I really don’t want to add more fuel to the fire of the Penny Arcade ‘Dickwolves’ drama, but I also really can’t — as is with any opinionated person — keep my mouth shut. But I will try and refrain from villifying the so called ‘other side’, or exonerating ‘my side’. Instead, I’m just going to play out some opinions and some food for thought. But let me throw something out that Jerry said, before I begin in case anyone gets confused.
“The only people who are pro-rape are rapists“
Also if you have no idea what this is about, check out the nice and unbias timeline of the dickwolves debacle. (edit: Oh hey, I’m on the timeline!)
This comic was probably one of favorites and is also what started this controversy. I think the comic is brilliant because, as many have said, it highlights the faux-morality that you see in gaming. Rape isn’t the joke. The line is somewhat comical in it’s absurdist nature, but the idea isn’t to dismiss rape, it’s to point out that this slave has it pretty god damn awfully bad. The prose of the slave’s plea is meant to be funny, it’s also meant to be horrifying. The fact the slave is dismissed so readily is a jab at MMOs (or really any in game quest). It’s an example of horrifying fridge logic. Taking the meaning of the comic as ‘pro-rape’ misses the point.
The whole reason the comic invokes rape isn’t to make light of rape, it is because rape is one of the worst acts a person could suffer.
I do think those who posted their initial displeasure about the comic were being silly. Well, besides those who were rape survivors, but they shouldn’t be reading Penny Arcade It is an unfortunate, horrible act that happened to them, but just like those who suffer any tragedy, one can not expect society to change for them. If that happened, we would have no free speech left. Not to say people should throw rape jokes around — Oprah shouldn’t since she knows her viewership. Penny-Arcade on the other hand, I think most people found that strip to be about what they expect. It fit within the established ‘bounds of good taste’ of the comic series. What’s offensive on Oprah and Toothpaste for Dinner are two entirely separate things.
Either way, those who took offense had the best interest of people at heart so I can’t fault them, but I just can’t see someone sensibly perceiving this strip as pro rape. This is an issue dear to many peoples hearts, but I think the best answer here was just to look elsewhere for your humor, as opposed to being offended by the guys you expect to be offensive. Now, the follow-up by Michael and Jerry wasn’t exactly classy, and the dickwolves shirt, while tongue-in-cheek, was perhaps in poor taste (That said, I want one), but I can’t say my response would be any different. But as figures in the public eye, they should have known better, as the response has been a little out of hand.
This has been bothering me for quite awhile. This concept that comics like that help form a ‘rape culture’. This is an idea that appears somewhat regularly in feminism, but seems misled. This, despite our bias to assume things will only get worse, is perhaps one of the best times in history for women. They have the most access to power and wealth and safety then ever before. Now, obviously it doesn’t have to remain that way, so many are thusly worried about this idea of ‘rape culture’. They’re also not where they need to be yet in terms of equality, so it’s not time for them to put their guard down. Still, I want to put forth a thought, that has often been repeated and supported:
With the rise of violent and perverse media, we have become less violent.
Numbers seem to back this up, but ones perception might not because the news is really good at picking up on the worst possible stories. This wasn’t possible 50 years ago. Now this has less to do with the comic, and more to do with fan response, but I just want to say, the idea of ‘rape’ is a biological function of men. Evolutionarily speaking, it makes sense. Men want to spread their seed everywhere, since they don’t have to actually give birth, but women can only reproduce one baby at a time. This cases females in all species to be selective. Breeds of duck have rape designed corkscrew penises to get around female defenses, in some crazy reproductive organ arms race. We also want to kill other men and sleep with jailbait.
Or at least, Nature wants us to do this.
Well, sorta… In reality, we don’t want to do this. Some of us are actual rapists, murderers and child molesters, but some of us are also in jail and rightfully so. The rest of us? Our genetic social nature and culture has allowed us to suppress these urges, but not always remove them. We have evolved this way because cooperating raises survival more than being amoral rape monsters. This doesn’t curb all our aggression though. Men fight amongst each other still, but often now it’s Halo. Back 20 years ago, it was who could do the most dangerous trick on their rollerskates. At some point, it would be ‘who could kills the most people in battle’ and before that we just always punched the crap out of each other. We need to VENT, some people more than others and some people less sophisticatedly than others. Some people say lewd sexual things to poor ladies over the internet and harass them for trying to speak up. This is a confused, misguided venting behavior thats easy because, over the internet, you aren’t even a real human being. Does this make this behavior okay? No, these kids are dumb as hell. They’re not thinking or considering anything. Besides for some of the fringe elements trying to drag themselves into this argument, the stupid boys attacking people are just confused and venting. They should be ridiculed for being so foolish, but they shouldn’t be confused for endorsing a culture of rape. Despite how many of us can foolishly behave, the vast majority of us cling to society. This bit is anecdotal, but I’m not sure I know a man who wouldn’t be filled with rage upon catching a rapist, despite the tasteless jokes some of us might make.
I just want to put forth Japan as an example here. Japan’s rate of rape is extremely low. It might also be extremely under reported, but they would require 15 times more reported incidents to catch up to us. Needles to say, their rate of rape is much lower, whether or not the actual number given in any given year is accurate. Now, Japan has some of the worst, most immoral, terrible porn on the planet. I’m not even going to go into the details, as I think we all know them, but some of that porn is insane….. buuuut their rape rate is extremely low. The Japanese have better material in which to vent with. People ask if games like Rapelay went too far. Too far where? Went to far in relieving horrible internal emotions? We give into our gut fears that exposure will create a generation of monsters, where all the evidence points elsewhere. It’s easy to frame our fears to assume things that make us uncomfortable will only create more pain and suffering, but it’s contrary to evidence.
A silly comic that was probably one of the better comedic uses of rape has spawned a discussion that claims people are rape apologists or are creating a rape culture. That seem ridiculously far from the truth and I think everyone needs to take a breather. Again, no one is innocent. I don’t blame anyone who s worried about these things from worried. Many of them are women who’s position in society is something I can never truly understand without being one. Likewise, the impulses and psychology of men is not something they can entirely comprehend. Looking out for your own cultural wellbeing is natural. But everyone has to be more sensible(especially those who are running around threatening rape on each other jesus christ guys I know no ones serious but it’s just making the situation so much dumber).
So I dunno, just take a breather, folks. My self, I just had to vent a little bit too and I hope I did so respectfully.
Addendum: karlthepagen over at Twitter brought up that I said nothing on Rape Denial — the fact that women who are raped do not always realize or are willing to admit it happens. This mostly out of my realm. I can speak of the male psychology in the issues above, but speaking on a woman’s emotional state and ability to speak up on crimes against her body is something that at best I could only feebly theorize. I won’t, respectfully. I will throw one thing out there, though. It’s hard to define where rape begins. A stranger taking another stranger forcefully is clearly rape, but when a boyfriend “apes a girlfriend, things are less clear. Rape denial almost always occurs within the context of date rape, which can be really confusing. It can be hard for the male to realize he’s done something wrong, and hard for a woman to realize she has been violated. If neither realizes, is it rape? Taking advantage of a drunk girl who consents in a drunken stupor can be considered rape, but what if they’re both drunk? What if the girl initiates? Was the man raped? Were either only raped if they regret it? If its legally rape, but no one cares, is it still denial? The Aggressor can simply be a monster, but it’s often more complex than that.
I’m not siding with any stance on this. I only see it as a massively confusing and complex issue and can theorize abuse and uncertainty on either side. It doesn’t surprise me that a woman can come out of a situation unsure if she was been raped. Is this a social issue or a result of ‘rape culture’? Is it a result of ignorance and poor education? Are the definitions we use, even fair?
I have no fucking clue.