“How are you handling all of this so well? Explain to me so I can do it too with my trolls.”
I think the real question is, “why don’t you seem to get your feelings hurt?” or something along those lines. Part of it is growing up with such a powerful feeling of self-loathing, I’ve already thought about myself pretty much any terrible thing someone can say about me. It’s been almost a decade since my suicide attempt, and having spent years crawling out of that head space, I’ve got a lot of ways to mentally process ideas without letting them weigh me down too heavily. A couple of weeks of shitty blog comments isn’t going to undo years of therapy (sorry to disappoint, trolls).
Also, no offense to strangers on the Internet, but…you’re strangers on the Internet. If my best friend was saying those things, or even if people I know in the video game industry were saying those things, I’d probably be a lot more upset. Hell, the thing that upset me enough to post without editing first was Mike’s comment about why they pulled the Dickwolves t-shirts. I don’t know him, but I am more invested in his opinion on this topic than a complete stranger’s, and so that hurt more.
Kim Pallister gave a fantastic talk at the IGDA Leadership Forum last October, and during it, he said, “don’t go looking for approval, look for feedback.” That’s my goal in anything I do, really. People vehemently disagreeing with me is a form of feedback, and it’s one I can engage in and learn from. I can’t learn if I just shut out anyone who thinks I’m wrong – doing that just means I’m much less likely to get it right, this time or the next. (Note: this kind of thing – listening to people, some of whom are upset or angry, and continuing to talk to them – is a huge part of being a project manager. So some of this just happens to be part of my work skill set.)
“I’d like to be the 500th person to explain the “real” joke in The Sixth Slave.”
For fuck’s sake, I get it, okay? I get it. I have played World of Warcraft and loved it so much I had to stop playing completely lest it throw me off schedule for finishing my Masters. (Yes, really.) I understand how jokes work, I understand what that joke was “about” and how that joke was set up – I don’t think it was executed well. I think the phrase “raped to sleep” is surprising enough, and unusual enough, that that ended up being the line people laughed at, even if it wasn’t the punch line. Looking at that comic, it seems to me like that’s where you’re supposed to find humor and react with laughter. Whether you agree or disagree, please don’t comment about it here – I have heard it already, many, many times.
“Did you think the first Dickwolves comic was funny?”
I laughed, yeah. I do not like this thing where people say, “Oh the first comic was totally okay, but then later blah blah blah.” It wasn’t totally okay, and some people complained to that effect. According to the news post on the response comic, Jerry and Mike got multiple emails from long-time fans who were upset. Saying that the first comic was A-OK dismisses that, and I’m not thrilled at the idea of saying that the people who spoke up were speaking up over nothing. It wasn’t nothing, it just wasn’t something that on that particular day, for me, seemed to be upsetting personally. You may not believe this, but I do not go through every part of my day just digging like hell to find things connected to rape culture. Also, not all rape and sexual assault survivors have the same triggers about the same things. It’s like we’re individual people or something.
“For whatever reason, I feel comfortable telling you that you having PTSD means you’re weak.”
I’ve been hearing this pretty consistently. Sometimes from people for whom this is all hypothetical. Also from people who’ve had traumatic accidents and feel that’s comparable to another human being raping you, and so since they’ve “dealt with” their PTSD already, I’m supposed to have already “dealt with” mine. And also from other rape and sexual assault survivors, some of whom never had PTSD and so think I shouldn’t have it either, and some who had it but don’t let it, “rule their lives,” the way I supposedly am letting it rule mine.
I know it can be tough to get a full sense of another person via the Internet, but just to throw it out there: my life is not spent speaking out against things that trigger me. This is actually the first time I’ve ever talked about being triggered in any kind of depth, to anyone. It doesn’t happen to me regularly or often. In this instance, for reasons I can speculate on pretty confidently, the idea of being in public while guys walk around wearing a t-shirt that advertises how funny/awesome they think rapists are makes me feel wildly, terrifyingly unsafe. Given that this scenario is also one where I’m supposed to be a professional, it makes for a pretty damn hostile work environment.
I’m sorry if my speaking up about having PTSD makes you mad or makes you think it somehow reflects poorly on you or your own experiences. I know that to you I seem to need to grow a spine or have more courage or something along those lines. Please believe me when I say that to actually admit to myself that this kind of trigger exists for me, and to admit publicly that it happens, and speak up to try and prevent it rather than be in denial until PAX rolls around and my hands are shaking while I throw up in the nearest trash can and can’t bear to have anyone touch me, not even my partner…admitting all of that and not trying to pretend it isn’t real is the limit for me. I’m being as brave as I can be right now.
“So are you going to PAX and if not, are you starting another convention, and either way, what conventions should I attend?”
I had always thought of PAX as a place for everyone in the game community, regardless of their play style or the genres of games they like. The initial comic didn’t change that perception for me; unfortunately, everything that’s come after has chipped away at whatever sense of belonging or welcome I might have had.
It is one of the few universal things about people – we love to play games. Not just people like you, whoever you are, but people the opposite of you. People who disagree with you politically, people who hold entirely different belief systems than you. People who’ve lived thorough things you haven’t lived through. There are people in the industry that I don’t see eye to eye with on a lot of things, but they make great games and I love playing them. For me, the whole point of gameplay is to be able share experiences with others and allow them to do and feel things they couldn’t otherwise do and feel in their non-gaming lives. To draw a line in the sand and say, “I am explicitly safe in this community and get share in this, but you are not and thus you don’t,” is heart-breaking to me. If that’s the message from PAX’s founders, then I have to assume that’ll be the message from at least some of PAX’s attendees. You get the audience you deserve.
I’m not starting a convention of any kind, but if you are, feel free to let me know. I have it on good authority that starting a convention is pretty easy these days. Deirdra Kiai has assembled a list of PAX-alternative cons to attend, if you’re interested in that sort of thing. I can say with confidence that I’ll be at Geek Girl Con one way or another, so if you’re coming to that, feel free to find me and say hi.
“I have a problem with another website and would like to tell you about it.”
Um, okay? You realize that the only websites I run are this here blog and a sadly-neglected Tumblr about interior design, right? If you got banned on Shakesville, then I’m sorry you didn’t adhere to their comment policy. If you have a problem with Fuck No Penny Arcade, including a problem being able to tell that I do not in fact run FNPA, perhaps let the person who actually runs it know? I am not the Feminism Police of the Internet.
“But FNPA says they hate ‘neckbeards’ and ‘rape apologists’ and so I would like to hold you responsible for that statement.”
Based on what I’ve been able to find out about “neckbeards”, it seems to relate to poor hygiene and grooming and/or being fat. I genuinely don’t understand this – so we’re making fun of nerdy guys for their bodies or their facial hair now? Like…categorically? I understand that there is a sub-set of nerddom that could stand to bathe more frequently, but that applies to all people. Not nerds, not guys, all people. Any large gathering of any group had stinky folks, or have you never attended a concert or State Fair before? We already have tons of words to describe being stinky or smelly (I just used two of them!). Likewise, I don’t get this thing of mocking bad nerdy guy behavior (and yes, there is definitely some worth mocking) via mocking their bodies or looks. Are we really doing that now? We’re going to make people who are fans of shit we’re fans of feel bad about their physical appearance? Really? Cause I am not into it.
This got bounced around on my corner of Twitter, and it seems like the closest thing to “neckbeard” that actually means what it says would be along the lines of, “misogynerd.” So to whatever extent anyone wants to claim I have influence over anything or anyone: go forth and rightfully call out misogynerds on their fucked up ways, be it total denial that rape is even real to that freaky-condescending “chivalrous” claim that all girls are mysterious, unknowable beings from a mystical realm. (And if you genuinely want to get someone to shave their neck-hairs, I’ve found, “you look like a Confederate soldier,” to be effective. But that’s something I teasingly say to my partner when his goatee starts to disappear into his unshaven stubble, not something I say to a stranger as if I assume they want to be found attractive by me in the first place.)
On the rape apology thing…the PA guys haven’t said anything up to this point that’s made me go, “hey, rape apology.” Others may disagree, and again – if you see someone saying things that you don’t think are correct, and you want them to stop, maybe consider actually engaging the person using the terms you don’t like in conversation? I mean, I get that whoever is writing FNPA is anonymous and brilliantly scary, and meanwhile you already know my real name and can ask me questions on Twitter whenever you feel like it. But again: I am not the Sheriff of Internet Feminists. We aren’t an organized unit, and we disagree with each other a lot.
“I think rape only happens to women, or happens to women so disproportionately that I’m comfortable telling men they shouldn’t comment on the subject at all.”
I think I’ve gone through the comments and left messages directly to the people putting this idea forth, but just in case I missed one, and to keep it from happening in the future: Rape and sexual assault happen to all genders, not just women. I’m not interested in engaging in debate on this issue. If you must perpetuate that lie, and thus feed into one of the myths of rape culture, let me at least assure you that I will not let you perpetuate it here. Anyone who responds to this post trying to argue with me about this fact will have their comment deleted and their IP address banned. That is how little I care about hearing the “other side” of this issue. It’s a lie, and a damaging one, and it erases the experiences of multiple people I know.
And lest I let a teachable moment pass: That paragraph? Is actual censorship.