When no means no.

There’s been a lot of hooha recently about PAX, Penny Arcade and the Dickwolves teeshirt issue. I’ve not been following it a great deal, but I’ve gotten the jist of it from various communities. And I can appreciate why people are so upset about it. I don’t see it as clever or funny myself. But I’m also a bit pissed that a minority of people upset enough about it have taken it upon themselves to send death threats including the wives and children of the culprits. People who have NOTHING to do with the issue. CHILDREN. While I agree that the subject of rape is never a pleasant one, and practices of forcing oneself upon a non-consenting being are certainly not a joking matter, I also feel uncomfortable  at this turn of affairs. So yes, people have got a half-hearted apology because of it, but I’m sorry, I’d rather say “screw that”, delete the links from my bookmarks, never to be visited again, and have no apology at all than force someone into a corner with a metaphorical knife against their children’s throats. No love me for that approach. And no love for a forced apology.

Yes. People may be dickheads. But for the love of all that is holy, don’t take it out on their children.

In a similar vein, concerning non-consensual acts, a story hit the headlines over here in the UK. About a man who took a woman to court after she smacked his bum, not once, but three times, though he’d asked her to stop. Lots of people commenting on it were basically saying the equivalent of “grow a pair” and “laugh it off” and he got quite a slagging off for taking this to court, for not doing the macho thing and shaking it off.

When I worked in a supermarket many years ago, I was working on one of the aisles when I was grabbed and groped by a regular, loud-mouthed, chavvy older customer who should have known better.  I screamed. I screamed because it was horrible. Not just the fact that he thought he had any right to grab me, but also the look on his face when he realised I was wearing stockings and suspenders underneath my very thin overall.  It was summer, sitting on the tills was hot, and uncomfortable, and I hated bare legs. Why I’m even justifying this I don’t know. I LIKE being able to wear stockings.  I was wearing them purely for myself, and the grin that spread over his face was disgusting. As was the fact he even got close enough to grope me and to realise I was wearing them.

I got bollocked for screaming. Nothing was said to the customer.

He was later banned for “offering” to “lick out” the pretty supervisor who hadn’t realised how scary a moment it was for me and had told me off for screaming.

This pissed me off somewhat, as it felt like it was fine for him to grope me, a lowly cashier, but a different thing entirely to say lewd things to someone higher above me rankwise. Were I in a position of authority, and someone did that to another being in my charge, whatever rank they were,  I’d have hauled their ugly asses out and banned them pronto.

Why am I sharing this now?

Returning to the poor guy who people think should “grow a pair”,  I’m sorry, I don’t see it like that. Once someone asks you to stop something and you don’t, and continue the behaviour, then it’s out of order. I don’t care if it’s been done to countless women in the past and it’s seen as “justifiable payback” for that.  We should KNOW better than that after all the crap we’ve put up with in the past, and still put up with. And yes, some people might take it as a joke. I certainly didn’t take being groped as a joke. It wasn’t funny. It’s MY body. And I choose who touches it. That’s me. Nobody else. And if I don’t like it, and ask you to stop, and you don’t, you BET there will be trouble. So why should a man be exempt from the same treatment, simply because he’s male and should “laugh it off” and be all macho about it?

I believe in equal rights. That’s rights for woman AND men. And I hope that he wins his case. Because no means no means no. Whatever language, whatever sex. And it brings us one step closer to true equality. And with that equality, hopefully less issues like this whole PAX tee-shirt fiasco.

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9 Responses to When no means no.

  1. Janyaa says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more. No means no, regardless of who is doing the harassing and who it’s being done to.

    Your article actually has very relevant timing for a bill that’s being proposed in the the States right now. The Republicans are trying to redefine the word rape so that it’s only “valid” if the woman says “No.” Never mind if she’s been drugged and passed out or it’s a family member that is taking advantage of her.

    I think the point is that unwanted sexual aggression and sexual physical violation of one human being to another is rape. Period.

    • Alq says:

      Oh good grief, that’s horrible – that doesn’t leave much room at all. My mind is filled with all sorts of what ifs…..Does it include sign language “no”? What happens if the woman is bound and gagged? Sorry, that’s just…..urgh.

      • Janyaa says:

        I know! I feel like we’re taking a huge step backwards and undoing so much of the progress we’ve made as far as equality and women’s rights are concerned.

        It’s like they’ve never heard of roofies or date rape before. It makes me want to ask them how they’d feel if that happened to their daughter, or sister, or mother. Would they be able to look in their little girl’s eyes and say, “Well, did you say no?”

    • Keeva says:

      Forget No means No.. it should be Yes means Yes.

  2. Keeva says:

    Did you see the PA response to someone’s complaint email?

    From http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/2010/08/rape-is-hilarious-part-53-in-ongoing.html

    “”We also do murder jokes. That’s something that plenty of people have had to deal with. We make jokes about violence all the time. I appreciate the mail, I really do but I’m not sure how rape is more offensive than bestiality, murder, pedophilia or any of the other crazy stuff we have made jokes about…sure but what about people have have had a loved one murdered. I bet they don’t think murder is very funny. Mel Brooks said: Tragedy is when I stub my toe, comedy is when you fall into a open manhole and die. We make incredibly offensive jokes all the time. They are funny until they offend you…You have to understand that I get mails like this all the time. Some people are mad when they think we make fun of gay people. Some people are mad when we hurt animals. Some people are mad when make a rape joke. Your outrage is not special. Also it’s ridiculous to suggest that a woman who has been raped might read our comic strip about fictional penis wolves and have some kind of mental breakdown. Also if you want to really examine the comic (which I don’t think you should) then what we are saying is that rape is a horrible thing. The slave is asking to be rescued from his life of constant rape. What we are saying is that the video game is creating a callousness about rape by only making the player rescue 5 slaves. Really the comic is trying to draw attention to the fact that rape (even rape by penis wolves) is a horrible crime and even in the context of a video game we need to be aware of that.””

    /vomit.

    • Alq says:

      I’ve read some of the other responses, and they’re pretty callous and vomituous too. I’ve got no respect for these guys – because of the way they’ve replied. No oops, we screwed up. Just…waffleage.

  3. Rem says:

    I might be making myself unpopular here, but I don’t really see the issue with the dickwolves thing. I’m not a PA fan, I don’t read PA, I don’t particularly like PA, and I’ve only seen the strip in question when I came across a remark about controversy surrounding it. So, I’m not a PA fan “sticking up for them”, but I still don’t agree with the heat they’re taking for this.

    In my opinion, the strip works perfectly to express what it intends to express – which is in no way a joke about rape, a joke in the context of rape, or a joke about victims of rape. It is a joke about two things. For one, the dramatic setups quest descriptions tend to deliver, invoking the worst of horrors and cruelties while begging us to help by performing a particular action N times. And for another, the way we heroically set out to right the injustice, to save the innocent and punish the tyrants .. and immediately lose our interest in the dramatic circumstances once the required action is performed the required N times, jump on our flying mounts and fly back.

    This is the intended joke, it works quite well and has nothing whatsoever to do with rape. The “raped into sleep”, while being rather crude, is not the joke, is not what’s supposed to be funny. It’s merely a tool to express the above two points: drama at every turn and the pragmatic indifference of the player. The “don’t make this weird” line is what is supposed to make us laugh (not the least about ourselves). The “I don’t actually care what’s being done to you, but they’ll call me a hero and give me a reward for freeing your five mates” mentality is the joke that’s being told.

    Thus I’m not entirely sure what they’re supposed to need to apologise for. Using the word “rape”? Is it blacklisted now? Communicative societies don’t work by blacklisting words. How is rape so much worse than “they murdered my parents/children”? We get confronted with that rather frequently whenever our heartstrings need to be pulled. It happens in reality as well, and is a pretty terrible thing as well (I’d refrain from classifying “shades of bad”). So why is the one a standard story tool and the other an inexcusable offence?

    I’m not defending “rape jokes”, I just don’t think this is one. I do not approve of rape jokes just as I don’t approve of murder jokes or other violence jokes. I don’t find it funny to see people fall and hurt themselves, although there’s an entire TV genre dedicated to finding it hi-la-ri-ous, and nobody seems to mind (or at least to be outraged). But that doesn’t mean that I can’t understand it when, say, tripping up and falling is part of the events that lead up to something funny. So when the topic of the joke is an ironic take on our indifference, then, yeah, rape by fantasy creatures works for me as a means to express the magnitude of that indifference. The strip, indeed, is using rape as an expression for “worst thing imaginable”, and highlights the disinterested reaction it draws from the adventurer.

    I’m also not playing down rape. In my possibly very unfashionable opinion rapists, especially child molesters, deserve the death sentence. Not for the sake of punishment (irrelevant) or deterrence (ineffective), but purely as means of ridding the society of something that has forfeited its right to be considered part of society. So, yeah, I’m rather humourless when it comes to real rape.

    PS: What I do find funny is that when CAD did a storyline involving miscarriage (entirely non-humorous and very seriously handled), PA themselves got on the high horse and proclaimed that such a topic has no place in webcomics, which made me go “huh?”.

    • Alq says:

      Rape can be a major trigger word for people who have been through the experience. I’m very lucky.I’ve not experienced it myself. And, please accept my apologies for this, because I can’t think of any other way to phrase it – when I think about the concept of someone doing something so intimate against my consent, actually invading my body, invading it in a way I save for the one special person in my life who has love in his eyes for me, it turns my stomach and I can understand why it’s a trigger word.

      What REALLY pushed the issue here wasn’t that strip itself, but the production of Team Dickwolves apparel. While a rape victim can turn off a website, they can’t turn off people going to what is deemed a safe convo and be faced with people wearing the shirts. They turned the punchline into something bigger and emphasised it. And that I do not respect.

      Yes. Rape happens. We should not closet it off, and pretend it doesn’t happen. And we SHOULD treat it as godawful, and rapists as the foulest of foul. And yes, when it’s treated carefully and sensitively, I can appreciate that. However, here it wasn’t. And rather than shutting up, than using it as a one off, throwaway emphasis on bad things happening, they made a bigger almost celebratory statement with the tee-shirts.

      And no way am I supporting people who think it’s amusing to make and wear tee-shirts that essentially say “Go rapists”.

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