Why you should stop saying “rape” casually in games

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 anonymous article about using rape in games at The Escapist written by a male rape survivor should be enough.  Read the whole thing (seriously, read it).  A few notable quotes are below.

“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.

tl;dr: Stop casually saying “rape.”  It’s a terrible thing to make light of.


Gamers Against Bigotry 

  • It’s sad that to be taken seriously, it needs to be established that men get raped. I’m a female and while I love playing FPS etc, I hate how i’m constantly harrassed and expected to accept rape jokes as the norm. Being a survivor of sexual abuse, it’s not funny and it’s a constant trigger. However, I have to be careful how I address it lest my experience gets written off. It’s just depressing overall 🙁

    • It really is distressing, Rina. As I wrote (and bolded) “male,” my shoulders hunched a bit. But this is one of those things that people can easily dismiss as a non-issue because they don’t think it will ever affect them (regardless of their gender), so I think the fact that the author of that article was male was particularly poignant.

    • the actual sad thing is that when EVERYBODY talks about rape the last thing they think about is men, when men get raped more than women in america. FACT.

      • Mark Carroll

        Yeah, how about ‘no.’ While rape of men does happen, your ‘fact’ is a load of codswallop.

      • Katie

        Hey, I know this conversation is like a month old, but I just wanted to post this link:

        You can look into the studies and question the methodology; you can argue that since rapes of all kinds are under-reported, RAINN’s statistics on gender are not fully reflective of reality. But I just wanted to point out a credible source that claims that 90% of rape victims are female.

        • Alex Reynard

          Does RAINN count prison rape in their statistics? Because I’ve seen estimates suggesting that the number of prison rapes are nearly as high as all other kinds. And the victims are 90% male. And that seems mighty inconsistent with claiming that men are only 3% of the victims.

          Also, does it count women raping men as rape? Or as “forced to penetrate” or “other sexual violence” like most studies do (when they think to even consider the idea)?

      • dragonsflight5188

        well its more unfortunate that men who get “raped” by women are mocked and others say they enjoy it.. if you do not want to be touched by someone and either a male or female is forced into anything sexual that is rape… I am not sure which statistic is a higher percentage but it happens and its shameful. Women can be cruel and are not reported because if she were the abuser she could turn it around and “blame the guy”

      • Jaye

        Only if you include prison rape. Which is still rape and has its own culture but is *localized* rather than *pervasive*.

    • tacotime

      if you hear someone saying it online you can probably say that you’re a sexual abuse victim and they’d gladly stop. But in online multiplayer games, trash-talking and obscene language are simply part of how it goes i’m afraid. Should we stop using the phrase “I’m gonna murder you!” in games if someone is a victim of attempted murder? The same goes with any vulgar term used. Most will most likely tone it down if they know there’s an actual abuse victim in the game with them. But trash-talking online is something that you will never stop the CoD kiddies from doing because the majority of them are 12 year olds who just started being allowed to curse and think they’re cool for doing it.

      • Erica

        Did you even read the article?

      • Kris Kail

        This is coming four months late but honestly dude if people are making rape jokes in an online game and you tell them you’re a sexual abuse victim that won’t make them stop, it’ll make them feel bad but in order to not feel bad they’ll turn around and make another joke about it because they just got called out, or they’ll just be assholes and terrorize the victim even more.

        As the old joke goes, Regular Person + Anonymity = Total Uncensorable Asshole.

    • Grompus

      Then maybe just stop playing games and make more protest signs, get a new hobby if you can’t stand the heat….

  • Jim Sterling (also over at The Escapist) did a really good video talking about the depiction of Rape vs Murder in video games as well. Definitly worth a look when discussion the issue too imho

    > http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/jimquisition/5972-Rape-vs-Murder

  • GurlNxtDoor

    Thank you for this. There are not words to express my anger and hatred of the unfortunate existance of rape culture. It’s awful how much I understand this based on my own, friends’ of mine, friends of friends’ experiences with rape and sexual assault. This needs to stop. I try to take hope from posts like this. Thank you again for starting GAB.

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  • Mabans

    Sorry, but I can’ agree with this. By allowing the terms to always be taken literally diludes the idea of context. It is a great idea not saying it’s inherently bad but there are difference between the literal meaning and connotation of a word. People don’t really mean that a something is lower in temperature when they enjoy a song that they deem as “cool”. Grated the meaning of the word of
    “cool” doesn’t have the inherent horror as the word rape but if 2 gamers are talking about a competitive aspect of a game, and one refers to his team being “raped” by another in terms of being absolutely without a doubt beaten then it’s safe to say that there intentions isn’t one of insensitivity. There needs to be a healthy dialog and I do agree with the overall sentiment of it but when are taken to the otherside of the spectrum then the understand of what is being don and said is no different than others just being rude. keep up the good fight and glad other gamers are done with being about this nonsense..

    • But the purpose of using the term ‘rape’ in a gaming context is directly linked to the literal meaning; it’s the implication that one person has power over another and that the loser was dominated, violated and humiliated.

      // While there are some terms that have little connection to their origins (i.e. ‘cool’) there are also words (especially insults) that are/were used specifically because of the original meaning. For example calling a person ‘retarded’ as an insult is meant to imply the other person is stupid/dumb because of its original negative associations with people who have an intellectual disability (which of course in turn acts to insult said people).

      // tl;dr – even if someone says the term ‘rape’ without themselves directly connecting it to its origins, the original meaning is still the whole reason it is used in that context. Even if that connection is not the speaker’s purpose, for the benefit of others it is better to curb the word’s use because of the many other issue it raises.

      • PostSilenceShhh

        Which simply reinforces the fact that context is important. Saying “I got raped” in reference to your game performance is NOT a tacit endorsement of rape, the mistreatment of women or incarcerated persons, or the denial of victims rights.

        I’m sorry, I just can’t endorse the idea that a word is no longer acceptable simply because others find it offensive. Your personal sensitivity to a word is not an authoritative reason to ban me from using that word.

        • Mark Carroll

          Go back and re-read the Rape Culture article. It doesn’t require that you accept it or not – by using the term, you’re contributing to the problem. And bonus points for the censorship argument, which hasn’t been put forth.

          Your entire spiel is a beautiful illustration of privilege in action.

          • PostSilenceShhh

            Maybe *you* should go back and re-read the Rape Propaganda article. The use of the term “rape” — no matter the context — does NOT constitute an endorsement of rape. The ONLY way to endorse rape is to commit rape. Fact. Undeniable. End of argument.

          • I hope you get raped. Look I just endorsed rape without committing rape. So that’s that argument blown to hell…

            Try again dear your privilege is showing.

          • init100

            You certainly have a point that there are other ways to endorse rape than to actually commit rape. Threatening to commit rape or expressing hope that someone will be raped is certainly an endorsement of rape. That does not mean that all uses of the word are endorsements of rape.

          • Dragoon893

            You are horrible.

        • init100

          I agree. Whiners and crybabies are never going to stop me from using words they don’t like. They can demand and moralize all day long, I don’t really care what they say.

      • init100

        But the purpose of using the term ‘rape’ in a gaming context is directly linked to the literal meaning; it’s the implication that one person has power over another and that the loser was dominated, violated and humiliated.

        Yes, but that’s also what happens in a war, which is what many games are all about. Myself, I’m not particularly into using the term “rape” for such a situation, I’d rather use terms such as “steamrollered” or “annihilated” (other people might e.g. use “roflstomped”), but is that really that much preferable than using the word “raped”? It still means the same thing: The enemy was crushed, destroyed, dominated, violated and humiliated.

    • Dragoon893

      What the fuck is wrong with you.

  • PostSilenceShhh

    As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I have absolutely no problem with the use of the word “rape” in any context. I don’t care if it’s a Tosh joke, gaming banter, or anything else. If you want to say rape, or that I got raped, or that it would be funny if I got raped, knock yourself out. Doesn’t mean anything to me.

    Just because you say the word, doesn’t mean my abuser or some other attacker is suddenly going to jump out of my closet and rape me. No one decides to become a rapist when they hear the word rape. And no rapist is waiting for someone else to bring up rape before they decide to go rape.

    If you want to stop rape, stop rapists.

    • part of the way you stop rapists is to stop making the idea of rape in any way acceptable. If you say it’s acceptable to say you’re going to rape someone because they can’t physically carry out the threat online then you’re not a very long way from saying it’s acceptable to say you’re going to rape someone when you couldn’t carry it out immediately due to being in a built up area.

      A number of studies have shown that where rape culture is embraced rapists feel empowered and may even deny that act they have done constitute rape (although when you ask them ‘have you ever engaged in sexual activity with someone who was not entirely willing’ they will happily answer yes).

      If you’re ok with talk of rape and rape jokes/culture then bully for you but there is no denying that it makes rapists feel empowered and a lot of women/rape victims feel threatened, intimidated and triggered and why should they have to feel that way because people won’t being gratuitously offensive? It’s not like it’s gong to hurt them to stop using it is it?

      • init100

        It’s not like it’s gong to hurt them to stop using it is it?

        No, but they’ll quickly find another word to carry the same meaning. Just like any other euphemism. Soon, you’ll have to declare that word too “insensitive” or whatever you like, and then the cycle starts again. Most euphemisms suffer from this endless treadmill.

        In addition, many people despise self-righteous self-appointed moralists trying to tell them how to behave, think and/or speak. Just like with political correctness (which this is really just a special case of) it becomes cool (just as with any other forbidden fruit) to be politically incorrect and to openly ignore those “speech codes” that you are trying to enforce, and to intentionally use insensitive language to upset and anger those same self-appointed “speech police officers”.

      • Anna

        Well said.

    • Dragoon893

      You dumb

  • RAPE


    • A.

      My, how clever.

  • 9gaglegion

    i had sex with my cousin when she was 8 and i was 16 does that count as rape? she DID say yes

    • Mark Carroll

      Consenting adults, genius. Children don’t have the mental or emotional capability to judge those sorts of actions.
      So yes, congratulations, you’re a rapist, and a pedophile to boot.

  • namerequired

    What the fuck did you just fucking say about me, you little bitch? I’ll
    have you know I graduated top of my class in the Navy Seals, and I’ve
    been involved in numerous secret raids on Al-Quaeda, and I have over 300
    confirmed kills. I am trained in gorilla warfare and I’m the top sniper
    in the entire US armed forces. You are nothing to me but just another
    target. I will wipe you the fuck out with precision the likes of which
    has never been seen before on this Earth, mark my fucking words. You
    think you can get away with saying that shit to me over the Internet?
    Think again, fucker. As we speak I am contacting my secret network of
    spies across the USA and your IP is being traced right now so you better
    prepare for the storm, maggot. The storm that wipes out the pathetic
    little thing you call your life. You’re fucking dead, kid. I can be
    anywhere, anytime, and I can kill you in over seven hundred ways, and
    that’s just with my bare hands. Not only am I extensively trained in
    unarmed combat, but I have access to the entire arsenal of the United
    States Marine Corps and I will use it to its full extent to wipe your
    miserable ass off the face of the continent, you little shit. If only
    you could have known what unholy retribution your little “clever”
    comment was about to bring down upon you, maybe you would have held your
    fucking tongue. But you couldn’t, you didn’t, and now you’re paying the
    price, you goddamn idiot. I will shit fury all over you and you will
    drown in it. You’re fucking dead, kiddo.

    • DM

      Haha! Can’t spell ‘guerilla’ but you expect us to believe you’re a Navy Seal?

    • CapnCoconuts

      Ooh, Internet Tough Guy! I’m SOOOOOOO scared!

  • Reader

    See, but saying things like “over half of rapes are never reported” is bullshit, because, if it’s never reported, WHERE THE FUCK ARE YOU GETTING THAT STATISTIC FROM?! That’s like saying “over half the people who wanted McCain/Palin to win didn’t vote”, they’re not in office because they didn’t get enough votes, even if a bunch of people wanted them to win, they didn’t try to be accounted for, and therefor cannot be used as part of a voter statistic. When you say things like “over half of rapes are never reported” it just makes you sound like you don’t understand how statistics work, the scientific method works, or that you’re just plain stupid.
    In closing, go get your anal cavity consensually stuffed by a bunch of dirty llamas. I hope you brought llama lube.
    A very annoyed reader

    • CapnCoconuts

      Actually, the FBI estimates that only one in ten rapes are reported to the police. But I doubt you’d even care; you’re probably just here to troll.

    • JaydedLayde

      Bless your heart, “Annoyed” Reader! You’ve managed to go and get yourself all worked up! Take a few deep breaths. It will all be ok.

      Now, while I could not find, anywhere in the article or on the site for that matter, the author’s predilection for llamas, I’m sure he appreciates your concern for his comfort. That being said, I can only hazard to guess that he got his statistic from here:
      http://www.rainn.org/get-information/statistics/reporting-rates or maybe from here:
      http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/cv10.pdf (Page 10, Table 7). Given that the statistic is 50% for 2010, he’s within the +/- ratio of being correct when he said “over half”.
      So, about that whole “it just makes you sound like you don’t understand how statistics work, or how the scientific method works, or that you’re just plain stupid” remark, please don’t choke on it while you’re eating that humble crow pie with the shoe leather crust.
      Oh, and if you’re having trouble getting that pie down, I’ve heard it’s easier to eat if you get that apology out of your mouth first. Cheers!

  • thesillyoldbear

    Serious question: what about rape in the old sense? As in to rape the land? A very popular expression in Battlefield 3 is “Base Raping” and I’ve always taken it in the old sense. Is that just looking the other way?

    • Alex Duffy

      I would argue that it’s looking the other way – especially considering it isn’t being used in the “old sense” which I believe implies making the land unsuitable for living and growth etc. Regardless there is no reason to continue using the word rape to describe either activity when others are available and do not trigger painful reactions; eg: “base camping”.

      • init100

        Regardless there is no reason to continue using the word rape to describe either activity when others are available and do not trigger painful reactions

        Anything you say can be deemed insensitive, offending and objectionable by someone in the world, so to avoid saying insensitive, offensive and objectionable words, you’d better shut your mouth permanently. It might also me a good idea to shut your ears permanently, because you will never get everyone to adhere to your rules of “acceptable speech”, and shutting your ears is the only way to avoid ever hearing anything objectionable.

  • Tweeg

    I think trying to say the difference between murder and rape is that society has fully accepted murder as absolutely horrible crime and rape not so much is a bit hyperbolic and honestly absurd.

    When you’re discussing making the gaming “world” a better place for all you can’t use american society as a template. Gaming is global, and I find it hard to beleive that american society views rape less serious than murder, in fact some tv shows and movies have gone as far to hint that you can experence somethings worse than death, rape being one of them.

    Also I came to this site because I like the idea of a inclusive gaming community. But the articles I have found linked on the site come off as intolerant as the people you want to fight against, antagonizing, and belittling. Why talk “down” to your readers?

    When you say things like “Before you flip your angry troll switch to overdrive, read on.”, its almost like you are expecting a fight from your readers. Why communicate to people like that ?

    Also I find that you’re expressing the idea that words are more important than their context.

    When someone says they’re going to rape you in a video game, its the same as when they say they are going to kill you.
    If taken literally its a appalling thing to say. But I doubt anyone who uses those terms actually intends to hunt someone down and either murder them or force sexual intercourse upon them.
    The context of those sentences is that they’re going to beat you at this game by an extreme amount. Context is important and I think its dangerous to sweep it under the rug. When you do that, you’re expressing the idea that you should ignore someones message and just focus on the words they are using. Thats not encouraging a dialog, thats not how people should communicate, thats dangerous.

    I do think its understandable that people find terms like rape, murder, kill, etc offensive, but I don’t think its possible to say something is definably offensive. Because whats offensive is subjective. Whats offensive to me may not be offensive to you, what offends someone has everything to do with them as a person, their morals, religious beliefs, the community they belong to, etc. Its completely subjective so you can’t just say, this term is wrong period. It can however be offensive to you personally.

    Someone saying, I’m going to beat you could be more offensive to someone than rape. Mainly because domestic abuse is still an issue around the world, and not just to women. Men could be offended by this as well since there is a large amount of domestic violence against men that goes unreported because of the social stigma associated with it. But thats getting off topic and starting to get into semantics of what words are worse.

    I believe that when you start to categorize words as a faux pas, you give them power. You allow them to shock, offend, hurt someone because you make it normal for them to be perceived that way regardless of their context. And that gives weapons to biggots, misogynists and jerks in general.

    We should be working towards taking the power away from these words.
    The gamer community should strive to promote the old message of sticks and stones.
    A wise woman once said “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

    Eleanor Roosevelt was right, why promote a message of taking things out of context, one of censorship when you can promote one of taking the power away from jerks. Not going through life like a exposed nerve.

    Movies, video games, books, all have violence as entertainment. Action movies are full of one dimensional characters whose only purpose in the film are to be an obstacles that are to be dealt with through violence. But it doesn’t take away from the shock or the horror of real violence. Just like using the term rape doesn’t take away from the seriousness of when rape actually happens.

    Its because people can view things in their context. So although I agree with the spirit of this site and stories like this. I disagree with censorship, and real adults don’t go through life like a exposed nerve. They remember the words of Eleanor Roosevelt and don’t let some idiot with a fowl mouth have power over them.

    • Katie

      Except that all of this ignores two issues.
      1. When someone tells you it hurts them to talk casually about rape, why do you cling to still being able to do it anyway? You want to use your free speech to hurt people with less power than you? Obviously you can legally say whatever you want, but why do you want to be hurtful on purpose? That seems pretty weird to me.
      2. And the power issue leads to my second point. Murder isn’t about structural power dynamics the same way rape is. Murder isn’t an inherently gendered issue the way rape is. Murder isn’t about male privilege the way rape is. (Obviously men can be raped, but rapes, whether of men or of women, are usually committed by men.) One in six American women will be raped in their lifetimes, which means if you know more than six women you probably know at least one rape victim. Murders are generally isolated events; there is no murder culture. You can argue that references to rape in gaming don’t contribute to rape culture, but they definitely make the people who use them look like ignorant, immature children and they create a hostile, threatening environment in a way that non-gendered violent language never could. It’s a little ridiculous to complain about censorship and freedom of speech when you’re clearly coming from a place of privilege. It’s like white people complaining about not being “allowed” to use the n word, or USA evangelicals claiming that they are being persecuted.
      I’m not sure how else to explain that talking about rape in this way is just plain wrong. Maybe go to rainn.org or go do some reading about rape culture? Maybe read this on privilege: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kyriarchy

      • Tweeg

        This has nothing to do with male entitlement or privilege.
        You’re setting up straw-man.

        Statistics about rape vs murder are irrelevant.

        Bringing up a example of people complaining about “not being allowed” to use the “n word” is ridiculous as well.
        Everyone is allowed to use whatever word they want. To suggest otherwise is to encourage the creation of thought crime.

        Do you honestly subscribe to the idea that someone’s gender or race can dictate their vocabulary ?

        Shouldn’t we strive for a world that doesn’t encourage limitations on what someone can say or do based on their race/gender ?

        If I’m wrong please correct me but I’m getting the impression that you are saying context doesn’t matter.

        Can you not see how close minded that line of thinking could be?
        I think its more important to focus on what people are expressing than what words they use to express it.

        As for any power issues, is there no greater equalizer than a online game ?
        No one can physically intimate you, theres no real danger of violence, you even have the ability to “mute” someone. I can’t think of a greater equalizer than that, so the idea that someone may encounter someone with less power than them is ridiculous. Someone’s limitations in power online are self imposed.

        Whats offensive and what hurts people is all in their perception.
        If you choose to perceive a word as hurtful than it will be.

        I think its safe to say that the word “Fuck” has lost alot of its shock value. Some people are still shocked and offended to hear it, while others use it as their main, verb, noun, adjective, and pretty much main form of communication.

        And how did this happened? People decided that this word would no longer shock/hurt them.

        The same can be done for any other word, because we the listener have that power and to suggest other wise is taking power away from someone.

        I appreciate the links you provided but if I may suggest something in turn, please look up the definition of semantics, because it seems a majority of your post contains a argument around them, and is that honestly the best way to approach this subject?

    • init100

      But the articles I have found linked on the site come off as intolerant
      as the people you want to fight against, antagonizing, and belittling.
      Why talk “down” to your readers?

      It’s the same thing as with political correctness, which this is really just a case of. People who are adamant about “speech codes”, avoiding “insensitive language” and adhering to politically correct euphemisms are usually the most intolerant people there are. If someone uses words that they deem objectionable, there is really no limit to the rage and hatred that they can display. They moralize about being “tolerant and inclusive”, but are usually anything but to anyone who doesn’t strictly abide by their rules of “acceptable language”.

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  • Thank you for touching on this topic! I hide behind a male handle or a male avatar when playing with others, but I still called people out on this subject particularly. I hated all the justifications being thrown my way (Freedom of speech, you’re just sensitive, political correctness blah, blah) and so I left and game only with friends or simply play a bunch of FPS games by myself. I am glad that it isn’t as tacitly accepted as I felt it was.

  • iwi

    As a female gamer, I already take a lot of crap. Having been raped in the past, it drives me to the point of leaving games when people start joking around and teasing about rape. Is there anything I can do in those situations? Saying something like “hey, that’s not funny” only makes it worse. I guess they’re just trolls and logic doesn’t work with them, but it just feels so hopeless. Even having a serious discussion with a friend ended with him saying “chill the fuck out and get over it, it happens to animals all the time and they’ve got no problem”. Ugh. What do?

    • Amanda

      Don’t feel hopeless, you should never feel hopeless! I’ve learned that the best way to discuss these sorts of things starts with the people that you know best. Open up to them, don’t just say “Hey, that’s not funny” tell them why it isn’t funny, explain it to them using your story. I’m a survivor too and yeah the first couple times you open up are hard as hell, but eventually you can tell people without breaking down completely. I explained to them that every time they said that word a picture of my attackers came to mind and that when they play games online they have no idea what sorts of images people get in response to those triggers.

    • Alex Reynard

      You cannot control the language of other people. You can only control your response to it.

      If they’re being immature shitballs, you have plenty of options. You can mute your mike. You can switch servers. You can target their character and relentlessly pwn them. You can ignore them, serene in the knowledge that you are a better person. You can find whatever makes them uncomfortable and talk about it until they shut up (Try graphically describing your rape. Or if you’re not comfortable doing that, going into enthusiastic detail about periods usually makes male dorks flee in terror! )

      • Anna

        I’m pretty sure no one who has been in that awful event would feel comfortable enough to give graphic details. Don’t get me wrong, I tried to explain to my boyfriend but I ended up crying so I showed him the papers I wrote for the court hearing instead.

    • Anna

      I completely understand where you’re coming from. I always tell them, “You should stop using that word because you never know who you may come across that has been raped.” sometimes they understand and sometimes they don’t. If they don’t, I usually tell them, “Well buddy, I have been and I prefer you not say that word if plan on playing with me.” If they are rude about it, I report them and block them. It’s harassment in my eyes.

  • mustard

    i’m not British nor American, but i like to play w/ English users. and i always wondered why people so much likes to use rape stuffs just for fun. in here, people always point out if someone makes joke with such words.
    but in English community, forum, game, etc, i never seen someone points out that. so i thought “this is quite weird. is this normal to use this word for nothing? are they feel comfortable with that? odd.” and there was tons of people joking about rape, nazi, and swear. but now i’m glad cuz there’s a person who have morality and view.
    i’ve heard the stories from sexually harassed, sexually assaulted women. and i thought they’ll get hurt if they see people uses such harsh words for nothing. i think it’s better to keep it inside if you are not going to hurt victims’ feeling or joke about this cruel act. 🙁

    • Anna

      I always point it out to people who use it on Xbox live when I’m playing with them. Most of them immediately apologize and very few ignore it and still say inappropriate things to me. Honestly, it hurts still even though it’s been almost three years.

  • Dan

    Here’s the thing. I am not a fan of hurting people’s feelings with words but sometimes it happens. Sometimes I notice and apologize, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes, I am a jerk and notice and don’t apologize and point out freedom of speech or political correctness but most of the time I try to be respectful both online and irl (more so as I get older and more mature). Sometimes I use the term rape in a gaming context usually after a really bad game as in “I just got raped!” I am not much of a taunter or a trash talker but when I do it, I focus on my opponents abilities rather than race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. as this site suggests. I dislike it when I hear bigoted comments and I generally stop being friends with and stop gaming those who truly are bigots. If I call someone on bigotry and they apologize or show that they realize they crossed the line, I pretty much assume they didn’t mean to be a bigot and probably aren’t really when it comes down to it.

    Here’s where you have to start drawing some lines. I try to keep my online behavior behaviour the same as my real life behaviour. I wouldn’t go around saying nigger in front of a black person (and you will note that I am not afraid to type the actual word because it IS about the context; I am talking about the word, not calling someone that) because it is not socially acceptable. I also would not use the word rape in front of a rape surivor because that is also not socially acceptable. I would also not use the word retard around a mentally handicapped person. The reason I don’t use those words around those people is because I am trying not to offend them, not because the words are inherently bad. Those words have become socially unacceptable by their most common uses IN CONTEXT so much that to use them outside of the context brings all the socially unacceptable context with it, FOR CERTAIN PEOPLE.

    I try to avoid creating these negative situations as much as possible but I don’t get too worked up if I forget. If someone calls me on it or I catch myself offending someone, I apologize and move on. If it turns into a bigger issue, as has occasionally happened, I try to talk it out and have a decent civil discussion and work things out rationally or at least, agree to disagree.

    There are always going to be people who get offended and those who get off on offending people. All you can really control about that is your own response to either situation. I prefer to take a balanced aproach but try to understand others and why they do things. I hope that when I do use a term that offends someone, that they will let me know or take it in the context that it was intended.

    The act of rape is a terrible thing that I would never wish on anyone but the use of the word in the context of gaming is an extreme exaggeration of a event (severe loss in a game) that isn’t really matching the use of the term. That’s why it was first used that way; to make it sound like something terrible just happened to you. The same thing goes for the term “I owned/pwned you”. It’s all about exaggeration, not an implication of slavery. If everyone started using the word “flizzle” in place of rape, it wouldn’t take long before flizzle started being the bad word and sooner or later, the gamers would start saying, “I totally flizzled you, dude!” Any survivor of rape would only be offended if they knew what the word meant.

    Having said all that, I think I will try to use the word rape less since I do know that a lot of people have been raped, but I never really did like the “I just got owned” term much better and “I just got fucked” just doesn’t hold the power that it used to. What do you recommend we say instead? (not being sarcastic, I am actually looking for something else to say)


    • init100

      Try using e.g. “steamrollered”. That’ll probably be okay until you meet someone who has actually been in an accident with a steamroller and demands that you stop using “insensitive language”. Then you’ll have to start looking for yet another word, and so it goes on.

  • cock

    why you should SHUT UP:
    reason 1:
    shut up

  • RAPE


  • Nigger

    This is pathetic

  • Anonymous

    I’ll rape you’re ass, bitch

  • soveryconcerned

    Hey! I just noticed the default avatar picture for anonymous posters is a masculine silhouette! Someone should change that because it may force someone to remember the way the silhouette plowing them looked! That’d be no good! :((((((((

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  • Dragoon893

    Someone finally fucking said it. It needs to be stopped.

  • thoughtcrime

    I’m sorry, but seriously grow a pair.

    If you’re playing a game where the entire point is to MURDER people (like a FPS), you should be desensitized enough to handle someone using the word rape in chat.

    Rape is a terrible crime, and I feel for rape victims, but you’re a complete idiot if you think people using the word rape while playing a violent video game contributes to “rape culture.”

    Anyone who feels otherwise should recall the old childhood adage “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Seriously.

    • Kris Kail

      “you’re a complete idiot if you think people using the word rape while playing a violent video game contributes to ‘rape culture.'”

      You don’t seem to grasp the concept of rape culture. Take the Steubenville Rape Case for instance. Small town where football is everyone’s favorite past time, high school kids go partying, get drunk, act stupid. A girl who was alone and happened to have a little too much to drink passes out, gets pissed on, lets laughed at, and gets raped by the “heroes” of the town from the football team. In any normal situation this would be absolutely unacceptable and they probably wouldn’tve done it, but because for years people have been saying women “shouldn’t wear revealing outfits” or “shouldn’t have sex with boys” etc, these boys felt this girl was subhuman because she was dressing in a way that was deemed “slutty”. They said she “deserved” what she got, all because she wore revealing clothes and drank too much to the point of passing out. Because she may have made some bad decisions that night she deserved to get pissed on and raped? You wouldn’t think so, but these guys did, and that’s rape culture. It’s subconsciously justifying the idea of rape by saying “well if my bros are joking around about it, it must not be so bad”. You’re not actually thinking this, but subconsciously you are.

      So while you THINK making jokes about rape while playing video games doesn’t mean anything, it really does. Sticks and stones are all well and good, but if we can take the idea of rape as a joke and turn it back into rape is a fucking awful thing and anyone who engages in it is bad and the victim isn’t at fault that would be just great.

      • Alex Reynard

        >Take the Steubenville Rape Case for instance.

        Ah yes, a perfect example of why rape culture does not exist.

        Seriously. Because look at the wider picture: a small town defended some rapists AND A MAJORITY OF THE REST OF THE COUNTRY DESPISED THEM FOR IT. This seems to prove that, while ignorant opinions about rape may exist, they are neither common nor accepted.

        Also, everything that happened in Steubenville is more plausibly explained by other factors than rape culture. Ask yourself, which is more likely? That most of an entire town literally condones rape? Or that some of them had legitimate issue with the idea of fingering a passed-out person is the same as what they understand to be rape? Or that this is an example of how our culture will forgive celebrities, especially athletes, for literally anything? Or that some of them knew the boys personally and it was easier for them to believe in their innocence than to have to face the uncomfortable reality of what they did? Think of all the times the mother of a clearly-guilty murderer has insisted on the news that her sweet little angel could never have done such a thing. Denial is powerful.

  • Sarin

    Lol “no murder culture”, are you actually serious?

    That’s actually laughable.

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  • Shadowfire

    This is a good article, with a couple of elements I strongly disagree with.

    First and foremost: The Bulletstorm screenshot.

    Bulletstorm should not be propped up as a negative example, as the entire game is a satirical deconstruction of dudebro-isms in modern gamer culture. Unlike the likes of Duke Nukem and similar franchises, it’s totally self aware about its tone. It does not deserve to be treated as the epitome of what it’s parodying. To do so is like when people call out Stephen Colbert for allegedly homophobic remarks – totally missing the intended joke.

    Possibly more importantly, “Gang bang” just plain does not mean rape. “A gang bang is a situation in which a person engages in consensual sex acts with several individuals at the same time.” is the very first sentence on Wikipedia describing the act. If you look up gang bangs on most any pornography site, the vast majority of scenes depicted will be consensual. The situation in Bulletstorm which causes that message to appear doesn’t even mirror what could be construed as a metaphor for gang *rape* (such as if a group of individuals all shot one victim at the centre). Rather, it’s a bonus for blowing up multiple targets with an explosive weapon. The gang goes bang; It’s a pun.

    Secondly: I disagree with there not being a “murder culture”, particularly in North America/the larger first world which these games are primarily targeted to.

    The depiction of all military engagements as black and white struggles of pure good versus pure evil runs extremely deep in our culture, particularly in the U.S. It’s no accident that nearly all “realistic” shooters revolve around themes of Americans killing members of some political or ideological threat with zero consequences. People are taught that this is “not real killing” from a young age, and is what I would primarily attribute the ubiquitous themes of faux-realistic military violence in gaming to.

  • Alex Reynard

    I’m sorry, but I don’t compartmentalize fiction and reality. I don’t think that even the most violent video games cause actual violence, because I think that most people can differentiate between fiction and reality. I also don’t think that discussing or even joking about rape should be censored in order to comfort hypothetical people who might overhear it and might be triggered. If they do, the solution is not to reinforce their trauma by making it easier to avoid confronting it, the solution is to help them deal with it.

    Also, Alex Duffy is a moron. “The difference between rape and murder is that there is no murder culture.” How could a sentence that stupid exist? If you classify rape culture as things like victim-blaming, cheering on the perpetrators, fictional portrayals that glorify the crime, then there is ABSOLUTELY NO WAY to claim that these things do not prove a murder culture also. Hordes of people cheered for George Zimmerman and slandered Trayvon Martin, and the same is true for plenty of other killers and victims. Dozens upon dozens of movies and games have murderers as *protagonists*, showing their murders as *justified*. Can you name a single game with a rapist protagonist? I’ll bet it’s near-universally reviled, isn’t it? For crying out loud, two of the jobs our culture holds in highest regards are ones authorized to use deadly force against people we don’t like: cops and soldiers. By any objective standard, our murder culture is orders of magnitude more enormous than our rape culture. Unless you think that both of them are just ways of saying, “This problem exists and sometimes people approve of it which proves that it is socially accepted.” The fact of the matter is, the description of ‘rape culture’ is so vague that every single country on Earth falls into it. And all of those countries can also truthfully be said to have murder cultures, theft cultures, racism cultures, [insert crime here] cultures, etcetera.

    People who try to shame me into letting them control my language can go fuck themselves. If someone tells me personally that they were hurt or offended by something I said, I will almost always apologize to them. But when someone tells me that they’re offended _on behalf of someone else_, I ignore them. Because experience has taught me that their primary motivation is not concern for others, but the addictive thrill of being a Moral Policeman. Sorry officer, but I don’t think that lightly discussing a serious crime, or even joking about it, contributes to that crime increasing. I live in reality. I think that bank robbers rob banks because they want money and they don’t care if other people get hurt. And I think that rapists rape because they want sex and don’t care if other people get hurt. Not because their friends joked about it so that must make it okay.

  • fire lion

    This article is terrible. And there is a murder culture. Some people put on white sheets and hang people. And they do ask if the victim “asked for it” ask trayvon martin.

    Rape used in game context is justified. It means to take and conquer. Why would rape be such a bad word in a world where you MURDER people?

    Get off your high horse and get the sand out of your mangina

  • david blane

    I’m not part of any rape culture, but I’m a violent narcissist and I’ve only avoided killing people with the help of meditation, medication and luck. Ask Alex again why “rape” is worse than “kill”. Because I don’t think it is.

  • downloadaddict

    The word “rape” has more meaning than just “forced, unwanted sex.”

    Look up the real definition. The word “rape” basically means to “take something by force.” In essence, you can be “raped of your dignity” or “screwed out of a win.” There are plenty of other scenarios.
    All I am saying is, while I understand how a rap victim can be upset by hearing the word, it is just a word that has been given a wide definition.
    It’s all about the context.
    A word’s meaning can totally change due to the context. Just like a black guy walking up to his black homie and saying “wut up, mah nigguh?!”..yet, no other race is allowed to say that. To me, that’s racism, in itself. Allowing only one race to use a specific word….racism. Period. If it is offensive, then it is offensive for EVERYONE to say it and not just ONE race.
    But, back to the word “rape.” It has the same ideals. It’s only a word that can change meaning based off of context. The word, itself, isn’t offensive. You can regulate the context, but then again, no you can’t.

  • It’s crazy that the word ‘kill’ is not offensive at all and is used/published/voice-acted in games ALL the time, but the word ‘rape’ is offensive? Shut the front door!

  • Grompus

    Sorry, but i’m still gonna say it, and “gay”. Can’t stop me or you’re being a bigot against me.


The Pledge:

As a gamer, I realize I contribute to an incredibly diverse social network of gamers around the world, and that my actions have the ability to impact others. In effort to make a positive impact, and to create a community that is welcoming to all, I pledge to not use bigoted language while gaming, online and otherwise.

Bigoted language includes, but is not limited to, slurs based on race? (e.g, "chink," "nigger," "wetback"), ethnicity? (e.g., "kyke," "polock"), gender? (e.g., "cunt," "bitch," "tranny"), religion? (e.g., "dirty jew," "papist"), sexual orientation? (e.g., "gay," "fag[got]," "dyke"), and disability? (e.g., "retard[ed]").

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