Virtual Rape


  • Richard MacKinnon

    Corresponding author
    1. Richard MacKinnon is a researcher and political scientist in the Government Department and Advanced Communication Technologies Laboratory (ACTLAB) at the University of Texas at Austin. He writes and lectures on the politics of cyberspace and the virtual communities within. He is currently writing a book for MIT Press entitled Cybergovernance: Politics among the Disembodied.
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Address: Department of Government, University of Texas at Austin, Burdine Hall 536, Austin TX 78712, USA.


The current social construction of rape in virtual reality is not a worthwhile endeavor in that it forces theorists to adapt an undesirable concept in order to import it into virtual reality. Rape exists as such in “real life” because of the social construction of women relative to the social construction of men. The relationship of these constructions is not and does not have to be analogous in virtual reality because virtual reality presents an opportunity for social reordering. Among these opportunities is the exploration of the ramifications of bodies presented arbitrarily. Given these opportunities, theorists seeking to pursue positive constructionism ought to endeavor to develop virtual-reality specific constructions which empower rather than import real life constructions which victimize.