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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Bodies » Experiencing Rape Culture in Geekery/Gaming (TW)

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Author Topic: Experiencing Rape Culture in Geekery/Gaming (TW)
Member # 44381

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So I'm not sure if anyone else will have experienced this sort of thing, but hopefully it'll be comprehensible even to people who aren't involved in gaming particularly.

So I'm involved in gaming, and have just joined a new tabletop role-playing game, where, after making characters and so on, it turned out that the guy whose character is the leader of the party (who is a noble who our characters are supposedly willingly following) has decided that his character's backstory is that he's a serial rapist. The players seemed to find this amusing. I pointed out that the person running the game had specifically said we were not to play evil or overly antagonistic characters (and I sort of assumed that serial rape would fall into this category) but everyone (including the person running the game) then said that in the social/historical setting, it probably wouldn't be considered that bad.

It was basically made a joke of, and this guy's character repeatedly made references to it during the game, and at one point threatened my character (who is female) with rape, which again was treated as a joke by the other players.
I felt very uncomfortable. This is the sort of thing which makes me not enjoy playing female characters (and sometimes not enjoy gaming at all); it's like the punishment for choosing to play a female character is getting threatened with rape by other player characters (which has happened in other games I've been in, and is often excused by 'the historical setting' or 'well, the guy's character isn't very nice so it makes sense/is in character').
Gaming is about escapism for me: why would I want to be threatened with rape just because of being read female, when that is something I can easily experience in real life? (not to say that people who aren't women/read as female don't also get threatened with rape, but hopefully it's clear that I'm talking about rape culture)

Basically, as a player I feel massively uncomfortable playing in a game where rape is treated like it's a joke/something so far from reality that it's fine to joke about (not unrelated to the fact that most of the players are male and are thus less likely to conceptualise rape as an actual thing that happens all the time to people); and I also feel that the character I have made would not willingly be in the service of a rapist (not unreasonably).

I'm not really sure what to do, though. My immediate instinct is to drop out of the game and give another reason as to why. But I'd sort of like to draw attention to the rape thing and that I don't feel that it's OK. I'm scared though, as I feel like I'd be making myself very vulnerable to people saying 'it's just a game/joke' which I would feel awful about. It's also that these are people that I see regularly, and some of whom I consider friends, and I'm not sure how much it's a privilege/ignorance thing and how much they actually do think rape is funny/not that bad. So I'm sort of worried about saying anything because I don't think I could bear losing more friends, especially as I am feeling really isolated now anyway.

Any support or anything is welcome, also affirmation that I'm not just making a fuss over nothing would be nice.

[ 06-25-2012, 10:54 AM: Message edited by: treetops ]

Posts: 161 | From: europe | Registered: Oct 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
thumb tack
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Hey Treetops,

you are deffinitely NOT making a fuss over nothing! I'm not a gamer myself, but I dont think there are (or should be) any exceptions that say rape jokes are okay in certain spaces. Your assumption that a serial rapist character falls in the "evil or overly antagonistic" category is totally legitimate and justified!!! The social/historical excuse is just that, an excuse. Lots of things used to be considered "acceptable" that arent today, and lots of things we think are acceptable today won't be years from now.

What you decide to do about this is totally up to you, and whatever decision you take will be the right one for you. Confronting people about oppressive attitudes (expecially since you've already done so and know where they stand) is never easy, and unfortunately the consequences can be really harsh. So, if you decide you want to just remove yourself from a situation which (rightfully) makes you uncomfortable without turning it into a fight, that's okay. Just know that you don't need to feel awful about anything in this situation, because you're not the one who is out of line here.

Your situation is even tougher because they are your friends. I dont think you're overreacting at the thought that you might lose some of them if you do confront them. One of my oldest friend recently stopped talking to me because I confronted him about useing hateful speech and inciting violence on a social network, I made the decision to confront him knowing this could be a potential outcome. That said, it doesnt mean we'll never be friends again... On the other hands, I personally think the mark of a great friendship is being able to give eachother feedback that isnt always welcome or easy. But in situations like this, it's okay (maybe even essential) to pick you battles.

Good luck with this, I'm rooting for you [Smile]

Posts: 126 | From: Canada | Registered: Mar 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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treetops, - ugh! I agree with thumb tack. Some other thoughts I have are:

I think the social/historical excuse totally falls down, because it still breaks the evil/overly antagonistic rule - even if rape-y-ness is historically relevant, if one's character being threatened with rape isn't "overly antagonistic", I don't know what is.

It's a tough spot to be in, and whatever seems best for you to do, that's ok.

I wonder, does it seem to you as if any of the group might be more likely to support you than the others? Have you noticed any of them not participating in the rape-y stuff, even if they didn't speak against it? Just wondered if there might be any possible support so that if you wanted to speak up, you might be able to get some support first away from the group as a whole.

How reasonable is the person with this character? I wonder if they're a person who might be receptive to a serious, private discussion? Sometimes people in groups like this encourage each other on, and might be more open to listening if they don't think they're "losing face" in front of others, or don't have the assumed automatic backing of the rest of the group.

I know it's a risk, and that plenty of people are just not prepared to "get" it, but if you felt it was something you wanted to do, saying that rape Is a big enough issue to make you leave a game might send a message that it Is a big deal.

The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

Posts: 1786 | From: Europe | Registered: Sep 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator

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