I so didn’t wan’t to have to think about this, but everyone’s been emailing me about the super-repellent “rape simulator” video game, so here goes nothin.
If you haven’t heard about it, you may just want to continue traipsing through your life in blissful ignorance. I’ll be happy to accomodate you. Just watch this odd video (wherein two members of the Chicken Justice League restore peace amongst the Bunnies) and log off.
For the rest of you: in a nutshell, my spies report that Amazon was, until forced to stop under pressure from outraged citizens, selling a graphic, extra-violent “rape simulator” video game, the object of which is to stalk a mother and her two daughters and you can guess the rest. The “game” is produced by a Japanese company famous for hentai (Japanese porn) wherein gamers perpetrate violence against virtual women.
Here’s the blurb from Amazon’s (now removed) product information page:
Rapelay is an offshoot of the Illusion series, Interact Play. You, like in previous installments, play as a public nuisance that gets away from captivity and starts scouting for new targets. This time around you find a family of a single mother and her two daughters. You quickly begin your hunt and capture each woman one by one. The gameplay involves an amusing training/disposition system with which to break each respective target to your liking. Watch where you blow your load, or you might get them pregnant!”
The current furor apparently erupted when British MP Keith Vaz recently spoke out against the simulator (it is unclear how the game came to the politician’s attention; probably he caught some of his junior staff whacking off to it on their lunch hour). Vaz has been trying to squeeze some political mileage out of this thing since last year, but until the other day apparently wasn’t able to convince anyone that anything like a rape simulator actually existed. Finally, though, somebody listened when Mr Vaz was shocked, shocked that anyone would buy a game that “simulates the criminal offence of rape.” He denounced Amazon to a grateful nation and vowed to involve Parliament in banning the game from Planet Earth.
Mr Vez is not, of course, obligated to give an opinion on the rape violence inherent in non-animated, non-Japanese pornography, or, for that matter, on the rape violence inherent in actual British society (see the UK’s really abysmal rape prosecution record), and does not offer one, at least not in this article.
This surpassingly disgusting game well and truly represents a blow for Truth & Beauty, but come on. Is anyone, even the scandalized Keith Vaz, really surprised? Seriously, this is SSDD (same shit, different day) stuff. Proceeding, as the spinster aunt always does, from the premise that all pornography is the graphic representation of rape, it’s clear that buttloads of rape games already exist, and have for some time. They’ve been around since the first lonely nerd fired up “Softporn Adventure” on his Apple II. The Now Generation gamers of today can enjoy “‘breast enlargement’ simulations where CGI models grow assets of such titanic proportions that even Anna Nicole Smith would appear modest by comparison,” or really classy stuff like “Virtual Hottie 2″, which turns their computers into point-and-click blow-up dolls.*[cite] The hentai game company’s previous titles include “Battle Raper” and “Artificial Girl” (watch this space for a forthcoming post on the it’s-gotta-go-ness of teenage boy robosex fantasies). Surely this Rapelay thing merely represents a reasonably expected escalation in the normalization of rape culture.
The game I’d like to see? “Porn-Aversion 2″: A huge rotating knife, or some projectile vomit, or maybe a couple of chickens, shoots out of the computer whenever the gamer is enbonerated by a graphic representation of rape, but it feeds him a nice, hot pizza when he reads and passes a comprehension quiz on Andrea Dworkin’s Intercourse, or stands up at a professional football game wearing an “I Heart Hillary” shirt and announces “I’m a feminist!”, or posts anti-porn comments on Daily Kos until they ban him, etc. In the final level, he must become a member of the Blametariat and pass for a minimum of 1 year as a radical feminist lesbian; his prize is a card he can put in his wallet that reads “Human.”
It’s worth noting that, as is general practice for the media, both the newspaper articles I saw on this subject pander to reader prurience with screenshots of the animated rape victims in their lingerie recoiling from a pair of grabbing hands. The Sun is, of course, the ickier and more gleeful of the two; it adds a second huge screenshot of a reclining figure in lingerie tearing off her own shirt, with the caption: “Sick…” In fact, in terms of screen real estate, titillating images take up more space on the Sun’s web page than actual copy. Both papers avoid condemning pornography in general, concentrating instead on the scandalous impropriety of Amazon’s involvement. The gist seems to be not that porn is bad, but that Amazon is bad for selling it. Subtext: porn’s all well and good, but it must be kept in secret naughty places under cover of darkness, not out in the middle of a popular retail website where anyone looking to buy Harry Potter might see it. Thank the lard there are Members of Parliament willing to infest the internet in an effort to drive it back underground where it belongs.
I expect that, as this story makes the rounds, blogging members of Dude Nation will be making the argument that “virtual” rape is hunky-dory, since the victims are fictional. This is a load of crap on every level. The eroticization of violence against women is not hunky-dory. A society capable of producing human units that eroticize violence against women is an antifeminist society. A culture that feeds these appetites is a rape culture. The human beings oppressed by rape culture are not fictional.
Barbarism, even when indulged via a Dell laptop, is not only the antithesis of enlightenment, it’s gonna fuck up someone, somewhere. You know how I know this? Remember that episode of Seinfeld where George’s mother catches him doing “you know” on a copy of Glamour magazine, and she is so disgusted by his pornulational behavior that she falls and ends up in the hospital in traction?
There ya go.
* I take issue with the idea put forth by proponents of these “poke the doll” games, viz. that virtual women are assumed implicitly to have given consent. A virtual woman, much like a human woman, cannot give consent, because she is the product of patriarchal programming and has no agency. The same goes for any image of any woman in any medium. No, silly, I don’t advocate for the rights of cartoon characters; I merely reveal the parallels that exist between “virtual” women, 2-dimensional images of live women, and live women proper. That this consent issue eludes the enpornulated masses is what makes rape culture so oblivious to itself, and so impervious to random acts of blame.