To all those who don’t think the rape joke was a problem, or rape jokes are a problem.
I get it, you’re a decent guy. I can even believe it. You’ve never raped anybody. You would NEVER rape anybody. You’re upset that all these feminists are trying to accuse you of doing something or connect you to doing something that, as far as you’re concerned, you’ve never done and would never condone.
And they’ve told you about triggers, and PTSD, and how one in six women is a survivor, and you get it. You do. But you can’t let every time someone gets all upset get in the way of you having a good time, right?
So fine. If all those arguments aren’t going anything for you, let me tell you this. And I tell you this because I genuinely believe you mean it when you say you don’t want to hurt anybody, and you don’t see the harm, and that it’s important to you to do your best to be a decent and good person. And I genuinely believe you when you say you would never associate with a rapist and you think rape really is a very bad thing.
Because this is why I refuse to take rape jokes sitting down-
6% of college age men, slightly over 1 in 20, will admit to raping someone in anonymous surveys, as long as the word “rape” isn’t used in the description of the act.
6% of Penny Arcade’s target demographic will admit to actually being rapists when asked.
A lot of people accuse feminists of thinking that all men are rapists. That’s not true. But do you know who think all men are rapists?
They really do. In psychological study, the profiling, the studies, it comes out again and again.
Virtually all rapists genuinely believe that all men rape, and other men just keep it hushed up better. And more, these people who really are rapists are constantly reaffirmed in their belief about the rest of mankind being rapists like them by things like rape jokes, that dismiss and normalize the idea of rape.
If one in twenty guys is a real and true rapist, and you have any amount of social activity with other guys like yourself, really cool guy, then it is almost a statistical certainty that one time hanging out with friends and their friends, playing Halo with a bunch of guys online, in a WoW guild, or elsewhere, you were talking to a rapist. Not your fault. You can’t tell a rapist apart any better than anyone else can. It’s not like they announce themselves.
But, here’s the thing. It’s very likely that in some of these interactions with these guys, at some point or another someone told a rape joke. You, decent guy that you are, understood that they didn’t mean it, and it was just a joke. And so you laughed.
And, decent guy who would never condone rape, who would step in and stop rape if he saw it, who understands that rape is awful and wrong and bad, when you laughed?
That rapist who was in the group with you, that rapist thought that you were on his side. That rapist knew that you were a rapist like him. And he felt validated, and he felt he was among his comrades.
You. The rapist’s comrade.
And if that doesn’t make you feel sick to your stomach, if that doesn’t make you want to throw up, if that doesn’t disturb you or bother you or make you feel like maybe you should at least consider not participating in that kind of humor anymore…
Well, maybe you aren’t as opposed to rapists as you claim.
- SO GOOD
- AND ADDICTIVE
- AND UNEXPECTED FEELS
- AND WHY DID I WAIT SO LONG TO READ THIS????
I was drinking when I saw this .gif response to TBS, and I laughed so hard water came out my nose. True story.
So this is a question I got several days ago from a nice reader from France who thanked me for making her cry. (This is the best kind of email.) Then she went on to ask this:
Sometimes do you feel bad when you give sorrow to your readers?
I was going to toss off a quick “No! MUAHAHAHA!” in response, but it was late and I was tired and I went to bed instead. And then I woke up the next morning thinking about the question. Because it’s one I’ve gotten before, and one I’ve seen other authors get all the time, but I’ve never examined much beyond “Nope, it’s all good.”
So here’s the deal. No, I don’t feel sorry for my readers when I write a sad thing. If only good, predictable things happened in stories, they’d be pretty boring. To me, fiction is a way to rehearse life from the safety of your own room. You can experience tragedy and terror and triumph, all the while able to close the book and walk away from the emotions any time they get too difficult. It’s the wonderful thing about fiction—it’s why books never get old. We humans have a lot of feels. They take a lot of rehearsing.
But I do feel for my readers. Yes, I end up a bit gleeful whenever a reader reports feeling what I wanted them to feel, even if it’s sadness or fear, because that means I’m doing my job. But I also get this pang of sympathetic emotion, too, as if I can feel exactly what they’re feeling—usually because I HAVE, while I was writing whatever the sad thing was.
To me, it’s one of the best parts about being a writer. That sense of connection, of being able to share something as intangible and indescribable as an emotion directly from your heart to a stranger’s halfway around the world.
Because it doesn’t always happen—not every reader loves every book, after all. But when it does, it’s like finding a friend, someone whose mind works like yours and feels the same things. My memories of beloved books rarely involve specific events in the plot or lines of dialogue. They’re almost always memories of emotion, of how the book made me feel, and how they made me feel connected to the person who wrote it.
So do I feel bad for giving sorrow to my readers? Not really… because my fondest memories of fiction are of authors giving sorrow—and joy, and fear, and love, and wonder—to me. That experience, that connection, was what made me want to be a writer too. And this experience is what makes me want to stay a writer.