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Geek Girls Rule! #154 – Stay Classy Penny Arcade

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Feb 5th, 2011
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Yes, I know I’m taking my sanity in my hands posting about this.  But hell, I’m already getting comments on the old Penny Arcade Dickwolves post telling me I need to be raped, so I got nothin’ to lose here.  Don’t worry, oddly they never get through moderation.

This was the closest I could get to a wolf "Fail" picture

Yes, that’s right.  I’m getting people telling me I deserve to be raped because while I defended the original comic, I pointed out that the apology comic was so full of fail and bullshit you could have used it to fertilize fields.  As I said before, I happened to agree with Gabe and Tycho about the original comic:  It wasn’t a rape joke, it was a joke about the morality of videogame quests.  However, if you’re going to apologize, then fucking apologize, and don’t essentially negate that apology by being asshats in the final panel.

Ok, fast forward.  Penny Arcade puts out a Dickwolves t-shirt.  Sigh.  Tasteless, tacky, whatever.

This year, prior to PAX East a scheduled guest backs out of her panels at PAX East and and posts her reason.  Basically that the Dickwolves t-shirts are offensive, inflammatory and insensitive to sexual assault survivors.  Your mileage on this may vary, but since this is how she feels, she has every right to back out.

In response, the Dickwolves shirts get pulled from the store.  A nice gesture, accompanied by a statement by Gabe, saying that while they are leaving all the comics up, they do want everyone to feel safe at PAX,and if you’ve already bought  your tickets, they’ll refund the money.  Then, again, he fucks it up at the end by saying, “I’ll even put you on a list so that if, in a moment of weakness you try to by a ticket we can cancel the order.”    And when a fan tweeted to him about whether it would be ok to wear his Dickwolves shirt to PAX East, Gabe responded that he’d be wearing his.  Tycho has been conspicuously silent during this whole thing.


If you want the full timeline, please check out Jet Black’s post.

But, Gabe… Seriously, Dude.  If you’d just shut up while you’re ahead.

Now  your fans are telling female bloggers all over the web how they need to be raped, should be raped, that their rapist (if they’ve outed themselves as sexual assault survivors) should have killed them.

And Gabe’s bullshit is egging them on.

Yeah.  I’ve enjoyed my times at PAX, and I’ve been ecstatic with their “no booth babe” policy.  However, this past year they kind of sucked at enforcing that policy, as several vendors did indeed have booth babes, which was kind of disappointing because the year before had my hopes so high.

I don’t know if I’ll go this year.  The Penny Arcade guys do a lot of good with their charity, I agree.  And in the past they’ve been real supportive of female gamers.  But this bullshit with Gabe is getting old.  Like I’ve said before, the worst part about being a female blogger on any subject, but most especially surrounding subjects like misogyny and sexual assault, isn’t the out and out trolls.  It’s the people you like and respect who demonstrate how very little they actually think of you just because you happen to be female.

For the record, I am a sexual assault survivor.

Update:  The last two updates on the bottom of this page are the latest Gabe and Tycho responses.  And while I appreciate the apologies, you don’t get to just decide that it’s over.  I’m glad they’re urging people to reel back the hateful bullshit, but this sort of thing does still bear talking about.  Because the casual misogyny which this brought to the fore is endemic in gaming of all sorts.  Please see Exhibit 1:  Fat, Ugly or Slutty.

Edited:  Because I can’t ever remember which one’s Gabe and which one’s Tycho, so I’ll just stick with those names instead of trying to be all clever and add real names.  Gah.


  • Jenna

    I I were anyone else I would make a joke about how you should be raped more. But I am not and I personally hate how stupid people are about this topic. As someone said yesterday, there are perfectly valid reasons to distance yourself from nerd culture and this is one of them. (Of course I had stop reading their thread because some people turned it into a joke about using the word rape but whatever)

  • Iany

    There seems to be a lot of people who don’t agree on how offensive the original comic was (I thought it was a good thing to call them on it, but then I’m sick of straight white guys making jokes about issues that haven’t affected them).

    I can’t find anyone other than trolls that agree with their response. Dickwolves tshirts? What the hell.

    Anyway, thank you for your views on this and I’m sorry that a bunch of fuckwits on the internet have been threatening you. Gaming seems to be a toxic place if you’re a woman (or many other things) and it’s a culture that does not respond well to criticism.

  • Pidgey

    I really got pissed off at Gabe and PA over this whole thing. I am embarrassed for myself that I didn’t notice how tacky and cruel their behavior has been until the twitter comments were made several days ago. The past few days have been spent reading various blogs describing just how wrong they have been, and it has been reassuring to see how many blogs there are. It will be revealing to see what the atmosphere at PAX East will be like: whether there will be a large number of insensitive jerks wearing the shirt, or if there will be only a tiny number wearing them and those who do wear it get dirty looks from the majority of the attendees.

  • geekgirlsrule

    I’m gonna bet on a fairly small, but vocally dickish contingent of shirt-wearers.

    I have a friend who’s pointing to the recent “don’t threaten people” post by Gabe as proof that they aren’t that bad.

    Sadly, he only did this after he and his family were threatened. Where was this admonition for the past six months. People told them we were receiving rape and death threats, but it’s only bad after it happens to Gabe? The fuck?

  • Ash

    I don’t understand why/how/when the term rape became okay as a punchline or a playful insult. It really baffles me. Rape is one of the most destructive acts a human being can perpetrate upon another short of murder. Rape survivors ought to be celebrated as the resilient and strong people they are (women and men) rather than relegated to being the butt of jokes.

    • Darkstarr

      Rape is worse than murder IMHO. People who have been murdered don’t have to live with the emotional scars of what happened to them.

      [extreme sarcasm=ON] Yeah, rape is real funny. Just like making Holocaust jokes at Jews or threatening to burn a Neo-Pagan at the stake for worshipping the devil are. Hey, while we’re at it, why not joke about torturing small children to death too? [/sarcasm]
      Obviously, some things are just not appropriate to joke about. Ever.

      As an aside, I can get behind a comic strip that pokes fun at the ridiculously cliche quests in adventure-type games like Final Fantasy or MMOs like World of Warcraft, but even mentioning rape in what is supposed to be a non-dramatic context is in questionable taste in the first place. I agree wholeheartedly with geekgirlsrule’s comment that Gabe’s reply was offensive at best. They really could–indeed, SHOULD–have handled that a lot better.

  • geekgirlsrule

    As I said, I didn’t find the original comic objectionable, as rape wasn’t the punchline. What really offended me was the Penny Arcade guys’ response, particularly “Gabe.”

  • Laroquod

    “Gabe responded that he’d be wearing his. Mike/Tycho has been conspicuously silent during this whole thing.”

    Mike’s alter ego is Gabe. Jerry is Tycho.

    As a non-regular Penny Arcade reader (too focused on big AAA studio fare for me, I have much more respect for the independent artists), I’ve only recently become aware of this issue. Maybe it’s just that am just past 40 and valuable a reasonable approach to discourse, and tend not to associate myself with kneejerk types of either sex, but every friend I have discussed this with has essentially the same opinion on this, although they are emotionally different in the way they express it and the emphasis they place.

    That opinion much like yours. I can’t find a single person I am personally connected to, male or female, who thinks the original comic was offensive in any way. I also can’t find a single person who thinks Jerry and Mike handled this criticism in anything resembling a mature or reasonable fashion. That looks like it’s becoming the consensus of the reasonable souls without a prior gender-related axe to grind.

    And it’s a good consensus. Freedom of speech doesn’t mean you have to be an asshole to somebody who finds your work offensive — this should be a no-brainer. Take heed, geeks. And take the high road. Expressing yourself doesn’t mean attempting to stomp anyone’s face to the curb who might object to the form taken by your expression. That just makes you look like you have a serious problem dealing with criticism.

  • geekgirlsrule

    Thanks for the clarification, I’ll fix it. I can never keep straight who’s who.

    I can see why it upset some people, even if I don’t agree with them. And they certainly do have a right to voice that.

    Honestly, as many people have pointed out, over the years when people have jumped Penny Arcade’s shit, they usually just let it go and don’t respond (which would probably have been a wise choice here). However, in this instance they did respond, and badly.

  • Jamie Jeans

    It’s really not surprising that Gabe acted as he did, considering that the last time he talked about anything involving women, he said, IIRC, how men needed classes on professional seducing in order to level the playing field against women, and those classes are some of the most sexist, misogynistic crap around.

    Look here:

    I honestly stopped reading PA because of their ‘apology’ comic but this news about the dickwolves t-shirt and everything you’ve just talked about has cemented my decision to never go back to them again. I think I can handle not attending PAX.

  • theYTmassacre

    I am woman and a self-professed uber-nerd. Due to what happened to me in my childhood, I was incapable of having a functional relationship with anyone (of either gender), until my mid to late twenties.

    That being said… the Dick Wolves comic did not offend me in the least. As was suggested in the earlier post to this subject, Rape was not the punchline. Its use was morbid… the slave suggesting a situation so horrific and intolerable that the ‘Hero’ should want to help (except for that pesky quest quota).

    Perhaps I emotionally /fail on some level, but the apology comic did not insult me either. To some extent, having been entirely wrapped up in what I consider ‘having a life’… I did not look into any of this until literally today (03-15-11). Obviously, a delayed reaction on my part.

    It is ridiculous. I will continue to read the comic. I will continue to watch the web-isodes, laugh at the podcasts, treasure any of the DnD extras (especially those with Wil Wheaton in them), and will go to PAX when I can afford it at some point.

    Quite honestly, the PA Staff’s reaction to this was pretty predictable. Their sarcasm, and their unusual view of the world, is a part of what makes the comics good. As paraphrased from one of the podcasts… every insultable demographic is present on the Wheel of Misfortune. Sooner or later, when they spin it… it is going to land on your demographic. Its hypocritical to chuckle at the jokes that make other people uncomfortable, and then pitch a massive fit when they finally, off-handedly hit on one you don’t like.

    The point of this post, however… was to say that I’m glad I found this blog. The posts on this subject seemed genuine and intelligent. I enjoyed the phrases and thoughts conveyed, and will stop back on to read more.

    Also… I really love the web design. Seems top-notch. ;p

  • Tycho Litjens

    My brother suggested I would possibly like this website. He used to be entirely right. This post truly made my day. You can not believe just how a lot time I had spent for this information! Thank you!

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