RapeLay: Reinforcing Rape Culture

There’s some discussion going on in gaming circles about how RapeLay, a game in which the goal of the player is to violently rape women, was removed from Amazon.com. The best analysis of this controversy that I have read so far doesn’t come from gaming blogosphere or the mainstream media, both of which seem to have missed an important point about what the existence of games like RapeLay say about society. Cara at The Curvature writes:

As someone who doesn’t think that violent video games caused the Columbine shootings (or any other incredibly violent act) any more than Marilyn Manson’s music did, I’m entirely inclined to agree that playing this game would not cause someone to rape, and that if it did somehow give someone the push they need to commit the act, they would already have to be a misogynistic person with violent tendencies.

Which is why it’s not the point. The point isn’t “oh my god, this game is going to create rapists.”  The point is “oh my god, this game is going to make rapists think that people are on their side.” Which, of course, too many people actually are already, through their rape apologist jokes and excuses. The premise of the game reinforces the idea of rape as okay and not a big deal. It reinforces the idea that women exist for the sexual pleasure and abuse of men.  And the preview of the game Boing Boing, which does not include any actual rapes but only attempted rapes, also ends up reinforcing the dangerous and stereotypical idea of your “real” rape victim who always cries, calls out in distress and overall completely breaks down at actual violence or threats of it.

Genuine and logical criticism of the game, I think, isn’t about it causing an actual number of rapes, but about it supporting and expanding the conditions that already exist, virtually around the world, that allow rape to be committed. The game might not create rapists, but it does make life more comfortable for the rapists who already exist, and life a lot more difficult for their victims.

The entire post is definitely worth a read.

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