Your article "When Dickwolves Attack" (March 4) was great — really well written, and you explain the significance of everything very well. I wasn't much of a Penny Arcade fan, so it was easy for me to forget the vast scope of their influence, for example.
I get really frustrated at the people, even in your story's online comments, who claim that the anti-dickwolves people are missing the point, when they actually are the ones who are missing it. It's not about the original comic, it's about what followed, and especially the creation/support of the "Team Rape" T-shirts.
If this all really is just about the first comic, and if the use of the word "rape" didn't mean anything beyond being something horrible, then why use that word at all? Wouldn't it also be horrible to be beaten to sleep by dickwolves?
This whole situation really bothers me. "Rape" is a word loaded with incredible emotional freight. Most people loathe rapists, and to have someone suggest that you are somehow encouraging them is a pretty serious and vile accusation. The idea that Penny Arcade's Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins should have just educated themselves on what the term means is disingenuous. Its meaning seems self-evident, and as gamers, Krahulik and Holkins are no strangers to similar accusations (i.e., violence in media causes violence in real life).
There are two major issues here: that of free expression, and that of sensitivity to rape victims. But each side of this mess sees everything in light of their own issue and ignores the other. Krahulik defends his work solely as a matter of free expression, does so with his usual snark and sarcasm, and remains steadfastly ignorant and insensitive to the concerns of the rape victims. The feminist blog Shakesville and its supporters see everything in terms of the rape victims, assign despicable and evil motives to Krahulik's actions, and remain steadfastly ignorant and insensitive to the concerns of people who support free expression. Both sides are talking past each other, not really listening to the other's words, but twisting them into their own framework to serve as fuel for the next bombardment of rhetoric, magnifying the misunderstandings, and filling the conversation with hate and spite all around. It's sickening and depressing.
As a gamer, I know full well that we really need a good dose of feminism. The industry is very male-oriented, and there is a really nasty streak of misogyny, racism, and other bigotries in some corners. I love gaming and want to see us grow past that juvenile nonsense and be more inclusive. This shitstorm has unfortunately burned many of the bridges between gamers and feminists, bridges we desperately need. The hateful and disgusting comments from some gamers toward rape victims have been damaging for obvious reasons, and have played into stereotypes about gamers. But I fear feminists may not quite appreciate that some of them are doing the same.