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On dicks and cunts

Posted on February 16, 2011 by

Man, there certainly are an awful lot of hormones flying around the room in the videogaming community at the moment.

Months behind the zeitgeist as ever, I've only just caught up on the whole "Dickwolves" business. If you don't know what that means, catch up here. Just be ready to lose any last shreds of hope in humanity you might have had.

Though it all happened last summer, I first heard of the story this weekend, via Jim Rossignol's weekly "Sunday Papers" post on the ever-splendid Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Bemused, I messaged him to ask if I'd missed a link somewhere, or if that one innocuous comic strip was really all it had taken to kick off such a ridiculous shitstorm. He sadly confirmed the latter.

Now, let's set some parameters here. I absolutely loathe the fairly recent casualisation of the word "rape", particularly in videogaming circles. I squirm in embarrassment when I hear some dimwit proclaim how he was "raped" by an opponent in some FPS game, and it makes me angry too.

Rape is about as vile as crimes get, and as such the word still retains some considerable – arguably unique – power. (Just ask Julian Assange, who as yet has not been so much as charged with any crime, far less found guilty of one, but has been the subject of some truly appalling character-assassinating journalism from people who should know better.)

That's as it should be, and doing anything which reduces that power makes you a pretty despicable lifeform in my book. But that isn't what the Penny Arcade strip did. It used the word "rape" to refer to rape, and in so much as it can be said to address the subject, it makes it clear that it's a bad thing. Whether the strip is funny, whether it's bad taste, those are subjective and different issues, and if you don't like it that's fine.

(In fact, the point it's attempting to make is an entirely honourable one about the odd moral standards found in online MMORPGs. The entire business isn't unlike the way Sensible Software were attacked for using a poppy on the box of the first Cannon Fodder despite the game actually handling the deaths of soldiers in what for a videogame was a remarkably and untypically sensitive and respectful way. But I digress.)

The initial criticism that kicked off the whole fiasco, though,  attacked the strip on a ludicrously inaccurate premise:

"But unlike Gabe killing Tycho so he doesn't have to share a video game, a slave being raped is a real thing that happens in the world every day."

When challenged in the comments over this fatuous claim, the author further asserted with equally dismissive idiocy that "People who get beaten aren't subject to denial of justice" – apparently never having been out in any city centre on a Saturday night – and adding "Real-life beatings are (most often) treated as a very serious subject – real life rape isn't."

Yet if you boil it right down, being killed over the inability to share IS in fact the fundamental story of a huge proportion of all murders, and certainly something that happens "every day". Broadly speaking, when somebody kills someone it's either because they hate them (whether for racist, religious, ideological or personal reasons) or because they want to take something from them. And most theft is founded in poverty, and poverty is failure to share.

(There's a certain irony, too, in the fact that the strip has turned into such a huge feminist battleground, as the strip actually depicts a male victim of male attackers. To be fair, the initial complaint doesn't specifically attack it as being misogynist, but it does open by stating that the writer is objecting "as a feminist", which is a bit odd as by doing so she's the first person who's involved women in the matter in any way.)

But so far so meh. Neither the strip nor the objection were terribly unreasonable in themselves, but Penny Arcade reacted in turn in the way creative types often do when unjustly accused by people who've diametrically missed the point – with condescending sarcasm.

As you can see from the timeline linked at the start of this feature, it didn't help. I've long held the belief that it's the third punch that turns a conflict into a fight, and so it transpired. The previously-restrained debate was leapt on by some contemptible ambulance-chasing dimwits on both sides and became a truly horrific car-crash.

(And at the risk of sounding like an apologist for the grotesque "she was asking for it" camp, which I'm very much not, I can't help but wonder what the initial complainant thinks. Has she concluded, in the light of subsequent events, that her intervention over a well-intentioned joke that everyone would have forgotten the next day has ultimately made things better, or worse?)

You can read the rest of the story for yourselves if you're so inclined (and I really really advise not being), but the point is that the Dickwolves ruckus seems to have sparked off a bout of angst-ridden soul-searching in the gaming media ever since, about language, misogyny, rape and gamers' attitudes to women in general.

I had a brief but interesting debate with a female blogger this week about the last incident in that list. She'd tweeted professing to be "stunned by the levels of misogyny" in the comments section of the Eurogamer piece, but when I had a look all I saw was some vitriolic abuse that was horrible, but not really any more so than any average day on EG's comments and certainly not portraying any generalised hatred of women.

(I very recently made a post on the EG forum to alert people to a free iPhone app that told them where to find lots of great free games. The response to this disgusting and provocative gesture was two pages of abuse from furious users repeatedly calling me a paedophile. Welcome to the internet.)

It had plenty of hate directed at a woman, who as it happened had done something idiotic, but I couldn't see that the response was fundamentally misogynist, or greatly different to the level or type of  adolescent, anonymous flaming that would have been directed at someone who'd done the same thing but happened to be male.

The main bone of contention seemed to be the use of the c-word and the b-word, which were held to be "gendered insults", and that's an argument I find confused at best and an outright double standard at worst. There's a "big difference between calling a woman cunt/bitch and calling a man the same thing", I was told.

The word "cunt", like a great many other words (including ones which are sometimes abusive), has a number of entirely distinct meanings and uses. And by way of example, let's examine the problem I have with the standpoint quoted in the last paragraph, which is that it's a load of bollocks.

Only men have bollocks. In themselves they are important, precious and delicate objects without which none of us would exist. But does that make the word when used as above a "gendered insult"? Is there some specifically male implication when you insult someone by using the word "bollocks" to describe something they've said or done? Are you saying "What you've said is so stupid that you're like a man"?

The answer, of course, is no. In that context the word is being used not to describe male reproductive organs, but under one of its alternative meanings – specifically what my dictionary calls "an interjection indicating strong disbelief or disagreement". The idea that it would be gender-specifically offensive to accuse someone of talking bollocks – that you could say it to men but not women, or vice versa – is patently ludicrous.

But there's more to it than that. As I pondered this piece, it occurred to me that there ARE some insults that would sound weird if directed at a particular gender. Have you ever, for example, heard a woman referred to as a dick, a prick or a cock? Those are words generally reserved as abuse for men, and their root (snigger!) is the suggestion that the man is no more than his generative appendage, the most amoral and least intelligent of all the organs.

Call a man any of those things and you're implying that he's cruel, selfish, stupid or any of numerous other character flaws chiefly attributable to possession of a penis. In effect, you're saying that he's no more than the basest primitive essence of man, bereft of learning or culture or civilisation or empathy – a grunting, witless Neanderthal savage.

As such, it would be odd to hear someone use those terms against a woman. But hang on. Men are very often called cunts too, and it's not because someone's accusing them of being too much like a woman. Surely if words based around the male sex organs are reserved – when used with offensive intent – solely for men, then logically "cunt" or "bitch" is something you should ONLY call a woman, and only when she's exhibiting those traits that could be deemed as the most ignoble primeval embodiments of the female spirit?

(And if you think I'm going to even attempt listing what those might be here, you must have sailed up the Clyde on a digestive biscuit.)

It's traditional when one is male and advancing supposedly-controversial arguments like this to proclaim oneself to be a feminist. Well, I'm not. I despise all forms of sectarianism and discrimination and I always have. I'm an egalitarian – I believe men and women of all colours and persuasions to be fundamentally and self-evidently of equal worth and merit and entitled to all and exactly the same rights.

I object in the strongest possible terms to those beliefs being solely attributed to one "side" or the other, like warring nations accusing the other of sole responsibility for atrocities or claiming sole possession of honour and bravery. It's not "feminist" to say that women should be paid the same as men for doing the same job, or that they should be afforded the same protections against assault – in all its forms – as men, it's humanist. Or if you prefer a less Guardian-reader term, the bleeding fucking obvious.

How DARE anyone claim, for example, that the desire to see rapists successfully prosecuted, convicted and punished is "feminist", as if men were inherently incapable of empathy and morality, vile beasts kept in check only by the diligence and vigilance of women?

None of this, it should be understood, is a defence of any of the awful things Eurogamer readers were saying about Mary Portas. The inhabitants of EG's comments threads are mostly a bunch of unspeakable teenage dimwits, a ghastly throng of immature arseholes who should be expected to act as such. (And while that's an ungendered insult, I don't for a moment seek to dispute that the vast majority of them are boys.)

But the argument that male-derived insults can only be used against males, and female-derived insults can ALSO only be used against males, isn't an attack on sexism or misogyny. It's fuel for it. It's an attempt to insist that women are inherently better than men, that they can never under any circumstances be guilty of behaviour so bad as to warrant the use of ANY of these words. (If not, can a card-carrying feminist tell me which pejorative nouns would be acceptable to describe, let's say, Anne Widdecombe?)

The first step to equality and respect is to stop lying to each other, and that's no less true in the world of videogames than it is anywhere else.

54 to “On dicks and cunts”

  1. Dean Love says:

    Some words do have different meanings when used against different genders though don't they? I mean they shouldn't, grammatically speaking, but they do. I'd say 'bitch' has slightly different connotations when used against a man or a woman – for a (straight) man it generally means being under someone's thumb and insignificant ("silly little bitch"); for a woman it generally means nasty and rude ("what a bitch").
    You rarely hear a man who slags-off his mates called a bitch.
    As for the c-word… well I don't mind using it, but never call a woman it to her face. Perhaps it's something to do with the natural inequality we already have. That word and dick are both reducing people to their base instincts, as you say. But a guy who sleeps around is a stud and girl who does so is a slut.
    And the Dickwolves thing… there were two main arguments against it. One about encouraging 'rape culture' which I'm not sure I buy. The other was interesting. If you're a rape victim, seeing rape mentioned off-hand can be upsetting (or even 'triggering' in the form of PTSD). What stuck out for me is one rape victim who said quite frankly, she doesn't watch stand-up comedy anymore, as references to rape upset her. Not offend her. Upset her. And she doesn't say comics shouldn't joke about it, just that she stays away because they do. Freedom of speech is important, but is another pointless rape joke worth upsetting someone over? I genuinely don't know.

  2. RevStu says:

    "I'd say 'bitch' has slightly different connotations when used against a man or a woman – for a (straight) man it generally means being under someone's thumb and insignificant ("silly little bitch"); for a woman it generally means nasty and rude ("what a bitch")."

    I don't think I agree. I think that word simply has two different meanings – one a demeaning, belittling one (often prefixed, as you say, by "silly little" or similar) and one meaning "nasty", the first of which isn't particularly gender-specific. Arguably the second is used less against men in its noun form, but I'd say the verb form ("bitching") is used pretty commonly against either gender.

    I don't think I've ever called a woman of my personal acquaintance either of the taboo words, but I sure as hell reserve the right to.

  3. RevStu says:

    "What stuck out for me is one rape victim who said quite frankly, she doesn't watch stand-up comedy anymore, as references to rape upset her. Not offend her. Upset her. And she doesn't say comics shouldn't joke about it, just that she stays away because they do."

    That's understandable. But does she also avoid the news? Because quite seriously, I'm not sure comedy is any less vital than the news to a fulfilling life.

  4. Mike McQuaid says:

    I think the problem here was the bating by Penny Arcade and even releasing a T-Shirt rather than just saying "sorry we offended some people". I think Dean highlighted the main problem for me above; these type of jokes really hurt people who have been the victim of these crimes so I think you need to be careful how and when you use them. Obviously people can say whatever they want but I think it's perfectly possibly to be a comedian without your humor needing to hurt people. In many ways it's just simpler to be hurtful, similarly with swearing.
    With regards to you saying what is or isn't "feminist", I think the naming is as it is because women are still disadvantaged in many ways in our society. When (or if) all things are equal then I don't think the "feminist" label will be as relevant or important.

  5. RevStu says:

    I say in the piece that it was the "third punch", ie PA's reaction, that really set the ugly ball rolling, and that it wasn’t helpful. But I do find it completely understandable. If you've made an essentially moral point and someone's grabbed the wrong end of the stick and effectively accused you of something as monstrously offensive as being a rape apologist or enabler, it's not all that unfair or unreasonable to be outraged by it and hit back, in this case with a bit of pretty mild sarcasm. It's not dissimilar to what happened when Brass Eye did the Paedogeddon special.

  6. Hypocee says:

    Exactly. Hey misogynist rape apologist, why'd you write that strip, misogynist rape apologist? I want an apology, misogynist rape apologist, and don't get angry or sarcastic about being called horrible things like misogynist rape apologist or I'll call you a misogynist rape apologist, you misogynist rape apologist. People give me attention when I cry Dickwolf and the best part is there are noooo consequences either for my target or for women everywhere.

    It's looking like 2011's going to be all aboard the rapewagon, now that the recreationally aggrieved have gotten a taste of blood. They just now jumped on Tarol Hunt:

    http://www.goblinscomic.com/hypnosis-is-bad-mkay/

    for making a joke about believing in comic-book hypnotic seduction course ads. Not for making a horrifically, graphically violent comic wherein a year-long plotline was dominated by a brutal, sadistic monster raping a major character on a daily basis, permanently scarring her mind. Uh huh.

  7. Dean Love says:

    I'll call a male friend a c- almost affectionately though but I wouldn't to a woman.
    I think that woman did avoid the news actually, and you're right, comedy is less vital than the news in leading a fulfilling life. But rape is less vital to making comedy funny than it is to making news accurate.
    I do some stand-up, I do rape jokes. It just made me think. Mostly how horrible a person I'd feel is if I told a rape joke and some girl broke down crying. The whole 'any decent comedy will offend someone' is probably true. I've just never considered it in terms of 'upset' rather than 'offense' before. And it's only a very few areas where this is an issue. Jokes about being mugged might not be that funny to someone who was mugged the previous week, but it's not so traumatic they're likely to get hugely upset over it. 

  8. RevStu says:

    I don't think "rape jokes" is a particularly helpful generic term. I mean, the Penny Arcade strip and some of Frankie Boyle's more unpleasant material really aren't the same thing, in either content or intent.

  9. Dean Love says:

    Well that's my point. The old argument is that it depends who the victim of the joke is and it's not okay to do a rape joke that mocks rape victims but you can if it mocks rapists. Where the argument here is they don't give a crap about the context because mentioning 'rape' reminds them of the most horrific thing that ever happened to them.

  10. Mike McQuaid says:

    I think it's a necessarily generic term as people some people are hurt by rape being in any way used as humor. Also, rape is a crime overwhelmingly affecting women which is why this debate tends to be somewhat gendered.

  11. RevStu says:

    "Where the argument here is they don't give a crap about the context because mentioning 'rape' reminds them of the most horrific thing that ever happened to them."

    Sure, I get that. But that's a pretty impossible situation for a comedian to deal with. Leave out everything that might trigger bad memories for somebody in the audience and you're left with pretty much someone standing mute on stage. Chicken crossing the road? Might upset vegans and animal rights activists by reminding them of all the battery chickens not free to cross roads. Knock-knock jokes? What about someone who was once homeless, or mugged by a fake gas-meter reader? Etc etc.

  12. Mike McQuaid says:

    Except it's overwhelmingly rape jokes that receive complaints. Reductio ad absurdum?

  13. RevStu says:

    Is it? I've done precisely no research on the subject – as I suspect you haven't – but my instinctive guess would be that disability/race gags would generate more.

  14. RevStu says:

    Incidentally, PA's more recent response is worth reading:

    http://www.penny-arcade.com/2011/2/2/matter-dickwolves/

  15. Mike McQuaid says:

    True, I haven't done research either but am basing it partly on people I know who complain, media coverage of complaints and groups I know that complain and the taboo topics seem to be disability/race/rape/pedophilia. I don't think it's outrageously difficult to make a set without reference to one of them. If it is, you're just a crap comedian. As I said before, I think just being as taboo as possible is easy comedy and, frankly, a bit boring after you've heard all the SHOCKING jokes in another form a hundred times.

  16. Dean Love says:

    Yeah but it's level of upset isn't it? Rape and paedophilia jokes get the most complaints, perhaps because the reaction of someone being upset about those is likely to be far more severe than that of the vegan or the gas-meter mugger victim. The whole debate in this context got into discussing triggers and PTSD-style reactions. I dunno. Obviously we have the right to joke about whatever we want (and anyone complaining and trying to get stuff banned isn't helping) but… I'd rather live in a world where rape victims can enjoy comedy gigs if the only cost all stand-ups cut the one or two rapes jokes they have. But you're right, once you start doing that it becomes hard to draw the line.

  17. Mike McQuaid says:

    Very good response from PA there, as far as I'm concerned that was a brilliant apology and I hope people leave them alone now. I do believe in "rape culture", I'm not sure if the cartoon contributed to it but I do think that perhaps not treating rape and rape victims with the respect they are due contributes to it.
    I agree with Dean here, the real problem is with PTSD and avoiding triggering people with it. Since I found out one of my friends was raped as a child neither rape or pedophilic humor seems at all funny to me any more.

  18. RevStu says:

    "But you're right, once you start doing that it becomes hard to draw the line."

    Indeed. Except that the word you're looking for is "impossible".

  19. Hypocee says:

    Keeping in mind that the original strip is not a 'rape joke' – the whole point of choosing that verb was to present a horrible, deplorable situation.

    The other recent (more debatable) addition I forgot: Auntie Pixelante's girlfriend gets bored, picks Twitter slapfight with guy who does offensive humour, he gets sarcastically misogynistic, Pixelante leaps up on high horse and demands his firing.
    Thanks for cleaning up my mess, RevStu. I'm sorry.

  20. Dean Love says:

    Except personally, for me, I'll probably draw the line at stopping short of rape gags and see where it gets me…

  21. RobotRocker says:

    “he gets sarcastically misogynistic, Pixelante leaps up on high horse and demands his firing.”

    Can you tell me please where you get your magic internet sarcasm detector? I sure as hell could not detect any of it when looking at Sterling’s comments.

  22. Red Scharlach says:

    "The other recent (more debatable) addition I forgot: Auntie Pixelante's girlfriend gets bored, picks Twitter slapfight with guy who does offensive humour, he gets sarcastically misogynistic, Pixelante leaps up on high horse and demands his firing."

    It's not offensive humour, it's unfunny humour.

    Maybe he'll make a dead baby joke next. Be really cutting edge for all the tween sycophants that defend his deplorable behaviour.

    Hint: The bigot deserved to be called out, and it's a sad state of affairs that he hasn't been reprimanded in the least.

  23. RevStu says:

    Mm. I have to say I didn’t pick up a lot of sarcasm in Sterling’s comments either. Provoked or not, he came across sounding like a tosser.

  24. Patrick Rose says:

    I saw the original, thought "Hah, moral joke" and moved on. I saw the next one, thought "Well that was dickish" and moved on.

  25. Tom K. says:

    It’s important that this has happened. On my not-so-thorough reading, the person writing the original complaint blog has admitted that they are pretty sensitive about rape, having been raped themselves – so my sympathies lie with them. Penny Arcade’s cartoon response was funny and, in some ways, deserved: but when considered as a response to a rape survivor lacking.

    The really important bit is the huge welling of unpleasant commentary and name-calling that is anti-feminist, often clearly anti-women, and arguably sometimes even pro-rape. We need to see that this is what people are prepared to state as their beliefs, otherwise people will not realise that feminism is something worth thinking about rather than just dismissing.

    Subjective aspect: I might only think this because my father is a rapist (and murderer! But I feel more ashamed that I am the progeny of a rapist) and my mother a rape victim. Perhaps it really is OK for nerds to use the internet as a sounding board for wildly misogynistic commentary because they “don’t mean it” and “it won’t change how people behave in the real world”. Clearly rape doesn’t happen enough to be important.

  26. kriss says:

    What is the feminine of dickwolf?
    So far I have cunttooth. 
     
    also
     

    woman – "But they want to be entertain" "they don't want to think"
    Bill Hicks – "What am I suppose to do? Am I suppose to go out and tickle them individually"
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKXZ2EzW7gw

  27. Tom K. says:

    Feminine dickwolf could be vaginatiger.

    This reminds me:
    When my students call somebody or something a “twat”, I like to point out that they are calling it a vagina. “You think your dad is a vagina for grounding you? Is this some kind of wet dream you had?”
    (Most of what I teach involves me somehow reference my students’ wet-dreams about their dads as vaginas).

  28. Hypocee says:

    'It's not offensive humour, it's unfunny humour.
    Maybe he'll make a dead baby joke next. Be really cutting edge for all the tween sycophants that defend his deplorable behaviour.'
    'Provoked or not, he came across sounding like a tosser.'

    To be clear, I have no argument with those positions and don't like him either; if I did I presume I'd have called his writing 'edgy' instead of the normative 'offensive'. That's what makes it 'more debatable'. I object only to Pixelante's adoption of, essentially, 'But teechur he hit me back harder than I hit him you should give him detention for a yee-ur!'

  29. RevStu says:

    Oh, I'm in no way defending the original attack on Sterling. But as you say, "daphny" being a bit of an arse too doesn't get Sterling a free pass for the sort of shit he said. Angry people usually resort to the stuff they really want to say anyway.

  30. Professor Dumb says:

    Mate, don't bother replying to those people, they're the same kind of Concern Trolls who see a funny cat video and respond with a line about how many cats the RSPCA put down last year, or who see pretty much anything and ask how many shoes for orphans could have been bought with the money.

  31. Robin says:

    I'm used to the games media being a tawdry place by now, but I think it's genuinely quite disturbing that Destructoid are so cynical as to continue to provide a platform for an ignorant loudmouth bigot to drum up ad revenue.

  32. Rob M says:

    I'm not reading the 'dickwolves' controv, in large part because it features Penny Arcade and indeed the word 'dickwolves' – that's depressing enough, before you even begin to go into the depths of internerd insensitivity.  So, moving on…
    Rape is about as vile as crimes get, and as such the word still retains some power. (Just ask Julian Assange, who as yet has not been so much as charged with any crime, far less found guilty of one, but has been the subject of some truly appalling character-assassinating journalism from people who should know better.)
    Not sure J Assange should be near the top of anyone's list of people who've been affected by rape.  Not only because of the obvious.
    Alongside all the character-assassinating journalism (I haven't read any, but assume you're right and there's plenty out there,) there's a more high profile bunch of tossrags attacking the alleged rape victims in his defence.  (Both sides of this are bad, obv, as all non-idiots realise – a bloke can be responsible for a thing you're against, and be falsely accused; a bloke can be responsible for a thing you support, and also be a rapist.)
    I believe men and women of all colours and persuasions to be fundamentally and self-evidently of equal worth and merit and entitled to all and exactly the same rights.
     
    That's a pretty good definition of a feminist, there, Stu.
    As for the "cunt" issue, that's a pet peeve.  It clearly isn't misogynistic, unless you also take "dick" etc. to be misandric, and if you do that you're a twat.
    IN AMERICA, it's different, "cunt" and "twat" have a misogynistic cultural weight in their usage, are specifically attached to denigrating women in vicious terms.  IN BRITAIN, we have no such baggage ("twat" is a funtime silly word, and "cunt" is I'd think if anything more commonly applied to men, or a non-gender-specific person "some cunt", than women) –  I'm happy to listen to counter arguments if anyone can make a decent etymological case, but I've never heard one put forward.  Don't import offence from the bloody States, kids.
    "Bitch" does actually fit the bill as a clearly misogynistic term in the UK.  I try to avoid it for that reason, but happily throw around "cunt" in RIGHTEOUS LOGIC.  "Dickhead", "prick" et al can also be happily used for women as much as men, too.  GENDER-IMPARTIAL INSULTS FOR ALL!

  33. Rob M says:

    Dear Christ, what happened to my beautiful formatting?  G'uh.

  34. FemBot says:

     
    Although I completely disagree about the word rape, I’ll go into that later but I can't help but respect the hell out of you for calling that feminist blog out on their hypocrisy and warped mentality. It seems like too many people are blindly accepting the idea that rape is worse than genocide just to hop onto the bandwagon.
     
    Now onto the word.
    Rape in reality of course is horrible, traumatizing, possibly life shattering, no one who isn’t 12 or trolling would disagree with that, if we face the reality of it. We usually don't end up facing it though, and rape is used casually for the same reasons we use other words like murder, or don't feel guilt when we drive over the sidewalk in GTA and virtually murder at least 30 people. This behavior spills over into reality where we're aware of the horrible strife and suffering in the world and generally ignore it.

    Basically what I'm saying is that it's a part of human nature to treat all of these things casually until we have to face it in reality, it's why you couldn't of cared less about the latest murder or shooting in the news unless you were personally connected to the person or place.

    The idea of rape culture seems like someone with a distorted and narrow view on the world was looking at a tiny part of this behavior, applying it to rape only, and acting as if insensitivity to the word rape is a completely separate epidemic or part of some larger man conspiracy.

    And of course the idea that everyone should have to cater to rape "survivors" (I know the term is very empowering but it isn’t fair to survivors of inherently lethal events) just because they live on to be sensitive just seems selfish and insensitive to every other kind of survivor who wouldn’t wish this kind of censorship onto anyone.

    I can respect the idea of trying to bring down rape, even if rape has gone down drastically since the 90's (internet?) or Japan has some of the lowest rapes per capita (1/20 of the US) despite rampant rape related games, comics, anime or porn, but it should never go down the path of advocating censorship, let alone being completely dismissive of other survivor groups, I think feminists should be ashamed of that.

  35. RevStu says:

    "Not sure J Assange should be near the top of anyone's list of people who've been affected by rape."

    He's not. He's someone who's been affected by the power of the word "rape", which is what I was discussing at that point. He's a man whose name is now practically synonymous with rape, yet has not at the time of writing actually been charged with any sexual crime of any kind. (And even the crimes he’s alleged to have committed are not considered “rape” in the vast majority of countries of the world.)

    I make no assertions as to his guilt or innocence, or his moral character in general. But the mere power of the word has seen a man not yet charged with any crime spend almost two weeks imprisoned in solitary confinement, and months under effective house arrest, as well as being vilified in a large chunk of even the grown-up media.

    That's one powerful word.

  36. Skreee says:

    (There's a certain irony, too, in the fact that the strip has turned into such a huge feminist battleground, as the strip actually depicts a male victim of male attackers. To be fair, the initial complaint doesn't specifically attack it as being misogynist, but it does open by stating that the writer is objecting "as a feminist", which is a bit odd as by doing so she's the first person who's involved women in the matter in any way.)
    That is not irony and the writer wasn't bringing women into the matter. Feminists (modern ones anyway) are concerned about rape getting taken seriously, whether the victim is male or female. The fact that prison rape jokes are often made in tv and films or that prison rape of men is often depicted as to be expected and even deserved, is often a topic on feminist blogs.

  37. Skreee says:

    @RevStu: I was under the impression, that Assange could not be charged until he entered Sweden again. But yes, until then, "alleged" and not "charged" should be used.
    I am sceptical about your sentence "the crimes he’s alleged to have committed are not considered “rape” in the vast majority of countries of the world".
    Intercourse with an unconscious person in a matter that is against their express wishes is not considered rape in most countries? Intercourse with a person in a matter that is against their express wish whilst using force isn't as well?

  38. RevStu says:

    As I said, I’m not making any moral point here. But by the relevant legal definitions, what Assange is alleged to have done would not be prosecuted as rape in this country, nor most others in the West. That’s not my opinion or interpretation, but the legal one.

  39. Skreee says:

    @RevStu: then we obviously have different information about what he is alleged to have done. I hope something at least resembling a fair trial is still possible.

  40. grumpysmurf says:

    'There's a "big difference between calling a woman cunt/bitch and calling a man the same thing"
    I'd actually have to agree with this. I'd wager that most guys reading this have angrily called another man a 'cunt' before – but how many of you have done the same thing to a woman?
    For whatever reason, the word 'cunt' holds a lot more weight and power when used against a female. Perhaps it's a domination issue – men are generally bigger than women, and 'cunt' is the most provocative word in the English language (at least, when used as an insult).
    A man can choose to punch you in the face if you call him a cunt, but what can a woman do?

  41. Jon says:

    Simultaneously "thanks" for writing such a sensible summary, and "no thanks" for introducing me to the train wreck that is this whole business, which I was happily utterly unaware of until now.

  42. What says:

     
    @Skreee
    Either way you look at it the Assange thing doesn't fall under the kind forced rape that's supposed to be a horrible thing. In fact treating the two as the same and classifying them under the same term only serves to trivialize the violent or forceable rape we usually associate the word with.
    Which reminds me, feminists working to broaden the term rape to cover everything from consensual sex that a women regrets at a later date to a ripped condom to drinking during a date trivializes the word rape more than any "gamer" and their apparently horrible horrible comics.
    While I'm talking about feminists trivializing rape I could also mention "almost raped", something that pops up on more extreme feminist blogs, the possible criteria to being almost raped include the female: being in public, being glanced at by a male, nearly being glanced at by a male, presiding within 100 feet of a male, conversing with one or more other females who are or were almost raped, or recalling anyone the female has previously dated and currently dislikes.
    Is there really anything or anyone out there that treats the word rape more broadly and casually than a feminist?

  43. Jaclyn says:

    “A man can choose to punch you in the face if you call him a cunt, but what can a woman do?”

    …Punch you in the face as well? I know people are generally assuming that women are weaker and unable to defend themselves, (thanks) but in many cases not true. As a 5’2″ 110 pound woman, most people assume I’m not a threat. However, as I am trained in Hapkido and Krav Maga, I am experienced in taking down and destroying people much larger and stronger than myself. I’m not likely to punch someone in the face for calling me a cunt, but that option is just as available to me as many men.

    As for Assange, the amount of misinformation out there is staggering. For the record guys, what he’s under suspicion of doing is having sex without a condom with a woman who was sleeping, who had agreed to have sex with him once (while conscious) under the stipulation that a condom must be worn. Thus, if true, he has violated the terms of consent of that woman and sexually assaulted her. In the other case, he allegedly tore the clothing and necklace of the other woman, and she told him a few times that she did not want to have sex with him without a condom, but he held her down with his body weight and initiated it anyway. He stopped her many times from reaching for the condom. She then convinced him to use one, and he then damaged it and did not stop when she wanted him to. These are the main allegations against him, though there are a couple others. Please do your research, this is not just about “a condom breaking”

    I am very much discouraged by the tar brush being flung at feminists. As far as I’m concerned, feminism is about equality for women, period. I am a feminist. I do not trivialize rape, and it saddens me to see that being said. I do not agree with some of the more esoteric theories of feminism, (such as the damaging “male gaze”) but that doesn’t mean I am not a feminist. Please stop using the term so broadly, as you accuse all feminists of doing in other cases.

  44. RevStu says:

    "As far as I’m concerned, feminism is about equality for women, period."

    This is such a ridiculous thing to say that it makes me despair. If there are two sides involved in a situation – in this case, men and women – how on Earth can you have "equality" for just one of them? It's a semantically and philisophically idiotic position which makes a self-evident mockery of the entire concept of equality.

    If you're for equality between men and women, then choose a name to describe your ideology which represents both of them, not one that by its very nature is divisive, exclusionary and open to both accidental and deliberate misinterpretation.

  45. Matt Dale says:

    "I absolutely loathe the fairly recent casualisation of the word "rape", particularly in videogaming circles."

    Absolutely agree. It's also used incessantly at the poker table. Depressing.

  46. romanista says:

    and now thispost is on that timeline too,, which kinda interesting  since the post opened with how long the timeline was, and it makes in longer… anyway.. i was happy to live without knowing about it, but i think this at least a well balanced post..

  47. FemBot5000 says:

    @Jaclyn 
    A) I suggest you direct your concern of feminist stereotypes towards the feminists creating the image, not the people taking the image they perceive and applying it to you, which may convince an individual but will never solve the problem.
    In this case Shakesville which is apparently a radical feminist blog with a distorted view on reality, insisting that women are completely helpless and without responsibility and therefore everything is the fault of men, insisting that judges dismiss rape cases on the grounds that rape doesn't seem so serious, something you'd have to have absolutely no knowledge of the justice system to assume, and so on.
    Now PA got emails from these radical feminists accusing them of causing rape through rape culture, PA replied to the radicals, not to all feminists, it looks like Shakesville used this out of context to rally other feminists. As long as feminists get behind Shakesville and Shakesville's fight, it doesn't matter what you think individually as a feminist because Shakesville's views will represent you.
    Any feminist claiming the original comic wasn't offensive but the response was is being a hypocrite as they are fighting for the sake of the feminists that started it all by being offended by the original comic.
    B) "As far as I’m concerned, feminism is about equality for women, period."
    That statement is like animal farm's "All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others" in how it goes against the meaning of equality, a single entity cannot be equal on it's own, it has to be equal relative to something else. 
    You cannot promote equality through inequality and double standards.

  48. Rob M says:

    Get a grip, Stu.  Feminism began (and continues) as a cause by women for women, to achieve equality by raising the lot of women, who quite clearly were and are getting the shitty end of the stick.  Thus the name.
    The raising up of men's lot happily happens as a consequence (e.g. stop treating women as the weaker sex but instead as equal to men, you automatically stop forcing men into the binary opposite macho prescriptions.)
    Anyone who gets in a tiz over "but it's a word with FEMININ in it!" clearly isn't up to the job anyway.  You shouldn't rebrand to appease idiots.
    (Besides which, I don't think Jaclyn was making the point you've out-of-contexted her for.  You're reading a nonsensical "equality just for women" where it wasn't written.)

  49. Rob M says:

    (Hmm, this comment box's auto-paragraphs are clearly bullshit…  Also, Stu, in other formatting news: the blog recently seems to randomly select a mobile skin or desktop skin with no obvious rhyme or reason, it's very odd.)

  50. RevStu says:

    "Get a grip, Stu.  Feminism began (and continues) as a cause by women for women"

    There it is.

    "Equality for women" is a nonsensical sentence, for reasons already covered. If you're for improving the lot of women, good for you. You're a feminist. If you're for equality, you're something else altogether. Why not just call a giraffe a panda if words mean whatever the hell you feel like? If you're going to identify yourself with a particular ideology, call it by its proper bloody name, otherwise everything's just going to end up a confused mess.

  51. Mike McQuaid says:

    Feminists want men and women to be treated equally. Currently, they argue, men have privilege over women. As a result, to achieve equality between men and women, they need to focus on eliminating male privilege over women. I don't think it's that hard to understand, it only seems contradictory if you think men and women are already equal and feminists are trying to get power and privilege over men.
    Religious people could be similarly pedantic about anyone who calls themselves an atheist but believes it is possible that there could be a God. I'm not sure pedantry over naming is more important than the actual issues the name is about.

  52. RevStu says:

    It's not about whether men and women are currently equal or not – if that particular question can ever have an empirical answer, then clearly it's currently "No". The question is whether "feminists" have any interest in addressing the issues where women currently enjoy an advantage over men, as well as the ones where it's the other way round.

    (There are many of these currently, most obviously with relation to children, about which I personally couldn't care less but in which women are unquestionably favoured at present.)

    If they do want those issues addressed, the word "feminist" is plainly inaccurate and misleading in all imaginable meaningful senses. Such people are humanists, or "equalists" or some such term that doesn't come loaded with sectarian baggage.

    If they don't want them addressed, on the other hand, then they're plainly not actually interested in "equality" and should stop claiming to be.

    It’s not “pedantry” to want things called what they are. It’s simple courtesy and practical common sense. If you want me to go to war for you, I want to know who the hell I’m supposed to be shooting at before I go mowing down my own platoon because you’ve put them in the wrong fricking uniforms.

  53. RevStu says:

    Nobody said such terms were inherently exclusive. But this:

    “As to why feminism requires a distinct agenda within the equalist movements? The special and distinct problem of misogyny both oppressing and directly harming women, pure and simple. Unless misogyny is directly addressed and acted against, general equalist activism will not be enough.”

    is incomprehensible gibberish. As I’ve said above, if you also want injustices against men addressed, then calling yourself a “feminist”, while it may well be technically accurate even though you’re an equalist at the same time, is unhelpful and misleading, because it leaves us with no useful term for people who only care about improving the lot of women and DON’T want to address those injustices.



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