Breaking the silence to shut them up – gamers and “rape”
The use of the word “rape” [...] is getting used more and more and I’m sure I’ve caught myself using the word although I prefer the word “gank” and the same to have similar meanings except “gank” doesn’t have that real word connection, at least not that I’m aware of.
– Orkela, commenting on Jacob’s post about griefing and trolling and all that other shit
OK, people. Yes, we’ve had posts about corpse camping (and how to handle it) and how Riot is handling these things. But it seems like no matter how much we post about it all, we find more to say about it. Today, I need to talk about “rape.”
It feels empowering to know this will be posted publicly on the Internet: I was raped. It was a long time ago, but it changed the direction of my life in ways I can’t even begin to explain. I became a stronger person for it, but that took many years to achieve. It didn’t turn me into a militant feminist. I don’t believe all men are bad. I think candlelight vigils and marches to observe the horror of rape are kind of pointless because I don’t know that they really fix the problem. I still have occasional horrific anxiety attacks; these only started after it happened. But I’ve had no choice but to move on, and my strength impresses people who know me well.
A couple of nights ago, I was in a battleground, and it was clear we were losing. This prompted one of my team members to say “we’re getting raped” in bg chat. I had decided a while ago that anytime I saw that word used in game, I wasn’t going to let it go. Ignoring casual use of that word is almost as bad as pretending rape itself doesn’t exist, or isn’t as bad as it is. So I replied with something like this: “please don’t use that word – I was raped irl and it bothers me to see it here.” When I do this, typically they stop, or at least don’t reply to me.
But, that night, that person did reply. He said things, horrible things, in response, such as “I’m re-raping you” and “I like rape” and some other things I have blocked out of my mind. Out of shock, I called him an “asshole” and some other things I shouldn’t have said, but he continued. I started sweating, shaking, and crying. I certainly couldn’t concentrate on the bg anymore. I /ragequit.
The amazing man sitting next to me on the couch asked the troll what was wrong with him (peppered with all kinds of great language, of course!), but the room was spinning too much for me to see the response, or to see if the disgusting talk continued. I sat there, in shock and devastation and anger at the mean people we share this world with, my hands covering my eyes. I heard him typing furiously next to me. Eventually I looked up, and saw him sending a ticket to a GM about the troll. After he finished, he said he told Blizz that if they didn’t do something, we’d stop our subscriptions. Then he held me and reminded me of this very essential truth: frequently, on the Internet, people don’t remember that there are real people at the other end of the line. I knew he was right, but that didn’t stop my flashback or my disappointment about humanity’s meanness. I went to bed and slept fitfully, and in the morning wondered if I’d had a nightmare. Maybe I had a few nightmares, I’m not sure. But I remembered the incident was real, and then wasn’t terribly enthusiastic about starting the day.
By the next evening, Blizz had replied and said they’d do something about the troll, but they didn’t say what they would do. I didn’t want to play that night. I still don’t want to play. I will face it eventually and create new fun times in game, but I’m not ready right now. And that is ok. If I had truly faced my pain over the rape years ago instead of stuffing it down with too many antidepressants and food and general withdrawal from life, maybe I would have recovered sooner. It’s taken me almost 20 years to realize that if you shed a few tears on occasion about something horrible, it is healthier for you and the people who surround you.
Yes, don’t forget that entire communities (including our gaming communities) surround us rape survivors. Rape is everyone’s issue. Talk with my mother or that awesome man next to me on the couch about their thoughts on my rape if you don’t believe me. It’s also not just a woman’s issue. The questions like “What was she wearing?” and “Where was she?” that are typically asked of female rape survivors make us think we should have done something different to prevent it. But we would never ask these questions of a man who was raped, would we? Read this post from a male gamer who survived rape as a child for a powerful perspective.
But the question becomes: how do we stop it? I think a lot of these comments – not just the word “rape,” but anything nasty that any troll says – are due to ignorance. I wonder whether that person would have pushed it with me as far as he did if his mother or sister had been raped. Simple policing such as reporting the player, or self-preservation acts like putting the player on our ignore list, is sometimes all we can do, but it doesn’t solve the bigger problem: these people, and their shitty attitudes, exist. People frequently lack knowledge about other categories of things and people that they are mean about, which is odd because we’ve all got defining characteristics that set us apart from others. Perhaps the troll’s father died when he was 4 years old, or he hates his red hair, or whatever… something would set him off if I pushed enough buttons, I’m sure.
I’d like to end this post on a positive note, and say “it will all get better after librarians know how to give people all the knowledge they need for achieving personal intellectual enlightenment” or proclaim “Google will save us all” or give some other Infogameristic words of wisdom… but I don’t have any of those words right now. To fix a lack of education, or to open your mind up and sense the broader world, you have to want it intrinsically. The existence of information, professional educators, Internet content providers… none of it can force your brain into recognizing how your words and actions affect the people with whom you share the world. Including the World of Warcraft, it seems.
Thank you for sharing in my catharsis. And if you write hateful comments in response to this post, I will approve them. You know why? Your words speak for who you are. Including these people.
it was me and a gun
and a man on my back
and I sang “holy holy”
as he buttoned down his pants
you can laugh
it’s kind of funny
things you think
at times like these
like I haven’t seen Barbados
so I must get out of this
–Tori Amos, “Me and a Gun,” singing about her own rape
Ding! You’ve leveled up! Please see your local librarian for training.