Discussion 39: Rape Jokes and Trigger Warnings

Kevin, Allegra, and CJ discuss some difficult but important topics that affect gaming culture (and beyond). The conversation covers rape culture and how TWE has changed its approach, as well as why trigger warnings matter in gaming. Heads up: While the subject matter is treated with respect, it covers some pretty rough stuff.

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 Trigger Warnings

  • Discussion about rape, harassment, child abuse, victim blaming, domestic violence, self harm, eating disorders. Nothing detailed or graphic, but this is a heavy discussion.

10 Responses to “Discussion 39: Rape Jokes and Trigger Warnings”

  1. MadZab Says:

    I didn’t really think that there was such a big rape-culture anymore until the topic got brought up and I read the REPLIES on the internet. That was what I found to be really sickening – the backlash from internet users against just bringing it up shows that yes, there is a problem…

  2. Kevin Weiser Says:

    Yeah, did you follow the Kickstarter for Feminist Frequency and Tropes Vs. Women? The backlash Anita Sarkeesian received was astounding.


  3. HardLuckHero Says:

    I found the discussion about “triggers” interesting. I didn’t really understand the need for warnings at first, but then one specific situation in the Monster Hearts AP actually brought back some emotions that I wasn’t expecting. Don’t worry, I still loved the AP and I can’t wait for Session 4. Thank you all for helping our hobby grow in the right directions!

  4. brian Says:

    Good discussion. I remember hearing the rape joke-y stuff in a couple of the earlier APs and thinking it was pretty messed up.

  5. brian Says:

    Oh, and re: Sarkeesian… Not that I’d wish that kind of harassment on anyone, but it backfired for the assholes… Because i hadn’t even heard of her project until i heard about the harassment, and then i backed it, and i know I’m not the only one on the same boat. I don’t expect to agree with everything she says, but i DO believe it’s a topic that needs a lot more discussion, especially from women.

  6. Jason Pitre Says:

    First thing first, that was a heavy yet excellent episode. Thank you very much for discussing this topic, despite having a bit less joviality than usual. I appreciated especially the clinical explanation of triggers, since I had thought the same as Kevin before that episode.

    I wish to contribute to the discussion, but I feel like my status as a male + my lack of insufficient relevant academic cred might lead for my statements to be misconstrued as apologitics on the internet. That said…

    I feel like “rape culture” is a thing, but only as a subset of the more significant “abuse culture”. Victim blaming is far from limited to the realm of sexual assault. The bullied are told they are weak by peers and society. Those who suffer emotional abuse are told it’s due to their own poor judgement. If we eliminated the rape culture, we would still be unable to walk down dark alleys in safety. If we deal with the fact that our society expects that might makes right and that those with privilege may abuse with impunity, we might be able to deal with the root cause of the problem. Personally, I view rape as a crime about on par with that of torture, with the same lasting consequences for the survivor.

    I honestly have zero idea how the legal system can reliably judge against rapists, without comprimising the presumption of innocence of the accused. On a purely judicial level, this is a heck of a sticky problem to try to resolve fairly for all parties, unless people start the practice of signing enthusiastic consent forms before engaging in any activities.

    It’s a tough problem. Awareness and education seems to be the only way to improve the situation, and I thank you for doing your part to educate all of us. Thank you.

  7. Justin Says:

    I don’t have much to add that you didn’t cover really well in the episode. The summation was especially good. Most of this is a matter of awareness, compassion, respect, and just giving a shit about other people. Human experience is really broad, and someone else’s experience is valid even if it differs from yours. If you can get people to that point, then the rest tends to follow relatively easily.

    The thing I really want to say, though, is THANK YOU! I am intensely thankful that you folks have the beliefs you have and that you’re willing to express them in public. It’s one thing to encourage this behavior in your private space and friends groups, but speaking it aloud is something else altogether. Our broader culture doesn’t like that. Gamer culture doesn’t like that. Internet culture really doesn’t like that. Saying the things you’re saying is a very reliable way to get buried in shit, and I’m grateful that you’re all brave enough to say it anyway. Thank you.

  8. Allegra Says:

    First, thank you all for your input. I am overwhelmed at the great responses and support. I will try to avoid writing a book here, but no promises.

    Brian – I agree with your points re: Sarkeesian. The whole debacle is a good example of why “just ignore misogyny and it’ll go away” isn’t really the best way to approach the issue. By calling out the harassment, the project got more attention and support. I don’t agree with Sarkeesian on everything, but I am really glad she’s putting things out there, even when some people go out of their way to make her feel unsafe. It’s not an easy thing to do.

    Jason – I’m glad Kevin pointed out the more common layperson use of triggers in this context, too. It is still a valid definition. I get very clinical and detached when discussing difficult topics as a coping mechanism. It has advantages and disadvantages.

    This isn’t a conversation that only women should be involved in (if so, this ‘cast couldn’t have happened!). It’s definitely not something that should only be discussed in an academic context. Granted, my rant about academic snobbery could probably fill at least several double spaced, well cited pages ;).

    I agree that there is an “abuse culture” and victim blaming is rampant. Most discussions about bullying focus on how to keep your kid from being bullied, rather than preventing the bullying in the first place. It is definitely analogous to “Society teaches ‘don’t get raped’, when it should be teaching ‘don’t rape.'”

    It is a terribly sticky problem judicially. My approach is to understand I am not a police officer or a lawyer. I can’t arrest or prosecute anyone. I choose to believe someone who confides in me. I offer what support I can and provide info where they can get more help than I can provide. It’s up to the survivor to determine what is best for them regarding pursuing legal action. Probably a bit too passive, but I only have so many spoons. Like you said, it’s a tough problem. Educating and being WILLING to be educated are definitely the best tools we have right now.

    — I’m happy to respond to stuff on Twitter, G+, here in comments, or e-mail (though I suck at getting back to people on that last one). I don’t want to speak for the other members of the cast, but I thought I’d just throw that out there. —

  9. Lynne Says:

    In response to the request for females who played D&D to write in about their experiences with having their PCs predated upon:

    I actually had the opposite situation and managed to have romantic behavior that I thought was endearing be perceived by others as creepy. I wasn’t trying to come-on to the other player and I wasn’t indulging in any sort of wish-fulfillment. I was trying to facilitate better group cohesion and generate some interesting story. So, these situations can arise even with good intentions and women can (naturally) be the offender too.

  10. malkav11 Says:

    I did raise an eyebrow at some of the rapier content on early episodes of the podcast, but as it didn’t appear to be bothering anyone directly involved (in particular, CJ) and I have no associated triggers myself I wasn’t up in arms about it. Still happy you’ve decided to leave it by the wayside.

    Also: I’m appalled that anyone’s first thought when a female PC (let alone female player) is introduced into a D&D game is to try to rape said character. WTF? Since when is that remotely acceptable? I guess I’m lucky to have never run into that.

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