Outrage

I read on The Forum Whatever about Rapelay, a Japanese video game which, well, read the article here, which will tell you no more than you need to know.

The thing is, though, it’s a game where the aim is to rape people; why is it that that seems so much worse than games in which the idea is to gratuitously kill others who are unarmed? I don’t have a problem with violent games in which you’re actually in combat with others who are also armed and it’s kill-or-be-killed, because there is an objective to your violence and it’s not absolutely the entire point of the game. The point of the game there is your own imaginary survival; fair enough. But when you’re not at risk from the people you’re killing how has that become acceptable (e.g. in Grand Theft Auto) when surely it ought to ring as terrible as this rape-simulation game? Or is there a reasonable justification for feeling that a game centred on raping girls and women is in some way morally worse than a game which is primarily about killing innocent bystanders?

And what about films? When is it acceptable to portray graphic, violent rape scenes, and what do we mean by ‘in the name of art’? Is it OK if you’re trying to shock your audience, but not if you know they’re just going to get off on it? And is that the true difference between ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture?

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24 Comments

Filed under Internet, Introspection, Life, Sex, Society, Thoughts, World

24 responses to “Outrage

  1. Dominic Rout

    I think I’ve heard about this “game” before – or something very similar (which is possibly worse, if several such things exist), on Charlie Brooker’s Gamewipe.

    I’m not totally sure that the outrage to this game is more than the outrage that Grand Theft Auto caused when it first came out. It’s likely that the only difference is that we all got bored of being upset with GTA. Oh, and Amazon stopped sales of this game. Which is less of a big deal than that article makes out – it looks from the “cached” version of the page that it was only being sold by third party sellers THROUGH Amazon. The quote on there about it being ‘widely available’ was utter nonsense.

    I think GTA is also easier to stomach because, at the end of the day, the characters are hard, pseudo realistic 3D models that it’s hard to feel sorry for. Games where the graphics are more artistically calculated to provoke an emotional response tend to receive a worse reaction. ‘tears in the little girl’s eyes’ is a perfect example. I’m sure that if you used similar effects in GTA, it would raise wider objections.

    You also have to raise the question of whether a game can ever be ‘art’? We accept books or films with graphic depictions of rape, usually when it’s handled in a certain way to make some point. There’s a whole debate about whether you can say that a game – an interactive experience usually made with very different objects to other art forms, can ever be considered in that way. Publishers of titles such as “heavy rain” are obviously betting that it can.

  2. Tom

    Wrongly-prioritized though it may sound, I personally find the game (and others like it) particularly bizarre because of the pointless crass user interfacing.

    Beat ’em ups and shoot ’em ups – even the ones where there’s no good storyline reason for you beating/shooting ’em up – are popular and rife because gaming input mechanisms – joysticks and the like – are fundamentally awesome at that sort of interactivity. The skill level gets higher and higher but always the game responds immediately with hugely varied results according to what actions you choose – and whether or not you manage to actually pull them off. In a brutally realistic fight simulator, pulling off a particularly tricky combo is satisfying because you’ve mastered the button-pressing and the computer has responded accordingly, not because you like seeing people beating seven bells out of each other.

    In these erotic games, however, there’s no skill or strategy about it, nothing you can do with a joystick or keyboard feels like a direct enough parallel with sexual proddage. I note from the Wikipedia article that the player ‘controls the action by making movements with the mouse or by scrolling the mouse wheel’ e.g. when groping the breasts on the train. I’ve not played it but I doubt this takes long to master, there certainly won’t some 9 button combo to get to grips with that produces the dragon-punch of breast groping and moves you on to a more challenging pair of breasts. Apart from that you essentially just seem to have various options you can tweak, e.g. whether or not the younger sister makes cat noises. Maybe I shouldn’t make critiques like this without playing it, but like all these erotic games, it sounds like watching a really sordid anime but having to constantly give your permission for the next scene to come on.

  3. I really ought to be revising now, but a couple of points:
    1) This story is rehashed from February 2009. Which means it probably is the same one you heard about, Dominic.
    2) I need to do some kind of proper analysis at some point, but this is a similar outrage to GTA – the difference being, I think, that while GTA simply takes the rather simplistic moral norms of computer games (which are more or less the moral norms of classical epics: the protagonist is always in the right) and simply cranks it up another gear rather deliberately, Rapelay is making an amoral game out of something we’re not desensitised to, especially in computer games. (Other than things like Leisure Suit Larry, sex-games are pretty rare, as far as I know – mostly because it’s presumably rather difficult to work out how to run the subject as a game given the available materials.) (Compare and contrast your reaction to this, for example – although I should add that I’ve yet to work out what on earth the argument is supposed to be…)

  4. Tom

    Also, the protagonist of GTA seems much less of a crackpot than that of Rapelay, providing you follow the plot of the game. Although the option, infamously, is there to beat up random civilians, the game doesn’t actually reward it and even punishes it if you do it enough; to finish the game you’re better off, in my limited experience, focusing on your genuine underworld adversaries. Whereas in Rapelay, the onus is on you to rape this family who weren’t exactly asking for it.

    But yeh, Anthony a rape poem is much more fathomable because it’s so eminently readable, whereas a rape game is perverse partly because it just doesn’t work, in the same way that it would be perverse for me to, say, design a building that somehow depicted rape, and in the same way that Football simulators are more popular than fishing simulators.

    xxx

  5. This is a rather excellent post 🙂

    “But yeh, Anthony a rape poem is much more fathomable because it’s so eminently readable, whereas a rape game is perverse partly because it just doesn’t work”

    Well, also poetry is generally intended as comment, almost. A poem about war is a comment on the hideousness and wastefulness of such. A poem about rape is similarly a comment. Games generally aren’t as artful. The entertainment value from Call of Duty doesn’t come from the insightful commentary on contemporary military engagements, or observations on the reality of war. No, these games are popular because, well, they’re fun.

    I have no experience of games like Rapelay, but I am willing to bet that similarly they are not intended as meaningful reflections on rape. Rather because sex sells, and some people will get their rocks off on this sort of thing. The poem isn’t (presumably) designed as a masturbatory aid, whereas I’m sure the game to an extent is. So I really don’t think this is comparable to Yeats.

    GTA is an interesting case. It’s not uber-realistic by any stretch of the imagination. It’s an exaggerated, almost comicbook-style game. It really doesn’t take itself seriously, and the merciless killing of innocent virtual people is part of that. You say Rapelay is a “rape simulation”; GTA is in no way whatsoever a simulation, because everything is exaggerated for comic effect (I hope you get what I mean?). That said, I think some of the newer GTA games are slightly losing this point, but the only reason I think this makes them worthy of disapproval is because they’re just plain bad games – they’re not fun any more!

    “When is it acceptable to portray graphic, violent rape scenes, and what do we mean by ‘in the name of art’? Is it OK if you’re trying to shock your audience, but not if you know they’re just going to get off on it? And is that the true difference between ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture?”

    I guess it’s all about context. It’s acceptable when it has purpose in the overall context of the film/game/whatever, but of course deciding that is incredibly subjective. For most graphic things though, there’s a chance that someone will get off on it, regardless of how artistically valid it may be. I guess that all we can say is that sometimes graphic scenes are justifiable, but it essentially comes down to a judgement call as to when that is. If done badly, these sorts of scenes are just cheap and tacky, but that doesn’t mean that it’s unacceptable to portray violent scenes because sometimes this is a powerful artistic tool.

    /ramble

  6. Tom

    Well said, Dickie.

    Just to confirm, I’m not appalled in any way by Rapelay. I just don’t think it sounds very good.

  7. The thing about Rapelay is that it is, to some extent, a manufactured controversy. This is a game which was made and marketed only in Japan.
    What interest (and likely that Amazon listing) it has had in the West is entirely due to this controversy.

    Somebody somewhere has gone to lengths to find the most disgusting thing they could find, and by focussing on it make it appear typical.

    GTA is one of the worst affected by this; yes, you can indeed have sex with and then murder prostitutes. That is true. You can also pop a sweet wheelie on your motorbike, or play a game of pool. It’s just a game that provides you with options, the ones you take are ultimately your problem.

    As to games as art; absolutely. They can make a point: the original Call of Duty had (I believe) a campaign where you played an under-equipped Russian soldier; you had to pluck a gun from the corpse of a comrade. This actually happened in real life.

    Something like Half-Life 2 is simultaneously a beautiful portrait of a repressed Orwellian society fighting back and a damned fun game, and something like Braid (http://www.braid-game.com/) is clever and painterly and makes you think.

  8. Dominic Rout

    There have been video games in the past that were intended as “comments”. For example, there was a game in 2006 that was designed to explore the columbine shootings and parody video games that glorify such events. Sadly, it was poorly conceived and heavily criticised. Perhaps the use of cartoon graphics and the inclusion of a level set in hell did little to help.

    It’s conceivable that at some point in the future successful games will be made with “difficult” central themes and which form genuine commentaries. I would even go as far as to say that it’s not a horrible idea – games designers, if they’re clever, can draw players into the narrative in the same way that authors can. Except video games are far more accessible.

    This is not one of those games. It’s clearly a crass peace of adult “entertainment”. As Tom put it “a really sordid anime but having to constantly give your permission for the next scene to come on”.

  9. Jenny

    I’m starting to come round to the idea of games as credible art, in the same way that graphic novels or comics arguably are. Still in their infancy, these genres as yet have nothing on the best of literature, film or actual art art (you know, sculpture, painting, Bacon, Da Vinci, Rothko, Picasso, Moore) etc, but that’s not to say they are not respectable in an interesting cultural sense, or that htey don’t make a valid and interesting point once in a while.

    I think Rapelay is utterly appalling myself. Because as Andy pointed out, although it is possible to murder innocent bystanders, have sex with and then murder and mug prostitutes, and so on and so forth, in GTA, that’s not actually the whole point of hte game, whereas it is the whole point of the game in Rapelay to deliberately set out to rape characters as an (in fact the) objective of the entire game.

    Personally I can’t think of much that is more morally reprehensible, without actual death or rape being involved. You cannot and ought not to desensitise people to things like this because whereas murdering people is not within most peoples’ remit of things they are likely to go out and do, however many violent video games they play, playing a game like this effectively allows people, piecemeal, to subconsciously get the idea that treating women as sexual objects is acceptable. Don’t look at me like that, I’ve come across quite a high proportion of young men who seem to have learnt everything they know about sex, sexual etiquette, and when a woman owes you sex, from porn and games and the internet.

    While I don’t think you can make a huge argument for hte desensitisation to violence caused by games, becuase most people know out-and-out that violence is wrong, I think the lines are blurred in the case of sexual mores as portrayed by games like this (or GTA, or porn, comics, and other shit on the internet) because there isn’t a clearcut rule. It’s not just a case of ‘sex is wrong’ because obviously it isn’t. And even the smallest mistake in where the boundaries lie can lead to huge amounts of misunderstanding, upset, and yes, even rape.

    Just to make it entirely clear: I don’t think that playing Rapelay is going to make men go out and seek out women and their children to rape. I’m saying, more generally, that you’re getting taught social mores and moral lessons in everything you see and do every day, and if a big influence upon you is one which gives you a certain subconscious attitude towards sex and women, it will make you think you can act in a way which actually, perhaps, when it comes to it in the real world, isn’t appropriate.

    ‘You’ here obviously being a generic ‘one’.

    Does that make any sense? Did I manage to say what I was trying to say?

    xxx

  10. Dominic Rout

    I’m inclined to agree with much of what you’re saying. It seems that you’re putting forward the “dripping tap” argument – continual exposure to media like this can have a lasting effect on subconscious attitudes.

    It would clearly a very bad idea for games like RapeLay to somehow become ‘normal’. I think we could probably be slightly relieved that this is a relatively obscure title which will probably only be played by people who seek it out (it’s worrying that such people exist!).

    The only thing I’d like to point is that subtle examples of rape being ‘glamorised’ exist in far less obvious places. A friend of mine maintains that many of the sex scenes in James Bond would have distinctly “rapey” undertones were you to simply take away the soundtrack. One notable example is Bond “seducing” the lesbian Pussy Galore. Even Doctor Who, a show which is, after all, watched by children apparently makes light of sexual situation in which one of the characters is very uncomfortable (perhaps an extreme interpretation, but one blogger defends the point beautifully at http://reconciliate.wordpress.com/2010/05/18/what-happened-at-the-end-of-flesh-and-stone-was-sexual-assault-qa/ ). These are a few examples out of many. The mishandling of sexual assault in otherwise “innocent” media is not uncommon.

    If everything we see every day really has the effect of shaping our attitudes and boundaries, especially on an issue where, as you put it “the lines are blurred”, we should be very afraid indeed.

  11. Ah! Just remembered something else I wanted to add!

    While I personally find something like Rapelay disgusting and disturbing, it’s also not real. Most sane people are able to tell the difference between the two, and act appropriately.

    What’s a lot more worrying is that Japan has a legitimate problem with men groping women on public transport. Y’know how camera phones tend to emit a anachronistic shutter noise when they take a photo? I believe that’s partly because Japanese law mandates that to reduce the problem of surreptitious upskirt photos. That’s far more disturbing than any game of simulated rape.

    I know I personally have done some appaling things in games. I’ve blown out a man’s intestines with a shotgun, I’ve murdered villages of people by setting them on fire with lightning. I’ve slaughtered thousands of men, toppled governments. I’ve shot people as they ran away, I’ve nuked cities. Some of those things I even felt bad about (the intestines, for one. Little too realistic.) But I know the difference between that and real life. I’d like to think most people did.

    That’s one of the problems with porn; it is a twisted corner of the real world, but a part of it nonetheless. That distinction is harder to draw, especially when mostly sex in the real world is treated as insufferably taboo. I think in some ways Japan’s culture is more repressed in that way than our own, which leads to a perversion (‘scuse the pun) of their sexual culture.

    I know personally I have real trouble dealing with sex-related stuff outside of a private space, aside from the culturally acceptable options of typically juvenile male-group braggery. Our whole damn culture needs to grow the fuck up.

    Apologies for thematic weirdness, typing on iPhone and brain frazzled by revision.,.

  12. “I think Rapelay is utterly appalling myself”

    What do you mean by “appalling”? Appalling as in morally outrageous? Because I would agree that it’s appalling on the grounds that it clearly is distasteful, but I wouldn’t agree that there should be moral outrage calling for it to be banned or whatever. It’s more akin to porn really rather than most games, and yes it is fairly disgusting but I don’t buy into the idea that the existence of things like this makes rape or violence more likely to occur, or that they are massively influential on the attitudes of most people. I think rather that things like Rapelay exist because there is an appetite for them, rather than their existence creating the desire for them. This isn’t intended at all as a justification or an excuse, by the way. Quite the opposite; the fact that the game exists is disquieting to say the least, but I think it’s more worrying that there is a market for it in the first place. If that makes sense? I think I’m essentially saying the same thing as you here…

    That said, I disagree that things like this – or GTA or the other things you mention – desensitise people to the idea of rape, or even how women are treated generally. I think obviously extreme things like this are not really influential on 99% of people because it’s obvious that the behaviour is unacceptable. To use GTA as an example again, you play the game running around stealing cars, but very few people feel the urge after playing it to go and steal a real car. Because it’s obvious that extreme behaviour like that is not tolerated.

    You say you think it’s different for sexual mores but I disagree. I think the “extreme” stuff is obviously filtered out as unacceptable by most people. That said, I do think that there is a difference in the way men and women are portrayed generally in film/tv/literature/etc, but I think this is much more influential because it’s not in things portraying “extreme” behaviour. In other words, I’m saying that I don’t think it’s just the shit or excessive parts of the media which is to blame for some of what you’re talking about; it’s arguably the more mainstream media.

    So, you say:

    “playing a game like this effectively allows people, piecemeal, to subconsciously get the idea that treating women as sexual objects is acceptable”

    and I disagree. I think a big part of it down to other, less “extreme” sections of the media. I think the average Lynx advert has much more to answer for the idea of treating women as objects than Rapelay, because people don’t see Lynx adverts as obviously unacceptable, and they’re also much more prevalent.

    I’ve just read Dominic Rout’s comment and I think we’ve made roughly the same point…

    Of course then there’s the question of what comes first, and I think this is a critical thing to ask. Are adverts/tv/whatever sending out that message and then influencing people’s attitudes, or do they actually reflect the attitudes that are already prevalent in society? I think a bit of both, but mostly the latter.

  13. Only got Andy’s comment after I refreshed the page after posting the comment, but I agree with this:

    “Our whole damn culture needs to grow the fuck up.”

  14. I read the piece on “Flesh & Stone” and I think I disagree with both the style of the argument and the point therein, but I think that’s probably material for a post of my own. The quickest way I can think of is that it’s incorrect to argue in a form where you insist a priori that the person you’re arguing against is wrong, even if you admit it may only be an error of ignorance. It’s patronising and didactic. I’ve also been guilty of arguing like that. Oops.

  15. Aaah, sorry for the comment spam, but the above-described post is balooning in size in my head, to the point where’s going to take about a week or more, if I don’t completly wuss out on it. I should be asleep, not thinking!

  16. Jenny

    I think, actually, that media in ‘subcultures’ does have a lot to answer for, actually. But the thing is I think I’m at risk of using bitter personal experience to make a point that perhaps cannot be generalised like that except by someone, like me, who has an obvious bias. I think that — while, yes, Lynx adverts and such promote a certain attitude, and all the examples you give, all of you, have a lot to answer for — I think it’s the sorts of boys who spend a lot of time indoors playing games and watching films which treat women as objects and secondary characters and in which rape and other similar sexual scenarios are not uncommon, that grow up to be young men who don’t realise that their idea of reasonable boundaries, consent, obligation and so on are not accurate reflections of hte real world.

    Present company entirely excepted of course (or so I believe). You all seem pretty clued-on, decent chaps.

    This might sound like a ‘but my best friend is gay’ argument — it’s not, because I have met a generality of boys as above described who, well, NSIT*, as some might say. Well, perhaps I’m generalising a little bit but it is certainly not un-widespread.

    And yes, I’ve heard similarly disturbing things about Japanese public transport, cameras, etc. ARGH.

    Also, blurred lines, remember? I thought of something which makes my argument even clearer: the morality by which most of us live basically dictates that you wouldn’t steal a car, but that you also wouldn’t steal a lollypop from the pic’n’mix or a pen from the charity mugger down the road or whatever. You wouldn’t blow a person’s intestines out with a shotgun but nor would you punch them in cold blood (or even in hot, really). The corollary of this for sexual behaviour runs two ways and both are equally false: you wouldn’t rape someone violently, so you wouldn’t have sex with anyone at all? or you wouldn’t rape someone violently, so you wouldn’t so much as touch them without prior and definite consent (which would imply that on a date you’d have to ask – may I hold your hand now? Can I kiss you? is it OK if I rest my hand propriatorially on your back when we walk into this bar? which, obviously, most people don’t do – nor need they. How signals like those are interpreted or acted upon then dictates your future behaviour – if I take my hand out of yours, move so your hand drops away from my back, etc.

    As you can see already from my rambling, the line is very blurred and wobbly indeed. I have met men who assume that because I’m going out to dinner with them I am therefore going to at least take my top off. I have met men who don’t really get it when you drop their hand once that they’re not to grab your hand again a few minutes later, or don’t understand other similar body language, becuase they don’t understand something basic about my sovereignty over my own body or something. And I have met a number of perfect gentlemen, who know that there are rules, who know all the signs, and who don’t push it. Who show their liking of me by holding my umbrella or carrying my bag or giving me their coat rather than making it quite obvious how much they’d like to divest me of mine. The point is, basically, some men see me as an object, and some men see me as a human being and value me accordingly. And I can’t help thinking that sometimes that’s becuase the women you encounter in the gaming world, in comic books, on the internet (as characters, I mean, not real peope on the internet), are weak damsel types, porn stars, or victims of violence and rape with no characterisation or humanity of their own – effectively, punchbag-inflatable-doll-hybrids. And in the same way that it’s damagign that we women are presented with an image of men that shows you all as being all about the sex, emotionally dense as two short planks, commitment-shy Mr Big types (you know, from SATC), the simplified male view of women in these media is massively damaging.

    Haha I’ve just realised that in the unlikely scenario that I ever end up on a date with any of you commenters here, you’re going to be absolutely fucking terrified in case I’m actually doing this kind of incredibly-high-standards judgemental nit-comb-based analysis as I go. I don’t. I just judge you afterwards :P.

    I don’t know what I think abotu all of htis comment. It’s doubtful that I’ve accurately made the point I was trying to make.

    *not safe in taxis. Upper Class old-fashioned acronyms are a personal hobby of mine, which is perhaps a bit non-U itself?!!

  17. Clare

    aha, dare I use the F-word?

    That’s essentially what people like Object [ http://www.object.org.uk/ ] and other big feminist organisations are campaigning against. Because it’s not just in computer games (this one, by the way, absolutely disgusts me) but it’s also in a lot of other media aimed at men. Meanwhile, women are presented with a one-dimensional view of what men should be which essentially makes it harder to really break through that sort of conditioning. The parameters of acceptable heteronormative behaviour are pretty narrow now, which means that the objectification and/or steretyping of the genders is really very easy. It’s limiting for both genders and also rather dangerous, as ‘rape games’ prove.

    I think you’re also right, Jen, about why it is that rape games are more abhorrent: it’s precisely because of that blurred line, because of the uncertainty of where the boundaries are drawn between consensual and non-consensual sexual activity, because of the global struggle to get anyone ever convicted, that they’re somehow less ‘acceptable’. Murder’s wrong. Most people are not, in their lifetime, going to be in a situation where they are about to kill someone and think it’s a situation in which both parties are happy about this. Murder is pretty black-and-white, I’d argue. Rape, often, just isn’t. Yeah, violent rape maybe is more apparent, I suppose, but even then there’s still a feeling on the attacker’s part which dictates that their feelings about body-sovereignty and who owns what are of greater importance than the victim’s. And then there are the other situations in which it is, sadly, far less clear. And it shouldn’t be so uncertain, and people should have learned by the time they’re sexually active that yes means yes and no means no, and if someone says no, you stop. Sadly, again, it doesn’t seem to matter.

    Which is why playing a game about something so apparently difficult to define morally (because when women reach the courts it becomes difficult to convict because judges and juries have peculiar ideas of what constitutes consent – i.e. skinny jeans = a big fat yes…) is, I’d argue, dangerous. Because you’re putting yourself in the single-minded position of someone who doesn’t care about a yes, or a no, and whilst you’d hope that people can draw the lines between game and imagination, I think rape and sex are one of those things which it is harder to separate out: because, I suppose, everyone indulges in sexual fantasies, and games are sort of like playing out fantasies, maybe?

    Either way, yuck. Disgusting game. There really should be limits on what is acceptable in computer games…

    Cxxx

  18. “I think it’s the sorts of boys who spend a lot of time indoors playing games and watching films which treat women as objects ”

    I disagree. I know a number of people who do just that, and they don’t treat women in the way you say. I think the people who act as you say do it for reasons other than they saw someone do the same in a game or film or whatever.

    One of my friends is involved with Object (as well as other feminist groups), and to a point I get it. Object have a real problem with lads mags, which I partly agree with. But using that example, I don’t think they are wholly responsible for the way some men view women. Rather, men would have to already have that prejudice in order to buy the magazine. So I really don’t buy the idea that things like that, or games like Rapelay, or even porn (to an extent) are massively responsible for prejudice in society, because people choose what media they consume. Things which are overtly disgusting, like the things that have been mentioned here, are (I suggest) only consumed by people who are already predisposed towards those attitudes.

    Which is why I say that part of the problem is more mainstream media. Because more people are exposed to this, and it’s not seen as “extreme”.

    Although when I say this is “part of the problem”, I don’t know how big a part it is. I don’t think it can all be attributed to the media. I.e. I don’t think it’s just a case of the media shows things with these stereotypes, and then people believe them. I think the media – to an extent – reflects the mood and attitudes of society generally. That is, we are also influenced by the people around us. And I think that we are sort of in a transitory state at the moment, moving from an era of blatant, unmasked inequality, towards a fairer society.

    Clare, you say that there should be limits on what is acceptable in games. How do you mean? If you mean that things like Rapelay should be banned then I disagree. Not because I think that the game is defensible in any way, because it clearly isn’t. But I don’t agree with banning things just because we dislike them.

  19. Jenny

    not because we dislike tem so much as because they are completely immoral, I believe. I’m not sure if I agree with the idea of banning them, but, yeah. I see why you would argue that.

    Also the media reflects our beliefs as a society but in reflecting them it also reinforces them and these beliefs have to come from somewhere and since we’re influenced by everyone nad everything in our lives, actually, I think the media have a lot to answer for.

    that said obviously plenty of people grow up not seeing women as sex objects or all men as Mr Big, so.

    I don’t know.

    Baaaa.

  20. Tom

    Yes… yes… If the problem with the game is men’s inability to take this stuff with a pinch of salt, to separate the fantasy from the reality (which I can certainly go with; whilst the existence of the game doesn’t surprise me, I have a pretty low opinion of its userbase), isn’t it time we got more up in arms about how men get that way in the first place?

    Just thinking aloud really, but, I mean, if you’re playing Rapelay, you probably already own a huge stash of porn/japanese cartoons in which women are completely objectified. That only, I hope, accounts for a few of the ‘generality of boys’ that Jenny mentions – yes, I know these days everybody’s seen porn, but I’m talking about those who get in to it to the point where it clouds their judgment. And in any case, you still have to seek it out, we didn’t grow up with the porn channel sitting their next to channel 4 in the ‘socially acceptable’ zone, no, the starting point for all this has to be the dynamic between men and women in popular stuff that people watch *because it’s what people watch*.

    Jenny, you mention chivalry on dates… can’t remember the last time I saw an example of that on the telly… if he was affeminate enough to be polite, he wouldn’t be on something as macho as a date, right? OK, I’m sure there are exceptions, so I don’t watch much telly these days but… this is why I don’t! I can, however, think of plenty of examples where the male character was quite right to assume the female one would ‘at least take her top off’, you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned men’s views on “when a woman owes you sex”, as though it’s some sort of tedious inevitability.

    And women *do* suffer from it too, choosing the “emotionally dense as two short planks, commitment-shy Mr Big types” because choosing the emotionally-intelligent guy who will offer you his coat and not get proprietorial actually seems like outlandish, unchartered territory. Not you personally, I’m talking about a generality of girls. When a man is rejected for no great reason enough times by the generality, that’s when he reaches for the porn, that’s when subcultures thrive and bizarre examples like Rapelay express themselves. Or something. So yeh, it’s everyone’s fault except ours.

  21. “not because we dislike tem so much as because they are completely immoral, I believe”

    But morality is highly subjective. I agree that this is a highly disgusting game, and I think you’d have to be seriously fucked-up to want to play a game like Rapelay. But do I think the game is immoral? Well, it’s just a game. I’m not sure how morality applies to virtual things, and someone playing this game isn’t actually harming anyone.

    So I struggle to think of it as immoral, although I can see why you would say it is. But then that’s the point; it’s subjective. Part of living in a free society is that some people will do things you find disgusting. And if people want to play games like Rapelay, I suggest that the key question is working out why, rather than simply banning it.

    I guess someone might argue that it’s better to ban games like this because they might make people more likely to rape someone. I don’t buy that though. I think that if someone has the personality or attitudes required to rape someone (or murder, or whatever), I think those traits run to deep than to be affected by one game. The cumulative effect of lots of things – lots of TV shows, games, movies, adverts etc, as well as upbringing – probably have most responsibility. And I would suggest that actually upbringing, and the relationships we have with real people as we grow up, have the largest effect (although I admit that this isn’t based on any real evidence, rather than my gut feeling! If there’s any sort of psychological research into this I’d be interested).

    Just to be clear, none of this is a defence of the game, or similar ones. I do think it’s rather perverse and it’s not something I’d ever want to play, but clearly some people do and I don’t see the benefit from preventing them from doing so. I’m also amazed by the way that most people who have commented here seem more comfortable with games which portray random murder in glorious detail, than they do with this. I understand the reasoning, but it still surprises me.

    “Also the media reflects our beliefs as a society but in reflecting them it also reinforces them and these beliefs have to come from somewhere and since we’re influenced by everyone nad everything in our lives, actually, I think the media have a lot to answer for.”

    Yeah, I agree. I think you’re right that the media generally does have a lot to answer for, because I think it does have a role in reinforcing stereotypes about gender. And this harms men and women, because it proscribes roles for both. The point I was trying to make is that I think this role is much less blatant than “man play porn game, man want to act game out for real”. I don’t think most people are really that simple.

    “If the problem with the game is men’s inability to take this stuff with a pinch of salt, to separate the fantasy from the reality… isn’t it time we got more up in arms about how men get that way in the first place?”

    I agree with this. Although I think that most people do have the ability to separate fantasy from reality.

    “And women *do* suffer from it too, choosing the ’emotionally dense as two short planks, commitment-shy Mr Big types’ because choosing the emotionally-intelligent guy who will offer you his coat and not get proprietorial actually seems like outlandish, unchartered territory.”

    Really? :-S

  22. “And this harms men and women, because it proscribes roles for both.”

    Should be “prescribes” 😎

  23. Jenny

    I am definitely on the look-out for the emotionally intelligent ones rather than the obviously dense ones, and wouldn’t say they’re unchartered territory, it’s more that we as women start to *expect* men to have a low level of emotional intelligence when most men actually are about as emotionally intelligent as women are (obviously). We percieve men to be all about the sex, commitment shy, and all the rest of it, and on one level it’s continually surprising that no, they’re not like that. You don’t exactly forget that men have feelings, it’s more that you forget that those feelings are just as complex as your own.

    As for ‘when a woman owes you sex’, the ‘tedious inevitability of it’, it’s an idea I struggle with, frankly, having spent years feeling like I ‘ought’ and complying with that. And actually it doesn’t work like that at all.

    It’s not anything like as simple as a ‘struggle to separate fantasy from reality’, of course no-one sees violence on t’box and thinks that’s OK, or sees rape and thinks that’s fine, I think it just desensitises your moral compass on a more insidious level, subconsciously informing and altering your attitudes to women or whatever. I think I’ve probably hammered that point home enough though.

    Erm, yeah. Not sure what else I was going to say.

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