The use of the word ‘rape’ in gaming environments

(this is written in response to the discussion about appropriate language in games stores, started by a recent article by Channel Fireball)

As a survivor of rape I can’t believe I need to say this, but here it is:

It is not okay, or cool, or funny to say ‘raped’ ‘rape’ ‘raping’ to refer to winning or losing when playing a game.

Rape is a strong word, it is used to mean a specific thing. A very bad thing.

If you use the word rape to mean anything other than actual rape, guess what that shows me?

It shows me that you are weak. That you have never experienced an inch of suffering. That you have no life experience. That you have been sheltered all your life, which isn’t your fault, but then you haven’t bothered to explore outside your comfort zone and get to know the real world, and that, yes that IS your fault.

It is a flaw in you to think the word rape is funny and shocking.

Rape isn’t shocking, it is boring, commonplace. It happens every day.

Rape is incredibly common, and if you knew anything other than how to play games and feel entitled, you would know that. The stats are something like ¼ women and ⅛ men are raped by the time they are 17 (though I, and others, suspect the actual number for male rape victims would be larger than that). Many of us have been raped.

This means there is a very very good chance that you will play a game of magic against someone like me, a rape survivor.

Let me explain to you what it is like when you hear someone joking about rape, when you are a survivor.

Firstly, the first thing that happens is my grandfathers face flashes into my mind. His watery blue eyes. The smell of him, which I used to think was the smell of mucus from a cold but I recently realised was the smell of semen. That smell surrounds me. I feel strong emotions of terror and horror and revulsion. I feel what it is to be powerless. Inside my head, there is part of me that is always screaming in horror at what was done to me, and for a moment all the work I have done to function well, to go on with enjoying life, is undone and I hear that screaming inside my mind again. This all happens instantly. 

The next thing I do I put up my walls, as my mind views the word rape as a threat. My mood turns cold and stony, callous, hard, unkind. 

Then, only then, do I even think about the person who said it, and in them I do not think ‘wow how shocking, how edgy, how offensive, oh my goodness!’ No. That is not what I think of you when you do this. 

What I do is I look at you and think you are a child. I feel utterly weary when I contemplate you. If you are someone whose company I was enjoying I am disappointed in you, and I quietly decide that I will never be able to trust you. I know you are immature. 

Also I feel a flash of envy, just a tiny flash, I feel envious that you have led the life you have led, that you must have had such a good, easy, sheltered life, to be able to use the word rape incorrectly. I wish I could have been pampered like a child as you have been for all of your life. 

But that envy only lasts a moment because honestly, no, I would not want to be you, not in a million years, I would always choose rape and dark knowing of the realities of our world over a fool’s ignorance.

You are a squalling child, a toddler throwing a tantrum, obvious in your quest for adult attention and reaction. ‘Look at me!’ you are yelling. ‘Please notice me! I need you!’

I’m sorry that you need me, but I don’t need you. You won’t get the reaction you seek from me. I won’t gasp or act shocked, like you are some kind of ‘edgelord’ whatever the fuck THAT means.

You will be met with brittle coldness. I might even smile, but behind my eyes you will see a flash of something that scares you, something that I hope you will never understand.

I truly hope that you never are raped.

It is a hard thing to live with. 

I was repeatedly raped as a child by my grandfather. I have also been raped as an adult, a date/acquaintance rape sort of thing, which wasn’t as bad, but still not ideal by any stretch of the imagination.

Rape isn’t a game, and it isn’t a matter of winning or losing.

Rape is done by those who feel powerless in order for them to feel in control, powerful, for a brief moment in their pathetic lives. Rapists are NOT powerful, quite the opposite. 

Rapists NEED other people to rape in order to feel powerful, unlike a healthy man who feels powerful in himself without reliance on others, a healthy man who doesn’t need to feel power over others in order to feel secure about himself, a healthy man who can just be himself and try and be a good person, a man like that is strong in a way you will never achieve.

Truly, you are closer to a rapist, in that you need others to be shocked in order to feel powerful.

It must be hard for you, needing others reactions in order to form your own sense of identity.

That makes you very reliant on others, and I’d advise against it.

But of course, you won’t listen to me, because you lack the emotional comprehension and intelligence to understand anything other than your mindless inane thoughts.

I wonder what it is like, being so catastrophically unwise.

I’ll never know. I was raped as a child. I wasn’t given the choice of being like you. But even if I had been given that choice, I believe I would have chosen differently from you. I believe I would have been like the men and women who haven’t been raped yet still don’t make rape jokes or use the word rape lightly, men and women who don’t fully understand the experiences of a rape survivor, however they don’t need it spelled out for them as they have a very basic level of human empathy.

In short- if you use rape as a joke, you are not edgy or shocking, you are outing yourself as awfully dull, unimaginative, and a spoiled little child.

So by all means, keep using the word rape incorrectly. But do so knowing exactly what I, and other rape survivors, think of you. You aren’t shocking us. You bore us.

We don’t see you as powerful or strong.

We see, very clearly, that you are weak.


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