Amazon.com was recently caught by the Belfast Times selling a Japanese video game called RapeLay. The entire objective of the game is to rape women with varying levels of violence — sometimes stalking them first, sometimes using gang rape scenarios, and sometimes forcing them into abortions afterward.
Amazon, who has been selling the game at it’s third-party Marketplace announced that it would be suspending sales of the game because of public outcry. Not because the game itself is reprehensible and as a moral principle it was the right thing to do, but because consumers weren’t okay with it. Had there been no outrage, I’m sure Amazon would have quietly continued to sell the game.
You’ve got to love capitalism.
The Curvature has an excellent analysis of why this game isn’t okay and how it differs from the violence of say, Grand Theft Auto.
The point isn’t “oh my god, this game is going to create rapists.” The point is “oh my god, this game is going to make rapists think that people are on their side.” Which, of course, too many people actually are already, through their rape apologist jokes and excuses. The premise of the game reinforces the idea of rape as okay and not a big deal. It reinforces the idea that women exist for the sexual pleasure and abuse of men. And the preview of the game Boing Boing, which does not include any actual rapes but only attempted rapes, also ends up reinforcing the dangerous and stereotypical idea of your “real” rape victim who always cries, calls out in distress and overall completely breaks down at actual violence or threats of it.
Genuine and logical criticism of the game, I think, isn’t about it causing an actual number of rapes, but about it supporting and expanding the conditions that already exist, virtually around the world, that allow rape to be committed. The game might not create rapists, but it does make life more comfortable for the rapists who already exist, and life a lot more difficult for their victims.
And yes, I do worry about people missing those more nuanced points. I worry about the motivations of the British Labour MP Keith Vaz, who plans to raise the issue in Parliament. I worry about how exactly he plans to have it “raised,” and what he has done to stop actual rapes using real prevention programs, to educate the public about how rape is usually committed by someone the victim knows, and to increase levels of both rape reporting by victims and prosecutions of perpetrators. I worry about this game, an ultimately tiny piece to a huge puzzle of our expansive rape culture, being used as a way to express outrage while skirting the real issue.
The author of the piece also worries that reactions to this story will be reduced to two polemics: “you idiots, stop whining, this is no big deal because it’s not going to make a person rape anyone, anymore than Grand Theft Auto makes players murder anyone” or ““God, those Japanese are fucked up. I’m so glad that us good Westerners aren’t this misogynistic!”
Unfortunately, what won’t happen is for people to take a long hard look about the conditions of their society that make rape acceptable, er, not just acceptable but one that breeds a sort of blaming the victim mentality. In America we still have conditions whereby real-life, less perfect victims continue to be blamed, shamed and accused of lying.
That’s not okay.