Siding With Idiots

It’s hard to miss the recent discussion about Penny Arcade’s Dickwolves comic and the Dickwolves T-Shirt. I already wrote my share of critical posts on Penny Arcade. My opinion on Penny Arcade can be considered shaky.

Judging from the overwhelming one-sidedness of the arguments I hear from the people I follow on Twitter, the following may be a bad idea. However, I found myself on the PA side of the issue. I understand if you want to unfollow me. Goodbye.

It’s not even that I find the comic funny. I completely agree it’s a pretty weak comic. I agree that using rape in it was bad taste and probably unnecessary. PA response was ill-chosen as well and the Dickwolves thing they had going there is simply a horrible idea.

My reason for siding with PA has nothing to do with the actual content. It has to do with the arguments against them and the consequences that conceding to those arguments would mean for all of us, especially for video games. As far as I understand, there are two reasons for why the comic and PAs reason are considered problematic. One is the fact that they trigger certain people. The other is that they contribute to “Rape Culture”. This article explains both in greater detail and probably much better than I ever could.

I can’t comment too much on the trigger argument. It is a phenomenon I have no experience with. I find it odd that this comes up with rape victims but somehow isn’t a public issue with war veterans or other kinds of post traumatic stress disorder. On the other hand there may be a whole world of similar issues I’m not aware of, just waiting for the right PA strip to turn into a shitstorm. If it is a real problem we need to talk about who’s responsibility it is to prevent triggering and how.

My problem is the idea that the comic somehow trivializes or even endorses rape. This argument comes in two forms. The “strong” form is what PA was talking about in their first response. There seems to be consensus is that nobody will turn into a rapist just by reading that comic. I’m glad we at least agree on that. It may seem obvious but judging on how this discussion goes, we might have been just as well arguing this. It wouldn’t be the first time.

The real issue seems to be the “weak” form of this argument. It’s that this joke contributes to “Rape Culture” – a large body of little anecdotes and stories that in total, on a long term make rape more acceptable in our culture.

I find both version of that argument, the “weak” and the “strong” one equally problematic. The reason is because they perfectly mirror the arguments brought up against violence in games. I live in Germany, the country with one of the most severe censorship systems on video game content. There is a wide spectrum of various of reasons that experts state for why games have a destructive effect on people, especially youth. The simple version is a direct linkage of video games to killing sprees also know as “the game make me do it” or “murder-simulator”. Believe it or not, while the PA discussion apparently moved already past this “strong” variant of the argument, it is still seriously being discussed in my country. Many people believe that games should be completely forbidden because of this.

The “weak” variant is something I hear being brought up especially by people with a background in education. They claim that playing many violent games will have negative effects on players in the long term. They will become emotionally indifferent to violence and much less restricted at using it to solve their problems in real life. It is a much more difficult argument to dismiss. It’s hard to imagine somebody engrossing themselves in video game violence on a long term and not being affected by it.

Sure, there might be some kind of long-term effect of playing video games. But there are simple, hard facts that prove without a doubt that the consequences are actually not nearly as serious as the argument might suggest. If games really had this negative effect on youth, we would see an increase in violent crime among young people, especially those playing those games. At least in Germany, the opposite is true. The crime rate for young people and in general is decreasing steadily every year. The existing youth violence is overwhelmingly linked to poor education (a much more expensive topic that politicians like to avoid). Gamers have generally an over-average education and have a much lower likelihood to commit violent acts. During conscription (still obligatory in Germany) they prefer community service over military service. The lack of statistic evidence may be the only reason why we still can play some video games in Germany today.

On a side note, I personally think there is a good simple explanation for this apparent contradiction. One that requires creating a more sophisticated model of human psyche than “Monkey see, monkey do.” I believe that enjoying violent content requires the audience to actually strengthen and enforce the separation between fiction and real-life. We can only commit violent acts in games if we can be sure that they are actually not violent acts but the make-believe violent acts. This means that players can retain and even strengthen their rejection of real violence in spite of constantly engaging make-believe violence. I noticed that video game players are capable to do things in video games they would be absolutely terrified of if they encountered them in real-life. This separation is something that is glossed over or misunderstood by critics.

I do believe that this is also the reason why PA and their audience are able to tolerate rape jokes. The joke actually depends on everybody’s mutual understanding that rape is indeed one of the most horrible things that can happen to a person. This explains why questioning this understanding is met with ridicule.

This is also the reason why I find the “Rape Culture” argument deeply problematic. Taking this argument seriously would have grave consequences on our media. If true, the argument could and should be used to easily justify heavy censorship to prevent “rape culture”, “murder culture”, “violence culture”, “racism culture”, “bad language culture” – just about any kind of content that even vaguely references any social issues. At first it would seem like a quick and easy solution to get rid of the “filth”. But on a long term, one would notice a disturbing and even more devastating absence of works like The Bluest Eye or A Clockwork Orange.

This may sound like grim scenario but please consider that this is exactly how gaming culture looks in Germany right now. The process has moved into a second-order problem where the censorship occurs a priori and voluntarily. Game publishers cut out or modify content out for their games to have any chances of appearing on the market. I find myself in a position where I need to teach about the history of video games in a land where the games like Doom and Wolfenstein simply don’t exist. Where the Lucasarts Indiana Jones adventure has black squares instead of Swastikas.

But what do I know, I never been raped and I’m living in a different country. Different cultures have different perspectives. Rape seems to be a much greater issue in the United States than in Europe. Japan’s take on the subject is so disturbing one can only hope that something important gets lost in translation. My personal takeaway is that free speech is not the pleasant, rosy thing it is often idealized into. It is actually quite ugly. More often than not it means that idiots can and will hurt a lot of people and that lies can spread. But this is something we must endure. Because once everybody has been silenced, you will even miss even the lies and the idiots.

Krystian Majewski

Krystian Majewski was born in Warsaw and studied design at Köln International School of Design. Before, he was working on a mid-size console project for NEON Studios in Frankfurt. He helped establish a Master course in Game Design and Research at the Cologne Game Lab. Today he teaches Game Design at various institutions and develops independent games.

52 responses to “Siding With Idiots”

  1. Switchbreak

    I think there is a very big gap you’re jumping between criticism and censorship. Being uncensored doesn’t mean that everything people say is right or good or healthy. Telling people that something they said was hurtful isn’t the same thing as the government forcing them to never say anything hurtful.

    I think a lot of people criticizing Penny-Arcade’s poor handling of this situation wanted nothing more out of them than some empathy, and some consideration that people who have concerns that they don’t share exist, and that their concerns matter. What they got was a sarcastic, belittling knee-jerk followup comic and then they got the images that hurt them merchandised for seemingly no other reason than pure malice for daring to speak up.

    For the record though, while I disagree, I’m not going to unfollow you or stop reading your blog because of it.

    1. Krystian Majewski

      You are right, there is a huge gap between criticism and censorship. My point is that if the “Rape Culture” argument holds water, it could be used to rationalize not only the censorship of Penny Arcade but to perform ANY kind of censorship. In fact, the same kind of argument is used to rationalize censorship in Germany right now.

      Aside from that, what kind of intermediate solutions do you see within this gap? As far as I can tell PA could apologize but continue making the same offensive jokes – this would make them appear insincere and the apology meaningless. The other way for them to go would be to tone down offensive content. Wouldn’t that be self-censorship?

      1. chickwithmonkey

        I’m chiming in here to say that nobody who didn’t like the PA comic wants to censor anything. The original objection was from someone who simply said that the comic wasn’t funny, and what we need to do to combat rape culture is raise awareness of how these jokes contribute to it. There have been studies that show how sexist jokes contribute to sexism more than non-sexist jokes or non-humorous sexist comments. The response to the original comic was pointing out how jokes about rape contribute to the culture that doesn’t take rape seriously. Everything that came after was pretty much proof of people not taking rape seriously.

        The term self-censorship is stupid, IMO. Censorship is something that a governing body does when it doesn’t want its members to share information. There are plenty of places to make rape jokes on the internet, and plenty of places for douchebags to make fun of rape victims. No one has asked PA to stop making rape jokes. However, if they’re going to make jokes that involve rape, there are going to be other people pointing out that rape isn’t funny.

      2. Richard Gadsden

        The ideal way that PA could go would be to recognise that they are insulting and attacking people who are less privileged than they are and that that they should stop doing it.

        Is it self-censorship if you change your mind, and stop saying something because you now believe it to be wrong? I don’t think so.

        They don’t (in general) want PA to stop making rape jokes because PA have been intimidated into stopping (which would be self-censorship); they want to convince PA to stop making rape jokes because PA now believe that rape jokes are bad things.

        Self-censorship isn’t a stupid term, it’s people not publishing something that they believe to be OK because they are afraid of the reaction.

  2. Ava Avane Dawn

    For me it’s never been an issue of censorship, but the unwillingness of PA to take to heart what people are saying and instead taking the arguments that are easiest to dismiss (the “strong argument”) and pretending that this is what’s bothering people when in reality there is so much more and only a select few are even considering the “strong argument”. It’s also about the barrage of video game, internet driven people having really fucked up privileged views commenting on the strip, and for whom PA does fan service so that these people can get more fuel on their fire and become even more harsh and cruel and sexist. I do believe PA has a responsibility here, more so than saying “do not rape, seriously” in a sarcastic way. Not once do I believe that PA tells the fuckwads when they’re out of line, it’s only when the “boo-hoo feminists” complain that PA feel they need to tell readers (the ones complaining) that they should back off. So I get the impression that they’re really assholes just like many of their fans too.

  3. Gabe Glick

    As someone on the “one-sided” take of this issue, I can tell you that I don’t want any legal sanctions enacted outlawing violent or sexist media. As you say, that’s a dangerous precedent that punishes thought-crime. Penny Arcade had every right to make those strips, and people have every right to voice their disapproval.

    To make this point very clear: I *don’t want censorship*, and as far as I can tell, *neither do most of the people opposing this*.

    But if anything, that’s not the real issue anymore. That’s not why we’re still talking about a controversy that was spawned by strips published in August of last year. We’re still talking about this because Penny Arcade’s response has been nothing less than callous. Instead of even attempting to apologize, or even just ignore the people who are upset and go on with business as usual, they’ve gone out of their way to ridicule them, dismiss them, and make light of their trauma (or at least Mike Krahulik has; Jerry/Tycho has remained silent since the follow-up strip). Just look at @cwgabriel’s recent tweets for evidence. And that’s not even getting into the attacks their fan base has waged on the people who disagree with them; attacks they are definitely aware of and have done nothing whatsoever to reign in. Look at the blog comments on or @kirbybits’ recent @ replies for just a sample.

    There’s a lot more I wish I could say if I had the time to get into it, but as I don’t, I’ll leave with this: Siding with idiots is one thing. Do you really want to side with bullies?

    1. Krystian Majewski

      Do you really want to side with bullies?

      Indeed, I don’t. I’m assuming that the aggressive backlash is just the usual Internet trolling and something PA does not endorse. Generally, I’m amazed how this issue spun out of control. Do you think there is an elegant solution for PA to stop this without betraying themselves?

      1. Jeff

        Krystian, to answer a question that you posed earlier, there is an elegant way to stop this and it’s as simple as can be. Apologize. They don’t (and shouldn’t) have to apologize for the initial strip. But the mean-spirited and aggressive responses to criticism are the real issue now.

        When you feel you’ve been attacked, such a response is natural and even understandable. But a serious, reasonable adult has to have the self-awareness to realize that it’s out of line and counterproductive. Simply acknowledging that the responses have been insensitive and inappropriate (and then apologizing for them) would go a long way toward settling the situation without changing their style or appearing disingenuous.

        1. Krystian Majewski

          Point taken! Apologizing not for the comic but for the treatment of the response sounds reasonable to me. Could maybe even stifle the trolls a bit.

        2. CK

          Apologies all round are warranted IMO.

          There is plenty of blame to go around. At this point I feel its the responsibility of all the principals involved to diffuse the situation, lest they become complicit in continuing this escalation.

          1. allgoodtees

            ((There is plenty of blame to go around.))

            Goodness, yes!

            The PA folks should apologize, if not for the rape culture perpetuation, then for alienating a good portion of their fanbase by not curbing the more vitriolic retaliation against anyone who objected to the ad, especially because it’s made people feel unsafe to go to PAX/PAX East.

            Those that objected to their response to the comic should….


            Apologize for what, exactly?

          2. Krystian Majewski

            @allgoodtees I don’t know if you read PA but they apologized already ( The discussion spun out of control so in the meantime, there are victims and aggressors on both sides. I think it’s time to let go.

      2. AnneBonney

        “I’m assuming that the aggressive backlash is just the usual Internet trolling and something PA does not endorse.”

        I think this illustrates the point where your understanding of rape culture breaks down. There may be just “usual” trolling that, while distasteful and not endorsed by PA or other internet-culture leaders, is basically considered offensive but harmless. Those of us who have the misfortune of dealing with the direct effects of rape culture (or broader sexism — take a look at the comments on Shakesville’s Fat Princess thread to see what just regular flavor hate looks like without the moderation policy) know that this trolling is actually standardized, normalized, and something we have to deal with IRL face-to-face interactions too. The link to Shakesville you posted above is a good start, but the one that “explains” rape culture is actually here — a huge depressing list that I think you’d have to be willfully ignorant to not see a pattern in.

        Past that, I think I understand your censorship argument as essentially such: if we accept that there are broad, wide-ranging negative effects that telling rape jokes [broad example, not necessarily regarding PA's first comic] contribute to but don’t directly cause, then it follows if we don’t want to contribute to those facts, we should adjust our rape-joke-telling accordingly. But you seem to be saying that whether or not the cause and effect of rape jokes is factual, we shouldn’t “accept that argument” because you’re uncomfortable with the ethical ramifications, which may include “self-censorship” (which is what normal people or even artists do every day, right?) or even government censorship. You can see how that argument looks like you’re not refuting rape culture, but just ignoring it because you don’t like being responsible for your part (probably small; I’m not impugning you personally, but the thing is everybody, even feminists or rape survivors, contributes unwittingly to an atmosphere that minimizes rape, that’s the “culture” part).

        As for the triggering, I really recommend this piece, A Woman Walks into a Rape, Uh, Bar. It is one of the best written and most comprehensive accounts of what it’s actually like to be a rape survivor and hear “a joke”. I think that at least shows that “the weak argument” comes from a place of actual distress, not just a desire to be PC. Also, I hadn’t previously read this blog, but now that I’m here, I think I’ll subscribe. Disagreement aside, I like the cut of your jib.

  4. Ava Avane Dawn

    From leigh alexanders blog, who says it better than I:

    “People are going on Twitter to try to publicly harass and insult rape survivors over this. They’re leaving harassing comments for one of the most vocal objectors in this conversation claiming she must be fat, ugly and bitter to be insulted by rape jokes. You guys. This is fucking sick.

    Who tolerates this? Regardless of their own position Gabe & Tycho have an opportunity to speak up to at least encourage compassion and education within a gamer community that’s so often self-absorbed, immature, entitled and outright hateful. I’M TRYING TO UNDERSTAND WHAT WOULD MAKE THEM WANT TO PASS ON THAT.”

    1. Krystian Majewski

      Yes. I thought the “Don’t be a dick” law was all about this. I’m surprised PA hasn’t brought this up.

    2. Pete Baker

      While I in no way agree or endorse the actions of the trolls making the jokes you are referring, please remember that these actions are coming from both sides as people have tweeted things such as: “A Funney Joke: Go to Mike Krahulik / @cwgabriel ’s house, Literally Murder His Wife and Child #jokes #funny #murderwolves”

      There are still two sides to this story and there are people on both sides that are handling it with tact and there are also people on both sides that are not.

      It is also my understanding that PA was bullied into pulling DickWolves merchandise from the online store which is, in fact censorship. I agree that Gabe could definitely have and, in my opinion, should have responded in a more understanding and empathetic fashion. I do not, however, like how it is being portrayed that there is no one one PA’s ’side’ that is not heartless or a troll.

      There are those of us that saw the strip for what it was, a satire about a video game. Yes, the word rape was in the text of the strip. No, they weren’t condoning rape or glorifying it. This is like saying that Jim Davis supports animal violence because Garfield pushes Odie off a table.

      1. Harleigh

        Its sad that someone had to threaten him, for him to realize how much fuel he’s thrown onto the fire.

  5. Nick LaLone

    The thing I have thought about the most is that the people who spend a lot of time defending videogames they enjoy as having no affect on psychological behavior will feverishly defend a subject they define as worthy as influencing psychological behavior. Sexism aside, would these who attacked Penny Arcade act in the same way toward censoring a game based on content?

    It has really been an interesting event to watch.

  6. Robin Saunders

    I reckon the creators of Penny Arcade haven’t issued a more sincere apology because it would cause them to lose face with a sizable portion of their fanbase, which is more important to them than the opinions of other people whom they can choose to ignore. Maybe Mike and Tycho had a chance to apologize right at the start, but once they’d published that follow-up strip there was no going back. That doesn’t automatically mean they don’t feel bad about the suffering they’ve caused – they could just be too embarrassed to admit it publicly.

    For what it’s worth, to my (limited) knowledge indifference to rape – along with incidence of rape – is a far more serious issue in the US than in Europe, including Britain where I live, so maybe the “rape culture” arguments are more applicable there than here. At the same time, when Mike points out that the comic’s contained plenty of potentially offensive humour before, I think he has a point. People should read the comic knowing that some of the jokes will be offensive to some people, and might even cause trigger moments. That goes for rape, murder, child abuse and whatever else. When comedians make jokes on national television that are liable to offend or upset a sizable portion of their audience, there are often warnings before the programme starts – but that’s national television. If the creators of Penny Arcade don’t want to put up warnings like that on their website, that’s their choice. It’s sad that so many people were hurt, and it probably would have helped if they’d apologized for it more sincerely, but (at least when originally creating the strip) it’s pretty clear there was no malice involved. As for the follow-up vendetta… well, that’s often what happens when someone has strong feelings about what someone else has said or done. It’s a shame, but no-one’s going to help matters by fanning the flames.

  7. Wim Lauryssen

    I think this is about censorship, at least it is for Shakesville. They actively censor every comment that they don’t like.

    1. Krystian Majewski

      I think that’s actually entirely OK. It’s their website and they have free reign about deleting comments. I do the same when the content gets offensive.

    2. chickwithmonkey

      Nope. Shakesville has a very strict commenting policy. They delete comments that don’t follow that policy. This isn’t censorship, it’s moderating. Free speech doesn’t mean that anyone has to listen to you.

      1. Saria the Cat


        I have to respectfully disagree here. I think moderating comments is entirely okay and usually necessary for blogs to promote intelligent discussion with and amongst their readers. But what I find interesting is that there are absolutely no comments on the Shakesville posts that provide a dissenting view of the post, which leads me to believe they were edited or deleted outright by the moderator. THAT is censorship. I am not saying Shakesville doesn’t have the right to censor any comments. I am arguing that Shakesville’s environment is not conducive to balanced intelligent discussion with differing opinions, which I think is unfortunate. It is one thing to moderate out comments that are unintelligent trolling and another to refuse to allow comments that provide a view that does not agree with your post. If I am mistaken and there ARE unmoderated comments providing an alternate viewpoint aside from those of the rape survivors or Rape Culture educators all agreeing with each other, then I apologize.

        1. Take

          Part of the moderation policy is that you have to be at least two of a list of things, one thing on the list being feminist. So theoretically you could get away without being feminist, but it’s definitely a form of censorship.

          1. Vetty

            About Shakesville: They do censor comments. Their thread on the matter for February 2 looks like a Swiss cheese from all the comments that I’m guessing were there, and had been removed. Then the thread was locked.

            The next day, she started a new thread in which people started posting comments on PA (, so I figured, why not comment on the matter?

            I posted a copy of my original comment to Shakesville here:

            Good thing I did. Within two hours, my comment was unceremoniously removed from Shakesville and I was banned from further posting there. Ironically, the Shakesville post I replied to was ostensibly about troll logic, which I now read as “anyone I disagree with”.

            So you have to be a “feminist” to post there? It’s as though feminism were a monolith with a standard definition; if scholars can’t agree on what a major thinker is saying, can we really expect anyone to come up with a uniform definition of feminism? And whose definition will it be? Shakesville’s?

            Just proves that the Penny Arcade guys, despite their clumsy treatment of the entire affair, are right on one point: You can’t argue with people like that. Had I been in their place, I would have called my lawyer back in August and said: “You’re saying I’m a rape apologist? Prove it in court.” But undoubtedly they would have been accused of seeking the protection of the kyriarchy.

            Now, as for changing pronouns to promote/avoid promoting a gender agenda: Nonsense. Bad and ludicrous-sounding English is still bad and ludicrous-sounding English, no matter how you spin it.

        2. allgoodtees

          @Saria the Cat

          ((I am arguing that Shakesville’s environment is not conducive to balanced intelligent discussion with differing opinions, which I think is unfortunate.))

          Then maybe it’s best that you seek out a Feminist 101 space to discuss differing opinions – Shakesville is not that place.

          At their mildest, the disagreements people posted in those comment threads were utterly patronizing admonitions that nobody understood what the comic was poking fun at, when by then a) everyone understood what the comic was mocking and agreed that rape didn’t have to be involved to make the joke funny and b) the objections had gone so far beyond the comic and were focused on the creators’ reactions and the reactions of their fans.

          Such was the case with part of @Vetty’s post that was deleted (I would have replied directly to him, but I didn’t see a ‘reply’ link in his comment here).

          Also, the disagreeing comments showed very clearly that the commenting policy had not been followed (ie, reading the Feminism 101 post and all the links therein and reading the Commenting Policy post and all the links therein).

          Such was the case with another part of @Vetty’s post, which said that focusing on ‘rape culture’ without also acknowledging every other atrocity in the world was disingenuous at best and misandry at ‘worst’ (in quotes because this is feminism 101 stuff and things you shouldn’t do when you find a feminist space, especially telling women should always keep in mind how the things they say and do affect men).

          And then there was the derogatory part of @Vetty’s post, repeated by many other commenters in far nastier language that the folks at Shakesville were, “a very vocal minority, wielding their victimhood of a gruesome crime as a bludgeon, bullying opponents with a simple message: “acknowledge the rape culture, lest you perpetuate it” — which, once you do, means there is nothing more to discuss, as if you never wanted a discussion in the first place.”

          Check out any other place for discussing this controversy and you’ll see how hard the moderators at Shakesville work to make their blog a safe space for women and feminist allies.

          It’s true, people don’t like being confronted about their participation, unwitting or deliberate, in a culture that treats women and other marginalized people as a lesser people than the dominant power (white, Christian, cisgendered, heterosexual men). The thing to remember is that everyone does it in one way or another, because it’s the culture we’re born and raised to believe.

          The most important thing to those people is what you do with the knowledge once you’ve been made aware of it. One of the things NOT to do is demand that the marginalized people discuss it with you/educate you. There are so many links and blogs to read that will do it with far more eloquence, many of which already exist on Shakesville and other places.

          If you want to promote intelligent, rational debate and discussion about feminism, feel free to start your own blog or message board and offer it as a 101 space. Don’t go into a more advanced space and demand it there.

          1. Saria the Cat


            “If you want to promote intelligent, rational debate and discussion about feminism, feel free to start your own blog or message board and offer it as a 101 space. Don’t go into a more advanced space and demand it there.”

            Am I wrong in taking this as condescension? Or does “more advanced space” mean something else? Because it sounds like you are suggesting Shakesville is superior to a space in which people may have an open intelligent discussion and learn from each others’ differing opinions. I find this unfortunate for most opinion blogs in general if comments are disabled or censored. I think posting opinionated pieces and then not allowing people to discuss them or disagree with them is detrimental to the larger discussion and education about the topic. How can you respond to someone disagreeing with the blog post and say, “Hey, I think you’re missing the point about this article, I think the author is trying to say this…” if that someone’s comments will be deleted because they don’t agree with the original article? You can never hope to educate anyone who doesn’t already agree with you!

            I understand the idea of a safe haven for women to gather and commiserate and share their pain. But Shakesville does not present itself in this way. The author posted articles in direct response to actions by Penny Arcade. It was almost like she wanted an indestructible soap box from atop she would stand and no one would be allowed to convene around that soap box unless they were agreeing with her. This doesn’t seem that therapeutic or progressive or “advanced” to me.

            I guess Shakesville is trying to walk the fine line of online support community and feminist opinion pieces?

            I just think that if your feminist blog is receiving a lot of public attention outside your usual readership, especially because it contributes, catalyzes, and provokes an online controversy involving feminists, sexists, and all those people in-between, it makes sense to allow those people to have a discussion on your posts and directly respond to YOU. It seems unfair to post a piece up in your blog as a direct rebuttal to someone, and then not allow any of those someones to respond to you!

            Of course, Shakesville can do whatever it wants. It doesn’t have to follow any rules aside from those that the contributors deem to be correct. There is no universal internet law. I just wanted to say I personally found their commenting policy to be dismaying.

        3. allgoodtees

          @Saria the Cat

          ((Am I wrong in taking this as condescension? Or does “more advanced space” mean something else? Because it sounds like you are suggesting Shakesville is superior to a space in which people may have an open intelligent discussion and learn from each others’ differing opinions.))

          I’m sorry – I didn’t mean for that to be condescension at all. By ‘advanced space’, it means that there are things that the contributors and commenters have assumed are already a given, meaning that the people coming to either comment or submit a guest post, BEFORE they do so, have already read the Feminism 101 information and the commenting policy. In the case of this controversy, I’d also recommend the Rape Culture 101 post as well, that I’m pretty sure someone already linked.

          The F101 and RC101 posts present, pretty clearly, the issues that inspired the creation of this blog and other feminist spaces.

          When someone brings up feminist issues in a non-feminist space, more often than not their issues are dismissed, with a liberal sprinkling of sexist jokes and accusations of ‘needing to take a dick’.

          When rape survivors object to the content of a comic, and then more strongly to the backlash from its creators, people come out of the woodwork to tell them how they should just ‘get over it’ and ‘move on’ so they can continue to laugh at rape jokes without thinking about how it might affect other people.

          Is it any wonder that feminists seek out places like Shakesville to discuss these issues knowing that they won’t have to face the same backlash? In fact, many of them PAY for that kind of safety by donating regularly to Shakesville.

          Shakesville exists because people have had the following things happen to them:

          1. They had their own privilege pointed out to them, or have sought out other people who have experienced the systematic oppression of women or other marginalized people.

          2. They have already read up on the 101 stuff and educated themselves about this kind of culture and the responses to the most common rebuttals/disagreements.

          3. They are trying their best to make a change in themselves to better promote a more supportive culture to the best of their ability.

          Once they’ve done so, and can conduct themselves in a way that adheres to the commenting policy, they are welcome to comment at Shakesville, or submit a guest post to the blog itself.

          The systemic oppression of people who aren’t white, hetero, Christian, cisgendered men is a reality. Rape culture exists – we’ve been raised in it. We’ve all promoted it in one way or another. Rebutting its existence is pretty much counterproductive. It’s a matter of what people do with the knowledge once they’ve been made aware of it that is what Shakesville is about.

          1. AnneBonney

            @ the idea of an advanced space

            I think allgoodtees mostly covered this, but I want to elaborate somewhat. Some see Shakesville’s commenting policy as draconian or stiffling debate, and honestly, to a point, that is true. The community there is not interested in a debate about basic tenets of feminist thought: is sexism a problem, does rape culture exist, etc. These are things that people there are not interested in “seeing the other side of” in that space. Many of us have no problem entering other non-feminist or non-safe spaces online or in real life to discuss those basics, because there are people who aren’t there yet or need convincing. But in the “advanced” spaces those are discussions we have already had and it is no longer productive to keep it up. Shakesville just happens to put it’s foot down on things like derailing, victim-blaming and silencing techniques because without those comments, it’s more likely we can get other, more advanced stuff done. You wouldn’t expect evolutionary biologists to get research done if they were expected to drop everything and educate each time a creationist knocked on the door, and it’s the same thing with feminist safe spaces.

            To me, it’s clear deleted commenters, even those trying to act in good faith, are essentially arguing point and questions that have been settled long before they got there. It would be like me showing up on the Penny Arcade forums to “start a discussion” about whether it is stupid to create or care about webcomics (since all the good comics are made by Marvel in print anyhow and don’t you know you’re just wasting your time and no one will ever care about the stupid things you draw on the internet so just shut up). Clearly, the people there have already decided that webcomics are cool, and they like them, and they think they have value, so… there’s nothing more to be said on that level. There’s no real discussion to be had, and it is just as valid to tell me in this scenario to go fuck myself, because what am I doing?, as it is to link me to the half-dozen spectacular, artistic amazing webcomics you like best. Or to delete my comment, because even though my dislike for webcomics may be sincere, or well-articulated, or both, the notion that someone who enters a community organized around an idea and argues that that idea is just stupid deserves to be listened to every time he does it and then treated with kid gloves, I think, is absurd. It’s trolling, even if unintended.

            Especially considering that we’re dealing with minority opinions and systems of thought (because feminism is not widely accepted), it is unreasonable pretend this is some widespread censorship or breakdown of debate around these topics. There are maybe 20 blogs I know of (and yeah, this is kind of my thing) that even TRY to be safe spaces like that, most not doing such a hot job. The whole wide web and world are viable locations for the “have you considered maybe feminism is unnecessary” conversation (because, yes, we have considered it, have you?). Shakesville asks that folks check their privilege and not bring that there, and no commenters are immune, even feminists, even regulars.

            As for shutting down disagreement and debate, there is tons of it in the feminist blogosphere. There are hugely differing opinions about activist techniques, about how to respond to certain ideas. The schisms between online feminism and womanism, and places that are fat-accepting or not have been rife with both internal flame wars and productive debate. We spend so much time disagreeing with each other that the whole “culty echo-chamber” critique just seems ridiculous. But when you come from a mindset where the existence of sexism itself is up for grabs, it looks that way. And I think that’s fine.

  8. Matt

    As much as I agree with the points you made, I have to disagree with the overall ‘PA censorship’ point. So much has already been written about this so I’ll keep this short. The problem isn’t that PA should’ve taken down the comic after complaints or should alter their style to be less offensive, it’s their handling of the criticism that put them on the wrong side of the argument.

    What they should’ve done was: post the comic, receive complaints, and then either ignore them or apologize and be done with it. Selling shirts about the comic is taking things too far. There is absolutely no reason to start selling controversial merchandise other than be controversial.

    To be clear, I don’t want PA to change anything. If they were to delete the comic or tone down their humor it would be a censorship issue. What’s going on here is the opposite of censorship, PA’s giving more material just to be controversial. Again, I don’t want them to stop, if that’s what they do then that’s what they do, I just won’t be a part of it.

    And don’t worry, I’ll still follow you.

    1. Krystian Majewski

      Yes, I agree. This spired needlessly out of control. I’m guessing they thought they could stay on top by turning this into a funny Meme. It should have been obvious to them that this wasn’t a smart move. It seems to me like ignoring is a powerful and underappreciated conversational tool. Must keep this in mind myself.

      Thanks for not unfollowing, btw. :)

  9. Saria the Cat

    I found this post to be very refreshing and clarifying for myself. I could not determine what my opinion on the matter was and I think I’ve found it. I felt ashamed and insensitive and uneducated not to fall onto the side of Shakesville, and I definitely found PA’s actions and inactions horrendous and hurtful. I must admit that despite all I’ve learned and read, and the despite that I am a woman and a self-proclaimed feminist, I do not find rape jokes offensive. I have very strong opinions about sexism and its existence in video game and geek culture since I am a female geek who must navigate those waters. Despite my B.A. in psychology, and my knowledge of PTSD emotional response triggers, I find myself in exactly your camp, Krystian.

    I want to be sensitive and I think people should be sensitive. Yet I am particularly bothered by the idea of people self-censoring their speech and especially humor based on other peoples’ sensitivities. Ideally, and I think this is what the Shakesville camp ultimately wants, people like Gabe/Tycho should completely understand and become sensitive to the issue themselves and then not self-censor, but genuinely feel that rape jokes are dumb. But what if I just can’t understand or genuinely feel that sensitivity? Am I a bad person for laughing at a joke that mentions rape?

    I can see the other side of the argument for this. People who genuinely don’t understand why video game culture is largely sexist. Why should they quit making sexist jokes? Or, the more extreme — people who genuinely believe black people are the scum of the earth. Why should they behave more sensitively and self-censor all of the time?

    I guess I don’t really know how this issue should be dealt with, I only understand how *I* personally feel. I’m a bleeding heart liberal yet I am troubled by the idea of “rape” becoming something sacred that humor cannot touch, just as I think it is dangerous for “race” or “religion” to become such locked-away, hot topics that people refuse to talk about them except for those who proclaim themselves to be educated and qualified to do so.

  10. lady

    So, to give you a direct experience to help you understand the concept of rape culture, and how those little things to do matter, and how you get to a point where you CAN’T dismiss “normal” trolling, I present to you this:

    It is terrible and fantastic.

    1. Saria the Cat

      The problem with this is that it isn’t educational. It immediately alienates the very audience you’re perhaps attempting to reach (white males). It is a commiseration blog of negativity and pain. I don’t see how this is beneficial for either the writer, those that agree with the writer, and those that disagree with the writer. Trying to pick out every instance in which you’ve felt “wronged” is unhealthy. Most psychologists and counselors would tell you this. I am not saying people should “just get over it,” but anyone who’s experienced a traumatic experience, whether it be a loss of a loved one or war or sexual violence would impede their progress to a better mental health by focusing every day and every minute on those very things that are traumatizing.

      No one should ignore sexism, sexual violence, racism, etc. But obsessing and picking out every instance of it you see will only do harm to those who are deeply troubled by it. It is better to focus on a specific problem and create actionable goals.

      1. AnneBonney

        Who’s obsessing? These spaces have a wide variety of contributors, so it’s not like one Feminist Godhead is creating all this content on hir lonesome. And why are you qualified to make the determination of what is a healthy amount of focus for others?

        As for the benefit, sometimes it is fine to just get things off your chest, to share your shitty experiences and seek comfort and recognition from your compatriots. I would actually argue that speaking up about the ways (even small) you are aggrieved by sexism, racism, ableism, etc. is actually a radical act. People who are hurt by the privilege of others and/or by institutional oppression have been silenced historically and speaking out reclaims whatever small power can be gained by at least acknowledging the problem and perhaps commiserating with others who have to live it too.

        And, as far as alienating the white male or any other person who’s not already open to fighting oppressions, well, there are spaces for them all over, and it’s not feminists’ or anti-racists’ or whathaveyous’ job to be conciliatory and educational all the time. Microaggressions is a steamvalve, obviously not meant to build bridges, and Shakesville’s purpose as a safe space for commenters makes it explicitly not for the completely uneducated (there’s Finally, A Feminism 101>/a> and some of Harriet’s stuff at Fugitivus for that.) Not that either site can’t be helpful or educational for people just starting to investigate social justice concepts, just that those folks aren’t the target audience and the community those sites serve hear enough of the perhaps well-reasoned but ultimately too basic to advance the conversation-type comments elsewhere.

        Honestly, I feel if someone were to come across the Microaggressions site and get offended and feel like they were attacked, they aren’t quite ready to accept some of the concepts that people who submit there already have as a baseline (like, you know, sexism and racism and other shitty things actually happen and affect their lives) and without that seed of self-reflection, there’s very little someone on the other side of that could say to change their minds.

        1. AnneBonney

          Bluh, poor linkage. That should be Fugitivus. Apologies.

        2. Jake

          Pro tip : If you want people to pay attention to you, don’t use the word “hir”.

          The word “her” is derived from the old english (or anglo-saxon) hire– the male form as still his. The nomitive form of the male pronoun was he’ (the female he’o). To cut to the chase, the gender nuetral pronoun assumes that “hir” is “less offensive” because it removes the base “he” which is decidedly male when in fact the word originally had an “i” already but changed due to vowel shift and standardized spelling. Notwithstanding, Old English already had gender nuetral words (a and ou) but they fell out of use as the more information rich gender specific words were used more regularly.

          In short, the use of “hir” tries to go back to about 1000AD in an attempt to remove information from language for the sole reason of sounding more “sensitive” or less “offensive”. If you are offended because I can determine gender from the use of a pronoun, then it makes it a lot harder to take the rest of your work seriously.

          1. AnneBonney

            I’m sorry, I’m having difficulty understanding your point. Is the offense that you’re taking to my use of “hir” that it is (or isn’t?) properly derived from Old English? Frankly, I’m not terribly attached to hir, and would much prefer to use “yo” like the kids in Baltimore do, but hir is much more widely used so I defer to consensus. You are clearly well-versed in linguistics, so I don’t think you’re upset at the creation of new words when old are not enough, since it’s a known mechanism for the evolution of language. So are you just taking issue that I feel the need for a word to describe people whose gender I don’t know or non-binary genders, because, as you say, we no longer have that in English and now need to make it up? Are you as offended when people use the plural pronouns to indicate unknown gender?

            I am not certain, but I get the feeling that etymology aside, you’re offended that I want to used a non-specifically gendered pronoun at all. You cite my “attempt to remove information from language for the sole reason of sounding more ’sensitive’ or less ‘offensive’”, but seriously, this train of thought isn’t really applicable. I am “removing information” from my language because I don’t have that information in the first place, therefore it’s inappropriate in a factual sense to assume things about people I don’t know, and who haven’t identified themselves. Also, in this discussion, being necessarily mediated through text, author’s gender is mostly irrelevant, so I don’t see how the information I am removing is so crucial as to be a horrible crime against language in the least.

            I was taught that making sweeping assumptions about people without evidence was rude, and so I use hir as a way to follow Wheaton’s Law. I wasn’t proselytizing its use or trying to force it on you in anyway; it’s a thing I do because I think it is important, and it’s worth the minuscule effort to me. If reading a single word, a damn pronoun that has no inflammatory connotations at all, makes you so upset as to completely tune out arguments and write off discussion, perhaps you should consider that it’s not my sensitivities that are out of line.

        3. Saria the Cat


          I was mainly taking issue with the way I was presented with Microaggressions: Saying “to help you understand the concept of rape culture, go to this link” implies that I am being linked to an informational site that will educate me about rape culture or at least an article in a journal that demonstrates a correlation of a higher incidence of rape as an outcome of rape jokes. Microaggressions is not helpful even for people who are open to being educated about rape culture but do not understand it.

          First of all, MicroAggressions isn’t even strictly about rape — it’s, like I said, a collection of miseries and wrongs that many individuals have experienced, all up there to co-mingle. I understand the idea of a safe space to receive support from others. Support groups are a regular treatment implemented in counseling and clinical psychology. But there is a point at which the discussion may become detrimental to the individuals involved (I talk about this more later).

          It’s my mistake to think that they were all written by “one person” — you have to remember the context with which I was given the link (none).

          I do take issue with Microaggressions on a personal level completely apart from the rape discussion, because I myself am a minority (Mexican) and I don’t appreciate reading other Mexican women on there venting about injustices experienced BECAUSE they are Mexican. I really feel like victimizing ourselves and lashing out at the general public both alienates us and devalues us. Of course, I am even angrier when I see the opposite, and I meet Mexican American women that are perpetuating the same crap I grew up with, which also devalues Mexican culture but it helps fuel the same social bullshit we need to get past. For me, I would much rather see (and help) Latinas educate other Latinas and Latinos with the goal of helping them succeed in American society than shout out into the world about every injustice I’ve suffered as a result of being Latina. I don’t find it helpful for me to complain and it doesn’t help create change in how society views Latinos IMHO.

          For me, I would rather read a tumblr that is a collection of triumphs (i.e. Microtriumphs) that will make people feel empowered rather than re-establish that they are victimized. I understand the need to vent every once in a while to a supportive audience, but I guarantee you that it is not a collection of single contributions but that many contributors continue to contribute. And this kind of community, unless carefully moderated by a cool-headed third party, can spiral into a negative unhealthiness due to the psychological phenomenon, “co-rumination,” which is what I was trying to get at before. Here’s an interesting article about co-rumination impacting an online bridal community, with a link to a NY Times article on co-rumination:

          Just search Google scholar for effects of co-rumination and why it can be particularly dangerous to young women. I tried searching for scholarly articles on rape culture and couldn’t find many that were helpful.

          “And why are you qualified to make the determination of what is a healthy amount of focus for others?” I am not a licensed psychologist but I do have a BA in psych and am an individual free to possess the opinion that Microaggressions can be unhealthy for many people.

          1. AnneBonney

            @Saria the Cat

            Okay. I can certainly understand you disappointment that Microaggressions was not as you expected, but I disagree that because it’s tone isn’t “educational” it can’t open minds. Perhaps more context would have been useful for you, or maybe, because of your personal experience, that was never going to be the right site for you. That’s totally ok. I think that Shakesville would actually be a great place for you to spend some time; put it in your RSS for a week, and you’ll find the negative is balanced with a lot of silly, fun and uplifting content and community interaction as well. Microaggressions, not so much, but that’s fine. There’s actually a lot of feminist blogosphere out there, many different flavors.

            I really disagree with the language of “victimizing ourselves”, because it is moving the responsibility for the hurt people feel away from those who hurt them onto themselves. You say that you don’t want to tell people to “just get over it”, but I think this comes perilously close. I just fundamentally disagree that naming the traumas you’ve suffered is always, inherently more damaging than not, or that it necessarily reinforces negativity towards victims. No one chooses to be victimized, and not accepting or speaking about doesn’t erase it. It’s my opinion that is especially true in discussions of sexual violence.

            While I affirm and respect that you are “an individual free to possess [an] opinion”, I think you overstated your case against Microaggressions and were speaking with an authority that I think is unwarranted. My question wasn’t so much a call for credentials but a rhetorical/existential one, because I think only individuals directly involved (and those mental health professionals they have invited into their lives) can make such determinations, and only for themselves. Again, your opinion is certainly valid as your opinion but “Trying to pick out every instance… is unhealthy.” doesn’t come across like an “I think” statement, and I would urge you against such generalizations.

            Likewise, while I cannot at all speak to your individual experiences and am NOT arguing against your right to hold any opinion you want, “educate other Latinas and Latinos with the goal of helping them succeed in American society than shout out into the world about every injustice” makes me very uncomfortable, because it smacks of Horatio Alger myths and putting undue responsibility on the wronged. I don’t think that we could have a productive conversation along those lines, so I think we’ll just agree to disagree on that point.

            As for scholarly works about rape culture, they are there and they are useful. It’s a concept and term that originated in academia. Off the top of my head, Yes Means Yes often deals with legal and sociological works dealing with sexism and rape culture, and the fucknopennyarcade tumblr(FYI, you’re probably not going to like it at all, but its links are excellent) might offer what you’re looking for. For my part, I read your link about co-rumination and I’m continuing to educate myself about it. FWIW, I would read the hell out of a Microtriumps tumblr, right along with Microaggressions.

        4. Saria the Cat


          I agree with you on a lot of points. I think minority social issue is extremely delicate and should be handled with the utmost care. It dangerous to suggest that people not complain or stay silent about injustices they suffer. Which is why I try to be careful with the way I word my personal opinion on the matter. Here’s a better explanation:

          Regarding the Horatio Alger myths, this is not at all close to what I’m suggesting when I say I would like to educate Latinos to help them succeed. The rags-to-riches myth and “if you work hard enough, it doesn’t matter if you’re a minority” seems to be a stance many people take, especially Republicans. It is simply stupid to suggest that if you work hard enough, your race/ethnicity/gender/sexual orientation/you-name-it-identity doesn’t ever play a part in life. That if you work hard enough, who cares if you’re Latina. I reject this idea. However, I also reject the idea that if you keep voicing injustices, society will simply “get the picture” and change. The people whose minds we are trying to expand will not respond to “minority complaints.” Stuff like most of the Microaggressions posts all sound like a whiny clamor to people who have already closed ears, and reinforce the idea to them that minorities are all just a bunch of whiners who want a free lunch and special treatment.

          This is why I propose educating people about how to successfully navigate American society to achieve what they need to. And the paths to actively correcting injustice should they see that as their goal. I personally feel that I would do much more good helping Latinos realize the importance of education in American society, the importance of going to college, and GETTING THEM THERE. Rather than complain on Microaggressions that my mother, a UCLA public health professor and PhD, was told to clean up a mess in the kitchen at a conference at which SHE was giving a talk (true story!)

          I am a weird, special case. I come from a family of highly educated Mexicans (!), but grew up in East LA surrounded by low-income, poorly educated Mexican immigrant families and first-generation Mexican American students. My grandfather is a dentist and he achieved this through his own efforts in an area and time where there were no Latino dentists. He did this by, in his words, instead of complaining about things, taking action. Forcing his way through an unfriendly system to achieve what he wanted. Then helping forge a path for future Latinos by co-founding a Latino dental society in LA.

          I am much more interested in actionable goals when it comes to these kind of topics. Giving people tools to progress rather than a deep dark pit for them to shout their anger into. The pit will be cathartic and may have some healing properties, but the tools will help dig them out of the pit and fight in the real world.

          It is unfortunate that minorities and victims need to be the ones to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and learn how to navigate the hostile waters of society rather than have the majority realize their wrongdoings and correct themselves. But that is how it is. Just like when you are preparing to go into a debate, and you know that the other side is completely, unabashedly evil and wrong, you still need to learn how to communicate with them and work with them in order to effect change. Getting angry and raging at them will only solidify them in their ignorance because they will be immediately defensive.

          This is why a lot of people (especially men) have a bad opinion of feminists, and why I sometimes omit saying I am a feminist in online discussions even when I am obviously communicating feminist views. Many feminists seem angry and extremist to white males, and this is probably because women think the best way to combat the overwhelming socially powerful voice of man is to try to be equally aggressive and loud. I disagree with this approach. Coming off as strong but level-headed and supporting statements with facts will work a lot better to educate people in any scenario than to put them on the offensive because you come in guns a-blazin’. Sadly, yelling at men for being sexist only reinforces the sexist idea that women are a bunch of whiny bitches. It is much more productive to come at them and say “Hey, that rape joke is not cool. I know you’re trying to be funny, and that a lot of people make rape jokes, but I was hurt by this. And you may not think rape jokes contribute to rape culture, but I invite you to read this article on how they do: ___” So while fucknopennyarcade is full of relevant, educational information, it is unfortunately packaged in a way that is indigestible to people who are already on the defensive or are just not as angry.

          1. AnneBonney

            @Saria the Cat

            I appreciate your sincerity and thoughtfulness throughout this convo — we can see downpage what the normal tone of disagreements looks like. And I really appreciate your openness about your personal life and family background, it was really helpful for understanding your point of view. I wish I could reciprocate, but I’m not terribly comfortable putting that much personal stuff out there. Suffice it to say, I have substantial racial privilege, but my deep personal issue (aside from the whole sex/gender talk at the center of this) is class; that’s why I reacted poorly to the specter of bootstraps and didn’t think this was a place I could engage you on, without pulling up some shit I didn’t really want to deal with today. I am happy to say that I was mistaken.

            I think your take on actionable measures to fight injustice is a great one, and we agree overall. My two thoughts are this: 1) I don’t think that complaining on the internet and making substantial, actual inroads for oneself or others are mutually exclusive, and I think they can in fact reinforce each other. Naming the problem, especially for those who are just starting out, and then coming up with ways to work around it both need space to operate. That’s why fucknopennyarcade maybe be off the mark for fostering real dialogue, but I think it could still have value for certain individuals; also, I don’t think we should presume that a person who curates a tumblr over like 4 days as often as I check my email isn’t doing enough IRL to better their situation.

            Your argument that that kind of speech will be perceived as whining and reinforce negative stereotypes is less convincing to me. Not because it’s not true, it could be, but because I am less than hopeful that a person who hears an individual in a social minority describing their experiences as just bitching with no merit is going to be open education. The willingness to accept people’s right to speak and interpret their own lives is baseline for trying to understand them; a change in volume or tone will not always help. (This is not to say I don’t understand kneejerk reactions when it comes to this stuff; I get why Mike and Jerry might have been upset to hear about rape culture in their emails following the first comic. But I am absolutely certain that your example of a productive comment was also in their inboxes. That they chose to use the one to invalidate the other is on them.)

            I mean, in this discussion, the original post at Shakesville and by KirbyBits were both very gentle in tone, very (I think) reasonably presented. They were flamed immediately. While I agree with you that calm discussion is important, when we are working from a place where ANY emotion is construed as weakness, the oppressed person is always at a disadvantage: to expect a rape survivor to not get upset about hir rape at all , ever, even when pushed in ways that are insensitive or cruel, is a standard that I find unreasonable, but seems common in our understanding of “debate”. I don’t know. It is such a tough needle to thread. But I’ll report back on that when I better learn to take a dick. ;)

            My 2) is a little tougher for me to phrase because I don’t want to be an asshole while talking about your life. So I apologize in advance if this doesn’t come out perfectly. What your grandfather was able to achieve was extraordinary, and you and he both should be very proud of his accomplishments. His is a great example of someone being able to overcome the effects of oppression successfully. But I think in a way it was extraordinary in a very literal way — his is not a story, not a path, that is typical or always applicable to oppressed people. I’m concerned that by holding up examples like his, we’re making it harder for folks who are legitimately not as strong or smart or lucky. In my mind, it only serves to overshadow the institutional violence done if we keep making the conversation about individual actions and merit. That’s not to say that I disagree that there need to be practical strategies and tools for people to get through their day and their lives, but maybe I’m more open to negative ways to do that? (That may be my privilege talking, I don’t know.) This line of thinking just bothers me, I think, on a personal level the same way the Microaggressions bother you. But I do believe we have common ground, and I’ve appreciated speaking with you.

          2. Saria the Cat


            I really did appreciate this discussion. It was refreshing to have a balanced conversation that doesn’t spiral into unproductive trolling and anger. I learned a lot from it and helped think through my own thoughts on some tough issues. I’m also going to give more thought to the negativity/voicing wrongs issue and consider what you’ve said. I think we ultimately agree on most points. Hopefully I came off as rational and level-headed as you did. Thanks again! :)

          3. AnneBonney

            @ Saria the Cat’s last comment

            I agree, and I also enjoyed this conversation a lot. You certainly presented yourself admirably, and I appreciate it. Have a good one!

          4. Krystian Majewski

            I would like to thank you both for your amazing exchange here. It was refreshingly humane and insightful. It makes me glad I wrote that post in the fist place.

  11. Meg

    The third argument is that by engaging with the controversy and producing Team Rapist t-shirts they violated Wheton’s Law. That’s why I take issue with their behavior, not the original comic (which is, by this point, quite beside the point, especially when it comes to PAX).

  12. allgoodtees

    I find it odd that this comes up with rape victims but somehow isn’t a public issue with war veterans or other kinds of post traumatic stress disorder.

    As Liss at Shakesville points out, the reactions to triggers are the same, but the response to those triggers are vastly different:

    “A survivor of sexual violence who experiences a trigger is experiencing the same thing as a soldier who experiences a trigger, potentially even including flashbacks. Like many soldiers who return from war, many survivors of sexual violence are left with post-traumatic stress disorder.

    Unlike soldiers, however, they are not likely to receive much sympathy, or benefit from attempts to understand, when they are triggered. Instead, triggered survivors of sexual violence are dismissed as oversensitive, as hysterics, as humorless, as weak.”

    I don’t understand how people can hear someone say, “Hey, I was raped, and that wasn’t funny at all,” and defend their right to laugh at their pain and objection with demands to lighten up, it was just a joke. How hard is it to say, “Oh shit, I’m sorry. I didn’t know.”

    The reason you (the general ‘you’) don’t know is because chances are victims of sexual violence are already part of your group of friends and have heard your rape jokes long enough to not trust you with that knowledge, given how you act when it’s some nebulous bad-bad-thing out there that you don’t have to structure your life around.

    Maybe when someone hears you call another person out, tell someone else that hey, that wasn’t cool, man, or suggest a non-rape word when someone feels cheated or a football team wins by a huge margin. Maybe then you’ll find out that someone you consider a friend has been a victim and appreciated your stance despite the potential backlash for going against the status quo.

    Or maybe you won’t. But why not be a decent person anyway? What’s so hard about that that suggesting someone be a decent guy brings on five months of harassment and death threats by that person’s fans?

  13. allgoodtees


    ((And now, now their trying to fucking censor Penny Arcade. Oh, like their such huge victims when their trying to stop ARTISTS from PRODUCING ART.))

    Censor? Last I checked the U.S. Government wasn’t telling the PA folks to shut down the comic. THAT is what censorship is.

    A group of rape survivors objecting to being harassed for their objections to the content of their comic strip (and the subsequent marketing of the t-shirt after those objections) is not censorship.

    ((These bitches need to grow up, stop trying to censor everything, and learn to take a fucking dick.))

    So I got this straight. A group of rape survivors speak out against something that trivializes their very real pain, something they deal with every day of their lives…and your response is to tell them ‘bitches better learn to take a dick’?

    Thanks for making their point so eloquently.

    1. 33rdArmy

      lol whatever Krystian, Gabe, and Tycho all ttly agree with me so it’s not like it even matters.

      1. Krystian Majewski

        No, I don’t agree with you. I especially do not tolerate this kind of hateful speech on here. Please practice this “art” on you own website.

  14. Matt

    Surprised it took two days for a troll to show up.

  15. CK

    It does serve to illustrate a good point though.

    You can have a rational discussion between rational people of differing viewpoints. Enter a few extreme points of view, trolling both sides and using hyperbolic language and lots of CAPITOLS and bad language.

    Troll gets banned, conversation between original (rational) parties continues but now with the undercurrent of the troll post, which could push the discussion into a more heated exchange if we allowed it to.

    This is exactly what I see has happened in this whole situation, allowing radical beliefs and extremists of both sides to run the conversation.


The Game Design Scrapbook is a second blog of group of three game designers from Germany. On our first blog, Game Design Reviews we describe some games we played and point out various interesting details. Unfortunately, we found out that we also need some place to collect quick and dirty ideas that pop into our minds. Hence, welcome to Game Design Scrapbook. You will encounter wild, random rantings. Many of then incoherent. Some of them maybe even in German. If you don't like it, you might enjoy Game Design Reviews more.


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