. This is a standard 'politicising' and attacking move in women's groups I have been in in RL. It is simply aggressive and not respectful of the person who happened to innocently use the words with their current meaning).


Anonymous said...

om out of respect to your Domme i will not qualify can you say this about me ?

"Be honest, like Becky and admit, you are just here to pretend and play"

i still cant believe it, ask your Domme who i am, at least she knows me and can attest to who i am.

giggles...dont "pretend" to know me