July 1996

Root Page of Article: The Wired World According to Women, by Leslie Regan Shade

MUDdied Gender

Another online community which emanates from the subcultures of fandom and gaming, where women are staking out turf, is in MUDS. Lori Kendall starts the discussion with her essay "MUDder? I Hardly Know 'Er! Adventures of a Feminist MUDder," which describes the different ways that gender operates online in MUDS, where most of the social and behavioral norms have been elucidated by men. Sexual harassment of women MUDDers and of women-designated MUDDers is common, and gender swapping is practically derigueur. Kendall argues that rather than creating new ideas of gender, MUDDing merely reinforces traditional gender roles and stereotypes of masculinity and femininity.

With "Like Magic, Only Real," the educational potential of MUDs is explored by Tari Lin Fanderclai, who emphasizes that new styles of teaching and learning suited to the interactive dynamics of MUDs needs to be exploited, so that a diffuse creativity can flourish. And finally, Shannon McRae discusses, in "Coming Apart at the Seams: Sex, Text and the Virtual Body," netsex and gender-bending in MUDs and MOOs, arguing that this supposed subversive potential of machines actually reinforces human relationships. --

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