Changing a Culture of Rape Remarks

A couple Weeks back over at Murf vs there was an article looking at the all to casual nature of “rape” within gamer culture. Started by a someones rather crude drawing of a couple pokemon characters, Items that seem to be all to common and often brushed off by most as the harmless fantasizing at best and, a small group of perverts at worse.

Murf seems to have a similar background and older opinions on the term as me. I used to use the word quite commonly in gaming as well and when I started the blog was in the process of looking at the word rape from a balanced view but as I get older, maybe wiser but definitely more understanding and critical of the gaming community it is something that I have stopped trying to say entirely. Sometimes old habits make it through, and it is still a conscious effort at times but it is something I wanted to do.

The reasons being mostly personal I guess and no, I’ve never been raped but it is something I am aware of in this age and in my mind it is never something to laugh about or misuse. That’s not even for the fear of creating a trigger for someone really, that is an issue I’m aware of but it’s more that I no longer want to be part of the narrative that belittles and sexualises woman in gaming.

I understand as to Quoting Murf

“Language works in funny ways: words represent acts and sometimes those acts are truly evil horrors, but despite that, words are infinitely reusable and are often re-appropriated in vastly different ways.”

I see this twisting nature of language a lot as cultures change and develop and it is something that I mostly support but when they are such loaded words, with meanings involving such extreme physical and emotional subjugation it’s not something I believe can change. Divorcing something from these meanings is actually rather hard especially since how it is being used now still draws its influence from this meaning.

It has been used within the gaming industry and community for a long time now, a part of the culture in many instances but just because something has been used and is being used for some time, is accepted by many does not make it right. It is just used so freely across the medium though but I do see this changing as well as the medium grows and the industry makers and law creators catch up to these modern times.

Recently there was a case of a professional Starcraft 2 player at the beginning stages of a Fragbite tournament made an unfortunate tweet before the show and was disqualified because of it.


A lot of players seemed to have blamed the female player for this result as the disqualification did happen after she had lost the match but then she wasn’t the one to bring attention to the tweet. Of course she was threatened with rape due to this *headdesk*..

I don’t even think it was taken as a threat by any of the parties involved but more just trying to determine what is appropriate language in the league and what they expect of their professional players. An expectation I think is rather fair considering this is after all a shared space of many different demographics. You would never see such actions coming from any other sports star within the media so I don’t see why esports should be any different.

We talked a little about the recent court cases on the podcast that seem to be paving the way for conversation within social media and, any form of internet conversation really. The case of Elonis vs U.S (that’s the pdf version) in which someone supposedly threatened their ex with violence is an interesting case as it seems like the case is centering not exactly on intent, but that a reasonable person might interpret it as such. So not exactly on intent but on whether harm was caused and that is an interesting distinction in this age of idiots commonly saying idiotic, and extremely threatening and inflammatory things while online.

it’s not purpose, it’s not knowledge of causing fear, it’s not a conscious disregard of causing fear, it’s just that you should have known that you were going to cause fear,essentially.

This is pretty much the case against him right now and while I don’t think this interpretation will see widespread adoption I do think having the knowledge you may have or might intimidate, to cause fear through the act is enough. That is an act that can and does cause harm. Such new interpretations of legislation could easily be applied to many of the threats across the industry right now and while I don’t think it would come to that I certainly think the threat of prosecution might, maybe clean it up a little.

Of course the context is important when determining legal harm, a “true threat” but I think the feeling of being threatened or creating a sense of unease should be enough for action to be taken, not necessarily by the state but by the service and product providers themselves. Mostly a feeling of being threatened but in my mind it even comes down to creating a feeling of unease with another as that creates a far more closed of community than what I would like.

Now many say that it is just time to grow a thicker skin but is that really the best option. Using these terms and the other regularly used threats and inflammatory statements do create a community and environment that is rather uninviting to many. I would think it is more up to personal responsibility, accountability for actions rather than the other person just dealing with it. I guess it’s just time we, as a community grew up a little. That we be a little more understanding and empathetic regarding the effects our actions have rather than remaining ignorant… or worse.

2 thoughts on “Changing a Culture of Rape Remarks

  1. I don’t think it is at all unreasonable to put the burden on the speaker to make the effort to be clear with their meaning. If you use language in a way that could be interpreted as being threatening or intended to cause fear in someone, then it is up to you to go to whatever lengths necessary to clarify that that was not your intention. For a lot of the rape culture language that you discuss, a simple “lol” or “j/k” tacked on as an afterthought should not be accepted as a mitigating factor.

    I am fully in favour of the full force of the law coming down on people who use public forums to communicate using this kind of harmful language and behaviour. It boggles my mind that you can be charged with intent when using it in person – say, at a pub or sporting event or whatever – when you have no records and usually unreliable witness testimony as to context, yet in public online forums there is this attitude of “it’s fine don’t make a fuss” and “ugh it’s too hard to prosecute” and “the context is unclear”. Fuck that shit..

  2. Like we discussed on the podcast (which the rest of you can listen to in a few hours) I, like you, have decided to stop using the word even in a joking manner. It’s one of those things I have to consciously think about sometimes, but it gets easier the more you get away from using it. My eyes were opened up quite a bit over the course of the last 6 months or so, in that I really do think it’s our responsibility to get things like this and the above referenced cases sorted out. I don’t want to see a world full of asshatery. I want to see the eventual growth and harmony that comes from people who take the time to understand each other and not just jump to the first conclusion or use those knee jerk reactions.

    I say that now, but I’ll have a rant soon enough that makes me look just as bad 😉

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