The Art(?) Of Trolling.

12 Mar

Part One.

Trolling is saying something incendiary on the internet to evoke negative reactions in other people.

Trolling happens because someone is looking to stir the pot for their own enjoyment or the enjoyment of like-minded people, but in order for the pot stirring to constitute trolling, enjoyment must be had at other people’s expense.

Trolling is sometimes used as a way to make a point, but it is in such a way that it’s sarcastic and dehumanizing to people not of a similar opinion.

Part Two.

Accountability: (noun) the quality or state of being accountable; especially : an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions.

What happens when Part One and Part Two collide?

Dickwolves would be my best example, or more appropriately, the fallout from dickwolves. If you are not familiar with the dickwolves controversy, I’d advise you to read up on it (just Google that shit, it’s everywhere), but I’d suggest having a lot of time and wading boots because it’s a doozy. The abbreviated version (which I am not doing any justice): PA made a comic meant to be funny, in said comic was a line about the imaginary creature of a dickwolf raping people at night. A feminist blog (Shakesville) pointed out that rape should not be used in humor because it desensitizes people to the brutality of the actual act of rape. PA took the stand that it was art, that their readers know the difference between right and wrong and they didn’t have to be told rape was wrong. PA did a second comic “apologizing” for offending people with rape humor . . . and in turn made more rape humor. They also created tee shirts with dickwolves slogans as a FUCK YOU to the feminist naysayers. The PA fan base, egged on by Gabe who spazzed out on the PA forums (he’s one of the PA creators) went trolling in the name of their internet heroes. They proceeded to make Twitter accounts like TeamRape and to troll Shakesville by ACTUALLY making rape jokes – thereby proving the point of the original dissenter that jokes about rape desensitize people to the horrors of real rape.

The worst of it (at least in my opinion) was how badly the PA goons went after the woman who originally took PA to task. She is a rape survivor. The comments that were sent her way were very, very bad, including (but not limited to) “prove you’re a rape victim”. Things escalated, and eventually, someone from the rape victim camp lost their shit that PA never called their asshole fans off and threatened Gabe and his family. This – and only this – sparked Penny Arcade to tell their readers to cut the shit because OH MAN SHIT GOT REAL.

How I See It.

Had PA simply said “we’re sorry you’re offended, but we stand by our art” I’d have had little to nothing to say about their handling of the shitstorm. Censorship is a big deal to me, I’m not down with it, and I stand by the artist to create how he or she sees fit to create. However, and this is a big fucking however, Gabe’s act of trolling and inciting his fan base resulted in consequences. Consequences and accountability often go hand in hand. You acted like a douchebag on the internet, most times there’s no accountability for it. This time, there was. Being a cocky trolling fuckface isn’t so funny anymore, is it?

(An aside: was the person threatening Gabe in the right? No! Fuck no! But I can see how having the most traumatizing event in a woman (or man’s) life exploited for internet entertainment could uhh . . . make tempers fly. Instead of stirring the pot for the millions of readers, Gabe could have said “Dudes drop it” and guess what, the dudes would have dropped it and he’d find himself minus one death threat. Just saying.)

What’s The Point Of This Post?

The dickwolves example is an extreme one. Normally, when you’re a douchebag to a nameless avatar, there is no accountability. The person isn’t savvy enough to find your name and home address, they can’t make you pay for being an ass. Sometimes, though, you’re going to kick a puppy for fun, and then you’re going to find out that the puppy’s name is Cerberus and he has big fucking fangs. When you lose that foot, are you going to cry to everyone about it? “I was mean to someone and now they’re stalking me and creeping me out.” Shame on them for stalking you and creeping you out. Shame on YOU for putting yourself in the situation where they’re inclined to do that.

Trolling isn’t smart or clever. You might get an immediate giggle out of it because you’re acting like a shit, but seriously who wants to be known as a shit? Why is this something to strive for? How is this a goal? And really, what kind of person finds pleasure in the pain of others? The thing that kills me here is most of the time, what people are doing that “warrants” trolling has no bearing on the troll – meaning those people are off being happy and doing their thing, but a troll wants to shit on their parade for no other reason than they can.

How is it a crime to let people be happy? Life is hard and shitty enough without adding to someone else’s woes.

I probably don’t even want to delve into this, but seriously, what makes people WANT to do this in the first place? Do you feel better about yourself after? Is it a way to get validation? Do you think getting the approval of like-minded assholes will make up for the positive attention you’re not getting elsewhere? That’s my guess, by the way, the last one. Someone needs attention, and like a little kid they don’t care if it’s good or bad, they just need to make a ruckus so someone will turn and look at them, even if it’s just for ten seconds.

If I’m right with that assessment? That’s sad. You need to look at yourself, at the people in your immediate circle, and figure out where the dysfunction is.

I guess my rule of thumb with internet stuff has become “if I wouldn’t say this to someone’s face, I won’t say it to them on the internet.” Why? Because you don’t know shit about the person on the other end of the line. You don’t know if they’re a terminal cancer kid or a lunatic who sniffs their neighbor’s garbage for fun. They might be manic, and on pills, and can’t differentiate between internet trolling and say, someone telling them they should kill themselves FOR REALS. So I guess my challenge to any of the readers out there is, if you ever find yourself about to troll, sit back and ask yourself “would I do this in real life, or would I stop because I’d get my teeth knocked in?” If the answer is the teeth thing, you probably shouldn’t post.

Having restraint is far, far more impressive than any witty, shitty retort you were about to make anyway.

/Rant Hat Off

(Oh, and just to head people off – if you think it’d be cute to troll or even mock troll this post? I will wipe your comment off the face of the planet so fast it’ll make your head spin. Not amused by this shit. At all.)

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22 Responses to “The Art(?) Of Trolling.”

  1. Kai Samuelsen March 13, 2011 at 1:53 pm #

    I do not intend this post to be trolling in any way, I promise. I disagree with you on a few points (mostly tangential to your overall topic of trolling) and would like to offer a few remarks.

    I disagree with your characterization that “They also created tee shirts with dickwolves slogans as a FUCK YOU to the feminist naysayers.” I believe that the dickwolf shirt, at the time of its creation, had become more of a dick joke than a specific callback to the original two comics. When Gabe drew the dickwolf at PAX, the joke was not that it was a rapist, or anything to do with the feminist response – the joke of the creature was that it had penises for paws.

    I admit that the t-shirt was ambiguous – while some could (and did) see it only as a penis joke, many others saw it as standing for both things – a penis joke, and a ‘fuck you’ to people who didn’t find the original comics funny. But to suggest that the second reason was the only reason is, frankly, unsupported by the evidence.

    I completely disagree that Gabe ‘egged on’ the people who went trolling on the Shakesville forums – the very little evidence we have is that he and Tycho gave the matter very little thought until it reexploded on Twitter in January and February – at which point, Gabe did tell some people to knock it off.

    Finally, I don’t agree that what Gabe was doing on Twitter was trolling. His sarcastic tweets were all replies – to people who were saying that he was contributing to a rape culture. Considering the fact that Penny Arcade has spent more than a decade rejecting the idea that violence in videogames or comics desensitizes people to violence, why we would expect them to have a different take on sexual violence is beyond me. So, when accused of, frankly, a horrible thing, of course he didn’t say “I’m sorry you were offended.” He rejected the very premise of the question.

    I don’t think that Penny Arcade, or more specifically, Gabe and Tycho acted perfectly in this situation. But I think it is as accurate to accuse Shakesville of trolling as it is to accuse Gabe and Tycho.

    • Hillary March 13, 2011 at 3:40 pm #

      First off, disagreeing with me is not trolling me, so I didn’t take it as such (and have zero problem letting a comment through for that specific point). Secondly, I’m actually going to hand this one off to falconesse mostly because A) she’s watched this far closer than I have and B) she was a Shakesville reader far before dickwolves ever became a thing.

      My issue with the entire debacle of dickwolves is the absolute dismissal of it as warranting acknowledgement, and what you see as sarcasm I see as a form of trolling that in turn incited a buncha frothing at the mouth PA fans (quick fact, I read PA – I don’t /hate the guys/ just the handling of this situation, or more appropriately, the non-handling of it). I understand that their message has always been “video game violence doesn’t equate to making killers”, but when their folks were actively trolling rape victims, they played blind and dumb and were still (in Gabe’s case) hiding behind a very cock-sure “yeah whatever” veneer. Considering what was being done /in their name/, had they simply said “Look, you don’t have to like our stuff, we’re sorry you’re offended but we’d suggest not reading it” . . . well, things wouldn’t have escalated to the shitfest it became. That would have been far more mature and responsible, from this humble gal’s seat.

      • falconesse March 13, 2011 at 7:23 pm #

        I disagree with your characterization that “They also created tee shirts with dickwolves slogans as a FUCK YOU to the feminist naysayers.” I believe that the dickwolf shirt, at the time of its creation, had become more of a dick joke than a specific callback to the original two comics. When Gabe drew the dickwolf at PAX, the joke was not that it was a rapist, or anything to do with the feminist response – the joke of the creature was that it had penises for paws.

        I admit that the t-shirt was ambiguous – while some could (and did) see it only as a penis joke, many others saw it as standing for both things – a penis joke, and a ‘fuck you’ to people who didn’t find the original comics funny. But to suggest that the second reason was the only reason is, frankly, unsupported by the evidence.

        I have to disagree with your disagreement, there. From the moment they posted the “Go forth and rape no more” response, Mike and Jerry were dismissing the concerns of the people who objected to the comic, primarily by mocking their disagreement. Does anyone have either of them on film saying “Hey, let’s make a tee shirt to shove it in those humorless bitches’ faces?” Nope. But suggesting it was, after that point, nothing more than a wolf with wang-paws is being disingenuous. They’re both smart guys. The tee shirts came out several months after the initial comics, when debate and assholery had been well and truly raging.

        I completely disagree that Gabe ‘egged on’ the people who went trolling on the Shakesville forums – the very little evidence we have is that he and Tycho gave the matter very little thought until it reexploded on Twitter in January and February – at which point, Gabe did tell some people to knock it off.

        Did he tell them to go and troll? Nope. But did he tell them to cut the shit? Nope, not for six months. Matter of fact, he commented on Shakesville’s initial posts and acted like a douche there, too. If you’re a popular interwebz celebrity and your fans see you acting like an ass, that doesn’t exactly discourage them, does it? He set the example. While he didn’t rally the troops to go over there and make trouble, neither did he suggest they stop. Until it became personal to him. Shame on the person who threatened his wife and child in February of 2011. Shame on him for not calling off the PA dogs in August of 2010. ‘

        I don’t know if you’ve seen KirbyBits’ analysis of the comments threads from her “Why I’m not speaking at PAX East” post, but it’s here. Take a look at the slides towards the bottom — there was an overwhelming majority of trolls whose message was “I hope you get raped.”**

        When you’re the host of a popular interwebz site and your fans are jumping to your “defense” by wishing rape on someone, you have an obligation to tell them to stop. Would it stop everyone? No. Some people are going to be assholes no matter what.

        But Mike and Jerry had an opportunity to listen, and learn, and educate. They had an opportunity to be allies, or at the very least to show their fans a good example.

        They chose to mock the situation, and they chose not to even attempt to rein in the asshattery that was taking place in their names.

        Finally, I don’t agree that what Gabe was doing on Twitter was trolling. His sarcastic tweets were all replies – to people who were saying that he was contributing to a rape culture. Considering the fact that Penny Arcade has spent more than a decade rejecting the idea that violence in videogames or comics desensitizes people to violence, why we would expect them to have a different take on sexual violence is beyond me. So, when accused of, frankly, a horrible thing, of course he didn’t say “I’m sorry you were offended.” He rejected the very premise of the question.

        He. Was. Contributing. To. A. Rape. Culture. Saying “that’s not what the comic was about” or “He didn’t mean to contribute to a rape culture,” or “They make jokes about violence in videogames all the time” or “They reject the idea of these things desensitizing people to violence” do not change that fact. Believe me, people who object to the rape joke in the first comic do understand what its original intent was.

        People aren’t accusing Mike of waking up in the morning and thinking, “Today I will contribute to the rape culture.” Most of the time when people make rape jokes, they don’t realize that (yep) they’re contributing to the rape culture.

        Also, quick point, “I’m sorry you were offended” is not an apology. See Haemon’s post on that here.

        I don’t think that Penny Arcade, or more specifically, Gabe and Tycho acted perfectly in this situation. But I think it is as accurate to accuse Shakesville of trolling as it is to accuse Gabe and Tycho.

        Uh, no. Shakesville wasn’t trolling. Shakesville was saying “Hey, here’s this thing you did that bothered us. Here’s this thing you did that was Not Okay. Here’s why.” That’s not trolling. COntinuing to say “I think it sucks that you did that” is not trolling. Asking Mike and Jerry to take a closer look at the objections is not trolling. Expecting better of them is not trolling. Pointing out that people were disappointed by their reactions and the way they’ve comported themselves is not trolling. If you made an ass out of yourself and a friend called you on it after the fact and asked for an apology, is your friend trolling you? No.

        People expected more of Mike and Jerry. I personally figured Mike’s reaction would be about what it was. I’m more disappointed in Jerry, who I guess I had pegged as the one who would get it. His months-long silence felt like he was essentially condoning Mike’s douchebaggery (and well. He obviously signed off on the follow-up comic, so I guess I shouldn’t be that surprised, but I’d been hoping.) When he finally did respond, I felt extremely let down. His essay was… yeah. I’m not going to unpack it here, but it’s a lot of pretty words that pretty much miss the point. I’ll point you at one paragraph:

        “Can we all agree that threatening to kill someone’s wife and children, as happened yesterday, has no place in any fucking society? This is why I had to say something: because people who imagine themselves to be “agents” of each side have now graduated to threats of actual, physical violence.”

        This had been happening for MONTHS in the opposite direction. PA fans flocked to sites objecting to the comic, and they arrived with threats of actual,physical violence. With threats of rape. Never once in all that time did Mike or Jerry speak out against that. Aside from, y’know, that second comic that snickeringly said “Go forth and rape no more.”

        I expected more of them.

        **And before anyone points out that there is a (by dickwolves) attached to that line, or that the (by dickwolves) addendum is supposed to be funny, stop. Stop right there and go educate yourself on rape culture. Because the whole point of this, the whole thing that kicked off the objections, was that rape is not funny. Not even at the hands of fictional creatures with dicks for paws.

  2. Kai Samuelsen March 13, 2011 at 9:11 pm #

    “He. Was. Contributing. To. A. Rape. Culture.” Yeah, I didn’t say he didn’t mean to contribute to a rape culture – what I said is that it seems, from the evidence, that Gabe and Tycho have consciously rejected the rape culture paradigm. Whether you disagree with them or not on whether or not there is a rape culture, that is what I think most accurately reflects the situation.

    Like I said, they’ve long rejected the idea that videogames desensitize people to violence. They’ve also rejected the idea that videogames (or violent comics) cause violence. Many people feel these are two different arguments – I don’t think they can be pulled apart that easily (and the number of commenters on Shakesville who seem to believe that contributing to the rape culture means a net increase in rape would seem to suggest that I’m not alone here.) But even if they are two different arguments, it’s easy to reject them both. So, if I’m someone who rejects the idea that videogames cause violence, and I reject the idea that videgames desensitize/normalize violence – why would I think there’s some special exception for sexual violence?

    And in fact, I may not be alone in rejecting the rape culture paradigm in this regard – bell hooks has said that the rape culture paradigm ignores the larger culture of violence. This is the crux of Shakesvilles participation – there’s clearly a population there that believes that rape is different. That everything I said may be true, except the rules are different for rape.

    As you said, “the whole point of this, the whole thing that kicked off the objections, was that rape is not funny.” And I agree that rape is not funny. And Gabe and Tycho agree. Except, murder isn’t funny. Stabbings aren’t funny. Violence, real actual, physical violence isn’t funny. Melissa McEwan admits to having a sick sense of humor – she can find some jokes about murder funny. But, to paraphrase a Shakesville commenter – rape is something that happens everyday. So rape is out of bounds – all other kinds of violence are not.

    Gabe and Tycho rejected that argument. They did so by taking the argument, making it hyperbolic, and then putting it in a comic. It’s really not very different from their cartoon Jack Thompson telling a cartoon mother that millions of kids are killed by bats. No one disagrees with Jack Thompson because that’s what he’s actually said – they laugh at the comic because it takes his kind of rhetoric to an absurd extreme. Same with “go and rape no more.”

    As far as I can tell, though, most of the criticism of Penny Arcade, at this point, revolves around criticizing their “handling” of the situation. Hillary says that, “they played blind and dumb” when assholes were harassing Shakesville and Kirbybits – but what evidence do we have that they weren’t actually blind and dumb? I’ve seen nothing to indicate that they paid any attention to the controversy after Gabe’s foray into the Shakesville forum (where, contrary to acting like an asshole, he made a total of two comments, one of which was a distilled version of his news post.) I know I didn’t pay any attention to this thing until they pulled the t-shirt. Maybe, they honestly just didn’t know. Maybe Tycho didn’t comment until the end because he saw a group of people that he literally didn’t think it possible to have a conversation with – unless he was willing to admit that he had contributed to a “rape culture.”

    I think to have an honest discussion, we have to be willing to look at the “other side” in the most charitable light, if just for a moment.

    • falconesse March 14, 2011 at 9:07 am #

      Gabe and Tycho have consciously rejected the rape culture paradigm.

      Wait wait wait. They say they don’t believe in it, so it doesn’t exist? Seriously?

      Like I said, they’ve long rejected the idea that videogames desensitize people to violence. They’ve also rejected the idea that videogames (or violent comics) cause violence.

      I’ve been reading PA for a long time. I’m aware of their stance here. I reject those ideas, too! But that’s not what people are arguing.

      and the number of commenters on Shakesville who seem to believe that contributing to the rape culture means a net increase in rape would seem to suggest that I’m not alone here.

      Er, no, they’re not saying it means a net increase in rape. They’re saying that making rape jokes makes it harder for rape victims to be taken seriously. Go read the second post at Shakesville, where Melissa McEwan explains this far more eloquently than I could.

      So rape is out of bounds – all other kinds of violence are not.

      This was covered on Shakesville, too, and it was stated by many commenters that no one said all other kinds of violence were acceptable. There are other types of violence that upset people. There are other PA comics that make people uncomfortable. The objection was to this particular comic and therefore, that was what people were discussing.

      Melissa McEwan also stated that just because she has a certain sense of humor doesn’t take those things off the table.

      It’s tiresome to have to rehash that every time. Also, it’s a derailing tactic.

      I’ve seen nothing to indicate that they paid any attention to the controversy after Gabe’s foray into the Shakesville forum (where, contrary to acting like an asshole, he made a total of two comments, one of which was a distilled version of his news post.) I know I didn’t pay any attention to this thing until they pulled the t-shirt.

      Oh, come on now. They were receiving hundreds of emails about it every day. Their forums had multi-page threads about it. People were tweeting at Gabe about it, and he was responding to them.

      Any “blindness” on their part was willful, and more akin to clapping their hands over their ears and shouting “LALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU. ALSO, DICKWOLVES.”

      Also, Mike mocked trigger warnings in his October 6th post. So yes, he was aware of it and paying attention to it.

      Maybe Tycho didn’t comment until the end because he saw a group of people that he literally didn’t think it possible to have a conversation with – unless he was willing to admit that he had contributed to a “rape culture.”

      He could’ve had a conversation with them. He chose not to. He didn’t even try, and then when he finally responded, he hid behind “well I wouldn’t have been able to talk to you anyway.” That reads more as “I couldn’t win the argument” than “I was willing to listen to your concerns.”

      I think to have an honest discussion, we have to be willing to look at the “other side” in the most charitable light, if just for a moment.

      I did, actually. Hence the whole, “hoping Jerry would respond” thing.

      But you know what? I don’t have to look at them in the most charitable light. Not when they’ve demonstrated that their default reaction is to act like jerks and mock the people who objected.

      I gave them the benefit of the doubt when “The Sixth Slave” first came out. I gave it to them even when Mike showed up in the Shakesville comments, but instead he did pretty much what you did above: “we did comics about other objectionable things and you didn’t say anything then, so your objection to the rape joke is invalid.” At that point, they’d released “Breaking it Down,” so y’know. It was pretty clear that they preferred mockery to conversation. So I’m really not clear on why I/we should view them in a charitable light when they’d just essentially flipped us off with “Breaking It Down.”

      How many times are we supposed to shut up and say “Oh, well, maybe this time they didn’t mean it? Their default position is to be asshats. So we should just keep inviting them to… be asshats in our direction? In case maybe they have a change of heart?

      Yeah, no.

  3. Alan March 13, 2011 at 10:04 pm #

    The ‘threat’ tweet wasn’t even a real threat; as I understood it (it was poorly written) it was along the lines of. ‘I have a joke: wouldn’t it be hilarious if someone killed Mike Krahulik’s family?’

    Which no, isn’t hilarious at all, but it addresses the ‘hey, they’re jokes, they can’t hurt anyone’ argument PA and its defenders were using about the original comic.

    • Claudia March 14, 2011 at 4:57 am #

      Yeah, that threat seemed to come off as poor parody of the comic. They even made a followup one after PA finally responded.

      “It’s possible you read my tweet and killed Mike’s family as a direct result. If you’re killing them right now, stop. Go, and kill no more.”
      http://twitter.com/#!/ghostpostin/status/33283029031985152

      I keep looking, but I can’t find any other “threat.”

    • Anonymous March 14, 2011 at 5:05 am #

      Exactly; you have to bend over backwards to perceive it as even a veiled threat. It’s clear sarcasm making a point about the bullshit “either everything’s okay to joke about or nothing is, you’re a hypocrite” stance Mike was/is taking.

      The actual tweet was:
      “A Funney Joke: Go to Mike Krahulik / @cwgabriel ‘s house, Literally Murder His Wife and Child #jokes #funny #murderwolves”

      • Anonymous March 14, 2011 at 5:09 am #

        “Things escalated, and eventually, someone from the rape victim camp lost their shit that PA never called their asshole fans off and threatened Gabe and his family.”
        Oh man, I missed this part. It drives me nuts that the “Gabe received a death threat” half-truth* has been repeated** so many times that people accept it as fact.

        *at best
        **almost never with a link or quote

  4. Hillary March 14, 2011 at 7:52 am #

    Seems I should have done a little bit more research on the /actual/ tweet that set Tycho’s post about death threats off. Right now I’m a little bit O.O that THAT warranted the “OMG GUYZ STOP THE DICKWOLVES STUFF”. Seriously? THAT did it? Wow. Egg on my face.

    • FangedFaerie March 14, 2011 at 12:51 pm #

      There’s no guarantee that it was that tweet that was the threat alluded to. It’s more than possible that Gabe and Tycho also received emails, and more than possible that one or more of them were hateful.

      I think Gabe acted like an insensitive ass, but I also think some of the folks at Shakesville acted like asses. Some of the commenters very definitely said that ignoring or denying rape culture = rape apologist = supporting rapists because they think you’re on their side = more rapes, and some of the posters suggested that the commenters were correct. Melissa and the other official posters there have tried to argue that rape is specifically a woman’s issue, a feminist issue, and because women are seen as less than, etc. on down that roadl… rape is special. They disregard the fact that women are disproportionately murdered and assaulted, and that a large fraction of those female victims were attacked by their partners. It’s called domestic assault. I agree with bell hook: the rape issue is a large part of an overall attitude that violence against women is just a part of life, something that happens, and the best we can do is teach our daughters to protect themselves. THAT is a subtle, blanket problem that I can see.

      I don’t believe in God, and I don’t believe He exists in any form that Christians or other religious groups I’ve encountered have presented Him. I also don’t believe in Rape Culture, and I don’t believe it exists in this country in the way that Shakesville and others have attempted to explain it.

      Do specific acts happen? Yes. We have headlines right now about an 11 year old who was raped by close to 20 men, and the NYT reported on her clothing and other choices. That’s an outrage, but it does NOT mean that we are like Rwanda, where rape is another tool of genocide.

      • falconesse March 14, 2011 at 1:35 pm #

        I get the sense that a lot of people who come into threads here and elsewhere saying “Well Shakesville does THIS or THAT” aren’t really reading Shakesville very closely, have only read a handful of posts there, or have read, like, the Cliffs Notes version of the site.

        FangedFaerie, Shakesville does NOT argue that “argue that rape is specifically a woman’s issue, a feminist issue.” Do more women get raped than men? Yup. That’s statistically true. But for as long as I’ve been reading there, Melissa and the mods are quick to point out that rape is NOT just a womens’ issue. If they focus on it more, well, that’s because it is a feminist blog, and a feminist’s blog.

        I don’t believe in God, and I don’t believe He exists in any form that Christians or other religious groups I’ve encountered have presented Him. I also don’t believe in Rape Culture, and I don’t believe it exists in this country in the way that Shakesville and others have attempted to explain it.

        I don’t think comparing belief in god with whether or not the rape culture exists works there. One’s spiritual, the other’s demonstrable in society. You and Mike and Jerry can say the rape culture doesn’t exist, but that doesn’t poof it away.

        That’s an outrage, but it does NOT mean that we are like Rwanda, where rape is another tool of genocide.

        Where did people say that we were?

        That article you’re talking about is a perfect example of the rape culture as it exists here in the US. The article focuses on the girl’s clothing. On “Where was her mother?” On how those poor, poor rapists can’t play on their sports team right now, and how they might have to live with the consequences the rest of their lives. The article talks about how the girl was “forced to have sex.” Forced sex is rape. But the NYT doesn’t come out and say that. That. Right there. All of it is evidence of the rape culture.

        Just because it’s different than the rape culture in Rwanda doesn’t mean our own isn’t real.

  5. FangedFaerie March 14, 2011 at 7:50 pm #

    I used Rwanda as an extreme example. That is a place where rape culture exists, where it is part of the fabric of society and of the daily lives of the women.

    In the U.S., it is a much more subtle thing, and yes, that article is one example of how our media handle the issue poorly. It’s also an example of denial, because it’s much easier for some people to believe that a troubled girl lied than to believe that almost 2 dozen young men gang raped her and shared video of it. To call that proof of “rape culture,” however, is an exaggeration, and no amount of repeating that I’m “poofing it away” is going to change my mind without better evidence.

    I don’t know about the way things are at Shakesville? Oh, really? From the Survivors Are So Sensitive post:

    Melissa’s post…
    “…one rape joke… exists in a culture in which rape not being treated as seriously as it ought means that vanishingly few survivors of sexual violence see real justice, leaving their assaulters free to create even more survivors.”

    [In other words, one rape joke -> rape culture -> supporting rapists -> more rapes. She spelled that out fairly clearly.]

    In the comments:

    Ivan said…
    I don’t want to be a troll (possibly a dissenting voice?), but I am genuinely curious:

    Why are rape jokes off limits, but jokes about other forms of violence (assault, murder) are not? Can’t people who have suffered other forms of violence have similar “triggering” experiences?

    Or am I completely off base here, and the general consensus is that all jokes about violence are offensive?

    CaitieCat [Moderator] in reply to Ivan…
    Because murder isn’t overwhelmingly a women’s issue. Rape is. [my emphasis]

    And it’s a feminist blog. How hard can this really be to understand? “Why would a feminist blog be interested in rape culture?” Seriously?

    ETA: The point being, it’s not that those things aren’t problems. They’re just not what Liss was writing about. Do you expect every single game review you ever read to mention all the games that the game isn’t?

    (P.S. I have been a commenter on Shakesville since before the June 2009 debacle. I was banned for complaining when Butch Pornstache wrote a post about how he learned all about women on the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day.)

    • FangedFaerie March 14, 2011 at 7:53 pm #

      (P.P.S. I made it clear that I understood that Butch Pornstache is a fantasy. That said, he goes on “mancations” with his buddies in a broken down RV in a national park in Kentucky, and when others mentioned that that scenario and many of “his” other posts smack of classism, their concerns were dismissed out of hand.)

    • falconesse March 15, 2011 at 8:28 am #

      I think the full version of Melissa’s words works a lot better, actually. You left out some significant words:

      “No, one rape joke does not “cause” someone to go out and commit a rape. But a single rape joke does not exist in a void. It exists in a culture rife with jokes that treat as a punchline a heinous, terrifying crime that leaves most of its survivors forever changed in some material way. It exists in a culture in which millions and millions of women, men, and children will be victimized by perpetrators of sexual violence, many of them multiple times. It exists in a culture in which rape not being treated as seriously as it ought means that vanishingly few survivors of sexual violence see real justice, leaving their assaulters free to create even more survivors. It exists in a culture in which rape is not primarily committed by swarthy strangers lurking in dark alleyways and jumping out of bushes, but primarily by people one knows, who nonetheless fail, as a result of some combination of innate corruption and socialization in a culture that disdains consent and autonomy, to view their victims as human beings deserving of basic dignity.

      That is the environment into which a rape joke is unleashed—and one cannot argue “it isn’t my rape joke that facilitates rape” any more than a single raindrop in an ocean could claim never to have drowned anyone.”

      I don’t see how Catie Cat’s reply to Ivan says rape is a women’s-only issue, even the line you bolded. She says it’s overwhelmigly one, because it kind of is. 1 in 6 women are victims of rape. 1 in 33 men are. So, yes, the overwhelming majority of rape victims are women. She didn’t say it’s “specifically” or “solely” a women’s issue.

      (I think the context of the reply is important to note, too, for other readers here who weren’t following along at the time. The mods there had been answering the same kinds of questions for two or three days at that point, from PA fans who came in to ask, yet again, why murder jokes weren’t in question too. Catie Cat’s ETA says the same thing I’ve said here: it’s not that murder and violence aren’t problems. However, they weren’t the problems that Melissa was writing about at that point in time.)

      I’m sorry you were banned from there; usually the regulars are pretty good about it when someone calls them on their privilege showing. I personally don’t usually read the Butch Pornstache posts; they’re not my cup of tea.

  6. Anonymous March 15, 2011 at 5:42 am #

    Mike directly compared that tweet to the actual death threats made on Kirbybits and Shakesville. Of course, it’s possible* that he and Jerry also received emails containing actual threats, but that tweet was the one Mike chose to highlight when declaring things had “gone too far”.

    *though perhaps not “more than possible”, which I can only guess would be “probable”/”likely”

  7. Hillary March 15, 2011 at 7:36 am #

    FYI folks, just nixed the first comment to this post and have zero qualms about doing it again.

    You can disagree with this post, the dickwolves talk, anything you want, but it’s the presentation of how you disagree that will get you past the gatekeeper(s). A friendly reminder to keep it above the boards, please.

    • Hillary March 18, 2011 at 12:17 pm #

      Two comments banned now. Want to argue, great. Want to be a condescending dickweed, not great.

      • Kai Samuelsen March 18, 2011 at 4:36 pm #

        I apologize if you feel I was being a condescending dickweed. That was in no way my intent.

  8. Hillary March 27, 2011 at 9:33 am #

    Dear Pina or person whose comment I just nuked, I understand that you do not agree with us. For that matter, it’s okay that you don’t. But before you toss out the word hypocrite, please look up the meaning of the word. There are no less than two professional writers on this board, and the rest are a bunch of REALLY SMART WOMEN, so if you would like to insult us, go ahead, but might I suggest doing so with a word you /actually understand the meaning to/. Also, repeated for fun and emphasis: if you can’t debate like an adult, you don’t get past the gatekeeper. I’m the gatekeeper, and I’m a mean one.

    **Note, actually, I’m getting lazy. Comments already submitted are fine, but at this juncture, I’ma go ahead and nuke the rest of them mainly because I don’t want to have to come back once every week or two just to tell someone they’re bad at the Internet. <3s for those that discussed this like rational, sane adults.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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  2. Cultivating Kindness - just one anna - March 28, 2011

    […] There are a few posts flying around the interwebs about kindness lately (the one that first got me thinking is on the same site as was part of the notable Dickwolves Brouhaha). […]

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