I know this is going to be a hot-button for a lot of you, so I wanted to be sure I could lay it all out here before I pressed it. If you agree that you should avoid identity-based bigotry in games, then you should also avoid using the word “rape” in a casual context. Before you flip your angry troll switch to overdrive, read on.
“This isn’t about feminists being offended, this is about how the ill-use of sensitive topics can hurt people.”
“Part of that preventive maintenance is avoiding things, known as “triggers,” that might dig up the raw emotions of my abuse. If you want to know what that’s like, think of Bruce Banner in The Avengers, constantly looking over his shoulder for something that might make him lose his grip on himself.”
“Using the word “rape” in an online game is not some kind of longstanding tradition or a definitive part of the culture. I’ve been a gamer for well over two decades, and this term hasn’t been around more than a handful of years.”
If, after reading that, you’re still on the pro-rape bandwagon (Oh, sorry, does that sound ridiculous? That’s because it is), I’ve got more. As I was personally sorting through this, one of the questions that kept popping up in my mind was “games are all about violence, and rape is an act of violence, why should that be precluded when saying ‘I’m going to shoot you in your f*cking head’ is okay?”
I was having a hard time reconciling that particular issue, so I asked someone who knew more about the whole thing and could lend me some words to help. Alex Duffy provided me with the following response, and I think it’s just plain fantastic.
The difference between rape and murder is that there is no murder culture. By that, I mean our society has fully accepted murder as absolutely horrible crime. It’s (almost always) fully investigated and afterwards there are pretty much no questions like “Were they asking for it?” “What were they wearing?” “Did they ACTUALLY not want to die?”. It’s always taken seriously. There is rarely victim blaming or objectification. Rape is a different story.
More than half of the instances of rape are NEVER reported. I’m not sure where you’re from, but the state of North Carolina didn’t even make domestic rape between married couples a crime until 1992. That’s appalling.
Because this is the culture, the line of what is right and wrong for some people is much fuzzier when it comes to sexual harassment (as it’s related to rape) than when it comes to physical threats (as it’s related to murder). It makes society unsafe for victims of sexual abuse and raises the bar for what is sexual harassment and what isn’t (wolf-whistling, cat calls, male gaze). It promotes the idea that women want this attention because she’s wearing make up, or a short skirt, or walking past a construction site, or complementing her boss. That if she gets drunk at a party she’s fair game, and if she passes out it’s even fairer.
I know it’s wrong, and I’m sure you do too as someone who would start a website like this, but how many kids don’t see it as it is: rape? Because “rape” has been trivialized and it starts with using it as a joke, sometimes even used in a positive way.
It doesn’t just have to be a women issue either. A good example to think about is all the prison rape jokes. So few people care about that, because they’re criminals regardless of their crime, that it’s generally considered acceptable. Guards look the other way and kids at home make fun of the idea.
A quote from the following article:
Rape culture is encouraging men to use the language of rape to establish dominance over one another (“I’ll make you my bitch”). Rape culture is making rape a ubiquitous part of male-exclusive bonding.Rape culture is ignoring the cavernous need for men’s prison reform in part because the threat of being raped in prison is considered an acceptable deterrent to committing crime, and the threat only works if actual men are actually being raped.
The article contains very good, realistic descriptions of what a rape culture is and how rape and sexual abuse is trivialized and promoted. It also references most of its examples: http://www.shakesville.com/2009/10/rape-culture-101.html
Rape culture is the myriad ways in which rape is tacitly and overtly abetted and encouraged having saturated every corner of our culture so thoroughly that people can’t easily wrap their heads around what the rape culture actually is.
^ That is the bottom line. It is everywhere and it’s such a joke that people don’t recognize what rape culture is.
Gamers Against Bigotry