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A Penny Arcade comic spawned a controversy whose timeline someone has taken the time to catalog. I didn't see anything of this until the PA main page discussed getting rid of the Dickwolves shirt in their store, then on a different day discussed the decision to get rid of the shirt, and then on yet a different day said people should stop with the death threats.

Death threats?

sh*t's serious, I guess.

Did anyone have a serious reaction to this situation one way or the other? Is it wrong that I didn't?

The issue isn't with the original comic, it's with how they treat and react rape victims who voiced their opinions. You don't berate and act like trolls to cancer, murder and victims of other crimes do you? So why is it ok to act like a dick to people who are victims? When I showed the comic to rape survivors for their opinions, they liked the original comic.

I was given these links by said persons to try and better understand their POV.

http://www.auntiepixelante.com/?p=912

http://kateharding.net/2009/10/08/gu...

http://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com...

http://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com...

There are valid issues involved. The whole situation got blown up out of all proportion.

I have been thinking about posting something about this and am conflicted as well. Comedians (and web comics) certainly have the right to tell jokes that are or can be seen as offensive, but in this case I think the real damage has been done by Mike and Jerry's handling of the situation.

Reading the various blog post that have emerged around the topic I personally feel that those who are against PA on this issue come off as more leveled and reasonable, while Mike an Jerry kind of come across as assholes.

The controversy would most likely have long ago faded away if they had simply offered something like;

"While we defend our right to use crude humor, and will undoubtedly do so again in the future, we do apologize for our use of rape as a subject as part of a joke in this instance. It was not our attention to upset anyone and for those who were offended we sincerely apologize."

Instead, they continued to antagonize their critics which just kept the controversy alive and has only made it bigger.

Perhaps, and in light of national brands advertising before their web show, they should hire a PR consulting firm going forward, as clearly no one in their office has provided them a differing opinion on their handling of the matter to date.

I don't think there was anything to apologize for in the comic, but they have seemed completely tone deaf in handling the backlash. The t-shirt was a dumb, thoughtless idea.

I post quite a bit on the Penny Arcade forums and follow the comic/blog as well and I have been baffled by the Dickwolves situation from the get-go. When I've shown the original comic to people and explain the following sh*tstorm, they're usually as confused as I am.

It's tough because rape is a very emotionally charged issue, and that makes everything that much more complicated.

I think the PA duo made it worse than it had to be, though. Even if they didn't want to issue an apology or take down the comic, they went out of their way to antagonize those who objected to the comic. (Blog posts, twitter, t-shirts)

I think that, like most public blow-ups, there's a significant amount of silliness on both sides.

My read on that whole thing has been this:

1. PA wrote a fairly funny comic trying to point up how online 'heroes' aren't terribly distinguishable from sociopaths, due to the nature of the game mechanics.
2. To make the point sharper, they came up with just about the worst possible fate they could imagine for the prisoner that still let him be rescuable and able to talk to the hero, and also be funny. "At night, we are raped to sleep by dickwolves."
3. There's a whole movement trying to dismantle 'rape culture'... that is, the systemic minimization of the harms done by rape. I don't really agree with this, but these people believe it very strongly. They believe that rape should be out of bounds for jokes just like lynching would be.
4. They got upset with the PA guys for using rape in their comic.

Okay, so, no big deal so far. PA's being edgy as usual, people with the line further back get annoyed. But the way they express that to the PA guys is that they're 'supporting rape' or 'enabling rape' or something along that line, which the PA guys think is completely ridiculous.

And then it starts to get weird. The PA guys, in their forums and on Twitter, get very aggressive about this; they think it's PC to the point of insanity (which has some merit), and start getting actively weird and hostile toward the anti-rape-culture people (which doesn't). Both sides have escalated and escalated. The Team Dickwolves shirt was, from most accounts, designed as a direct attack on their critics. The critics see it as equivalent to 'Team Rapist' shirts; the supporters see it as highlighting how ridiculous it is to be afraid of being raped by most people in gamer culture. It is, essentially, a sneer on a shirt.

This got a bunch of people REALLY upset, and some speakers started dropping out of PAX. Then the PA guys stopped selling the shirt, but apparently one of them tweeted something about how he planned to wear his to the convention. That got more dropouts, and resulted in the claimed death threats.

I can see some merit on both sides of the argument, leaning in the direction of PA's original take on it, but I do think the PA actions post-comic have been pretty much indefensible. As someone over on MeFi put it, some of the PAX attendees were planning to wear an anti-Dickwolves shirt of some kind... and he said something along the lines of, "Oh, great, your all-inclusive gaming convention now has gangs."

In my view, the anti-rape-culturists were offbase in their original criticism, taking a throwaway mid-panel joke far more seriously than it warranted, but the aggression and escalation by the PA team has been a huge mistake. Going all the way to death threats is obviously even crazier, but I assume that's some loonytunes forum troll.

Edwin wrote:

The issue isn't with the original comic, it's with how they treat and react rape victims who voiced their opinions. You don't berate and act like trolls to cancer, murder and victims of other crimes do you? So why is it ok to act like a dick to people who are victims? When I showed the comic to rape survivors for their opinions, they liked the original comic.

I was given these links by said persons to try and better understand their POV.

http://www.auntiepixelante.com/?p=912

Wow, I had a low opinion of Jim Sterling before - but that kind of language puts him in an altogether worse light. Glad I gave up on Destructoid.

Edwin wrote:

The issue isn't with the original comic, it's with how they treat and react rape victims who voiced their opinions. You don't berate and act like trolls to cancer, murder and victims of other crimes do you? So why is it ok to act like a dick to people who are victims? When I showed the comic to rape survivors for their opinions, they liked the original comic.

I was given these links by said persons to try and better understand their POV.

http://www.auntiepixelante.com/?p=912

http://kateharding.net/2009/10/08/gu...

http://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com...

http://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com...

My problem with those blog posts is that the bloggers would be thoroughly upset if I wrote a blog post to men about schroedingers money-grabbing bitch. When you disagree with them then they attack you for speaking from a position of "privilege" which really means, sit down and shut up. The mistake the guys at Penny Arcade made is replying. The comic wasn't abou rape. Rape wasn't the punch line. When they started to respond they did what some of the critics wanted. They wanted the conflict in order to promote their special interest.

Gabe shouldn't have posted they are taking down the shirt in order to be inclusive and then say he's going to wear one. That's just rubbing his critics in the eye. But, I don't think all of his critics were completely genuine with their complaints. Especially, http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/.

There's a really really weird thread of utterly disgusting misogyny in geek culture. I don't understand where it comes from, but it's pretty awful, and I just don't get it. Here's a link to one place I heard about a similarly (if not more) appalling story: It's not just Noirin, also the original post: A hell of a time.

Summary: A woman was sexually assaulted at an Open Source conference. That's kind of nasty. But that's not the really disturbing thing. The really disturbing thing is the kind of comments that this dredged up from the community when she posted about her experience and named the person involved. You had some "Oh no! That's awful!" You had some "Well, yeah, I'm not really sure who to trust here, can anyone substantiate this?"

And then you had some people who were "OMGROFLSOXXORZ obviously she was asking for it, and anybody who commiserates with her is deluded and deserves to be raped!!?!1!", in all of the myriad variations you can imagine. And when other people came forward to talk about the problem, to say how this kind of thing has happened before, to share what they knew of what actually happened (seeing how shaken up Noirin was), even to say "No matter what the truth of the matter, we need to stop being giant assholes"... they got the same treatment. "OMG you must be a slut", "What are you, some kind of traitor to men?", "This is obviously some sort of political correctness conspiracy", etc. etc. etc.

It's horrifying.

--

Anyway, in terms of the PA stuff: I understand the original comic, and why it had to be that way to work. Essentially, there's no crime that they could use in that comic that would shock the same way, except maybe somehow the systematic torture and murder of the NPC's family--that would give the same sense of violation, of a horrible horrible crime. And that's the point of the comic, of course, that this horrible horrible thing is being done and the PC's like "Oh, ho hum, I already completed my quest, see ya!"

I can understand why rape victims in particular, and people who feel strongly on the subject in general, would be offended by the use of rape in this way--and they're right to a certain degree, as well: Why is it that the strip had to resort to using rape to elicit a visceral response from its readers? Because we're so used to hearing about other crimes that we would kind of go "OH, no big" and keep on going without thinking about it. And if rape goes into that category as well, and we stop thinking it's such a horrible horrible thing, that could be bad.

Why would they think people might let that happen? Because historic attitudes of people towards rape and rape victims could be used to produce a pretty damning criticism of the human race as a whole. And, modern attitudes, as shown by the other thing I linked to above, are apparently not much better. I mean, if "this guy was physically sexually harassing me at my Open Source conference" leads to such outrageous calls of "she must have been asking for it!", "slut!", "oh, she should have known better than to have been at a hacker conference, what place does a woman have there?" (hint: she was one of the people helping to organize it) and other such things, how can a woman not feel that she'll get the same reaction if she had said "this guy raped me at my Open Source conference"?

--

Anyway, the whole thing is incredibly ugly. I personally think that making a T-shirt out of that strip was an incredibly inappropriate thing to do, and I can understand why people who are personally involved in the fight against rape and sexual harassment would be up in arms over it.

I'm not surprised by the "other" side's reaction, simply because I've seen it before, and so recently--but I don't think they have a single leg to stand on. Those attitudes themselves aren't just a misunderstanding of the anti-sexual-harassment peoples' stance, they are in fact the very problem that those people are fighting against. And honestly, the way the "oh, it's not that big a deal... slut" people act is a blight upon humanity, and I'd sooner spit in the face of the kind of person who takes that stance than speak with them. It's that bad.

Hypatian wrote:

It's horrifying.

It's the Internet.

I don't see it as showing a deep misogyny rooted in gamer culture so much as Penny Arcade's own Internet f*ckwad Theory:

IMAGE(http://usera.ImageCave.com/randomimg/215499488_8pSZr-L-2.jpg)

There's no way I can be completely objective about the subject, so I'll suffice it to say that Hypatian summed it up for me perfectly. The comic itself I didn't find offensive, but both sides blowing things out of proportion and the aftermath of that I found profoundly disturbing.

Mike and Jerry kinda being dicks isn't anything new. With the escalating level of their internet fame and in light of recent events, it's time they hired a PR goon if they haven't already in the wake of this mess. It's also making it a lot easier for me to pass up pax this year. I'd be gnashing my teeth about my first time missing pax if I didn't have such mixed feelings about the kind of people who are putting this thing together right now.

Bnpederson, I think many that exemplify the Internet f*ckwad Theory are often the same kind of people who let fly with hateful, misogynistic spittle that they wouldn't dare say to the faces of women or people who could actually see their own faces. I believe they're closely connected. There still is a deep-rooted misogyny in gamer culture (and in popular culture as well if news about redefining rape laws holds any water), so I'm not sure they're mutually exclusive so much as hand-in-hand.

I went with asexual, ungendered gaming names for a reason. I've had ones that seemed more female, and frankly, I got tired of the threats, abuse, harassment, stalking, and creepiness because it got in the way of my gaming once I got into the online gaming world. This dickwolf situation may not have been wholly caused by misogyny rooted in gamer culture, but it certainly fueled much of the fire.

Amoebic wrote:

I went with asexual, ungendered gaming names for a reason. I've had ones that seemed more female, and frankly, I got tired of the threats, abuse, harassment, stalking, and creepiness because it got in the way of my gaming once I got into the online gaming world.

Stuff like this?

Yeah, the misogyny in geek, and indeed wider, culture is deeper than simple internet f*ckwads. Just writing it off to that marginalises the issues. And the PA acolytes that took it upon themselves to go out of their way to harass rape victims are indicative of that.

Ultimately I think that the comic wasn't that big a deal, but the handling of the fallout was terrible.

I didn't take huge issue with the joke itself, but their response up until recently has been childish to the extreme, although from what I've read, that's pretty much to be expected out of every single major webcomic artist/writer out there (I'm sure we'll all familiar with Mr. Buckley). That's the crux of it for me, not what they said in the first place, but how they went about dealing with it in the aftermath.

MrDeVil909 wrote:
Amoebic wrote:

I went with asexual, ungendered gaming names for a reason. I've had ones that seemed more female, and frankly, I got tired of the threats, abuse, harassment, stalking, and creepiness because it got in the way of my gaming once I got into the online gaming world.

Stuff like this?

Yeah, the misogyny in geek, and indeed wider, culture is deeper than simple internet f*ckwads. Just writing it off to that marginalises the issues. And the PA acolytes that took it upon themselves to go out of their way to harass rape victims are indicative of that.

Ultimately I think that the comic wasn't that big a deal, but the handling of the fallout was terrible.

Haha yes, and now that you mention it, I should have used a different email and username when I posted there in the past : \

MrDeVil909 wrote:
Amoebic wrote:

I went with asexual, ungendered gaming names for a reason. I've had ones that seemed more female, and frankly, I got tired of the threats, abuse, harassment, stalking, and creepiness because it got in the way of my gaming once I got into the online gaming world.

Stuff like this?

Yeah, the misogyny in geek, and indeed wider, culture is deeper than simple internet f*ckwads. Just writing it off to that marginalises the issues. And the PA acolytes that took it upon themselves to go out of their way to harass rape victims are indicative of that.

Ultimately I think that the comic wasn't that big a deal, but the handling of the fallout was terrible.

Can I say "this"? I mean, I know it's reductive and lazy, but really, this. At a certain point, it's not "just a few losers from 4chan", because the fact that it happens with such a predictable constancy points to it being a larger problem in gaming culture (and by extension, culture as a whole).

EDIT: That is the greatest, most terrifying website.

bnpederson wrote:
Hypatian wrote:

It's horrifying.

It's the Internet.

I don't see it as showing a deep misogyny rooted in gamer culture so much as Penny Arcade's own Internet f*ckwad Theory:

Mmm. It's not just in gamer culture, though it's definitely there. It's actually more disturbing in the professional side of things. In gamer culture, everybody gets stupid immature insults hurled at them by people who apparently don't know any better. Women get it worse, because they get creepy creepy people hitting on them, too.

Basically, with gamer stuff, I'd say that women have to deal with the same Internet f*ckwad Theory stuff as anyone else, *plus* an extra side-helping of creepy. Guys don't get hit with the creepy.

But the situation in professional computing stuff is just horrid. It's annoying when some random guy on the Internet hits on you in a creepy way, but it's a lot easier to blow off than some guy who is notionally your peer decides that it's okay to hit on you in a creepy way instead of, say, talking about interesting technical issues. It's like "I'm going to ignore your brain and treat you like you're as much use to me as a blow-up doll." I mean, WTF? They already have to deal with an incredibly macho culture in most technical disciplines on a day to day basis, and then you load this crap on them, too? It's no wonder so few women end up in tech fields. And then, of course, taking that to a physical level (as in the situation I linked to above) is completely beyond the pale.

It's possible that the IFT explains the guys who then come and accuse the victim of having asked for it, etc. in that case... but only to a point. The guy who comes out in response to a woman saying "I was groped" and says "Oh, you must be a slut, then", *in a professional context*, isn't just spewing stupid crap because teabagging is what you do at the end of a Halo match, and he can get away with it. Not only is it not normal to offer such insults to people in your own line of work in a wider context, but it's not acceptable to even think the thought that would prompt saying that in the first place. So there it's definitely *not at all* just the same as "I can speak anonymously, so I must call you gay, because gay is the thing we call people who beat us in online games."

And, to connect this and loop back: That wider context is the part related to this issue at PA. The people who were outraged by the comic (and, more justifiably, the shirt) weren't outraged because women have to deal with people insulting and hitting on them in games. That kind of thing is juvenile, and obnoxious, and offensive--but it's on the other end of a network connection. They were outraged because actual rape is *not* on the other end of a network connection, and because it's not as uncommon as many of us would like to believe, and because there's an active and scary culture of treating the victim as a criminal.

(Final note: Part of this might be so large in my mind right now because I've been reading a series of mystery novels set in Victorian England. In that time, it was even worse--the social consequences for a woman of "worth" of admitting that she'd been raped were awful, and for lower class women, rape was practically a fact of life. I'd like to believe we've come a long way since then, but I'm not at all certain we have.)

I just hope that maybe some of this will be alleviated when the developers grow up and the average age of the gamer goes up. I would be amazed if they don't correct their attitudes when they have wives and families. I don't get any of this attitude where I work, despite us being all-male geeks, so I'm not really ready to attribute it to "geek culture" at large. Almost all of us are over 30 and have families.

It comes down to the individual - if you laugh and nod along with insensitive, misogynistic jokes, you're part of the problem, even if you're not spewing that filth out of your own mouth.

I've always been embarrassed with the videogame attitude to women, which I can only see coming from stupid, young guys working with other stupid, young guys. I want to believe that this will change as thegamer demographic and developer demographic changes - most of my friends are geeks to some degree, and most of them are women, and obviously I don't get any of this attitude. As one indication of change, I've been going to the GDC for three years now and there has been visibly more women present every year.

Ulairi wrote:

When you disagree with them then they attack you for speaking from a position of "privilege" which really means, sit down and shut up. The mistake the guys at Penny Arcade made is replying. The comic wasn't abou rape. Rape wasn't the punch line. When they started to respond they did what some of the critics wanted. They wanted the conflict in order to promote their special interest.

Woah, you are way off base. The people who took offence at the comic, and suffered the reprehensible backlash from the removal of the Dickwolves t-shirt, are not opportunistic critics promoting a "special interest"—they're victims of rape and their allies. What are you right about, though, is privilege. But it's not an attack, it's a simple fact that we're mostly unaware of. I'm going to assume, safely I think, that you, me, and most of us here, have never been the targets of sexual harassment or been traumatized from sexual abuse. That's probably because we're mostly hetero males, who don't have to worry about that kind of abuse. So yes, stating we're "privileged" does boil down to "sit down and shut up", because there is nothing you can say to someone who's been sexually traumatized. If a rape victim has a problem with a rape joke then we don't get to have a say in what it meant or how they should feel. That's not looking for a fight, and it's not a goddamned special interest.

The mistake Mike & Jerry made was not responding soon enough, or appropriately, as Pred and MrDeVil have pointed out. Hypatian is explaining everything else more articulately than I can.

Gravey wrote:

So yes, stating we're "privileged" does boil down to "sit down and shut up", because there is nothing you can say to someone who's been sexually traumatized. If a rape victim has a problem with a rape joke then we don't get to have a say in what it meant or how they should feel.

Sure you can. How about "you're wrong"? Because anyone who reads the original strip and thinks it's a rape joke is simply reading it wrong. Rape is not the punchline, it is a set-up for the punchline, which is the hero's sociopathic indifference.

Being a victim doesn't give you carte blance to ignore facts. In fact, I find it rather distasteful and problematic to treat victims of sexual violence as if they were so horribly broken that they can't be expected to keep track of reality.

Structurally the joke works fine as long as you put any ordeal the audience recognizes as sufficiently horrible in the second panel, so I guess there might be an argument about it being exploitative to use rape as their example. I'm not sure I'd agree with that, but at least then you're arguing using the actual facts.

Gravey wrote:
Ulairi wrote:

When you disagree with them then they attack you for speaking from a position of "privilege" which really means, sit down and shut up. The mistake the guys at Penny Arcade made is replying. The comic wasn't abou rape. Rape wasn't the punch line. When they started to respond they did what some of the critics wanted. They wanted the conflict in order to promote their special interest.

Woah, you are way off base. The people who took offence at the comic, and suffered the reprehensible backlash from the removal of the Dickwolves t-shirt, are not opportunistic critics promoting a "special interest"—they're victims of rape and their allies. What are you right about, though, is privilege. But it's not an attack, it's a simple fact that we're mostly unaware of. I'm going to assume, safely I think, that you, me, and most of us here, have never been the targets of sexual harassment or been traumatized from sexual abuse. That's probably because we're mostly hetero males, who don't have to worry about that kind of abuse. So yes, stating we're "privileged" does boil down to "sit down and shut up", because there is nothing you can say to someone who's been sexually traumatized. If a rape victim has a problem with a rape joke then we don't get to have a say in what it meant or how they should feel. That's not looking for a fight, and it's not a goddamned special interest.

The mistake Mike & Jerry made was not responding soon enough, or appropriately, as Pred and MrDeVil have pointed out. Hypatian is explaining everything else more articulately than I can.

It isn't a rape joke. And, what Alien Love Gardener said.

I agree with Hypation and Amoebic, thank you for articulating what I've been struggling towards.

Nitpicking whether or not the rape reference was part of the punchline or joke is beside the point. The imagery* was used in the comic and folks objected to it because they see it as an indication that rape is too easily overlooked or accepted in society.

The conversation could have ended there, or become more constructive, but as Prederick points out the response was badly handled. I sympathize with the PA guys; accusations that you support a culture of rape are tough to take, especially when on such a visible (internet) pedestal, and they responded in their usual acerbic manner to the criticism. However they touched a nerve and the situation devolved. It's one thing to criticize a journalist or politician who thinks videogames are bad for kids; it's another to criticize an advocate for sexual assault awareness and prevention.

I liked Leigh Alexander's take on the fiasco. Penny Arcade missed an opportunity to lead a conversation on the subject, but maybe it wasn't fair of us to expect them to in this situation.

*I know, I know, no actual dickwolves were drawn. I mean "imagery" in the literary sense.

Polliwog wrote:

Nitpicking whether or not the rape reference was part of the punchline or joke is beside the point. The imagery* was used in the comic and folks objected to it because they see it as an indication that rape is too easily overlooked or accepted in society.

The conversation could have ended there, or become more constructive, but as Prederick points out the response was badly handled. I sympathize with the PA guys; accusations that you support a culture of rape are tough to take, especially when on such a visible (internet) pedestal, and they responded in their usual acerbic manner to the criticism. However they touched a nerve and the situation devolved. It's one thing to criticize a journalist or politician who thinks videogames are bad for kids; it's another to criticize an advocate for sexual assault awareness and prevention.

I liked Leigh Alexander's take on the fiasco. Penny Arcade missed an opportunity to lead a conversation on the subject, but maybe it wasn't fair of us to expect them to in this situation.

*I know, I know, no actual dickwolves were drawn. I mean "imagery" in the literary sense.

I don't think it's nitpicking. It being the set-up for a different punchline rather than the actual punchline changes the role of rape in the strip dramatically. If it's setup, it's horrible. If it's a punch-line, it's supposed to be funny. The latter is deeply problematic, the former is not as much.

If nothing else, it certainly sheds some light on Gabe and Tycho's response to the situation.

That said, I don't want to excuse their follow-up to the controversy, because that's been alternately misjudged, tasteless and absolutely godawful, and I certainly don't want to excuse the way the trogdolyte hordes responded to the criticism of the strip, because that made me want to be able to fire bombs over the internet.

There's huge amounts of misogyny in geek culture, and this certainly brought it to the surface. But on the other hand, I don't think responding to victims of sexual violence by throwing your hands in the air and not engaging them as actual people whom you can have a rational argument with is a very good response to the situation. In many ways it's the flip-side of the patriarchal coin that's at the root of rape culture. On one hand, women are just objects for the male gaze. On the other hand, they're *broken* objects who have been irrevokably shamed, destroyed with regards to the male gaze.

The people defending rape culture (which is what they are doing, and it's pretty disgusting) have completely missed the point.

The joke itself was off color and tasteless, which is pretty standard fare for PA. It was worth maybe a blog post of complaint and a shrug and back to normal.

The tone of the response and the doubling down in defense of rape culture, to the point where Shakesville is getting beastiality porn and rape threats delivered to her, is what has people so upset.

So you're right in that it's not really nitpicking; people defending rape culture, which includes PA, have just utterly missed the point, and continue to miss the point. It's nauseating.

Polliwog wrote:

I agree with Hypation and Amoebic, thank you for articulating what I've been struggling towards.

Nitpicking whether or not the rape reference was part of the punchline or joke is beside the point. The imagery* was used in the comic and folks objected to it because they see it as an indication that rape is too easily overlooked or accepted in society.

Right, and there were more issues being discussed during this mess along with this one. The controversy falls into three categories:

- The Comic
- The Responses
- The T-Shirt

Some rape survivors suffer from PTSD and this condition can be triggered in a variety of ways. Jokes, imagery, hearing statements like "Our team just got raped," vile comments, being touched unexpectedly or inappropriately, etc. The second comic completely missed many of the points rape survivors were trying to make and one of the responses to the criticism was to mock PTSD trigger warnings.

The drama surrounding the shirt was an extension of this. There was a rape survivor in particular who didn't feel comfortable being surrounded by large groups wearing Team Dickwolves shirts at PAX and also felt the the shirts may cause the following:

1) Remind rape survivors of rape
2) Trigger PTSD symptoms
3) Make others uncomfortable

The shirt itself seems to exist to spite those who criticized it because, in the context of the comic, the dickwolves are the bad guys. They're the ones raping slaves to sleep. The shirt itself has nothing to do with the punchline of the joke. A dickwolf shirt that would've made more sense in context could've been something like "Don't Be a Dickwolf!" Instead, they were selling something meant to celebrate the dickwolf character and then somehow expect those who read their material to separate their creation from the context it was used in.

Did some critics say stupid and disgusting crap to them? I'm sure they did. Does that mean all of the critics, some of whom are just fans expressing concerns, should be grouped together as trolls? No. And I wouldn't expect such a response if the critics were 9/11 victims, soldiers who also suffer with PTSD, victims of child abuse, etc. The conversation with rape survivors who criticize their comics/apparel/behavior shouldn't be the same one game devs would receive for complaining about how PA trashed their video game.

Amoebic wrote:

Mike and Jerry kinda being dicks isn't anything new. With the escalating level of their internet fame and in light of recent events, it's time they hired a PR goon if they haven't already in the wake of this mess.

Seriously. The brand, the fanbase, PAX, Child's Play... I was honestly surprised when this all went down. I figured they'd have a PR guy for situations like this one. Handling a unique circumstance with a little sensitivity would've went a long way here.

Well Seth, at the point you accuse anyone who disagrees with you of "defending rape culture" I think we're past any actual discussion of the issue.

The comic was not my favorite, but it didn't upset me at all (it felt like it was a revision or two away from doing justice to how absurd MMO morality would really be). The response by PA and portions of the gamer community towards people who were upset by the original comic is deeply disappointing, though.

MysticViolet, Amoebic, and Hypatian summed things up much better than I could have.

The problem with arguing over multiple forums regarding a sensitive issues like rape (including the far-reaching effects of its trauma) is that comments and assumptions made in tangential discussions get improperly attributed to the general conversation.

Some of the extreme arguments by various commenters have been pretty solidly in the victim-blaming, slut-shaming, rape-apologizing, misogynistic trolling camp, and since they're using defending PA as a crutch to engage in these behaviors, said behaviours are also being attributed to PA.

Some of the rape survivors and their allies are going in the opposite extreme, turning it into a feminist issue and trying to conform this amorpheous situation to a personal agenda, as well as feeling threatened (or in some cases, are being threatened) and crying for more sensitivity in a community that, frankly, isn't known for it and probably never will be. Gaming communities, in general, aren't exactly the bastions of humanity and decency if you go by evaluating the behaviour of it's members alone.

the reason I highlighted 'some' is that I think it's far too easy to polarize the situation into two different groups and unfairly lump everyone in the middle into these two extreme examples of behaviour. Not everyone who thinks the PA was in the wrong has a feminist agenda. Not everyone who thinks PA in the right is a rape apologist, yet these two extremes are being flung in the faces of anyone that doesn't have a mild, middling opinion by people searching for an easy villain responsible for creating this unpleasant mess.

These vocal minorities are saying the most extreme things for a reaction, and unfortunately are helping derail any kind of meaningful conversation, even without the help of the PA guys bumbling their way through a complete PR clusterf*ck.

The comic itself is irrelevant, really. A commenter on the Something Awful forums sums it up perfectly:

"I think the outrage from most of the critics is aimed at PA's handling of the situation, not the original dickwolves comic. Instead of saying ' sorry if this offended you' or just ignoring the critics altogether, they rubbed it in their faces by turning it into merchandise and offering really churlish non-apologies that only demeaned the concerns of surprise sex survivors and other critics even more."

That word filter at SA is alternately hilarious and excruciating.

So what did Mike and Jerry actually write in response? I have seen a lot of troll v. troll idiot-posts on the various forums, but never the actual words of the comic creators.

Kraint wrote:

So what did Mike and Jerry actually write in response? I have seen a lot of troll v. troll idiot-posts on the various forums, but never the actual words of the comic creators.

Read the link in the OP.

I'm just glad that I'm far enough away from PA and this idiocy that I'd never even heard of this before now.

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