Snuff fantasy in SecondLife: one step too far?

What is snuff exactly?

According to Wikipedia: A snuff film, or snuff movie, is “a movie in a purported genre of movies in which a person is actually murdered or commits suicide”.
In SecondLife, those films might exist, however, this is not only a cinematographic experience that snuff lovers are looking for. Snuff activities in SecondLife seem to evolve around role play scenes in which typically we have an executioner and a victim. The outcome of this encounter is quite obvious.

Can it be considered BDSM?
BDSM purists will probably disagree, but in all the sims I have visited on the snuff topic, there is a strong connotation of dominance relationships. After having discussed with some BDSM masters, it appears that snuff activity cannot be considered a BDSM branch for the simple reason that the master is supposed to care for the submissive, which is absolutely not the case here.

However you can find some similar practices, like the usage of restraints and various crosses, the whipping and all this lot of punishments. In snuff this is more extreme though.

What are snuff lovers looking for?
The way I felt it, before investigating more in details, is that snuff lovers were in for sensations. Actually it can be different from one person to another and there are different trends: noose lovers, cannibals, torture, and many others.

A first experience
I started my investigation in a location nearby the office of SLA Media. To be very honest, it turned me off. The place was at the same time crowded and desert: it was full of corpses. I mean there were actual avatars, but they were roleplaying, if we can say that, a dead person … Nobody to talk to in a museum of the atrocities is not something that is easy to handle even in a virtual world.

Meeting with Gharlane Cheviot


Once the emotion has passed, I needed to understand a bit more of this “phenomenon” and I started to research places treating of “snuff”. This is how I found “Gharlane’s correctional facility”, the property of Gharlane Cheviot, a must-see place in that kind of business. You could expect, of that kind of man, a brutal personality. Surprisingly, Gharlane is quite the opposite in fact. He has manners and is very keen to expose his vision of the things. He saw me in the main hall of the facility. To reach him I had to cross a short bridge, on my left and on my right were hung girls: the last victims of the sim. He was sitting in a comfy armchair just under gallows, and was displaying a contented smile. He gestured me towards a chair facing him, I set myself in and we started to discuss. I was not at ease at the beginning, this kind of environment is so unsettling, so brutal … and it has been hard not to think I could be the next victim. His warm personality and charm, yes I can say that, put me more and more at ease and I was finally able to ask my questions more freely, not feeling fear anymore.

“I created Gharlanes Correctional Facility because of my own fetish for nooses, not for dead, even if that is possible here. Bondage, abuse and noose play are my fetishes and so I created this place for two purposes: first, to play from time to time with a girl, that shares my desires. Second, to get to know people with similar desires, maybe also for real. However I have no strict rules on my sim, so everybody can play whatever is possible here: a love hanging, juridical punishment after severe torture and long term imprisonment … Whatever you want and whatever the story behind the roleplay is.”

I was curious and asked what he thought about the fact snuff was BDSM or not, here is what he said.

” It is BDSM. It deals with submission, control, domination and fetishes like imprisonment, torture, interrogation, death penalty and so on.”

Well … interesting opinion, but I have not been convinced. I think there is a lot more aspects in BDSM, and definitely in those practices the balance in the relationship between the participants does not exist, and it is an ephemeral relationship anyway: one is doomed to vanish at some point. Another interesting point I noticed during my visit is that most of the avatars involved as victims on the sim were female. I asked Gharlane his opinion about it.

“That is not that easy to answer. I try. It is a fact, that more females feel the addiction to be a submissive girl. I assume it is a consequence of evolution. Women are as tough and strong as man, but over the centuries they have been oppressed in more or less subtle ways. Now we live in a time where that begins to change and I think, that a lot of women appreciate that – and also miss a bit the times they have been out of responsibilities. So they look for the one who they can trust and to this man they get the braveness to become weak. Moreover the submissive part is pretty much often the strongest part, because it needs a lot of self-confidence and self-consciousness to allow anybody else to control yourself. The submissive makes the rules and the limits – not the dom. That is how it works in rl – and so it is here,  more or less.”

I did not buy that explanation, but this is something I have heard from some “masters” already and it seems to be the way people in those communities see it. Personally I feel this is a bit shocking and wrong to think it is something women keep in their deep consciousness this duty of submission and the need to return to it after such a long battle to win, or win back their equality with men. Anyway, this is his opinion and as I said it seems to be shared by many masters of the BDSM community.

Now I wanted to understand more in details the kind of “treatment” we can get in this kind of sim, and in this one in particular. The interesting part is why people do enjoy this fantasy as you could imagine how unpleasant this would be to endure that in real.

“I have a lot of torture devices for whippings, abuse, public disgrace, public abuse and so on. Also I have a lot of cells to store the slaves or inmates and finally – as you already realized – I have a lot of execution devices. My favourites are gallows, garrote and cross. There also is burning at the stake and beheading and shooting. To be honest I have no clue, why the much people are addicted to death play. I only have an idea about myself. For me it´s not the death. Even if I could I never would to kill anybody. But if I have a girl, that shares my desire it causes a real tension and excitement, if I slowly undress her, use hell of ropes to bind her. If I put the noose around her throat which – for me – is highly erotic. If I start to strangle her slowly (and carefully), to lick her and finally take her, while she is half hanged and I feel her arousal and her reaction – that´s great. The air reduction intesifies her sensations. The trust is more sexy, than anything else.”

I did not get a general explanation here but more his personal feeling. I more and more think there is no real general explanation and that it is all about personal experience and fantasy. That means, I will have to interview a lot of people to attempt to get the full picture. But what about Linden in all that, are they aware, do they tolerate this kind of things, here is what Gharlane has to say about it.

“Linden knows of course. Actually it´s only simply a sexual technique. Moreover there are more sims that deal with BDSM also in extreme ways: rude rape areas and so on. There are a lot of people who like to be taken against there will – that´s not my personal style, I prefer to act consensual. Even if it is a consent too to go on such a sim to get raped. But for those who have one of these fetishes, SL is a way to live it – especially if people do not dare to live it in real live – or cannot. Maybe there are exceptions – because of abuse of the capabilities of RLV. Usually it is always is consensual – in various ways. In SL it is impossible to really rape or enslave as in the real world – because everybody simply can log off. However there are some ways to get maximum control- but a master or dom never can force his “victim” to stay online. There always is one danger: some people begin to take this as the first life – not the second and loose contact to the real world. But only a few hopefully.”

So he admitted a danger exists actually and fragile people can be involved more than they would like to, or more than they should. However as Gharlane said, due to the fact we can log off anytime, the game is by design consensual, so … is it a step too far or just an extreme game between adults?

Conclusion

Snuff lovers seem to be of very different kind. It is not one world but a variety of different extreme games between adults who we expect are conscious of what they do and know their limits very well. I definitely think that it might have some psychological impact, but this is the case with BDSM already. Snuff is going further and definitely it will put off a lot of people. I was definitely surprised by Gharlane personality, kind and polite, still managing a very violent sim. I do not think we can understand it without getting involved into it, it is too far from normal life or even normal fantasies. Gharlane actually suggested that I could witness a game, or even participate in it. I did not take any decision yet, but he also gave a list of numerous sims to visit, so I think I am going to visit more and make an opinion.

Debate

Time to debate. What you guys think about it? I would really like to get your opinion and that we build a true debate about extreme games in SL. Do you think it is going too far? Do you think Linden should step-in? On the contrary, do you think it is freedom and it is better people play those games virtually rather than in real life?
Looking eagerly for your thoughts.

Your investigation reporter in dangerous sims,
Cathy.

13 thoughts on “Snuff fantasy in SecondLife: one step too far?

  1. Snuff in Second Life?

    A little background on me is probably in order.

    I’ve been involved in BDSM since 1996, starting with online exploration on the topic with a chatter in the HTML chat arena, and then evolving into real world exploration. Since that beginning, I’ve actually joined a real world BDSM group, and risen in the group to become a “Dungeon Mistress”, which is our group’s designation for a female safety monitor at play parties, who also mentors folks learning how to engage in types of play they’re not experienced with. (We do have submissive women who also serve as ‘Dungeon Mistresses’ or “Dungeon Masters”, also, as the role is about being a safety officer, not about one’s D/s posture)

    The pillars of BDSM, of ‘safe, sane and consensual’ underpin everything in our group. Accordingly, breath control play, snuff, to included ‘pretend’ snuff, and electrical play that engages in techniques known to be unduly hazardous to life, are verboten in our group, and always have been, at play parties sponsored by the group.

    “Snuff” or probably more accurately, “Fantasy snuff”, can be viewed as a ‘valid’ submissive fantasy, at least symbolically… take the woman, fantasizing as the Gorean kajira who has displeased her Master. In Gorean lore, he COULD, in fact, dispose of her however he saw fit, including killing her off and disposing of her the way anyone might dispose of a broken vase.

    That ‘full measure of submission’ is a fantasy held by many people, women and men alike. I think we ALL would love to be able to give a partner a ‘blank check’, in terms of trust, and know that our trust would not be betrayed.

    The kajira in question, is in, just that position, where her fate depends on the whims of her owner, at least in that ‘fantasy paradigm’.

    HOWEVER… if anyone actually reads the books… while the possibility of that kind of summary execution exists, it’s extraordinarily RARE for it to be imposed, except in the most extreme circumstances of crime or treachery. (i.e. the slave girl suckers her Master into almost getting killed by some evil-doer… and her Master punishes her complicity to his attempted murder, by ending her life.)

    So even though the elements are a bit ‘understated & obfuscated’ in Gorean lore… the reality is, the fantasy of total submission and TRUST of a partner, is the root of everything.

    When we get into actual snuff or perhaps more accurately ‘fantasy snuff’? We’re creeping to the very edge of what qualifies as sane, in my personal view. It goes a bit far in my book. Therefore, my choice is not to engage in that play. (Though I confess to enough morbid curiosity, that I’ve ‘test flown’ a lot of the scripted furniture of the snuff genre)

    As far as having the Lindens step in?

    Honestly… no.

    When we get into ‘policing’ this sort of thing… you’ll often find that the cure, is worse than the disease. Not only will the people engaged in this sort of ‘play’ be subject to enforcement action… but so will people who are engaged in things that may APPEAR to be that kind of play, when really, it’s not. (For example… take a ‘wild west’ roleplay area, where the killer’s been found guilty and sentenced to hanging. Do we ban THAT, when it does further the roleplay of a wild west town… at the same time we’re eliminating simulated murder for prurient gratification? Where’s the line drawn? Who draws it? Does this mean I can’t make a whodunnit machinima feature, for fear of arousing the ‘snuff police’?)

    Linden Labs has proven fully incompetent as content managers. They proved it when they merged the teen and adult grids into one… so that an underage person could, with a ‘tick’ of the right checkbox, automatically have access to all the ‘adult only’ areas on SL. So asking them to ‘weigh in’ on ‘snuff’? It’d be like asking a gorilla to perform brain surgery on a mouse. Nothing good would come of it, in the end, and I think way more harm than good would come as a result.

    The best ‘moderator’ for this type of ‘content’ is the individual. As individuals, we can choose to go to those places and engage in those behaviors, or NOT, as we see fit. I think that’s quite sufficient.

    As far as those of us in SL Pornography… particularly those of us who lead groups, clubs, or photo-blogs… I think it’s incumbent on us to ‘draw the line’ of what we’ll accept in our groups, as far as content goes, and make that clear to potential posters of content, up front, so they can moderate their own behavior accordingly.

    For one example… at Suiteheat enterprises, we focus on a mixture of glamor and some hardcore porn that can best be described as ‘consenting adults, doing consenting adult things, without sacrificing our nobility or beauty or respectability.’ Obviously, snuff scenes don’t fit the bill… and while we don’t object to ‘shemales’ or ‘futanari’… we don’t include that generally because it doesn’t fit our genre. We ‘do’ include BDSM on a basic standard of, “Would we do this, or have this done to us, this way, in real life?”

    As producers, whether we run groups, or partake in other groups as photographers, or whatever, it really IS up to us to decide what we’ll put forth… and what we’ll accept being put forth in our spheres of influence.

    And I think if we’re wise enough to take the ‘whole body of work presented’ in its own context… we can make good choices.

    While we may not want ‘violence’ in our groups… we should still be able to divine whether a work is ‘violent’ or not if we take the photo or video in context. (Example: A woman being pinned and fucked senseless by her lover being one thing… and a woman being pistol whipped and raped, being another. A photograph of each scenario can look similar… but context is really king.)

    Linden Labs personnel, don’t really have the time to consider the context… and most of them are woefully out of touch with all the various communities on SL… and therefore, ill-equipped to consider context critically. That would make ‘their’ enforcement either non-existent to the point of irrelevance, or ‘ham fisted’ to the point of imposing undue prior-restraint… i.e. ‘stifling freedom of expression’.

    As for whether or not I think it’s better for people to do these things virtually, RATHER than in real life?

    I think that can be argued several ways.
    1.) Yes it’s better to pretend than to do it for real
    2.) But if they pretend, how long is it until pretending’s not enough and they do it for real?
    3.) Are they already doing it for real?
    4.) Is it healthy departure into fantasy, or a sign of a deeper thing that’s a serious problem?

    Those are all valid arguments, given the diversity of the human race, and what great things and what horrendous things, human
    beings have proven capable of since time immortal.

    At the end of the day, the easiest and most effective solution to this controversy, is for people to vote with their feet. If something suits you… go for it. If it doesn’t… go somewhere else and do something else.

    Respectfully,
    Gwenivere
    Suiteheat Enterprises CEO

    1. Dear Gwenivere,
      First of all, thank you for your long analysis and having the opinion of someone involved in real BDSM is definitely valuable here. I met some BDSM masters in SecondLife but I am not sure whether or not they had an actual experience in the discipline or not, so glad you step in to give us a view. Definitely I have heard many times the basic rules were : safe, sane and consensual.

      Snuff does not seem to respect any of these rules: it is not safe, it is not sane and it is not consensual. However as you rightly corrected me, we are talking about snuff fantasy here. So to me, it seems to obey more to the rules:
      – it is definitely consensual (even if the victim can play his or her role differently).
      – it is safe (well at least nobody is hurt, the avatar can be of course)
      – is it sane? This is where I cannot answer actually. I do not know this universe well. A question for a BDSM expert like you Gwenivere, what do you think?

      Now concerning the involvement of any policies ruling against it … like you I am not convinced as the lines are blurred… after all cinema and video games are showing murders all the time … so why SecondLife would be any different. I think, as you said we should use our common sense and vote with our feet.

      Cheers,
      Cathy

      1. That’s the difference lol
        The murders you see in cinemas and games don’t go beyond that,
        This involves fucking with it
        And even if the cinemas and games had this, youre not participating in it, you have no relation to it and that’s the same thing in here.
        Sure these ppl could practice this but I’ve got nothing to do with it ewww

        1. So to you Nathan it is going too far I catch that. So what is your opinion, should it be forbidden? Should we let snuff fantasy lovers do this if they like it?

  2. Not really a comment, but an applause for a very good written article. I liked to read it.

  3. This is borderline psychopathic and just plain weird. I do not care if he was polite or has reasons for this crazy thinking, it just turns me off how people even exist who have these kinds of fantasies. To call it BDSM or any other form of submission is stupid, it is not submission when you’re taking pleasure from executing someone. Any people who are into this have to consult a psychiatrist. This isn’t one of the topic like beastility where we can say “it’s subjective” , this is downright objectively wrong and Linden labs should close these kinds of stupid Sims. It is morally unethical and degrading , I suggest you not venture in this.
    Also the point about a submissive who can log off anytime isn’t valid, its second Life it’s a virtual world , no one is going to try this for real where you can’t “log off”.
    We are better than this.

    1. Dear Nathan,
      I was expecting reactions like yours, for the simple reason that I felt something very similar after my first visit. Second Life can carry many different things, bad or good … just like our world. However, it made me curious and I always try not to judge people by their behavior (not easy sometimes, I confess it). It is supposed to be virtual, so less dangerous, however as Gwenivere explained it we do not know where a human being can go when confronted to this: is it to avoid doing it … will it lead him or her to do it later …. this is where the danger is.
      Now concerning your last point about log off … I did not catch it. What do you mean?

      1. I meant anyone can log off in SL wherever they are whether in BDSM or this snuff thing, there is never going to be total control over amything.
        I understand it’s fantasy and virtual but it’s far too degrading for my taste.
        Maybe you need a shift of direction in the blog, many readers will get turned off by this. Maybe you’re just too curious!
        Curiosity killed the cat, be careful lol

        1. Curiosity killed the catherine? Well not yet! LOL … well thank you for your advice. I will wait for some time to confront the opinions from my readers before I go on exploring this area … but hey … I am a very curious person you know, there is nothing I can do about it.
          Kiss

  4. In no way is snuff to be considered BDSM. The very core of BDSM is safety (or at least, it should be). Saying that fantasies about murder coincides with it is just ridiculous. That being said, I quite enjoy snuff role play.

    I don’t bother with the visuals of SL. I like text role play. There are groups where it can be found. And, it is just that – role play. Look at all of the horror writers out there. Look at all of the movie studios that make horror movies. Did James Wan go out and murder a bunch of people so he could make Saw? Did Stephen King murder and dismember people so that he could research a character in one of his stories? Of course not. Some of us just like to make dark stories. The best stories involve a great villain. We just pare it down to a single scene, rather than make a novel. One of my former role playmates would engage in snuff role play, because she liked dark themes. She wouldn’t role play rape, as it felt too real to her. Snuff was an escape. She didn’t role play BDSM, because of the emotional ties it can lead to.

    I’m glad that you explored the topic, but limiting yourself to talking with one person will only give you his perspective. He doesn’t represent all of us. I don’t blame you if you don’t want to delve further into the subject, but hey, like a snowflake, we’re all different.

    1. Hi Randall, I am a curious person by nature. Would you have time to meet as we can expose your point of view and experience on the subject?
      Let me know.
      Cathy

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