T-Shirts and Teaspoons and Mythical Creatures

[Trigger warning for sexual violence and rape apologia.]

About a dozen people (and thanks to each of you) have emailed me to let me know that the Penny Arcade "raped by dickwolves" strip that prompted this guest post and my Survivors Are So Sensitive post, among many others around the blogosphere, has now spawned a t-shirt featuring the head of what is apparently a raping dickwolf and the words "Penny Arcade Dickwolves," in the style of an athletic team logo and type. An image is below the fold.

"Go team dickwolf! Give me an R! Give me an A! Give me a P! Give me an E! What's that spell…?!"

It's great to see that Gabe and Tycho are making money in the Very Serious and Totally Not Making Fun of Rape Business from the production of t-shirts that effectively read "Team Rapist." If there's one thing I always say about the rape culture, it's: Why can't more men profit from it?

Now, I know some of you humorless hysterics are probably thinking that this t-shirt virtually promotes rape, given that it basically suggests that rape is a fun team sport for all the boys dickwolves to play! But it totes doesn't. Because dickwolves are MYTHICAL CREATURES and you are stupid. This shirt isn't condoning rape, or even treating it like a punchline—hell, no: It's just making fun of hypersensitive survivors and their reactionary allies! Geez.

The more rape jokes Gabe and Tycho make, the more it proves what assholes people who don't like rape jokes are! See?

That's how that works.

Here's how teaspoons work: Kirby Bits, with the help of an Anonymous Graphic Design Genius, is selling a Dickwolves Survivors Guild t-shirt, all of the profits for which will be donated to RAINN, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. If you would like to donate directly to RAINN, go here.

…You know, one of the things that always hangs with me after these scuffles is how generally everyone involved claims to care about victims of sexual violence, but, when it comes down to it, it's never the makers of rape jokes who create the t-shirts (or whatever equivalent) to raise money for survivors.

Funny, that.

It probably has a little something to do with something else I've observed: Gabe and Tycho defend themselves with pithy admonishments like like "It's possible you read our cartoon, and became a rapist as a direct result. If you're raping someone right now, stop. Apologize. And leave. Go, and rape no more."—as if the thought of one of their readers being a rapist is absurd. Similarly, the "irony" of a "Team Rapist" shirt only works if they believe no one who buys it could possibly be a rapist.

That willful ignorance is perhaps the most basic form of rape apology there is.

Well, I certainly don't know any men who are rapists. Sure. Nobody does. Even though as many as 15% of men (pdf) have, by their own account, attempted and/or committed sexual violence. Even though women are three times more likely to be raped by someone they know than a stranger, and nine times more likely to be raped in their home, the home of someone they know, or anywhere else than being raped on the street, making "acquaintance rape" by far the most prevalent type of rape.

And making it vanishingly unlikely that a dude with lots of dude friends and family members and co-workers and associates doesn't know at least one dude who has attempted or committed sexual violence. (And at least one dude who has been a victim of it.)

Gabe and Tycho maybe never considered that an actual rapist might buy and wear a "Penny Arcade Dickwolves" t-shirt. They probably never considered that a young woman or man, currently only concerned with defending the comic from the onslaught of Hysterics from Nofunnington, could become a victim of sexual violence while wearing the shirt. They might well argue that such scenarios are just overwrought hyperbole, and they don't give a shit about hypotheticals. They might remind me, yet again, that dickwolves are mythical.

Yes. They are. But rape isn't.

One in 33 men. One in 6 women. Many of them multiple times. Those numbers are even higher in places like war zones. Rape is all too real. And there are plenty of rapists who treat it like a goddamn sport.

Somehow, that reality seems to have been lost along the way.

There is indeed a mythical creature worth discussing in this debate, but it is not a dickwolf. It is the person who doesn't know a rapist, whose products will never be purchased by rapists or rape victims, whose rape jokes magically don't perpetuate the rape culture, but exist only in a narrow dimension where the act of rape doesn't exist.

Of course, if rape didn't exist, rape jokes wouldn't either.

Which I suppose would be a grievous loss for the makers of rape jokes.

[Previously: Rape Is Hilarious, Survivors Are So Sensitive, Quote of the Day, Troll Math and Teaspoons.]

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