Double-header: Destructoid’s New Editor & Harassment of Feminist Bloggers

[Edited to add: Some folks kindly pointed out that my discussion of rape culture in the third section is problematic wrt trans people. Mea culpa if you saw the earlier version of this post. I've gone back and edited my comments.]

[Hi, folks. At the time I'm writing this, it looks like Destructoid may have been hacked. I'm going to provide links to pertinent stories for when the site does come back, but don't freak out if those links don't work right now.]

So there are two things that I want to write about today. They’re going to seem unconnected up front, but they really are. But I’ll talk about each thing separately and then come back to elucidate how these things are connected.

Thing the first: Destructoid’s new Editor-in-chief

It’s been a while since I’ve written about Destructoid. I’ll admit that I’ve started actively avoiding content on Destructoid, since I know that all that’s going to happen is that it will inevitably make me mad. I don’t visit periodically to see what bullshit Jim Sterling has gotten up to recently. Nor do I read my Google Alerts for Jim Sterling because, you know, what’s the point?

But something happened to catch my attention. It seems that Destructoid has a new Editor in Chief. I guess Niero has gone and gotten himself a job at Harmonix, which is great for him I guess. So who did they replace Niero with? Dale North. …great.

For those of you who’ve started reading this blog recently, or who don’t remember this from previous posts, a bit of a recap. See, I wrote my first post about how Jim Sterling is a repugnant human being and blatant misogynist after a Twitter-dustup in which he called a woman a “feminazi slut”. This actually caused enough of a flap that a non-apology was issued by Sterling, that mostly went ‘okay that was bad but she deserved it and the nasty feminists are being meeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaannnnn to meeeeeeeeee’. It was around this time that a reader forwarded an email from Niero responding to his complaint about Sterling that pretty much read as “he crossed a line, but he’s totes a nice guy! honest!”.

Of course, less than 24 hours later, Jim published a story that he ended by saying:

Now if you’ll excuse me, there are some vaginas that have not been raped yet, and Kirby told me I need to “get on dat sh*t!”

Which, you know, didn’t sound like he’d really learned a whole lot from the experience of being raked over the coals for calling someone a “feminazi slut”. It was at that point that I sent an email in complaint to Niero (a copy of which I posted here on this blog). Predictably, I never received a response. So you might think that I would be pleased by the fact that Destructoid is going to have new leadership. And that might be the case, if it weren’t for the fact that that new leadership is Dale North.

See, Dale North has professed to have great personal affection for Jim Sterling. And like Jim Sterling, Dale really likes to make rape jokes in his official work both on Destructoid and Japanator. Let’s not forget that it was Dale North who titled an article about the banning of RapeLay from Japanese shelves: “RapeLay raped off Japanese shelves for good”. To make it worse, he used this as the headline image:

For fuck's sake. I'm just as mad now as when I saw this the first time.

Of course, Dale would like to have his cake and eat it too. Despite being a fan of rape humor, he actually made a faux-introspective post in which he asked his fans if he was a sexist pig. Predictably, they leaped to his defense and assured him that – no, the evil feminists were just being mean and that he was just fine. Of course, the fact that some of those fans were female is, in some people’s books, enough to completely obviate any charges of sexism against Dale. Because as we all know, if you can find one woman who doesn’t think that you’re sexist that means YOU’RE NOT SEXIST. It’s fucking magic.

Anyway, I wish I could say that I had hopes that this will mean a new era of non-rape humor from the editorial staff at Destructoid, but I won’t be holding my breath.

Thing the second: Harassment and death threats of feminist bloggers

Something I am thankful for on a daily basis is the fact that, despite the fact that this blog receives an unholy amount of traffic for a blog devoted to such a specific (and controversial) subject matter, I have not experienced the harassment, stalking, and death threats that many female bloggers face – especially feminist bloggers. Mostly the trolls that I get confine themselves to ‘lol, feminist bitches be crazy’ or ‘you must be fat and ugly’ or ‘you need to get laid you fugly lesbian’. (Hell, sometimes I get all three at once!) Off the top of my head, I can only think of one person ever saying anything that could be construed as a death threat, and even that was pretty passive in that I was told I should go lie in front of a train. And I’ve never, ever had anyone threaten me with rape.

So why bring it up? Because I suspect that my experience might put me in the minority of feminist bloggers. The reality is that far too many feminist bloggers face harassment from trolls that goes far beyond looking for lulz. S.E. Smith recently posted on Tiger Beatdown about the harassment that they and other bloggers have experienced, and the stuff that is quoted seriously curls my toes:

It took a few years to reach this point, but I finally have, the point where I do have concerns about my physical safety, and have had to reevaluate certain aspects of my life and work. I’ve gotten those emails that send a long chill down my spine and create a surging feeling of rage, mixed with helplessness. People have sent me my social security number, information about my family members, identifying details that make it very clear they know exactly how to find me. They  have politely provided details of exactly what they’d like to do to me and my family, they send me creepy things in the mail.

‘I’m glad your stupid cat died,’ someone wrote me last October. ‘You’re next, bitch,’ and followed up with my street address.

…seriously. SERIOUSLY???

It’s a good week, these days, if I only get 15-20 emails from people telling me how much they think I should die, or how much they hope I get raped, or how much they hope my cat dies or I lose my job or fall in a hole or get shot by police or any number of things people seem to think it’s urgently important to tell me in their quest to get me to shut up. We are not talking about disagreements, about calls for intersectionality, about differing approaches, about political variance, about lively debate and discussion that sometimes turns acrimonious and damaging. We are talking about sustained campaigns of hate from people who believe that we are inhuman and should be silenced; the misogynists, the ‘men’s rights activists,’ the anti-reproductive rights movement, the extreme conservatives, the fundamentalists. The haters.

This is beyond just fucked up. I am so beyond thankful that I have not had to deal with hate of this magnitude, because the backlash that I do receive is already enough to make me second-guess myself sometimes. We need to speak out against this sort of thing, all of us. It isn’t right that female bloggers should have to worry about the safety of themselves, their families, and their pets simply for daring to have an opinion online. As the kids say these days, shit is toxic, yo.

I hope to god if anybody reading this right now has friends who say anything like these comments – be it on a blog, facebook, forum, WHATEVER. CALL YOUR FRIEND OUT AND LET THEM KNOW THIS IS NOT OKAY. Whatever you think of someone’s personal politics, it is a basic human right not to fear for your safety.

One of these things IS like the other

So how are these things related? Sure Jim Sterling and Dale North make some vile comments. Sure they tell jokes about rape and domestic violence and those stupid feminist whores. But those are just jokes, right?

Wrong.

We live in a culture that trivializes sexual harassment and sexual assault, violence against women, and rape. (And not just against women! Rape against men too! And people who identify as something outside of a gender binary!) When prominent community leaders like Jim Sterling and Dale North make rape jokes, they are propping up the rape culture that leads to less than 6% of rapists ever getting convicted of a crime. They’re propping up a culture in which (around) 1 in 6 women and (around) 1 in 33 men are the victim of sexual violence in their lifetime. They’re propping up a culture in which cops blame victims of rape because they were “asking for it”. And they’re propping up a culture of online harassment, of graphic threats of rape and sexual violence.

“But, wundergeek!” you may be saying. “There’s a difference between joking about rape and threatening to rape someone!” But that’s not the problem. The problem is that jokes about rape contribute to the notion that rape is something trivial, something unimportant, something permissible. Jokes by community leaders contribute to this notion even more! Dale North and Jim Sterling can joke about how they’re just “garme jurnalists”, but the fact is that they are major voices in the gaming community and their audience is HUGE. Much larger than mine. Their words have weight.

It’s time for prominent figures in the game industry to acknowledge that they’re responsible for the environment that their words create. Because as long as our community leaders are allowed to make misogynist “jokes” about rape and violence against women, how can we expect the sorts of criminal harassment that feminist bloggers face to go away? If rape is something normal, acceptable, and permissible, can we be surprised when the women who dare to speak up for women’s rights are threatened into silence?

About wundergeek
In addition to being a cranky feminist blogger, I am an artist, photographer, and somewhat half-assed writer living in the wilds of Canada with a wonderful spouse and two slightly broken cats.

107 Responses to Double-header: Destructoid’s New Editor & Harassment of Feminist Bloggers

  1. Jawnita says:

    I hate to nitpick on an excellent post, but this is something that is potentially alienating to your trans readers. At one point, you say, “And not just against women! Rape against men too! And trans people!” and the phrasing there makes it sound like trans people are a third group, neither men nor women. It’s true that some trans people are non-gender-binary, but plenty of them are simply men or women. Trans/cis is merely a different axis than gender, not a remover of gender.

    • Mad Art Ryan says:

      This sort of thing is a linguistic nightmare for those of us lacking exposure to that community. I’ve no idea as to how to discussed transgendered individuals without sounding either awkward or callous.
      How would you recommend phrasing that sentence?

      • Renee says:

        As a trans woman, my feeling is that she simply would need to eliminate the sentence about trans people. Men, women, and people outside the gender binary covers all possible gender identities…whether someone is transgender or cisgender is irrelevant for this particular conversation (at least until we extend it to talk about the ways in which sexual assault affect trans people in particular, at which point such a distinction would become important).

        There are times when the context of the conversation makes it necessary to delineate whether you’re talking about transgender or cisgender people. This usually happens when people want to equate genitals to gender (example: I’ve gone around and around with one very popular feminist blogger who likes to snidely blame all the evils of men folk on penises; she never specifies that she means cisgender men, and so in the process she others and alienates every woman and non-binary person who has a penis…and every man who does not). The advice I offer cisgender bloggers is to never single out trans folk in gender conversations, unless you need to talk about something that only applies to a certain segment of gendered individuals, or that applies differently to trans people than cis people, in which case specifying who you’re talking about is necessary…you demonstrate inclusivity by not universalizing a given experience, and by acknowledging that although you’re not talking about them at the moment, you know that trans people exist (example: saying “abortion is a serious issue for women” is incorrect; saying “abortion is a serious issue for cisgender women, trans men, and some people with non-binary gender identities” is much more inclusive and closer to being correct).

        One thing I might suggest, to you or anyone who feels like they lack exposure to the trans community and are afraid of knowing how to talk about trans issues, do some Googling. The trans community is far from silent…we’re active and engaged, and these topics get discussed frequently (we’ve been through it several times here on this blog, in fact). It’ll take some work, because we are a diverse and evolving community (who don’t always agree with each other), but it’s a good way to get started. Take responsibility for your own lack of contact, because we’re out here with blogs and forums and all these other things the rest of you have.

        Also, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, but listen and don’t get defensive when someone points them out. It probably does get frustrating when you try hard and still can’t get it right, but it’s still worth doing. WG slipped up a bit, but she’s put in time and energy trying to make this blog inclusive for trans people, and this is just part of the process. And actually, that’s the best advice I’ve got for anyone learning how to talk about gender identity in a new way…you’re going to get it wrong sometimes, just don’t get mad.

        • wundergeek says:

          Fuck. I was trying, but I still have problems not fucking up wrt trans issues sometimes.

          Thanks for the correction. I’ve gone back and edited the offending sentence.

  2. There is so much misinformation and out-of-context material in this post I don’t even feel it’s worth criticizing. Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I’m on my way out, but I will say this: If you don’t like Destructoid or any of the work they do, why not just ignore them? There are many other videogame websites out there without any opinions if you wish to view them.

    • Mad Art Ryan says:

      Perhaps we can illustrate the problem with what I believe is a reasonable analogy:

      How would you feel if these folks were casually tossing off jokes about enslaving the blacks; putting them back where they should be?

      I rather suspect that you’d be mortified. They’d be inendated with complaints and possibly criminally charged. That shit doesn’t fly in the public forum anymore and these guys are public figures.

      Ignoring problems does not make them go away. It changes nothing and can often make things worse. This post is calling attention to a problem.

      • Eraziel says:

        I think that the “blacks” analogy might be quite fitting. Most US citizens were told about slavery and racism in school and that it is baaad and no-go. You can do the same and replace “women” with “jewish people” in Europe, especially Germany. Though I doubt we have to deal with misogyny/hompohobia as often here as you do in the US (having both a gay foreign minister and minister-of-state might help) and rape jokes/tellings are no issues in my language since they would sound veeeery awkward since it is a pretty long word and not exclusively used for sexual violence.

        For those facing the threats: If things get that serious -> go to the officials with that problem. Threatening (especially life threatening) is a crime that can be brought to court. Most people who threat “for the lulz” won’t use secure internet connections or weird DNS to blur their traces, so they CAN be found. Let the police tell them that it is NOT funny to hurt/threaten others.
        I know that the police cares about those cases if they get info on the harasser. We had a case here a few years ago where a WoW player said that another (famous) WoW player was about to commit suicide. After the police took care that the second player was alright and wouldn’t harm himself, they called the otehr and told him that it was not okay what he did. (And believe me – no young person wants his/her parents called by the police)

  3. Mad Art Ryan says:

    There is a distinction in shock humor that is rarely discussed but is very important because some very small semantic differences can very much change the impact of the jokes.

    There are jokes about rape, and there are jokes about raping. Very different things.

    Jokes about rape, or genocide, or racism etc, can be used to aleviate some of the discomfort surrounding discussion of the subject and can reinforce the fact that the guilty are the perpetrators and the victims are in fact victims. Within this form of humor, if properly executed, lies a means of removing the taboo of discussing rape, etc. openly and can demonize those that should be.

    Jokes about raping, though, have no place in the world. They are the attempts at passing off perpetrating a terrible crime as a joke. Just as joking about committing hate crimes against blacks of gays should earn no laughter or support, raping jokes should be similarly dispariged.

    The only reason that severe beatings and murder get a free pass much of the time is because the audience knows that the actions are not actually being condoned or even encouraged. It is a widely accepted form of hyperbole. Even then, it’s not used without consideration for audience.

    • Hazmat Sam says:

      Even if we make that distinction, I’d still say that rape jokes are still not worth the risk. The only comedian I’m aware of that did them properly was George Carlin, and even then his fans didn’t get the difference between those categories (as a quick trip to Reddit will instantly show).

      Same thing happens with race jokes- Dave Chappelle comes to mind- but the difference is that I can’t even think of one person who needed to understand a rape joke that actually did, whereas I know there are at a least some white people that got the point of Chappelle’s Show. And hell, even “some” wasn’t enough.

      • Renee says:

        I’ve seen a couple comedians I’d give a pass to, but only a couple, and in very specific contexts.

        Louis CK sometimes references rape in his stand-up routine, and sometimes he gets it wrong. But quite often I’ve seen him get it right, questioning behaviors surrounding dating, sex, and consent. The times when he does it well, the joke isn’t actually about rape, like the bit he does about an encounter with a woman who just happens to be into men taking her forcefully without asking permission (the punchline being, I don’t care what you’re into, if you don’t tell me it’s okay, I’m not doing it).

        Hal Sparks does a bit where he talks about how people think of acquaintance rape as a lesser form of rape, and how wrong that is. It’s not a particularly funny line (what humor there is comes from the rest of the monologue, of which that moment is just a small part), but it’s a smart observation, recalling in my mind Whoopi Goldberg’s infamous and disgusting, “I know it wasn’t rape-rape. It was something else but I don’t believe it was rape-rape,” defense of Roman Polanski.

        (Hal Sparks, I might add, is the most liberal and progressive comedian I’ve had the pleasure of seeing. He may not be the funniest guy on the planet, but when he opens a show with, “Thank you ladies, gentlemen, and everyone in between…yes, they’re out there, and they deserve our love too,” he gets my vote.)

        Those are the only two I can think of off the top of my head. It’s still a sensitive subject that tweaks me whenever a comedian brings it up, but if you accept stand-up comedy as art, and also that art plays a valuable role in interrogating culture (even possibly shedding light on difficult subjects), then I think it becomes viable subject matter. But it needs to be approached with the utmost degree of sensitivity and responsibility.

        • Karthi says:

          wundergeek makes the point that joking about rape desensitizes people to the act of rape. I don’t know that this is true, joking about murder has not desensitized us to it, all those dead baby jokes I made as a kid doesn’t relieve the horror of the idea of a dead baby. I think the problem is that people don’t realize that there are jokes that are acceptable in certain contexts and jokes that are not.

          Ultimately, also, it depends on the spirit it is delivered in.

          The problem with the Jim Sterlings et al. is not that they make rape jokes, its that they are misogynists who make rape jokes.

          SIDE-NOTE – As far a rape in Art (and here I exclude pornography) I think men actually do get the short end of the stick. Rape against a woman in art is usually deemed to be a horrific crime (which it is). Rape against a man in art is a joke which is more funny the more attractive the woman is. I recently saw Horrible Bosses in which Jennifer Aniston’s character raped her intern. The whole matter is dealt with humorously despite the punchline being “That’s a rape. You raped me!” (Also 40 days and 40 nights where Josh Hartnett had to apologise to his girlfriend for being raped)

          • Renee says:

            A few things.

            Just because you can tell a dead baby joke and still find the idea of dead babies horrible (even though those statements themselves are somewhat contradictory) doesn’t mean it works that way for everyone. Universalizing something into a “truth” just because you experience it that way is problematic.

            The statistics for rape suggest a great chunk of our society is already pretty de-sensitized to the idea of rape. Are rape jokes the cause of that or a symptom? Or maybe it’s a loop that feeds into itself? Whatever the case, the fact that rape jokes are a staple of primetime sitcoms (the same time slots once occupied by The Cosby Show and considered prime viewing for families with children) should be something that gives us serious pause. Our society isn’t nearly horrified enough by rape…we think it’s hilarious.

            There are other reasons not to tell rape jokes. As I expounded upon elsewhere, joking about rape can be a serious trigger for people who have survived it. When the tv show Community does a plotline involving a character who makes up a story about being molested as a child (so he can gain the approval of his drama professor), it runs the risk of hurting thousands of viewers for whom sexual abuse is no joke and who are just doing their best to heal.

            As far as your point about male rape, I agree completely. Male rape survivors often feel like they can’t tell anyone, and resources for male rape survivors are much scarcer than those for female rape survivors. The thing about 40 Days And 40 Nights is especially painful, as I’ve sat in rooms with rape survivors (usually women) who apologize profusely to everyone in sight – me, the nurses, parents or friends, etc. – because that’s the message people internalize…that rape is preventable and therefore if it happens to you, it must be your fault.

          • Cassie says:

            When I think about dead baby jokes, I realize that they’re told in a way and have power and “humor” because they’re so wrong. If we became desensitized to infanticide, then dead baby jokes would stop being funny. In fact, dead baby jokes can help enforce the disgust at infanticide, by reminding people just how wrong it is.

            Rape jokes could be the same, if they emphasized and contextualized the rape into some horrible action that is totally wrong, then there would be less wrong with them. (They still wouldn’t be precisely “ok”.) But most rape jokes are not actually like that.

            As an example, Southpark did an episode where they equated what was done to Indiana Jones in the 4th movie as rape. Not because they were equivalent, and not because rape were ok, but because they wanted to say that what was done to Indiana Jones was that wrong. It didn’t minimalize the harm done by rape, it reaffirmed that rape is bad.

            • Cassie says:

              As a little addendum, because someone mentions the trivialization of rape below. The Southpark episode does not actually trivialize rape at all. They treat the Indiana Jones movie precisely how we would like to see all rapes treated.

              • Ikkin says:

                Cases like that are trivializing because it’s not a fair comparison, I think, not because they imply rape is any less bad. Experientially, the two things aren’t very alike at all, so it comes off as using rape as shorthand for A Special Kind Of Evil rather than fully understanding the victim’s perspective (and Rape Is A Special Kind Of Evil has some problems of its own — namely that, if one believes that only the worst of the complete monsters will act that way, it’s easy to explain away out of cognitive dissonance if someone one respects is accused of it).

                Although I am still kind of undecided about how to think of other kinds of comparisons, like the idea of “mind rape,” which actually do take make the damage done to the victim the point of the comparison. It seems like it could be a bit more complicated.

              • Renee says:

                Agreed with Ikkin above. I saw that episode and I thought it was terribly trivializing. Being raped is not like like being disappointed in a movie, no matter how much you were looking forward to it. They’re different spectrums of bad, just like getting waxed in a game of Halo is not the same as “being raped”.

                The examples I quoted above, with Louis CK and Hal Sparks, get a pass from me because they dealt with rape and its implications, while profoundly sending the message that rape is a serious thing that should not be taken lightly.

                If people are going to use the word “rape” they should be talking about rape. And if they’re using the word responsibly, they’re also sending the message that rape is unacceptable.

              • Cassie says:

                Renee… you seem to be missing the point. It wasn’t about a disappointing movie, it was about taking well loved franchises and ruining them. Like the Liara statute of recent comment.

                NO THEY AREN’T EQUIVALENT, and I already said that. But Southpark didn’t diminish the act of rape at all, they treated the franchise derailment just as bad as we should hope all rapes are treated. Not as a Sin Of All Sins, but as a proper rape should be treated.

                One could take all of the footage of them flashing back to watching Indiana Jones to them seeing a friend being actually raped, and the entire rest of the movie would be a well treated example of how rape should be treated. The humor comes from the juxtaposition of something that isn’t rape being treated how all rapes should be treated (but few are). It presents the issues and problems of witnessing a rape and reporting it, and getting justice for the rapist through humor.

                Next time someone who saw that episode witnesses a rape, maybe they’ll be more prepared to report it, and see that the rapist is brought to justice.

              • Renee says:

                I disagree. Their representation isn’t the worst I’ve seen, because in a sense they are dealing with the boys’ reaction to seeing a rape, but the emphasis is and was meant to be “what an awful movie Crystal Skull was”, rather than what an awful thing rape is. My thought is that young adults are more likely than ever now to leave a movie they didn’t like and say “Jesus, I feel like I was just raped”. Not exactly a useful message.

                And FWIW, it’s debatable whether reporting a rape is the right thing to do for a survivor. The best thing to do is to provide comfort and support to a survivor, and let them make the decision about whether to report it or not. You are not the one who has to have a doctor with bad bedside manner comb your pubes and probe you with an un-lubed speculum looking for DNA evidence. You are not the one who has to be interrogated by police investigators who are going to question every move you made and make you feel like you are the criminal. You’re not going to be the one who has to take the witness stand and be made to feel like a stupid slut by the defense attorneys. And because rapists often fail to go to jail for any number of reasons, you are not the one who has to look over your shoulder forever wondering if they’re coming back you. A rape survivor has just had their bodily autonomy ripped from them, and giving back the power to make choices for themselves is the very first step in healing. As weird as it sounds, sometimes not reporting a rape is the best possible thing a rape survivor, and it’s a decision they need to make. I don’t expect Trey Parker and Matt Stone to know these things, but it does contribute to the why the messaging in their show feels empty and poorly informed.

              • Renee says:

                Cassie, in re-reading my last comment I feel like I’m coming off really condescending, which wasn’t my intent. I did go back and review the episode in question and I still feel like it was irresponsible for Matt and Trey to co-opt rape imagery as a way to talk about their disappointment with a beloved film franchise going down the tubes. I know they did that because they’re banking on their viewers understanding that rape is a “very bad thing”…I just feel like if they appreciated what a bad thing it really is, they wouldn’t consider this an appropriate metaphor (also, it seems like a bit of Godwin-type move to liken Lucas and Spielberg to rapists, but I’m not surprised, given Matt and Trey’s track record). To me, they just seem to have a juvenile and rudimentary understanding of the issue. But others might very well say the same of Louis CK’s humor, although I’ve already said that I think he (often) gets it right.

                Point being, I didn’t mean to continue provoking conversation around this subject and just going around and around with you…we disagree, but that’s going to happen. My last couple comments came off more antagonistic than I intended and I’m sorry about that.

            • Cassie says:

              I’ve read your comment apologizing for escalatory tone, and I’ll apologize in my part for defensive ton.

              But to raise a point, if you’re an actual 3rd party witness to a rape, then you WOULD be called to testify in court, and you could actually do more to help convict the rapist than unfortunately the survivor ever could, because you’re “disinterested” and thus not likely to invent the rape charge for no reason.

              • Renee says:

                You would testify, and you may or may not have a particularly strong position in helping get a conviction, true. Point being, you don’t have nearly as much at stake. Even if the rapist is a friend of yours, or knows you are, that would generally be true. I didn’t report my own sexual assault, and if someone else had, the police probably would have had to come and arrest me to get me to appear in court…it just wasn’t the thing I needed for healing to take place. And having volunteered as an SA first-responder for two years, and working intimately with court-room advocates, that’s true for lots of survivors…there are lots of good reasons why so few rapes or assaults actually ever get reported. It’s just not a healthy environment for people who have been traumatized.

  4. …And many of them have absolutely no stance on rape whatsoever, while simultaneously having a *much* larger influence and audience than the limited audience of Destructoid.

  5. Unless I’m wrong, Nick Chester left for Harmonix and got replaced by Dale North. Niero is still, well, whatever is title is (robot head boss?).
    Doesn’t change anything to your post, with which I agree, but just a little mistake.

  6. I just don’t see why you need to bash these guys who have fun with there jobs. There jokes (at times crude) don’t phisically harm people. There are much more offensive comments on Tv that people all over America take seriously. Two bloggers on a VIDEO GAME website seem Hardly worth the trouble. (Also now Dale is head guy expect more Corgis!!!)

    • Cole92 says:

      “I just don’t see why you need to bash these guys who have fun with there jobs.”

      So in order to have “fun” with their work, they need to use rape as their comedic medium? Really?

      “There jokes (at times crude) don’t phisically harm people.”

      Right, so just because they aren’t “actually” sexually assaulting me, it’s all good. The fact that they are contributing to a culture where more and more people think that rape is no big deal, or that if I’m raped, it’s completely my fault, does absolutely no harm to me or others what-so-ever. Fucking brilliant.

      “There are much more offensive comments on Tv that people all over America take seriously.”

      Like… what? The ONLY thing that could possibly be more offensive are jokes about murder or torture (which rape is). The fact that you consider rape such an inoffensive thing is a prime example of rape culture.

      “Two bloggers on a VIDEO GAME website seem Hardly worth the trouble.”

      And yet somehow you feel compelled to voice your opinion about someone else’s actions on a relatively unimportant (in your eyes) blog. I just LOVE hypocrisy, don’t you?

      • Far as I’m concenced some sick shit happened to me as a child that I perfer not to tell my own family. But jokes about rape don’t bother me, I’ll Amit. Rapist on another story should get the same treatment in jail that the gave. Child rapist can burn in hell for what I’m concernd.

    • wundergeek says:

      Let me put this a different way. I was very nearly sexually assaulted at this year’s GenCon. (Seriously, it was so close to being assault instead of harassment.) By contributing to an environment that tells geek men that rape is no big deal, Dale North and Jim Sterling are ACTIVELY HARMING ME.

  7. Jack Storm says:

    DEATH THREATS? To feminist bloggers and their family? this is just……………………………despicable. I don’t need to rant because Wundergeek basically summed it up right there. BTW, Rape jokes are bad too. Rape is a horrible crime, and people joke about it? That’s about as justified as joking about a bank robbery! For god’s sake. And, I don’t like Jim Sterling either. Even though I’m a man I can feel the pain of all the women criticised by his misogynistic bullstuff(just in case profanity is censored here……….hehehe).

    PS: (for wundergeek to read only)

    you may remember me commenting the mass effect/liara statue first post. I criticised feminism, and you, in that comment. I apologize, as I have learned since then not all feminists have bad ideals like some I’ve faced before. You’re one of the good feminists. And you have the full support of the Equalist movement(even though you don’t call yourself one, you are basically one. More than the other feminists).

    • Jack Storm says:

      Also sorry I can’t think up as good replies as people like Cole92, Darkcloud, AvianFlame, etc, i’m just not a great social person. and I’m not that good at writing comments for discussions either.

    • Nick2 says:

      I think that the large majority of feminists just want to be treated with dignity and equal to men, if you take the time to look. Are there some that are extreme? Sure, just like anything. But also like anything, the large majority of people are in the middle.

      And hey, another Nick… that won’t be confusing. Maybe I’ll just add a two…

      • Jack Storm says:

        Dignity and equal to men. But some feminists take it too far, and balance the scales wrong, instead invading men’s rights to make up for their lost rights. not Wundergeek is like this, she’s respective of men(so far that i’ve seen) occasioanlly stereotyping men gamers as misogynists, but who can blame her? there are SO MANY gamer misogynists. hard to believe sometimes, their’s good, women respecting male gamers like me sometimes for her probably.

        • I’ve heard plenty of claims along these lines.  But I’ve only actually seen maybe two who actually come off anything close to this, and they aren’t generally taken seriously by anyone.

        • Renee says:

          Ummm, exactly what rights do you think have been invaded from men, aside from perhaps the right to beat one’s wife (which Topeka, KS has been working on reversing just this week), prevent their wives from working, monopolizing politics and governance (which is still largely a white male enterprise), owning slaves, and so on. The idea that men’s rights are under attack, or that men are somehow worse off than they used to be, is entirely mythological, except for those instances where male privilege trampled the human and civil rights of other people. Feminism has made mistakes, mostly by standing in the way of other even more marginalized groups gaining any footing, but the notion that men are somehow the victims of feminism is ridiculous. It’s not even a sensible statement…men rule the world and any claims to the contrary is just nostalgic yearning for earlier, more oppressive times.

          • Cassie says:

            I read about it recently that the fact that some men view feminism as an attack on their rights goes to show just how much privilege they enjoy. It’s a good thing for anyone of privilege to realize in themselves: you’re not losing rights, other people are gaining them. That you’re so upset about it, and frame it as losing your own rights, just speaks to how much a privilege you enjoy.

            • Renee says:

              Yep. And that’s the problem.

              Equality is kind of a zero sum game. Power exists as a finite resource; for women (or any marginalized group) to have more of it means men (or other privileged group, but always trickling up to men) must have less of it. When women got the right to vote, men lost a certain amount of power…they no longer had absolute control over governance. When women started to drive and work, men lost power…they no longer were the sole drivers of economy, and could no longer hold others hostage (as much) with their pocketbooks or through isolation. People being what they are, they’re not inclined to give up power without a fight. And that’s where we are now…hoping to convince a bunch of people with power over us that’s it in their best interest to share that power with us, or that it’s at least morally right for them to do so. It’s a really hard sell, unfortunately.

    • ‘You’re one of the good feminists.’ Oh, WOW. So much wrong with this comment. What are the ‘bad’ feminists’ like? Ugh… I hear this all the time. It’s only ‘good feminism’ if it doesn’t step on mens’ precious privilege- as long as feminism remains ineffectual. What a patronizing pat-on-the-head kind of thing to say.

  8. I am vomitously outraged by the insistence (usually by men) that no matter what a person says — no matter how sexist, racist, or offensive in some other way — we’re not allowed to get mad, so long as the person responds with “I’m just JOKING.” As if that means we never have to take responsibility for anything we say now, because the “just joking” claim wipes it all away.

    I bet if Hitler had ended Mein Kampf this way, no one could have been angry: “May the adherents of our movement never forget this if ever the magnitude of the sacrifices should beguile them to an anxious comparison with the possible results. Just joking.”

    Great post, Wundergeek. Thanks for writing.

    • Nick says:

      To be fair, the “just joking” defense totally worked for Jonathan Swift ;)

      But seriously, you’re spot on. “J/K” is not a defense for being an assclown.

  9. Joanna says:

    I guess I see your point about rape jokes but I’m all about the sticks and stones philosophy…especially when it comes to gamers.
    I don’t see how jokingly saying “I’m gonna rape that guy” is significantly worse than saying “I’m gonna kill that guy”. They are both in the same ball park and yet people say “I’m gonna kill such a person” when irked with that person, quite a lot. It has been in our slang for years. No one makes a big deal about joking about killing, and yet murder is not trivialized.

    On the other hand, “feminazi slut”? Very mature Mr. Sterling. You are the epitome of the modern day gamer.

    On the other, other hand, death threats? Hacking personal information? Not cool. These people need to be behind bars.

    • Pumpkin says:

      I think another commenter made a good point when they compared rape to torture.

      Saying you want to kill someone (hopefully facetiously) doesn’t imply anything other than wanting to make them cease to be in a possibly violent fashion. It’s the logical extension of the “me mad, me hit someone” mentality taken to its logical extreme (again, hopefully for the sake of dark humour).

      It can be a pretty shitty thing to say (and it’s not something any writer should ever say in a serious article), but it’s still a lot worse than joking about raping someone. Unlike saying you want to kill someone, saying someone needs to get raped is implying something highly specific. Because of that, the threat stops being an abstract statement, or any sort of logical extreme. It’s just extremely disturbing and marks that person as someone to stay the hell away from.

      This specificity works in other examples, too. Compare “I’m gonna kill ‘em” to “I’m gonna slit their throats”. I don’t know about you, but I find that second quote way worse than the first.

      So, yeah, although I agree that rape and murder are pretty much in the same ballpark, I still find “jokes” about rape to be much, much worse. This is both because of the semantic shenanigans I covered and because of the fact that real murders themselves are not usually trivialised, nor are the victims blamed for their fates, which wundergeek brought up.

      • Joanna says:

        Hmm… You do make a good point. “Rape” is very prominent in gamer lingo however.
        “I got totally raped in COD” simply means the player lost the game (I lost the game) pretty badly. I think that’s the only context I’d really shrug it off as just a slang word.

        • wundergeek says:

          But again, that use of rape trivializes the actual ACT OF RAPE. Training geek men to think that rape isn’t that important makes geek women LESS SAFE. Language has consequences.

          • Hazmat Sam says:

            “Language has consequences.”

            God, I have been waiting for practically a year for you people to admit that!

            Still, slang is a pretty weird thing, and some of these words might genuinely have undergone semantic drift, like how “fag” on 4chan came to mean “informal acquaintance” to the point that people started self-ascribing the word, referring to themselves as drawfags, writefags, etc.

            But still, that sort of thing is only possible when the word falls out of use and takes a great deal of time; most people don’t consider gays to be bad anymore, and “faggot” is still read as a slur there. I don’t ever really think that “rape” will ever be seen as anything other than an unholy act of permanent defilement only surpassed by child molestation, (well, outside of Objectivist circles, that is) so I don’t find it all that plausible that anyone could ever supplant the meaning of the word that easily.

            • wundergeek says:

              Sam: I’d disagree with your assessment of “most people don’t consider gays to be bad anymore”. Yes it’s true that acceptance has increased, but that acceptance is not universal. I mean, I’m from Ohio. I should know.

              • Renee says:

                Agreed with WG. In the US, a few recent polls around DADT and same sex marriage show that slightly more than 50% of Americans are in favor of those things. But that’s just a slight tip towards a majority, and given that LGB (not to mention trans) people still aren’t federally protected in the workplace, we’re still a long way away from true mainstream acceptance. Of course, that’s the US…from what I can tell, European nations are somewhat more egalitarian.

          • Ikkin says:

            I’m not sure that trivialization captures the full extent of the problem with that particular slang usage.

            Consider comparative hyperbole — equating, say, one’s discomfort with photoshoots to rape is clearly trivialization, but it’s still not quite on the same order as the Call of Duty example. It appropriates the pain of real victims undeservedly, but it wouldn’t really work without the base assumption that rape is a supreme act of violation and invasion.

            The Call of Duty slang doesn’t operate from that assumption. The community it’s drawn from is the same that popularized “teabagging” as a method of in-game humiliation (which is, in all honesty, hard to read as anything other than sexually assaulting one’s opponent’s virtual corpse). The game slang connotations of “rape,” then, is something closer to “competitive domination,” which is massively problematic in that it erases the victim’s perspective entirely while potentially validating the rapist’s desire to dominate others.

            I don’t know, I might be reading too much into it, but it seems to be much more about the implications being wrong altogether rather than simply not giving sufficient weight to the damage caused by rape.

            • wundergeek says:

              I don’t think you’re reading too much into it. The use of “rape” by gamers is a really complicated thing because the usage is so different from sub-community to sub-community. I’d particularly agree with your points about COD.

    • Scott says:

      That’s certainly an interesting point, juxtaposing “I’m gonna kill that guy” with “I’m gonna rape that guy”. The latter sounds more offensive than the former, the question is why? If there was one thing in this world worse than rape, it would have to be murder.
      I think a lot of it has to do with simple history and semantics. We’ve grown up saying phrases as “figures of speech” and our culture simply assumes that we dont’ mean it literally. For example, I’m an elementary school teacher, and sometimes when discussing a disruptive student I’ll tell other teachers “and that’s when I wanted to wring his little neck”. We laugh it off, because they obviously know that I’m being facetious. If I had said, “and that’s when I wanted to slit his little throat”, I’d probably lose my job that same day. Both mean about the same thing, but one is culturally understood to be a joke while the other is not.
      Language certainly is a powerful thing, yet sometimes hard to understand. I don’t think “Let’s rape these guys” was ever an accepted figure of speach until the online gaming community made it a standard thing to say. This is an important time, when we should stand up and refuse to let that word become anything less than the horrible, literal meaning.

      • Case says:

        To build off your point: while murder is worse than rape, it’s also understood that murder isn’t something normal people engage in except in extreme circumstances (like in self-defense), so while the figures of speech we’ve come to accept may sound disturbing when you think about them too long, we are also a culture that (with frustrating exceptions) does its best to ensure that murderers are given the full brunt of justice. A suspected murderer is taken very seriously.

        Rape, on the other hand, has so much cultural and legal baggage that rapists end up being almost validated by jokes because the chances of being caught and punished for rape, and of their crime being taken seriously by society at large, are comparatively FAR lower. Not only that, but with every rape case, someone will always imply that the victim is lying, exaggerating, trying to ruin the perp’s reputation… and sadly, the victim’s reputation tends to be dragged through the mud, too. With that in mind, so few people ever report rapes because the process is so painful and rarely perfectly just and vindicating for the victim. Hence why jokes about raping people are never okay. Jokes aren’t harmless and they don’t happen in a vacuum.

        • Scott says:

          Excellent point, but I’d also clarify that rape isn’t something that “normal” people engage in either. Normal people display empathy and compassion for other human beings, qualities that both rapists and murderers lack.

          • Case says:

            I think we’re both in agreement, but I feel compelled to suggest a caveat. The rapist (and the murderer, too) may have tons of genuine empathy and thus appear to be perfectly normal, but they lack it for a certain type of person or group of people. This is why it’s hard to spot a rapist or a murderer by behavior alone–biases may exist for one group, but not another.

            It’s sadly a very human biological trait to subconsciously pick and choose the “type” of person they see as not human enough for basic compassion–this is the same place where racism, stereotypes, and othering come from–but taken to an extreme form through violent and damaging crimes, which are absolutely not normal at all.

            • Renee says:

              Exactly right. Being a member of a particular minority, I couldn’t begin to describe to you the compassionless, hateful bullcrap I’ve been on the receiving end of, on a frequent and continuing basis, from generalized harassment to loss of employment to actual violence. And yet, the people perpetrating this prejudice against me would fit most anyone’s description of “normal”. We live in a society where Topeka made it legal yesterday for a man to beat his wife, and where a straight man can murder a gay man just because he felt like the gay man was flirting with him (regardless of whether he was or not). Compassion and empathy don’t feel “normal” to me usually…when I encounter them, they’re more like a breath of fresh air.

          • Renee says:

            I think you’d be surprised at the profiles of the average rapist and/or sexual assailant, though. Lack of education around the idea of consent along with a general culture of misogyny that rewards men for sexual dominance means there are a lot of guys out there perpetrating this behavior. 1 in 6 women will experience rape in their lifetimes; a lot more will experience sexual assault that doesn’t legally qualify as rape but is nonetheless sexually violent. Those numbers are shocking, but the thing we don’t ask about is who is committing all those crimes? A lot of rapes means a lot of rapists! Consider, too, that most sexual assaults and rapes are not stranger crimes…their crimes of opportunity perpetrated by someone the survivor is familiar with. As someone who volunteered for two years as a sexual assault and domestic violence first-responder, I can tell you that the vast majority of perps aren’t seedy misshapen monsters lurking in the shadows of darkened alleys…they’re our brothers, our fathers, our boyfriends, or our husbands. And one of the things that keeps us from really tackling this is problem is that as much as we think this could never happen to us or someone we know, we’re even more unlikely to believe someone we know and like is capable of doing this. When the truth is, we probably all know and like someone who has already done this.

            • Renee says:

              *they’re, not their. Ack.

            • wundergeek says:

              THIS. OH MY GOD THIS. A MILLION TIMES THIS.

            • Hazmat Sam says:

              That’s what so grimly amusing. Your chance of being raped in your own home by people you know is ridiculously higher than being raped by some random stranger on the street at night. So when we finally decide to do something about this epidemic, we… Take Back the Night and Slutwalk.

              I know people who’ve been raped, but never by strangers, and I know that at least one attempt that was prevented by a stranger, and yet all of these people I know are still more wary of empty streets and bars than their families and significant others. (even though one in particular was raped by a family member!) It’s amazing how our society completely ignores reality, even when our lives might literally depend on it.

              • Renee says:

                Yep.

                Although for what it’s worth, Slutwalk and Take Back The Night have value. Slutwalk is about raising awareness around victim blaming, while tangentially serving to reclaim the word “slut” which is do often used to punish women. Take Back The Night functions more as a showing of solidarity…women coming together to raise awareness in their communities about rape, sexual assault, and domestic violence. There is a major break between what we think rape is and who perpetrates it, and the reality of it (and, of course, stranger rape does occur…especially in places like bars and frat houses, but still no where near the extent that acquaintance rape does), but events like Slutwalk and Take Back The Night do help to educate around these ideas. And even if they don’t, they’re still useful…demonstrations of community are vitally important to the communities themselves, if for no other reason than for people to not feel quite so alone all the time.

                One note: Despite defending Slutwalk here, it’s worth pointing out that it comes loaded with lots of problems. Namely, it suffers the same problems most mainstream feminism has, in that it privileges the voices of white, straight cisgender women to the exclusion of all others. WoC activists have been particularly vocal about this, and their criticisms do a really great job of pointing out how the intersectionality of (for example) race and gender creates nuances that Feminism (with a capital “F”) is ill-prepared to deal with.

              • wundergeek says:

                See, I think SlutWalk is a valid response that doesn’t imply that all rapists are the evil rapist-in-the-bushes. It’s a response to the idea that women are ASKING FOR IT. That needs to be repudiated, whether you’re talking about strawrapists or acquaintance rape.

              • Hazmat Sam says:

                Not meaning to say that Slutwalks et all are completely useless, (You can’t have an effectual movement without marching in uniform at some point, as any historian will confirm) but that it’s frustrating that even these people that are supposedly addressing the problem still choose to ignore the biggest part of it. It’s tunnel vision.

                And yeah, as much as I prefer sluts to “normal” people (since people that actually have sex aren’t so obsessed with it) I’d never use that language on a person of colour. They don’t have the luxury of appropriating it.

              • Pumpkin says:

                I dunno… Personally, I think the SlutWalkers *are* focusing on the important issues. It was started in response to a police officer putting the burden of prevention on the victim, by offering up completely misguided advice about clothing (no correlation with rape) and strangers (not the main perpetrators). So, although it looks like a protest about stranger-danger, it’s probably better taken as a confrontational mockery of the sort of mindset that believes both that dressing “appropriately” (whatever the hell that means) around strangers solves rape, and that it’s up to women to solve rape.

                Also, to touch on what Renee said… The whole pro-/anti-SlutWalk thing is a bit of a minefield, isn’t it? I’ve read a lot of the criticism on SlutWalk, and I definitely do see a lot of the issues there (although I don’t really see how “slut” is more harmful to WoC than white women, in *specific* and as opposed to, well, most every other insult – their arguments sound exactly the same as arguments I’ve heard against SlutWalk’s use of the term by white women). At the risk of invoking a tone argument (and sounding like a privileged douchebag), I really do wish some of those commentaters would cut the SlutWalk organisers a bit of slack. Constructive criticism and even plain old “it sucks and I hate it for [x] reasons” are fine, but I’ve seen some commentaters basically equating it with white supremacy which is a shockingly disgusting thing to say.

                The reason I’m so dismayed by the bile and hate it gets is because SlutWalk was basically started by a bunch of college kids. They’re not some big, influential think-tank. They’re not funded. They were just a bunch of amateurs doing it in their spare time, and it just went viral. Plus, contrary to popular belief, they’re not trying to globalise it and foist it on unwilling countries – each individual SlutWalk is founded and organised by local volunteers. It’s not their fault they’re so popular. And most of the problems with SlutWalk are problems with feminism in general – it’s fair to criticise the organisers for perpetuating these failings, but acting like they’re the cancer that’s killing feminism is taking it a bit far.

                Basically, I just wish there was less of the virulent infighting in feminism…but then why would it be any different from any other ideology? Personally, I think the creators of SlutWalk deserve to be applauded for the massive success they’ve had in doing something where others would have done nothing, while at the *same time* being reminded and encouraged to work on inclusivity.

              • Renee says:

                I agree that the problems with Slutwalk are the problems of feminism. But in general, I don’t agree that feminism, or Slutwalks, should really be cut slack. Feminism needs to get better; it needs to be more inclusive, it needs to understand that it’s perpetuating the sins that it’s fighting against, it needs to understand that it does not do a good job of representing the voices of all the people it thinks it does. It needs to open itself up to leadership from women of color, from trans women and other trans people, to women who are not westernized and who have their own set of concerns and priorities.

                The globalisation of Slutwalk is an interesting topic because at the end of the day, the volunteers doing the organizing still fall into general patterns…people of privilege, with means and access and at the very least internet communication. By way of example, Slutwalk organizing in Mumbai has revealed itself to be problematic because intense casteism means that many of the most at-risk people have no voice and no means to represent themselves. How are dalit women, most of whom have never heard the term “Slutwalk”, who don’t speak English, who don’t have any relationship with the word “slut”, supposed to interface with this movement. What about the hijra population? And make no mistake, whether they’re involved in Slutwalk specifically or not, many of the volunteers in these nations are white women, pushing white ideals on people whose cultures they barely understand. The whole topic raises questions around the notion of what constitutes an “ally” and what are their responsibilities? It’s a topic I’ve written a lot about (but without any definite conclusions as of yet). If you’re interested, I offer this link as a starting point…one of several conversational dialogues my friend Jaded and I have been producing around this very subject.

                http://www.womanist-musings.com/2011/09/making-our-bodies-matter.html

                But yes, in general I agree that Slutwalk is pretty amazing as a thing that happened and gained momentum. But like feminists who get called out when they make mistakes, the criticisms still need to happen. And one can hardly blame us when we feel angry about being excluded/misrepresented/not represented at all for the millionth time. It’s hard to take the high road when you’re constantly being stepped on.

              • Pumpkin says:

                Thanks! I’ll give it a look when I get some free time. I’ve seen a few links to that site on other blogs, too.

      • FINALLY, thanks for approaching this subject from this angle in such a way (cause i couldn’t). I agree mostly with what you said, and think that this should be highlighted more when people write about it. i believe this mostly because of the classic point-counter-point thing, but also due to the fact that many people who either don’t want to or can’t think of this in the way that you put it would raise this question.

    • Renee says:

      I’ll tell you one of the reasons joking about rape is worse than jokingly saying you’re going to kill someone: The prevalence of rape in our society far outstrips the prevalence of murder.

      A person’s statistical chance of being murdered is one in at least a few thousand. possibly much much higher, depending on where you live, but in the USA its in the thousands.

      The chance of you being raped if you’re a woman: Like WG said, about 1 in 6 on average. If you’re “just” talking about sexual assault, it’s more like 1 in 4, maybe 1 in 3. And even though rape happens to men far less often than women, the National Center for Victims of Crime states that 3% of all men in the USA experience rape in their lifetimes…that’s about 1 in 30, and those are just the ones that get reported. We know for a fact that both men and women often choose not to report rapes and sexual assaults.

      Rape is a lived reality for more people than almost anyone realizes, especially women. Something that WG hasn’t talked about but that should be mentioned is that not only does joking about rape (which if it were properly considered a health crisis, would be classified in epidemic proportions) create a climate in which it becomes easier to perpetrate, but it creates a situation where rape survivors who hear it are often forced to relive what happened to them, making it more difficult to heal. And while it’s true that no two survivors experience this the same way, I know what it’s like to be triggered into a fugue state of PTSD flashbacks, and it isn’t fun.

      Basically, it’s about context. Joking about murder doesn’t carry the same weight with the general population because people generally aren’t worried about being murdered. On the other hand, if you joke about murder with a transsexual woman, it becomes quite a different situation: trans people have a 1 in 12 chance of being murdered, and many have suffered serious violent attacks in our lives, so there is no joke to be made there. And that’s how it is with rape and women. We’re taught to look over our shoulders constantly, to not walk by ourselves at night or in poorly lit sections of town. We’re taught to not accept drinks we didn’t make ourselves, and we’re told that if we wear certain kinds of clothes we’ll be inviting violence into our lives. We often carry pepper spray on our keychains, and many women take self-defense classes for the express purpose of being able to defend themselves on that day when someone tries to take advantage. If we haven’t already experienced rape or sexual assault in our lives, it’s an ever-present threat that we have to constantly be on guard for…we never outgrow or outrun it. So seeing a bunch of guys laughing about rape makes us angry and hurt, and if those guys actually have any women in their lives that they care about, it should make them angry and hurt too.

      • Renee says:

        Hmmm…that did’t really post where I was expecting to it. Should have been part of the threaded conversation above. Oh well, I guess just pretend it is part of that conversation if you can. *sigh*

      • Case says:

        You make really good points that I failed to touch upon. Thank you.

      • Pumpkin says:

        Excellent post. I can’t believe I never even acknowledged how important rape’s prevelance is in making it such an awful thing to joke about. I’ve touched on it when I talk about things like “rape culture”, but I’ve never really noticed how important its prevelance alone is.

        Also, I really, really wish pepper spray was legal to carry in the UK. Even as a guy, I would feel a hell of a lot safer in some neighbourhoods around here. Seriously, what the hell am I going to do if I get assaulted by a group of thugs (it’s always a group)? I’m eternally thankful that I live in a country where guns are pretty much banned, but I would seriously love to have me some pepper spray.

        • Renee says:

          Re: Pepper spray…I dunno, but I’m crossing my fingers it never comes to that for you. I don’t know that pepper spray would be that useful against a group of tormentors anyway (although if you spray it in a general area, you will get it on everyone). I’ve seen it sprayed right in a person’s eyes and still not deter them enough to stop an assault. :-(

  10. Rape is also a crime of anarchy against the entirety of human civilization.
    A Rapist completely ignores all concepts of reasonable human interaction, just to satisfy an animal instinct.
    If a dog were to revert back to its instinctual nature, and started attacking people, it would be put down immediately. I feel the same should be true for rapists.

    • Hazmat Sam says:

      But, the thing here is that most rapists target family members. There’s no instinct to fuck your family.

      I know that “rape is about power, not sex” is a cliche, but so is “e=mc^2″ and for the same reasons. We know empirically that the vast majority of rapists are doing this to exert control over their victims. Since human civilization is a system designed to regulate people’s actions (and if you disagree, point to me a civilization without law enforcement) rape is very much compatible with civilization.

      then there’s the fact that punishment has never been known in any human civilization to effect a change in immoral behaviour superior to rehabilitation. And that people like those in the Innocence Project find false convictions every day, so it would be immoral to hand out any sentence that couldn’t be revoked, like your proposed death penalty.

    • Pumpkin says:

      I’d never condone state-sanctioned murder, nor vigilante justice (personal revenge is fine), but that’s just out of principal. Rapists deserve to die horrible, agonising deaths. Rehabilitation is too good for them.

      • wundergeek says:

        [Okay, folks. Enough with the "rapists all need to die" talk, please. I understand the sentiment, BELIEVE ME, I do. But as repugnant an act as rape is, proclaiming that all rapists need to die horrible painful deaths is NOT HELPFUL.]

  11. Lawrence says:

    “The only reason that severe beatings and murder get a free pass much of the time is because the audience knows that the actions are not actually being condoned or even encouraged. It is a widely accepted form of hyperbole. Even then, it’s not used without consideration for audience.”

    But what about basic human sensibility and empathy, there are victims of such crimes around or their
    families, relatives or friends. I do hope they don’t visit gaming sites because completely juvenile and light-hearted approach to such things like murder is as common there as sexism or rape jokes. Now I know it’s probably overgeneralization but for me, gamers at large are weirdoes and least empathic people one can encounter, completely desensitized to violence. There is one thing to play violent games but openly joking, on big gaming sites ( or even this very blog ) about murder and killing without even simple thought about what victims may feel when encounter such jokes without trigger warning.

  12. James says:

    Have you seen the blog Jim Sterling’s wife writes?

    • Joanna says:

      He has a wife??? O.o

      • Hazmat Sam says:

        That is indeed surprising news. We may have found our generation’s Henry Kissinger.

      • Jack Storm says:

        0_0. I can’t believe that misogynist bastard has a wife.

        • There’s no accounting for taste, and some people just have none.  Or, for that matter, self-esteem.

        • wundergeek says:

          Me neither. I mean. Holy shit. I can’t believe it!

          • Renee says:

            I believe it. Funny thing about marriage, most of those who are legally able to do so manage to give it spin. Often more than once. As long as you’re straight and cis, there really does seem to be someone out there for everyone…even the assholes.

            • wundergeek says:

              I take your point about marriage. But even with that point aside, it’s still baffling. I mean, how can any woman stand being in a committed relationship with someone who has expressed that he thinks violence is funny? It would like a POC being in a committed relationship with someone who thought that violence against POCs is funny.

              And I know, I know. Internalized oppression and all that. But still, baffling.

              • …yeah, I still find it hard to believe that she could possibly have any sense of self-worth.  At all.

              • Renee says:

                *nods*. I get hit on by guys on-line who use the fact that I’m trans as an opportunity to say all the horrible, nasty things that they’d never say to their girlfriends of wives. My assessment: There are lots of women out there married to/dating monsters.

                As if I that wasn’t already blatantly obvious after my stint as a volunteer DV/SA first-responder. *sigh*

            • Cassie says:

              To be fair, in the US, there are only about 5 states where post-op transsexual people cannot marry opposite sexed partners. The rest of the states are either (the minority) states where trans people have been specifically acknowledged by courts as the “proper” sex for marriage, and thus allowed heterosexual marriages, or (the majority) the presumption of law is that transsexual status plays no part in determining sex for the purpose of marriage so long as it would be heterosexual.

              Yes, you read that right; post-op transsexual have better marriage rights than gay people, more so because their marriages are even recognized by the US Federal government, as long as the state considers the marriage to be heterosexual.

              Of course none of this applies to anyone who is pre-op transsexual, or transgendered.

              • Renee says:

                Debatable. A situation in Texas right now is demonstrating that if the climate is right, the courts are more than happy to reverse the marriage rights of even post-op transsexuals.

                But regardless, given the classist nature of obtaining post-operative status, marriage is still a really huge problem for even heterosexual trans people (lots of trans people, however, skew queer, so the numbers fluctuate wildly). That, combined with the fact that with the addition of New York as being a viable same-sex marriage state more than half of the US’s population now live in places where same-sex marriage is legal, I wouldn’t really say transsexuals enjoy a leg up in this respect.

                Also, “transgender” and “transsexual” are not mutually exclusive terms. Yes, there are many transsexuals who vehemently oppose the use of “transgender” as a label, but many adopt it as a more inclusive term, to demonstrate that they too see themselves as part of the overall community (and this is true for post-op transsexuals as well as pre-op). I, for one, will always use the term “transgender” to describe myself, unless I’m discussing something pertinent to my medical transition, in which case I’ll use the term “transsexual”.

              • Renee says:

                Oh, and I remember what I meant to say in regards to my initial comment and your response…

                While marriage is sometimes an option for trans people, and sometimes there are ways around laws that often forbid same-sex marriages (for instance, a pre-operative trans lesbian and a cis lesbian can often legally marry), meeting that right someone is often hard. Dating is a fucking nightmare for trans people. Straight guys often won’t date straight trans women, even if they’re post-operative. Lesbian cis women usually won’t date lesbian trans women, regardless of their operative status. Same often goes for cis gay men and trans gay men. You’re dating pool is often really freaking small…and that was my point about there being someone out there for everyone. I know too many lonely people to believe that’s true for those who deviate too much from society’s accepted “standards”.

                I have no idea if you’re trans or cis or anything, so I won’t presume you don’t know this, but for the sake of the conversation I wanted to add it. Dating and relationship privileges are real privileges in our culture, and I think they’re often ignored. But loss of them carries real social, emotional, and even financial burdens. Basically, it sucks.

              • Cassie says:

                I already noted that there were at least five states where post-operative transsexuals were denied heterosexual marriages. Texas is indeed one of them, also Florida, Ohio, New York and Illinois.

                The fact that New York has opened up same-sex marriage (and thus any combination of transgender and/or cisgender marriage that might occur) and that a majority of Americans might be now living in a state that recognizes same-sex does not change the fact that the automatic legal presumption is that a post-operative transsexual is the proper sex for the purpose of marriage. So, yes, a court in a state that has not already had a definitive finding that post-operative transsexuals are their proper sex for the purpose of marriage might render an opinion that annuls all post-op transsexual marriages, but courts can pretty much annul ANY marriage if they decide to.

                That does not change the fact that in California, New Jersey, and South Carolina, a post-operative transwoman could walk into a county clerk’s office with her fiance, and obtain a marriage license, and in every state that has same-sex marriage, they would be able to do exactly the same. And none of this changes the fact that US immigration courts have ruled that so long as a state recognizes a marriage to be heterosexual, a transgendered individual can sponsor a spouse for immigration to the US. (There are NO conditions under which a same-sex couple could EVER gain ANY recognition of their marriage for the purpose immigration.)

                While post-operative transsexuals still face a number of legal quagmires, and unknowns, it still remains a fact that they have better marriage rights than same-sex individuals.

                My use of “transgender” in opposition to “post-op transsexual” in my post was not intended to imply that they are separate things, but rather to denote all individuals who are transgender and not post-op transsexual; including pre-op transsexuals. Reading “transgender” as a different category than “transsexual” into my post necessarily requires my post to completely ignore pre-op transsexuals. Clearly it doesn’t since they face the exact same issues that most other transgendered individuals face.

                And even then, of all LGBT individuals, crossdressers perhaps enjoy the best marriage rights of all as their marriage interests typically lie parallel to heterosexual cisgender males.

              • Renee says:

                That’s cool. I may have misread a little, but it’s such a heated thing in the community right now, I jumped to note that many post-op transsexuals do identify as transgender even while many others oppose that label vigorously. Apologies if I misrepresented what you meant.

              • Cassie says:

                It’s cool, and I almost expected that such a reading could accidentally be read into it. I opted for what I thought at the time would be the most clear, but first drafts are rarely as clear as we would really ever wish they were.

              • Renee says:

                *nods* No kidding…story of my life.

    • ChunkyLover says:

      Derailing…?

  13. Jack Storm says:

    wundergeek, can we chat via email? I want to know your feministic opinions other than gaming, but not here, publicly, in comments.

  14. Dorian Baum says:

    Wundergeek, I read (nearly) all your articles and generally agree with the substance of what you have to say. That is no different with this article. However, there is one part of your story – and a few of the comments – that I do take issue with. First, your comment that only 6% of rapists ever get convicted… not true; 6% of ALLEGED rapists get convicted. Don’t forget that we do have this (admittedly problematic) justice system that has an (alleged) ‘innocent until proven guilty’ maxim. And I think your way of putting that statistic just goes to show how alleged that maxim really is. It’s odd that in this country, it seems like few defendants are given the benefit of the doubt and the least benefit is given to alleged rapists. It’s as if there is no conceivable way that the allegation could be false and as an attorney (one who practices criminal defense, among other areas of law, but is very closely related to a woman who herself was sexually assaulted, and as such, am extremely sensitive to this topic), I find that idea not only false, but repugnant in and of itself.

    That being said, you are 100% on the money that the casual use of the term ‘rape’ (e.g. saying “I raped him/her” while playing games to indicate domination or extreme levels of win) and rape jokes do contribute to the desensitization of the populace. I can’t agree with those who say you can NEVER make jokes about rape – I’m with George Carlin in that anything can be potentially funny – but it better be funny, rape better not be singled out as something to joke about, and if the comedian is someone who always pushes all boundaries (see: Carlin, George), all the better. The best example of this tenuous line I can think of is when South Park makes rape jokes (most famous episode is where they try to link George Lucas messing with all of his old films as ‘raping’ them and people’s memories of them). While I get what they are trying to do, even there it seems forced and uncomfortable, and really not all that funny. So again, while I think it could *potentially* be a topic for humor, I really haven’t found where that might be.

    Either way, I appreciate that you are willing to put these topics out here because, frankly, the more it is talked about (and the less it’s shouted down by Sterling and his ilk), the more educated we can be as a populace and, hopefully, women/men/people of each and every sexuality can feel more safe speaking on the net or going to gaming conventions. Take solace in the fact that at least one person re-posts these articles online and tries to engender debate on feminism and, specifically, feminism in gaming.

    • Cassie says:

      I think why the Southpark extended rape joke is not particularly funny is because they “played it straight” as if the kids really had witnessed a rape, and their reactions and everyone else’s reactions to it were identical with having witnesses a real rape.

      If it felt like it was a morbid joke, it’s because it actually was morbid.

    • Zaewen says:

      Regarding your comments about the statistics of rape: the correct statistic is that 6% percent of rapists will ever spend even a single day in jail. The alleged is left off in this case because this statistic is a) talking about rapists who have been convicted and sentenced and b) is not just talking about rapes that have been reported to the cops, but factors in the rapes that go unreported. So in a sense its an abstract statistic about convicted rapists.

      The other reason, I think, that the alleged is often left off of rape statistics and out of most discussions about rape is because of an underlying belief that victims of rape and sexual assault should be believed first and foremost. In this rape culture that we live in, the experiences of survivors are often discounted as not rape-rape, or sex gone bad, or a regretted hookup, or hell even just as straight out lies. So a lot of the work around survivor advocacy (and feminist discussion of rape and sexual assault) is based on the idea that victims should always be believed.

      This, however, has little impact on the actual trials and convictions of alleged rapists because it is separate from the idea that the alleged rapist should be considered innocent until proven guilty. It is possible to hold the idea that you should full-heartedly believe that someone has been the victim of a rape or sexual assault and that the alleged rapist is innocent until proven guilty. Much like we do when the crime at hand is robbery or theft, we believe that that person has been robbed, but that we still need to prove if the alleged thief is the one who did it. Sadly, this line of thinking does not always make it up the ladder from victim advocates to the police, lawyers, juries, judges, etc. when dealing with sexual assault because the assumption of innocence on the part of the accused morphs into a presumption of lying on the part of the victim. Which is why 60% of rapes go unreported and only 6% of rapists will ever spend a day in jail.

  15. JohnRadclyffeHall says:

    Excellent article. I use a male sounding handle online for just these reasons :/

  16. “harassment from trolls that goes far beyond looking for lulz”

    These are not trolls anymore. Stop calling harassers “trolls”. Please.

  17. stephen says:

    “they are propping up the rape culture that leads to less than 6% of rapists ever getting convicted of a crime”

    So what you are saying is that everyone, no matter the subject of the crime, charged is guilty, and it just needs proof?

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