Nat S Ford (natf) wrote,
Nat S Ford

[updated] Rape culture and "jokes" in WoW

ETA: I am adding to the end of this post.

Warning: This post may be triggering/upsetting to some and will require maturity, thoughtfulness empathy to understand. Please do not read this if you are likely to be triggered to have flashbacks. I hope nobody reading this has ever been raped or otherwise sexually assaulted but the statistics suggest that many of you will and I have no wish to cause any of you pain/harm.

I wish that, whenever someone makes a "joke" about rape (or says something like, "We just raped totally that boss!") in /g, /p, /ra, /1, /2 or even /s, they would be automatically gkicked (if it was in /g) and perma-banned from WoW. I would go so far as to say that anyone using the word 'rape' or any of its derivatives in *any* chat channel, even /w (or RealID that I never use) should be perma-banned but then, it would not be possible for one player to confide in another player (whom they hopefully know face to face or well enough to trust real-world problems to) that they had just been raped by XXX IRL.

This is a tricky dilemma and would be extremely hard to implement (with complex linguistic heuristics being required in the code) and so I understand why auto-perma-banning is not implemented in game. That said I had hoped that /g would be a safe space for guild members whether they were one of the 1 in 6 women/girls that had been raped and the 1 in 33 or so men/boys that had or they were lucky enough to not have become a statistic.

I am not referring to any particular instance. I have not been playing WoW as often recently due to health problems and, in part, because I despair of expecting adult/mature conversation anywhere in WoW without infantile chatter about rape jokes, the ever-present and homophobic, "That's so gay!" slurs and other *-ist "joking". "Jokes" like this are not funny to anyone with an ounce of empathy. Other "jokes" that are within this ballpark are racist, ableist (e.g. "retard" or "gimp"), - basically anything that "Others" someone - i.e. makes them out to be lesser or outcast.

So, while I cannot remember names or recall dates or times, I have been dreading logging into WoW during peak hours in case I encounter anything like this. No, I am not oversensitive, I am merely caring and empathic with my own 'differences' (I am disabled - I have multiple sclerosis) and I know people both IRL and in WoW who have been raped, are from minority races, are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender , etc., are disabled in one or another way and so on. Please, can we try to make /g, at least, a safe place where any such chatter is forbidden? If people want to "joke" around like this, they can always have a multi-way RealID chat or create a new chat channel just for them. There is even the vent channels, but I would hope that this "joking" would be frowned on there as well, except in a private, invite-only channel, maybe.

Also, nobody has the right to ask anyone else what their status is in any of these respects. I am happy to tell you all thing about my real life (e.g. that I have MS, which I jokingly refer to as the MonSter because it is eating my brain ;-p), but someone else may not be as happy sharing such personal details about themselves on /g or here. If they tell you that your "joke" is offensive, please hear that they are feeling upset buy it. Please do not ask them if they have been raped, then, or if that means they are gay. That is none of your business. Just understand from them that your "joke" is tasteless and upsetting for whatever reason and that they would prefer you to stop talking in that way.

Okay, enough of the "boring mum-talk" (I am not a parent and will never be, thank goodness). Let's get back to playing WoW and having fun in /g, please?

Links for further reading / understanding:
So you've made a rape joke: a guide for responding to feminist criticism
A woman walks into a rape, uh, bar

I have cross-posted this post to our WoW guild's forums and have linked back from there to here.

ETA: I have received two replies (from Raekwon and Palkan, both officers in the guild as far as I remember) on the guild forum to this essay to date, both of which imply to me that my essay was needed over there. I am reproducing my replies to them here, editing only for BBCode -> HTML.

My reply after reading both comments:

Thank you to you both. Sadly we do not completely agree with some concepts but then we cannot always agree with everyone. I will keep in mind that these things are said with no malice intended (usually) but *will* mention it to an officer and/or object in /g (or /p or whatever) if it happens. While some of the times I have seen it was in a PUG /p, it *has* happened in /g as well, although luckily, when I objected, I was backed up by Orddu and/or other more mature players / guildies.

I hope that I have not upset anyone with this essay but it had been growing and growing as an "issue" that was stopping me from logging in (and/or contemplating ressurecting toons on another server to take a break from JaG without leaving - I do NOT want to leave JaG!) and I needed to put it down in 'writing' which I did offline and then thought that it might be useful to put it online as well.

So, thank you both for your calm consideration and I will try not to let it worry me as much in the future if we can point 'offenders' at this thread (or my LJ post which is a permanent LJ account and so unlikely to disappear unless LJ itself does) so as to show them how their behaviour might trigger others. If that is a bit egotistical of me then feel free to remove the thread and forget I said anything! ;-p


My reply to something specific that Raekwon said:

Quoting Raekwon:That said I am no angel myself being that I do call people like Mikeman a retard or let out the occasional "that is so gay" comment but that isn't to say that I am homophobic

Sadly, though, it is homophobic because if someone who is questioning their sexuality sees/hears you say it they will be even more scared/embarrased {sic} to consider that they might be gay, bi or other. While it is likely true that you do not hate people with other sexualities, it does still potentially cause an atmosphere of discomfort and make others reading/listening think that the guild allows such speech.

As for 'retard', I personally find that even more offensive, seeing as I have a neurological disability that is affecting my cognition. I doubt you would ever say it to me or anyone else in a malicious manner but I (or someone in a similar 'place' to me who is not 'out' to the guild as so disabled) will be made to feel uncomfortable/triggered by use of that word. I and many others have had that word (and the 'so gay' and similar phrases) used against us in malicious, vindictive bullying with or without physical abuse/violence (in my case and likely that of others leading to PTSD) and so your innocent-intending use of these WILL upset and trigger me/them.

I know/hope none of the guild means these words/phrases to hurt people (and am sure that might be the case for many in PUGs) but I hope that you/they all might be able to learn how upsetting it is / can be and how wide-reaching triggered-PTSD can be IRL even if the seemingly benign trigger is brief and temporary.

Anyway. I am rambling again. Luckily I am happy to be out/open about these things in the hope that people like yourselves might learn how your benignly-intended words can affect others.
blush smiley from the forum

P.S. I will copy/paste my replies here to the post on my LJ. I will not do so with your comments (they are not my words to copy) but link to them instead

ETA2: after a couple more comments on the guild forums, I made another reply (N.B. "Bird" is a nickname for one of the commenters who plays an owl-like moonkin-form druid called Orddu ;-p):

Yes, I agree Bird. Thanks for that. I was merely trying to edumificate so that people could change themselves if they had any compassion for the not-out listeners/readers that they come in contact with. As you know, though, the MS and PTSD conspire, in me personally, to give me no choice how to be triggered by or react to an event.

Also, talking about free-speech: "You keep using that [i]phrase[/i]. I do not think it means what you think it means!" (Name that paraphrased quote?) Free-speech is only relevant, as far as I am aware, in the US where their constitution provides that right. We definitely do *not* have free-speech in the UK where speakers can be banned from entering the country to stop them speaking, for example. 'No Platform', anyone?

So, I thank you all for reading and discussing my wibble. I will try to get back into playing WoW again and, while I am not some 'special snowflake', I do know that my disabilities mean that my emotions are in far less control than those of most people. I will try my hardest not to go off on one in /g or /w if someone triggers me (or if I am worried that they may trigger someone else. I will try but cannot guarantee to be able to. I only ask that others try to be conscious that their words may have unexpected effects on others. That is all I really hoped to do by making this post, anyway. i.e. if someone says that what you say/write is upsetting to them, please try not to lash out and call them oversensitive and/or something even more hurtful. I know, a big ask maybe, especially of our younger members, but if we cannot teach by example and by writing essays like mine above then what can we do?
Tags: fail, hate-speech, rape-culture, warcraft, wow

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