Are male gamers’ rape jokes repelling girls from the games? (links nsfw)

27-DEC-2011 Are male gamers’ rape jokes repelling girls from the games? I was alarmed that the answer is No. Not no because the women can take it; but no because the women are also dishing out the comments. I had drafted this post days ago and left it sitting in my drafts debating whether or not it was worth the bandwidth. I don’t want to post something just to have it seem like baiting. Then Adrianne Curry posted on Facebook about her lifelong traumas from molestation and rape. Her personal accounts and warrior outlook make me think talking about rape jokes is not baiting and is a perfectly valid dialog to start amongst our nerd community members. Going back to March 2nd, a woman known as Shake created an editorial about the seriousness of rape jokes in a general real world environment. December 1st, the ErosBlog took it to the focus of video gaming and how it makes a person feel listening to their teammates in a com using the term “rape faces” so lightly as if it were the same as a punch in the arm. Her game time became uncomfortable and unpleasant instead of a fun way to spend her time. To give you a very brief look at the original source, Shake tries to educate in what she called Feminism 101: Helpful Hints for Dudes, Part 3:

And they’ve told you about triggers, and PTSD, and how one in six women is a survivor, and you get it. You do. But you can’t let every time someone gets all upset get in the way of you having a good time, right? Especially when it doesn’t mean anything. Rape jokes have never made YOU go out and rape someone. They never would; they never could. You just don’t see how it matters.

Shake cites her post with a broken link and writes about alarming statistics that men will admit to having forced themselves on a woman as long as the word “rape” is not used. She didn’t conduct the study. Statistics are always questionable – always. I get that. So I’m going to say right off the bat that even if the study is skewed, there is still impact. There is still a person in the room, real or virtual, that is hearing a rape joke and is being affected by it. To bring this discussion around to nerd culture which is why you are here (right?) ErosBlogtalks about life in-game (the game is not specified) regarding rape and religious jokes:

I play an online game where the most commonly-heard phrase for “destroying the enemy” is “raping their faces.” Usage notes: “we really raped face last night”, “we caught them by surprise and raped their faces”, “who’s online and ready to go rape some face?”

With a little bit of Google searching, I came across a piece from 2009 debunking Shake’s claim that 25% of women are victims of sexual assault. The author presents a well-thought rebuttal highlighting how the original study classifies “rape” as anything from violent sexual assaults to women who have confirmed that they had sex they regretted while under the influence of drugs/alcohol. Nobody means to make light of ErosBlog’s nor Shake’s claims. The fact is we may know the actual facts when it comes to studies and statistics. People have been trying to get the FBI (keep of the stats) to make an updated and clear definition of “rape” so that counts are true and prosecutions can be properly handled. For more information, check out the SlutWalk websites which are marches/protests around the world.

SIDEBAR FROM SLUTWALK: What is rape culture? When we refer to rape culture, we are talking about the fact that sexual violence is prevalent and pervasive and is maintained through dominant attitudes and beliefs about gender, sexuality, and violence. Rape culture is very much informed by social and historical oppressive processes of patriarchy, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, racism, colonialism, classism, ableism, ageism, fatphobia, etc. In rape culture, sexual violence is both made to be invisible and inevitable; and these two practices are what normalizes rape, harassment and assault. Sexual violence is widely accepted as a “fact of life,” an unfortunate one, but still, a fact of life. There is little—if any— talk about ending the cultural practices that inform rape culture. In fact, rape isn’t even seen as something that is sanctioned by systemic forces at all. The forces that normalize rape culture are not examined; rape is not seen as a culture or “practice” and if it is ever discussed, sexual violence is seen as an isolated act that occurs between individuals.

BACK TO GAMING AND WHY I ASKED YOU TO READ THIS:

I’m not a gamer so I don’t know Halo from Gears of War and I’m sure that’s a horror to some of my followers. I was addicted to NC Soft’s City of Heroes for a while but I would rather spend my time on other things. I can say I have never seen faux sexual assault in any of the CoX sessions I was part of for like three years. I don’t know about the others but I know NC Soft was serious about harassment complaints and would lock up your character (you can have a lot of toons in CoX), not be allowed to transfer your assets from that character and make you jump through hoops being considered guilty before innocent. Halo is my point of origin for virtual sexual assault in a game because I had heard about “teabagging” from G4′s Attack of the Show. It became popular enough to mock by one of my favorite bands Kirby Krackle in their song Teabagging. Then it came up again when I interviewed Cunning Minx from PolyAmory Weekly when she expressed how appalling it was to be in a game where you just want to have fun and you have some 14-year-old opponent sit on your virtual face. I imagine DCU Online would have a zero tolerance policy as well somewhere in their TOS but other games that are about violence (like GTA or Scarface) may not see these things as issues at all and consider it justifiable ways to roleplay. I suspect that it’s a huge disappointment to have invested a lot of money and time into a MMO only to feel that you have to leave in order to avoid an unpleasant virtual environment. You only wanted to log in and beat the crap out of Bane. Accepting that you can’t change other players, you have no other option than to leave the game yourself. I reached out to popular celebrity gamer Raychul Moore, Adrianne Curry and Rocksteady Games for comments and Raychul was the only one that returned my query.

RAYCHUL MOORE (@theRaychul)

* In which games do you spend the most time? When playing online, I like Gears of War, Uncharted, team Fortress 2 and basically anything else that can be played either multiplayer or co-op. * Do you play co-ed or try to stick to womens only teams? I enjoy playing co-op. :) * Have you heard the phrase “raping someone’s face” or other similar triggers during your game play? Yep, all the time. * If this sort of thing is going on, how are women handling the situation? They usually join in or have similar jokes. * Do you overlook it as you might if you were in a real platoon because you know deep down you need to have each other’s back in combat? No, I overlook it b/c I am guilty of using rape jokes all the time, whether in games or regular conversation. I admittedly have a very dark and rather offensive sense of humor. * Are you a gamer that’s been uncomfortable in this situation? Did you report the other user? No, with my sense of humor, I am usually the one heading up the inappropriate jokes and conversations.

The Aftermath of this article is posted.

REFERENCES:

* Public Radio International explains that the FBI throw out all rape counts from a city if it determines that the city’s definition of rape is different from their official definition.

* MS. magazine looks the same allegations against the FBI’s lexicon of “forcible rape” versus any other kind of sexual assault.

*GAWKER coverage (trigger warning) about a Minnesota high school that “pranked” blindfolded students into making out with their parents.

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One Response to “Are male gamers’ rape jokes repelling girls from the games? (links nsfw)”

  1. admin says:

    I’m happy to report some good news. Today, January 6, 2012, the US Dept of Justice finally updated its definition of rape for FBI guidelines: The crime of rape will be defined as “penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim,” a Justice Department statement said. (http://www.cnn.com/2012/01/06/justice/rape-definition-revised/index.html?hpt=ju_c2)

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