Wednesday, February 2, 2011
The Dickwolf Debacle
Penny Arcade is a site that features (among other things) a web comic. They're hit and miss in the funny department, in my opinion, but it's generally mildly amusing and has a lot of geek "in-jokes," many of which even I don't get. Well, last year they made a strip called The Sixth Slave that treats rape in an offhanded manner -- seen above -- and even made t-shirts about it. And there's been a whole lot of controversy about it since, since a lot of people (rightly) don't think rape is that funny.
This issue has hit home for me for reasons I'll explain, so I thought I'd post my perspective on it. For those that don't like disturbing content, you have an opportunity to not read this and go do something else. Read at your own risk.
What follows might be total overshare, but here goes. I feel this is necessary so I can explain where I'm coming from on the issue. I had unpleasant contact with men twice as a child. And at 19 I was cornered in the shower room of a mental institution once (where I checked myself in for what I thought was "depression" but was probably late onset teenage angst). One guy played lookout, while the other guy played the role of "dickwolf." It tore me up pretty bad for a while, emotionally and mentally and even physically. For about a year or so after I was scared of other men and didn't want to be alone with them. I'm a lot better now. I still don't like thinking about it, and sometimes I'll flash back to the event but that's rare. But rape scenes in movies disturbs me greatly, and I once flipped right the fuck out while watching a scene from A Time To Kill (the one with the two cave apes attacking the girl). Which greatly disturbed my wife at the time, lemme tell you.
Anyway, sorry for the trip down memory lane. Not making this all about me or crying for attention, just framing my perspective on this matter. My past experiences have helped shape how I perceive the issue of sexual assault now. Not so much so I can claim to speak with authority, but so I don't come across as some random schmuck that hasn't put thought into the issue.
And my thought on rape is this: I hate rape and the people that practice it. I think the crime should be punishable by death. Period. Rapists can't be rehabilitated and don't deserve it anyway.
That said, the comic doesn't disturb me; I feel bad for that guy, but that's all. I mean, it doesn't celebrate rape or anything. I didn't even focus on the "rape joke" when I first read it last year. I got what that strip was about: the absurd logic that drives video games. Had the slave said "We're beaten into unconsciousness by dickwolves every night," it would have saved a whole lot of controversy and still would have been funny. And yeah, I'm saying it's funny: not for the rape reference, but for the larger joke the strip makes.
I guess I'm inured to the subject to an extent though. Part of it are the constant buggery references thrown around by a lot of men I've hung out with or worked with. I couldn't function around a lot of those guys if I was that upset by the issue, or couldn't roll with the tastelessness or kid back. (You women probably have no idea just how common rape humor is among men. It can get pretty bad.) Hell, humor even helps me -- I've made jokes about what happened to me, whined about how the guy didn't even buy me flowers and all. That disarms the assault, reduces the power it has over on me, and it has helped me heal in a weird way. I don't make light of others' experiences, mind you, just my own. (Well, mine and that of some child molester getting what he gave now that he's locked up. I can't be asked to feel bad for subhumanity, after all.)
I'm not saying people are wrong to be offended by this, or they're overreacting or anything. Not at all. People deal with this issue in their own ways, and everyone has a right to feel how they feel on the issue. But I've dealt with sexual assault on a personal level, and even as emotionally volatile as I can be at times, somehow I'm able to not freak out when the subject comes up -- whether it's a news report, tasteless joke, fictional account or whatever.
Anyway. My two cents. Again, sorry if anything in that disturbs or offends any of you. That's not my intent.