I play an online game where the most commonly-heard phrase for “destroying the enemy” is “raping their faces.” Usage notes: “we really raped face last night”, “we caught them by surprise and raped their faces”, “who’s online and ready to go rape some face?”

By no particular coincidence, the voices you hear in your headset when you play this game are overwhelmingly male. Our crew is stunningly gender-integrated; we’ve got a triple-digit number of folks who use voice communication (“voice coms”) and there are perhaps five female-sounding voices among them. This is rare enough that new people have been heard to gasp “Girls? Did I just hear a girl? This game has girls?” In fact, no: pretty much the only female players we have are adult women. But that’s a whole ‘nuther thing, yo.

The politics of managing voice coms for a group so large are intricate. The more people using coms, the more social cohesion you have and the better your gaming group will fight together. But if coms are shitted up in ways that make various groups feel unwelcome (gays, women, ethnic minorities) these people will not use coms and may not stay in your group. So when your people start using “gay” as a derisive adjective, calling the folks who aren’t combat-oriented “Jews” because they are busy earning in-game currency, or throwing around words such as “cunt” and “bitches” like the unsupervised 14-year-old-boys many of them are, or using “rape” as a laudatory verb of victorious combat, it’s important to push back. Impossible to make this sort of thing stop entirely, but if you can’t keep it to a dull roar, you silently lose too many of your more mature and valuable people.

Note well: I’m speaking purely in practical terms here. I’m talking about what you need to do to make your organization functional and keep the coms working for the people you need to be on coms. I’m (so far) leaving the ethics of the the thing totally out of it. This is just practical management shit: keep the crap to a minimum or your org will drown in it and failcascade.

My own contribution to this problem in my own org has been to pick one battle and be tenacious about it. My chosen battle is Jew-talk. “Jewing it up”, “Don’t be such a jew”, “Who’s the Jew who’s been buying up all the [game items] around here and re-selling them for twice the price”, that sort of thing. It’s rare enough that I can challenge it consistently when I hear it without spending all day ranting into coms, and challenging it consistently seems to work. Gamers being gamers, being told to go fuck myself is the most pleasant response I ever get, but these exchanges, happening persistently when the verbal behavior recurs, seem to drive up the social cost of the behavior or reduce the transgressive fun-factor. Yeah, a few mostly-unthinking racists figure me for a humorless dick. You got no idea how much sleep I lose over that.

Funny thing? Right now I don’t even know any Jews in real life. Currently I live in a town so red-state and rural that there haven’t been any Jews here since the Cohens closed their dry goods store and retired, back in the 1980s. (I am not making that up.) But the thing you gotta understand is, Jew-talk in my game is a sort of coded “you’re not playing the game right” attack by combat-oriented players on crafter-and-accumulator type acquisitive players. Squelching it has a powerful practical purpose, since any good gaming organization needs both types of players. Also … duh … we don’t, can’t, know who the actual Jews in our org might be. Stupid to maybe insult people that you will need at your back in a fight. Ethics don’t need to figure into it.

But of course they do anyway. And that’s true about face-rape talk, too.

I come from the sort of cultural place where I feel it shouldn’t be necessary to explain to anybody why rape talk should never be light-hearted and why rape should never be used as a laudatory metaphor for anything. I’m like “Dude, it’s just rude is all. You don’t shout I AM A HUGE DICKHEAD! in the halls at school or work, do you? Then why are you talking like this? It makes you look like a huge freaking douchebag, shaddup allready!”

It shouldn’t be necessary to explain that, but sadly it often is necessary. Fortunately I don’t have to (at least not out here on the intarwebs) because Shakesville has already done it better:

Following is a primer for men who are interested in learning more about the practical effects of rape humor. … [T]his post in particular is addressed to men, not because women don’t rape and women don’t make/laugh at rape jokes and not because men can’t be raped, but because, by nature of the existing gender disparity, men are in a unique position to be taken seriously when they raise objections to casual language and humor regarding rape. Men are also in a unique position to prove to rapists and douchebags that not all men rape or take rape lightly by being able to embody living proof of that fact.

A lot of people accuse feminists of thinking that all men are rapists. That’s not true. But do you know who think all men are rapists?

Rapists do.

They really do. In psychological study, the profiling, the studies, it comes out again and again.

Virtually all rapists genuinely believe that all men rape, and other men just keep it hushed up better. And more, these people who really are rapists are constantly reaffirmed in their belief about the rest of mankind being rapists like them by things like rape jokes, that dismiss and normalize the idea of rape.

There’s a lot more in that vein. And, you know, it matters. It’s not just that they are shitting up my game coms and degrading our combat efficiency. Fuckers.

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