I’ve been mulling this over for a little while now, and I think I have an idea of what’s going on with the Team Dickwolves thing: these people think they’re funny.
But let me set this up a little bit:
In the 1980s, Gary Brodsky, son of longtime Marvel comics executive Sol Brodsky, started Solson Publications. Solson specialized in black and white books with even more ludicrous premises than most comics, stuff like Reagan’s Raiders and The Bushido Blade of Zatoichi Walrus, but that wasn’t the end of it.
You see, Brodsky is an MRA. While he failed miserably at comics, he has made a killing consulting with pathetic men on how to get laid more often. However, that propensity for ubermench dickishness came out in Solson books as well, most notably with titles like Sultry Teenage Super Foxes, a book about scantily clan women living on an Air Force base with their high-ranking fathers and, despite having many conversations, still can’t pass the Bechdel Test because they used an alchemy machine to give themselves superpowers for the express purpose of attracting the hot, young airmen.
Now, I’m going to put up an ad here for Sultry Teenage Super Foxes, and I want you to pay attention to what the disembodied MRA head is saying.
You see, Gary Brodsky and his publishing house aren’t incredibly sexist. They have personality. In fact, they’re the only comic publisher who does.
Getting back to the relatively recent past, after Mike made his…well, fairly standard dumb statements at PAX Prime, my friend and guest blogger here, Lisa, texted me with a really good question: why would you want to be on Team Rapist?
Seriously, that’s an excellent question. Those who freaked out about not being able to buy shirts that said “Team Dickwolves,” where Dickwolves=rapists (so much so that @TeamRape was created on Twitter just to harass people who don’t like rapists), were basically saying that they want to walk around proclaiming their allegiance to rapists. Not to the idea of rape or the thought that rape is somehow a joke, but within the context of that shirt, of actual rapists.
Lisa also pointed out that while it’s nice that they’re identifying themselves so that they can be avoided, it might not be worth the triggering on people who can’t really handle walking around with people loudly proclaiming their support of non-consensual sex.
The funny thing is, these are the same people who likely react to concepts like Schrodinger’s Rapist by claiming how sexist it is to assume all men are rapists. I’d be curious to know if it’s ok to assume that the people walking around with t-shirts claiming support for rapists might be, or if that would be sexist as well?
Alex Lifschitz has an amazing piece on the nature of apologies and why it’s so important that we continue to be vocal about why it’s a good thing to not sell shirts that say, essentially, that the wearer supports rapists, and not some action that further embroils you in controversy.
Outright identifying as “a dick” or getting angry with a critic does not unshackle Mike from the personal responsibility of tempering his outbursts, like some discoursal equivalent of the Stand Your Ground law. He doesn’t get to be a dick anymore if Penny Arcade want to be perceived as a positive industry force. His thumb-fingered morality has become the trough feed of tens of thousands of up-and comers in the game industry. And as long as he spews it, he will have high-minded, conscience-stricken people to be his personal pains-in-the-ass until he gives things a second thought.
Do I think Mike cares about the comfort of people at his conference? Yeah, I do. But apparently, his desire for everyone at PAX to feel safe does not outpace his lack of understanding regarding why anyone would feel unsafe in the first place, nor his improvised intertwining and decoupling of his identity with his station in game culture to more effectively skirt the accusation du jour.
The problem with Mike and with Brodsky and with the people who really, really want shirts that say “Team Rapist” is that they sincerely think that rape can be funny. They think that merely stating an absurdity (because obviously none of them are racist or sexist) is funny, like they’re the Monty Pythons of rape jokes.
Now, I’ve studied comedy for most of my life and I can assure you that even if there was some way to tell that you weren’t a rapist just by looking at you, it’s still not funny just to misidentify something. Remember when Prince Harry thought that it would be hilarious to wear a swastika armband to a Halloween party? I have less of a reason to think that Prince Harry is a Nazi sympathizer than I do to think you’re a rapist, and it still isn’t funny.
Absurdist comedy is really difficult, and it’s more than just putting a sign on a chair that says “cat” and calling it a day. It’s more than drawing not very smart, underaged girls fighting crime for the sole purpose of getting men’s attention. It’s more than walking around proudly proclaiming your love of rape because everybody should know that you don’t actually love rape.
As the old showbiz saying goes, “Dying is easy. Comedy is hard.” So, let me be perfectly clear: you’re not funny. I know you’ll dismiss me as some Feminist killjoy, but saying that you support rapists is simply not funny.
So don’t feel sad that you can’t proclaim to everybody who sees you how awesome you think rape is. Instead, think of it as an opportunity to not be a giant douche while simultaneously not telling the world that you think sex with unwilling partners is just the bestest. You’re welcome.
Update: Just looking through @Teamrape, and here’s exactly what I’m talking about:
” no-rape-in-jokes-ever perspective (with which I can’t agree)” ty @mcfrontalot. u get it. rape can be funny! a wolf made of dicks IS FUNNY
— RareAnimalPreservE (@teamrape) September 7, 2013
— RareAnimalPreservE (@teamrape) September 7, 2013