Geek Girls Rule! #265 – Yes, Gabe Apologized, But That’s Only a Start

Ok, I’m breaking my no Penny Arcade links for this.  And I waited to talk about this so I could really think about what it says, and why we don’t have to accept it.

First, about the “apology” strip:  “That was a mistake and I apologize to this day for that strip. It was a knee jerk reaction and rather than the precision strike back at our detractors that we intended, it was a massive AOE that hurt a lot of innocent people.”

Ok, first, in admitting this, you admit that you specifically created that apology comic to hurt your detractors.  You know, the sexual assault survivors who called you out.  Even if it had been a “precision strike at our detractors” it would still have been hurting sexual assault survivors.  They were the ones who called you out.

I admit it.  I got the “Sixth Slave” strip.  And while the use of rape in it made me a little uncomfortable I got that you intended it as the worst thing you could think of for someone to go through.  I get that.  But writing the follow-up strip was an act of both aggression and engaging with those detractors.  So was creating the Dickwolves merchandise.

“Had we left it alone, the ongoing tension about the whole thing might have subsided but Robert made the call to pull the shirts. In hindsight all this did was open the wound back up and bring on a whole new wave of debate.” 

Pulling the Dickwolves merchandise was not engaging, it was the one decent thing you did.  It didn’t open the wound back up.  It was a step toward healing it.  The only people “opening up debate” after that were the assholes who wanted to buy the Dickwolves merchandise, and in doing so show their support for rapists, and their disdain for rape survivors.  Every feminist website I read lauded the decision.  We weren’t the ones berating you for that decision.

“Any action we took at the time just dug us deeper regardless of what it was.”

This is a bullshit cop-out, that’s what this is.  “No matter what we did you just weren’t happy!”  Um, no.  We weren’t willing to immediately trust you again, no.  And insisting that we do is ridiculous.  You mocked sexual assault survivors and created “Team Rapist” merchandise.”  Of course we weren’t in any rush to forgive you for that.  You do not erase a hurt by simply apologizing.

Which is why the apology is only a start.

There’s this thing that people, especially parents tell their children when they’re fighting with their siblings or classmates, that you have to forgive someone once they apologize.

That is bullshit.

See, you should apologize because you realize that you fucked up, not to get forgiveness.

And while it’s nice that he did apologize, what we really need is for him to quit doing shit like this.  See, you can apologize to me for stomping on my foot, but if you KEEP DOING IT, I begin to doubt your sincerity.  See, part of people’s problem with what’s going on is that it keeps happening.  An apology only goes so far if you keep fucking up.

Also, while they’re quick to claim credit for mobilizing  their fanboys for things like attacks on Jack Thompson, or giving money to Child’s Play.  They also need to take responsibility for when that fanbase attacks the women speaking out about the fucked up shit they did.

Mike and Jerry need to call off their fucking fanboys.  They need to start calling out sexist bullshit publicly and consistently. When people tell them, “Hey, your fans are harassing us, making death threats and rape threats,” they need to stand up and tell them to knock it off.   They need to call their fans out.  “Dude, that’s not cool.”

Someone asked on Twitter what more we wanted.

That’s what we want.  We want Mike, and the rest of Nerd Culture, to DO BETTER.



10 thoughts on “Geek Girls Rule! #265 – Yes, Gabe Apologized, But That’s Only a Start

  1. I had respect for your position, until you said this:

    “The only people “opening up debate” after that were the assholes who wanted to buy the Dickwolves merchandise, and in doing so show their support for rapists, and their disdain for rape survivors.”

    You cannot simply dismiss all the people who supported Penny Arcade on their freedom of speech grounds like that. There were definitely some assholes, especially the “TeamRape” morons, but there were plenty more who only wanted to support the rights of freedom of speech. Whether you disagree with those people or not, it is as wrong to label anyone and everyone who supported PA’s right to sell Dickwolves merchandise as it is for PA and their supporters to label everyone against Dickwolves as oversensitive crybabies.

    This comes off as an attempt to say “since the Dickwolves merchandise was pulled, we are right and anyone who wants it restored is obviously a rape supporter”. Which is precisely the kind of negative debate which Penny Arcade didn’t want to encourage. By posting this, you are proving Mike Krahulik right … taking down the merchandise only led to people claiming “victories” like you did here followed by rebuttals and more arguments from the other side.

    Since there’s no other comments visible I can assume you’re not letting any comments through moderation on this article … but hopefully you at least read it and understand the point I’m trying to make about how counter-productive this attitude is.

  2. Fucking Chrome crashed and took my response. I’m going to try to recreate it.

    Ok, I’m going to explain this again: Freedom of Speech does NOT mean Freedom from criticism or consequences. You (generic you) get to say whatever you want, and if someone deems it fucked up or offensive, they get to tell you that. Freedom of Speech works both ways.

    Next, The entire Dickwolves debacle, shirts included, was criticized by feminist bloggers of all genders, and feminist fans of all genders decided to stay away from PAX. Because of these consequences, probably in large part financial, THEY decided to pull the shirts. They spoke, we spoke back, they made a decision based on that. At no point was there a feminist army holding guns to their heads.

    Boycotts are a fundamentally capitalist form of protest, with a lineage, at least in this country, back to 1700/1800s when coffee became the American beverage of choice in response to the high tariffs on British imports of tea.

    As to “opening a debate,” I am unaware of a society where, “Thank you for ceasing to sell offensive shit, but we don’t quite trust you yet,” is a “debate opener.” The Feminists didn’t open that debate, so don’t lecture me for that one.

    As for claiming a “victory?” Well, yeah, I do think someone ceasing a terrible fucking behavior is a victory. Although I have to say if you’re more concerned with “victories” than with making sure all fans feel safe somewhere, then we probably don’t have a lot to talk about.

  3. People who support the Dickwolves, the ones who AREN’T complete assholes like TeamRape, do so because they believe freedom of speech is not really freedom of speech if there’s a large group of people intimidating those who exercise that right. And that’s a very valid argument. If you concede to not make jokes involving one thing (like rape) because people pressured you not to, then what’s to stop there being a group next time saying they don’t like the joke involving murder because it’s insensitive to people who’ve had family members murdered, or a joke involving suicide because they had a friend commit suicide? If you’re afraid to say something because a group is standing by to make sure you suffer for it, then you don’t have freedom of speech. We had the same situation for homosexuals for a long time (obviously this isn’t comparable, but it’s an example of the situation).

    All I’m saying is … you dismissed the entire other side of the argument, everyone who supports Dickwolves, as “rape-supporting assholes”. That is not helpful to anyone, as it just writes off any chance of a discussion taking place. I am concerned with making fans feel safe, but I don’t feel safe either … just for stating what I’ve said here, for showing ANY sign that I think Penny Arcade might be right and should be allowed to make a joke like The Sixth Slave, I’ve been threatened viciously and accused of being a rapist and/or potential rapist. And really, when it comes down to it, the vast, VAST majority of people who support Penny Arcade in this matter do so fundamentally because they don’t like the idea of being accused of being a rapist and/or supporter of rape when they are not one, just because they laughed at a joke which included the word rape in it.

    I’m not trying to get into a big shit-flinging contest here or anything, but I just wanted to make clear that whatever your feelings on the matter, it is wrong to label absolutely everyone who supports Penny Arcade and the Dickwolves as assholes who support rape.

  4. Ok, let me try something else. Stay with me, it’s story time.

    Both of my rapists were football players.

    This does not mean I think ALL football players are rapists. However, it does mean that I am going to be very, very careful around anyone who chooses to immerse themselves in that culture.

    No, not all Penny Arcade fans are “Team Rape” supporters. HOWEVER, I am going to be very, very careful around anyone who immerses themselves in that culture, especially if they appear to do so uncritically, and without really acknowledging or examining the context of the Dickwolves thing.

    Now, back to this whole “free speech” thing. No one is trying to limit free speech. This is how it works. Someone says something, someone else reacts, then the first person gets to choose how they react back and so on and so on.

    Gabe and Tycho spoke (Sixth Slave Strip). The Feminist blogosphere spoke back (criticism). Gabe and Tycho rebutted (“Apology” comic). The feminist blogosphere spoke again (Ok, fine, we’re done with you. Boycott.) Gabe and Tycho spoke again (Dickwolves shirt). Feminist blogosphere spoke again, (“Wow, really done with you.”) Then GABE AND TYCHO (or perhaps Robert Khoo) spoke again by pulling the shirts. Feminist blogosphere said, “Wow, thank you! We still don’t trust you because Lord you fucked up in the first place, but thank you.”

    Now, during all of this, the Penny Arcade fans had been speaking, but instead of things like, “This was a dick move,” or “That comic/the Dickwolves shirt makes me feel unsafe” they mostly said things like “You deserve to be raped to death you fat whore!”

    Yes, they did. At volume and length, in my inbox and inboxes of all the female bloggers who spoke up.

    Then when the guys pulled the shirt, THOSE people, those bastions of free speech, jumped on their beloved icons for “giving in.”

    Look, I said before, words have consequences. Freedom of Speech does not mean freedom from criticism. It means you get to say what you want, and I get to call you out if you’re being a jackass.

    None of the people who spoke out against the Penny Arcade guys are the government. We didn’t “MAKE” them take down the shirts, or make Gabe apologize. They made those calls on their own. That’s how it works.

    You don’t get to decide which half of freedom speech is ok. I will defend with my last breath Gabe’s right to say stupid shit, and your right to defend it, but that doesn’t mean I or any of my friends have to give him money for it. That’s also how Capitalism works.

    But it all boils down to “Words have consequences.” You(generic you) can call me a fat ugly slut whore cunt if you want, but one consequence is that I will not let your comment out of moderation. The other consequence is that I WILL pass around your email and IP address to other female bloggers and warn them about you. If you say that to me in person my reaction may range from laughing hysterically to putting you in therapy.

    One consequence of my words here is that I’ve spent all this time explaining this shit to you, instead of packing to go on my trip. Now I have a grumpy husband. One consequence of my words when I called out the Penny Arcade “Apology” comic was that I spent TWO YEARS getting rape and death threats in my inbox.

    Please remember, threats are NOT protected speech and I can report people who do that to the police and FBI.

    Now, I’m off to go pack for vacation. I will be on periodically, but internet is spotty where we’re going.

  5. I respect your position and the way you feel about it, but some of the things you say make me very uncomfortable. Your comparison with the football players who raped you and the TeamRape supporters only makes sense if you’re implying that TeamRape are actual literal rapists, or likely to be such. I can never endorse aiming such a serious accusation at anyone just for supporting some Twitter pseudonym even if it is in bad taste.

    As for the free speech thing, as I was saying it’s not about saying who can speak and who can’t, it’s about the consequences of people doing such (which you go into). I believe I outlined in my previous post why I believe there are just as many negative consequences to consider when it comes to self-censorship on the grounds of feminist pressure groups as there are to people making jokes involving rape and such. I won’t go over what I said before again, but all I’m saying is that there’s consequences to your actions just as much as there are to the other side, and not all of them are the positive ones we’d all like to believe our actions will lead to. I do NOT want a world where people are afraid to talk about rape, and controversies like this lead to that. We’re all afraid that we’re going to get called rapists or rape supporters if we put one foot wrong.

    There’s a reason for that. Like a lot of people on both sides in this whole Dickwolves thing, I believe you may have fallen into the trap of only seeing one side of the abusive language and threatening behaviour. Your summary of the “conversation” seems a little biased (well … a lot biased really) in favour of the “feminist” side of it. There was one hell of a lot of abuse coming from that side as well, and you painting a picture of the feminist bloggers being nice and reasonable while the Penny Arcade fans (all of them, in your words) did nothing but hurl rape threats and abuse at them … is ignoring the reality of what happened. There were death threats and abuse being thrown BOTH ways in that argument. That is often the case with any controversial internet controversy. Fuckwits are everywhere. They were not exclusively limited to the side that you were on.

    I respect the way you feel, and I’m not denying you and your “side” got a lot of abuse. But that abuse was NOT one-way.

  6. You know, this is the thing. People keep telling me that the Feminist bloggers were just as bad, but no one can supply links. If you go back through my posts, and the posts of other female bloggers, as well as our comment threads (well, not mine, because BAN HAMMER), you will see the abuse, and the links to the abuse all over the fucking web, in the Penny Arcade forum threads, all over.

    But not ONCE has anyone linked the abuse BY feminist bloggers back to me. And I haven’t found it. It, indeed, may exist. So prove it to me.

    And regarding my analogy likening Team Rape supporters to football players. What I said was, “This does not mean I think ALL football players are rapists. However, it does mean that I am going to be very, very careful around anyone who chooses to immerse themselves in that culture.
    “No, not all Penny Arcade fans are “Team Rape” supporters. HOWEVER, I am going to be very, very careful around anyone who immerses themselves in that culture, especially if they appear to do so uncritically, and without really acknowledging or examining the context of the Dickwolves thing.”

    So what I said was, in effect, no I don’t think all those guys cheering for the Dickwolves shirts actually ARE rapists, but some of them probably are given the percentages of rapists -v- non-rapists in society. And if you act in ways that appear to glorify and/or celebrate rape, I’m not going to want to be alone anywhere with you.

    And if the comparison to football culture is what really rankled you, GOOD. It should. Because that is what Dickwolves supporters look like to those of us on the outside: the jocks who picked on us in jr high and high school.

  7. One other thing… A lot of what you’re saying sounds like “I want to say what I want to say, but I don’t want you to point out when I’m being an asshole.”

    That’s what this boils down. Everyone self censors. You don’t tell your boss he’s a stupid son of a bitch. You don’t spout profanity at small children in your way at the grocery store. You don’t say “Nice tits” to a nun.

    Those are all self-censoring choices we make every fucking day. Because we realize that words have consequences. And even the most die hard racist in this country (or at least the ones with even a sliver of self-preservation) is going to think twice about shouting the N-word in a crowd of POC because they know that doing that is going to get their ass kicked, and rightfully so.

    So claiming it would be so hard and mean to make people self censor is a lazy bullshit argument, and I’m kind of pissed at myself for taking this long to realize that is in fact what you were arguing, and you were NOT in fact confused about what free speech actually is.

    I hope we’re done here.

  8. “If you’re afraid to say something because a group is standing by to make sure you suffer for it, then you don’t have freedom of speech.”

    You are wrong. Freedom of speech has NOTHING to do with what different groups do in response to your speech. Freedom of speech means the GOVERNMENT will not censor your speech. Is the Government putting the kibosh on your speech? No? Then you have freedom of speech.

    Other people, even large groups of people, reacting to your offensive speech and choosing their actions based on that is a market force, not freedom of speech being taken away.

    And really, it isn’t about the original comic at this point. If they had just acted like decent human beings after being criticized this would have died out before it started. The whole debacle is about their reaction to the criticism. That’s what Dickwolves is about, rape survivors said “we don’t appreciate that joke” and instead of, you know, being empathetic or trying to understand anything like that they were nasty jerks and kept on saying and doing things that were just plain hateful and mocked rape. It’s not about freedom of speech, it’s about wanting to be a nasty offensive jerk while feeling like one should bear no natural consequences of that action. Ya’ll are free to act like that and in the name of free speech align yourselves with Team Dickwolf but you don’t get to do so and then be all like “all these people who are mocking rape survivors for having PTSD? We aren’t with them”. You stand with them you are choosing to associate yourself with them and you shouldn’t be shocked when people make that judgment.

    You’re free to say what you want, others are free to call you on it and unless the Government is involved trying to shut people up there’s no freedom of speech being infringed upon.

  9. Ok, Tad’s comment highlighted something I should have caught earlier.

    No one made anyone SUFFER anything, except maybe some embarrassment over being called out over being giant assholes. And that’s not suffering. No one punched, kicked, pistol-whipped or otherwise beat the shit out of either the Penny Arcade dudes, or their fanbase.

    All we did was say, “Whoa, not cool. In fact, full asshole.”

    If that’s your idea of suffering, I envy you, there’s a lot worse in the world to have to “suffer.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s