This blog is fairly young yet, but you’ll learn quickly that my ass is still quite sore over what I generally refer to as “The Dickwolves Debacle.” If you missed it, you’re lucky, but I’ll summarize it thusly: everyone acted like a butthole. Everyone acted like a dirty, smelly butthole. Basically, the guys over at “Penny Arcade” drew this comic, which was meant to be a comment on how morally uncomfortable it is in an MMORPG like World of Warcraft to be sent on a mission to rescue five slaves… except, because you’re in the same universe as like, a gajillion other players who might be on the same quest you’re on, those slaves will keep respawning so that other players have something to rescue, meaning that you’re inevitably going to be leaving slaves behind. And in the course of making this point, the “sixth slave” says, “Every night we are raped to sleep by the dickwolves.”
And then online feminism exploded. It happened first at Shakesville, which is like, the fuse or something – the fuse on the bomb which is online feminism. Do you see how consistent I am being about my metaphors? Also, do you know how awesome explosions are? This is why this is a fantastic analogy.
Anyway, “Penny Arcade” broke the feminist internet, because it’s not okay to use rape as a punchline! And you know, I agree with that (for the most part). Problem is that rape was not the punchline in that “Penny Arcade” comic. That comic was about all of the things I just said it was a few paragraphs ago. And I guess Gabe and Tycho felt the same way I do, because they responded to the feminist internet… and acted like big butt-munchers about it. Not cool.
So, either there is a sector of the feminist internet that doesn’t understand the anatomy of a joke, or there is a sector of the feminist internet that says that is it never okay to talk about rape unless it’s in the literal, scary sense. I’m guessing it’s the latter, because when I used to read Shakesville on a regular basis, I frequently found myself snorting into my coffee.
You want my personal opinion on the dickwolves? I liked the comic. I thought it made its point nicely, and I didn’t find it triggering or offensive. That’s not to say that my reaction is the right one, and it’s not to say that rape jokes don’t exist in a larger culture. Denis Farr, writing for The Border House, said this of the comic:
Personally, among the reasons I find rape jokes much more problematic than murder jokes (and I don’t necessarily let off the hook the latter), is that this is the response to rape in the real world. Murder, unless sanctioned by a government, is quite often condemned. Rape is often more murky, even if we theoretically believe it wrong.
Yes, rape jokes exist in a larger culture that systematically trivializes rape, and perhaps reading “The Sixth Slave” might have been triggering for some people… but it wasn’t really a rape joke.
This is the final panel in today’s installment of “Truth Serum,” a comic I read weekly on The Rumpus. So why is this a rape joke, when it doesn’t even reference literal rape? Let’s break it down, shall we?
This two-part strip has Malory Watkins approaching Flying Man, and asking him to autograph her breasts. Flying Man doesn’t want to do it there, in public, because there are kids around, and he might get into trouble. And in this final panel, Malory Watkins says to him, “Do it or I’ll blow my rape whistle and then you’ll really get into trouble.”
The difference between this strip and “The Sixth Slave” is that here, rape actually is the punchline. Or rather, not even rape – the idea that a woman would use the threat of a rape accusation to get a man to do what she wants him to do. I mean, that’s nasty. That relies on all kinds of stereotypes about how women are manipulative, and it pushes the (false) cultural meme that tells us that men accused of rape are actually the victims.
Okay, I recognize that all of this is kind of a matter of opinion, and it all depends on what you’re willing to put up with. You know, I’m going to continue reading “Truth Serum,” because I think it’s funny most of the time. I would, however, like to point out that this particular strip relies heavily on harmful cultural memes that directly trivialize rape.
So! There’s my opinion. You should leave yours in the comments!