Geek Girls Rule! #20
Now, I’m not going to tell you never to use sexual assault, but I am going to ask you to think about why you want to use it in your game or as part of a character’s motivations. Yes, sexual assault is an all-too-common event in this world. According to RAINN.org, the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network, 1 in 6 women will be sexually assaulted during their lifetime. Given this statistic, it doesn’t seem that unlilkely that a character in a world based roughly off of ours would have a sexual assault happen to her, or even him (sexual assault against men is reported at a rate of roughly one in thirty-six).
However, I am going to say that, as a survivor of a sexual assault myself, I don’t necessarily want to play a character with that backstory. I roleplay to be characters who aren’t me. This doesn’t mean that I won’t play, or even create, a character with sexual assault as a backstory. Nor does it mean that I’ll balk at dealing with a sexual assault hook or storyline in a game. Actually, only once have I ever asked a GM to back off the subject. And, as far as I’m concerned, if you’re going to use it as part of a story arc, you had better have a damn good reason for it. (He did.)
Here are several reasons I’ve been given to explain the need to include sexual assault in a game. And they’re all pretty easy to counter:
One is that it does provide a reasonable backstory for certain disadvantages like nightmares, PTSD, insomnia or repressed memories. However, so do other events, like seeing the murder of loved ones, or seeing a catastrophe first-hand.
Another is that it allows you to showcase the villainy of your bad guys. Again, though you can do that through other means. Maybe have her/him freebase a kitten or something.
Third, it does happen so often in the real world that, in striving to create a realistic setting, one should include the bad as well as the good. Well, if you’ve got +20 swords of Elven might in your world or super hackers jacked directly into the Matrix, your realism argument isn’t going to carry much weight with me.
The thing is, sexual assault is… it sucks. A lot. It sucks to be the victim of it. It sucks to love a victim of it. It just sucks. And an awful lot of people, men and women, would just rather not deal with it in their leisure activities.
If you are going to use it as either hook or backstory, and this goes for players as well as for GMs, make sure the other players/GM are cool with it. Seriously. In the Bad Gamer Archetypes: Boy Edition, I described the guy who plays his sexual fantasy and the other guy in that group who spent all of his time lovingly describing the vile sexual violence his character perpetrated on the first guy’s character. None of that was directed at me, but as someone who was, at the time, only recently coming to grips with having been raped as a teenager, it disturbed the fuck out of me and ultimately I wound up leaving the group over it.
Now, I don’t want to hear any “Well, logically you should be able to separate yourself from the game, blah blah blah…” about it, either. There is nothing logical in the trauma that follows sexual assault. And different people react in different ways. Some survivors may WANT to use it in their character development and backstory, in order to work through it in a way over which they have complete control over what happens. Other survivors won’t want to deal with it at all, and they may not want to tell you why. There is no right way to handle the trauma and psychological scarring, and everyone needs to work through it in their own way.
So, like I said, I’m not telling you not to use sexual assault as a plot hook or a as a character backstory. But, seriously, think about it. Talk it over with your players/GM. Find out how they feel about it. I know just as many guys who are squicked out the concept of incorporating sexual assault in a game as women, for whatever reason. In fact, I’ve seen guys deal with it less well in game than I have. I will not speculate on the why of that.
Okay, then. I promise the next couple of columns will be “happier” and more on-time. There’s been more surgery and more pet trauma in the household and, well, I’m doing the best I can to keep up.
Links and help for Sexual Assault Survivors:
National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3224 (TDD)
National Sexual Assault Hotline 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)
Or contact your local hospital or Social Services office. They can help you find what you need.
Geek Girls Rule! #21
Yes, two, two, two columns in one week! After the last column’s heavy subject matter and the fucked up summer I’ve been having, I thought I owed you (and myself) a little lighthearted frivolity.
GURPS Martial Arts, 4th Ed.
First, I have to state that I am basing this review solely off the happy little orgasmic sounds my husband made while reading it. I haven’t read it yet, largely because I can’t pry it out of his grubby little paws. So I’m guessing it’s good. Between the oooh’s, ahhh’s, happy little gasps, squeaks, moans, and the fact that our Sunday gaming group kept having to tell him to “put the god damned book down and GM for the love of God,” I think I can safely say that the GURPS Martial Arts book delivers. A more complete review will have to wait until he is no longer sleeping with it clasped lovingly to his chest.
Kuromi by Sanrio
Kuromi is, apparently, Sanrio’s answer to Goth culture. Okay, in addition to Batz Maru. Kuromi is a bunny, I think, who wears a black hat and cape. Her special little insignia are cherry skulls, and a lot of her stuff comes in shiny black vinyl. My discovery of Kuromi was predicated by breaking my Pochacco wallet and needing a replacement. As Pochacco is currently off the Sanrio roster, I went poking around and found this adorable little rebellious bunny dressed in black PVC and lace. Love her. And she has a whole coterie of gothy little pals.
I don’t have my copy yet. The first printing sold out immediately. This rocks for my buddies at EOS, but it sucks for me, as I can’t review it until the second printing this October. Also, my Girl Gamers are chomping at the bit to play it. I’m hearing good things though and I can’t wait.
Jareth from Labyrinth Action Figure
I squealed. I love Labyrinth. It is my favorite movie ever. Muppets AND David Bowie, how can you go wrong? I can’t tell you how many times I saw it in the theater when it came out. (You in the back, quit snickering. Yes, I’m old.) I wore out my first VHS copy around 1990. Friends bought me another one for Christmas that year (which, by the way, I’ve had signed by Danny John Jules who was the voice of the Fieries). I now have it on DVD and sitll need to get the special edition. But back to the action figure. The sculpt is pretty good. The face isn’t the greatest, but it does look like David Bowie. My favorite comic shop is currently holding one for me. My dilemma now is: leave it in the box, or take it out and play with it.
Jet Li, Jason Statham, a PLOT? Why, indeed, yes. A decent plot. I wasn’t even annoyed that neither gentleman mentioned above took off his shirt on camera, which as far as I’m concerned should be written into every contract ever for both of them. Good action, good directing, good story. I liked it a lot. Lots of eye candy, pretty explosions, and it wasn’t completely stupid.
Phillip Pullman, His Dark Materials
This series was recommended to me by several people as something to read while waiting for the next Harry Potter book a couple years ago. I started it then, but just didn’t get into it. Recently, having finished the last Harry Potter book (why Snape?), I picked it up again, and this time I couldn’t put it down. I ripped through the first one in no time flat and immediately went out and bought the other two. They’re good and I highly recommend them. I don’t know if I’d let any children under say 11 or 12 read them, as they are pretty dark, but they’re good.
The Muppet Show DVDs: Seasons 1 and 2
EEEEEEEEEEEE! Yes, I’m old enough to have seen these when they originally aired, and I missed the Muppet Show deeply. It’s bright, colorful, and fun enough to appeal to kids, but with enough “mature” jokes in it that adults can enjoy it too, kind of like Bugs Bunny cartoons. Some of the guest stars I don’t really remember and had to look up on IMDB. But the shows themselves haven’t lost any sparkle. They’re all good, but John Cleese, Zero Mostel and Peter Sellers really stand out. I can’t wait for the next ones. I’m still waiting for the Johnny Cash episode. I remember that one really vividly from my childhood.
Okay, that should be enough bunnies and rainbows and hearts to hold everyone for awhile. I’m hoping, as we’ve organized the fiction section of our book collection and actually gathered all the comics into one area, that I might be able to catch up on my huge backlog of comics and maybe review one or two story arcs.