Which is why it was so painful to watch the Dickwolves dominate the Penny Arcade fanbase. The users harassing Stanton and other rape survivors who'd complained about the comic seemed to believe that they had tacit approval from Krahulik and Holkins. On January 29, three days after the Dickwolves shirts were pulled, Krahulik tweeted his plans to wear his Dickwolves shirt to PAX anyway. @Teamrape wrote in response, "And remember, since @cwgabriel [Krahulik] will wear his dickwolves shirt, it's okay to wear yours. We will show those that want to crush free speech."
As the fiasco dragged on month after month, I hoped that this had all been some sort of huge misunderstanding and that a real apology from Krahulik and Holkins was forthcoming. Truth be told, I was willing to put up with a pretty crappy apology, even after everything that had happened. I just wanted this entire issue to go away so that I didn't have to feel guilty about investing so much of my time and money into a business run by two guys who had grown up to be such big babies.
Late on January 29, there was another missive from Penny Arcade. It was again from Krahulik, and in a blog post titled "Dickwolves" he responded to people who'd bought a ticket to PAX but now wanted their money back. He wrote that anyone who asked for a refund would receive one. But they would also be added to a list that would ban them from ever registering for a PAX again.
It was official: PAX wasn't for "everyone" anymore.
"You earn your audience," says Stanton. "Every time you talk out your ass about this kind of stuff, and don't explicitly make it clear that you are very respectful towards whatever group is under attack, the people who really do want to attack those people are going to think you agree with them."
Stanton is sitting across from me at Diesel in Davis Square. It's February 7, a sunny Tuesday afternoon. Her hair is dyed bright pink. We first met at GameLoop, a Boston-based video-game-developer conference, where we were among the few female attendees. So when I asked her to come talk to me about the Dickwolf debacle, she said yes.
"I apparently have come across like I'm speaking for all survivors, which I really try not to do. I just try to apologize for it, whenever it comes up," Stanton says. "I appreciate the people who've been vocal about telling me that I'm perpetuating victim culture by talking about PTSD."
She's at pains to point out that Dickwolves supporters weren't the only ones harassing her — she'd gotten complaints from fellow rape survivors, as well.
"What I find disquieting is that for so many of them, their message to me is, 'Well, I wish you would stop talking about it,' " she says. "Not, 'Well, that's your take on it, and I'll take that into consideration, best of luck to you with the PTSD.' But rather, 'You need to actively stop right now because you're somehow making me look bad.' "