Amazon selling ‘rape simulation game’

// 13 February 2009

Yeah, you read that right. Amazon was hawking a Japanese-language game, where the gameplay revolves around raping women. The game has now been removed from the site. The Belfast Telegraph reports:

A game that involves the player stalking victims and then raping them in a virtual world is being offered for sale by online retailer Amazon.com, the Belfast Telegraph’s website can reveal.

The shocking ‘rape simulator’, Rapelay, is set in Japan and carries a sickening game description on the Amazon website. An MP said last night that he plans to raise the issue in Parliament.

Reviews by gaming websites have expressed horror at the basis for the game.

One website review describes “tears glistening in the young girl’s eyes” as she is attacked in graphic detail.

Players begin the game by stalking a mother on a subway station before violently raping her. They then move on to attack her two daughters described as virgin schoolgirls.

Players are also allowed to enter ‘freeform mode’ where they can rape any woman and get other male game characters to join the attacks.

Pregnancy and abortion are listed as ‘key features’. One review said: “If she does become pregnant you’re supposed to force her to get an abortion, otherwise she gets more and more visibly pregnant each time you have sex.

“If you allow the child to be born then the woman will throw you in front of a train!”

Most of the descriptions and screenshots of the game are too graphic for publication here.

Comments From You

Leigh // Posted 13 February 2009 at 12:24 pm

Oh yes. lets just pillory Amazon. Never mind that they took the game down. Never mind that the game was user submitted second stock put up by a third party. Lets rip into a company that responded so quickly to the complaints that the only evidence left of the game’s listing are Google cache screen shots. Yes, they are the ones at fault. Not the people who wrote, designed and published the game. Nor the people who purchased it and tried to flog it on through Amazon.

Kate // Posted 13 February 2009 at 12:34 pm

I feel sick. Who do I write to to complain about this?

Posie Rider // Posted 13 February 2009 at 12:55 pm

“Yeah, I’ve got this great game where people enslave disempowered ethnic groups and ship them to the new world to work on sugar plantations. You get to beat them and it’s hilarious when they die of cholera.

And I have this other great genocide game where you have to fill up the mass graves, a bit like tetris.

They’re just games of course.”

Who are these people? What can I even say? This is vile.

Jess McCabe // Posted 13 February 2009 at 1:36 pm

@Leigh – I don’t think that noting that they were selling the product constitutes pillorying Amazon. It’s a good thing they did take it down promptly, but at the same time they’re responsible for what goes up on their site and they’re also refusing to comment.

I take it as read that the company that produced this game is at most fault, of course, as is the third party seller who presumably put it up for sale on Amazon, as is Amazon for not putting in place systems to prevent this happening.

They’ve not responded as quickly as all that; they could have taken it down immediately when contacted by the newspaper to comment on why the item was being sold. Instead they waited till the story had been published and done the rounds of various high profile blogs (Boing Boing posted about this a few days ago, and I actually forgot to put this in my post, as I was pretty horrified that they defended the game.)

Hannah // Posted 13 February 2009 at 1:56 pm

There’s a difficulty here- obviously this is a disgusting excuse for a video game, obviously. But there’s a difficulty when it comes to criticising it, when video games like Manhunt, GTA, and well… actually most games encorage the gamer to perpetrate virtual crimes of varying severity, including, and often graphically depicted murder. When you seriously criticise this, it’s difficult to point out why it’s worse than, say a GTA installment, though I would suggest you are quite obviously a ‘bad guy’ in GTA/Manhunt style universes, with the police coming after you and you watch your character getting deeper and deeper into trouble and danger, wheras in this game, the worst retribution is getting pushed in front of a train by a rape victim angry you raped her little sister and got her pregnant (though you can avoid this if you force her to have an abortion). Other people on the train allow your harassment to go on makign it socially acceptable etc… so am I suggesting it’s the lack of moral opposition and retribution that makes this game bad? No… I think I’m saying that simple moral outrage isn’t the best way to tackle things like this, as advocates will just simply ignore it. Best thing to do? Fight patricarchal privaledge and objectivication/commodification of women. Not much then!

Kate // Posted 13 February 2009 at 2:01 pm

These are some additional rules..

*If you fail to give 10 sexist comments a day to establish control over women, you are pushed in front of a bus.

*You must also defame any woman in power if you see one for 10 bonus points!

* You must enter schools for the penultimate level and destroy female teachers indoctrinating children!

*Deadly signs of women being any more than objects will be a serious threat to your ‘privileged’ status in the game, look out for them and act accordingly.

*Set up a strip club if you have enough points, these raise your ranking – you have truly helped objectify women.

* Of course, as with porn the variety of women we can’t have in real life, will be represented as powerless to our aggression and needs in this created reality. The more ‘never gonna happen’ the female, the more points.

*Feminists are the most serious threat to male privilege. For destroying them, you will gain 50 points.

(Can you imagine the creeps designing this game? )

Redheadinred // Posted 13 February 2009 at 2:17 pm

Whenever I find myself wondering if my feminism gets out of hand, I read something like this and know how much we need feminism.

Of course, the MPs will try and make this into a non-gendered issue and totally ignore that this is misogyny. They’ll talk about the ‘over-sexualisation’ of society or ‘encouragement to commit crimes from video games’. What they certainly won’t talk about is the misogyny prevalent in our society.

Amity // Posted 13 February 2009 at 3:04 pm

Absolutely vile.

May want to put a trigger warning on this one.

Sarah // Posted 13 February 2009 at 4:51 pm

For once, words escape me.

Lizzie // Posted 13 February 2009 at 6:24 pm

You know one of perhaps the most disturbing things?

If you Google it the first options to come up are free illegal downloads of the English “uncensored” version, which suggests to me that there is actually a market for this disgusting piece of misogynistic filth.

Anne Onne // Posted 13 February 2009 at 7:01 pm

Leigh: Amazon should have some responsibility for what is sold on their virtual premises. That doesn’t mean they should be the focus of blame (the game manufacturers, sellers and buyers should), but their involvement needs to be noted and pointed out to them. If they apologise and take it down, that’s all people ask. It’s probably impossible for Amazon to police all their sellers (though I would think they should spend more effort in this)so what matters is what happens once something like this is pointed out. Jess mentioned Amazon’s name because it’s a mainstream site, and because it’s disturbing that something like this would be so easy to access. I don’t detect any vilification of Amazon, more shock that this would turn up there, so close to home.

Hannah, the difference is that murder and non-gendered crimes are generally acknowledged to be bad by society. It’s the fact that rape is a problem affecting a specific group of people, a problem that is often encouraged and in which the victims are blamed.

Also, the assumption that GTA is umproblematic isn’t necessarily true. One doesn’t have to wish to ban GTA to believe it problematic from several aspects. Each game is different in that how issues are presented, and which issues are presented matters. White men beating up white men would not be the same as white men beating up black women, for example. So, allowing GTA doesn’t necessarily mean that EVERY game someone could concievably think of should be allowed: each one should be taken on its merits. I don’t believe in enforcing censorship as a whole, but encouraging or inciting acts of violence against a minority or vulnerable group is not the same thing as portraying crimes of a less problematic nature.

I’m actually glad I’ve seen only reasonable comments to this story. If I see one more comment to the effect that the Japanese are just pervy rapists who don’t know how to treat a gal I think I’ll scream. Because, as needs pointing out, the symptoms of the patriarchy differ between the countries, but the underlying reasons and motivations do not. This is no different to the rape apologism and rape jokes we have here.

Lisa // Posted 13 February 2009 at 8:26 pm

Whilst the game must not be sold or promoted (unless there are more equitable sophisticated consequences like GTA ) I am aware that it is ALWAYS better to know exactly what is going on ‘out there’ – on the Internet, in male computer progrmammers minds, in the sex industry, maybe even in the mind of the man opposite me in the bus ! It’s in none of our interests to bury this news too quickly. The trail should be followed – who created this game, who sold it, who’s buying it ?

sam // Posted 13 February 2009 at 9:57 pm

Last week Laura Woodhouse explained to F Word blog readers that there’s nothing inherently wrong with sexist entertainment media, there’s only something wrong when people forget they’re not supposed to learn anything from sexist entertainment media that could apply to the real world.

In the espoused theory, violent pornography and violent pornographic games are “not feminist” but that doesn’t mean they’re harmful to women, and RapeLay is probably feminist neutral until seen by a psychopath who can’t distinguish sexual fantasy from reality as well as Laura and her friends. Fortunately, psychopaths are very rare so the production, distribution and viewing of rape-themed media aren’t a problem for most people who derive pleasure from rape-scenario entertainment now and then.

maggie // Posted 13 February 2009 at 10:35 pm

this is really depressing.

Daniel // Posted 13 February 2009 at 11:11 pm

Just a thought. I’ve never been of the opinion that something presented in a video game makes anyone do anything that they are not already inclined to do. I am of the opinion that video games provide safe environment to play out fantasies without repercussion.

I do not think that rape is a cultural meme being propagated without a biological basis – indeed rape can be thought of as “legacy code” (to use the programming jargon) in our biological makeup – men and women (I’ve known a few women with rape fantasies too). The self-consciousness we use to make choices and govern ourselves differently than biology would have us behave, allows us to consent, and differentiates us from animals (let’s face it – if animals suddenly had the ability to consent granted to them tomorrow, the number of cases of rape amongst animals would be sky high; they currently know no different) is still relatively young compared to the biological urge to procreate. We’re talking about the ratio between 10,000 years compared to 2 million+ years.

The consequences are that biology has incredible psychic energy that the reason is too weak to combat. But the “programming paradigm” of consent is obviously superior to the paradigm of blindly following biological dictates. The question is how do we re-write ourselves so that rape will not occur.

Do we repress it? That didn’t work so well for the Victorian era. The psychic energy isn’t used up, builds, and then manifests a host of other less-than desirable behaviours and even physical problems. By making it taboo to have the urge to sleep with someone without their consent, you risk these other behaviours (most likely – aggression?) AND still have rapes as the energy breaks through reason’s defenses.

Nor can we condone dissipating the energy by putting it into practice and strengthening reason by experience of the negative consequences of rape (both sympathy and punishment). It is a gross violation of human rights and perpetuates the action which is no longer needed since consciousness and choice hit the scene.

But roleplay is a solution. Between two consenting adults, playing out a rape fantasy could use up the energy and actually strengthen the relationship between two people (as long as both are consenting to it). But this is not a viable societal option as there is little guarantee that a couple will both enjoy a rape roleplay – much more likely that you’d have one into it and one not.

This video game though, in it’s exaggerated misogynistic form – could be something like rape roleplay for one (man).

Anne Onne // Posted 14 February 2009 at 12:25 pm

Daniel: you can make an argument that people have genetic predispositions to have sexual urges, because we’ve evolved to want to spread genes and whatnot, but that’s got nothing to do with rape, kind of like our wanting or needing food doesn’t predispose us to stealing, or excuse it.

We’re also not ruled by our base instincts, because the evolution of our brain, consiousness and bloody free will gives us, unlike our other mammalian peers, a conscience. We have the ability to examine our motivations, and our inclusion in society is conditional to each person controlling ‘animal’ urges.

People having rape fantasies does not mean it’s inherent or biological. Looking through the messages society gives us about rape, I’m not surprised that people (make that men) do rape. And games like this just add to the Pavlovian conditioning: it reinforces the ‘pleasurable’ status of a problematic behaviour, rather than encouraging people to undergo cognitive behavioural therapy to unlearn that behaviour. The fact that people can change behavior and change response to stimuli shows that our responses aren’t innate but conditioned.

Also, the victorians didn’t try to repress rape, they tried to repress SEX. The fact that you seem to equate rape with sex as a whole is an issue in itself. None of us want to repress consensual sex, whatever the flavour. We want to prevent and discourage non-consensual sex, i.e rape. Something that is NOT primarily about sexual urges, but about power.

Power role play in sex acknowledges the power aspect. But equating role play (something that is consensual and safe, and as much about getting the submissive person off as the dominant one) with an activity that by its definition is non-consensual is an insult to people who can actually tell the difference between right and wrong (beginning to sound like The Mail here, but bear with me). Role players analyse their kinks and what they fantasise about, and then draw a line what they want to act out,what they need to work on, and where their issues come from. Equating that with people who probably ARE going to go out and rape is drawing a non-existant comparison, because rapists don’t give a flying monkey what their victims feel, unless their pain heightens the pleasure. They don’t get off on the act, but on causing real suffering, unlike those who do roleplay.

Rape is NOT a rare thing, nor is it something you can prevent by giving rapists some sort of amusement: rapists don’t rape because they’re bored and cha or sexually unfulfulled (hello, masturbation doesn’t require anyone’s consent but yours!) they rape because the power trip of forcing someone else and taking advantage of them feels rewarding. And games encouraging that certainly aren’t going to stop their interest in it, or help them address why they want to rape. Or change their response to such stimuli. Or guaranted that they won’t take it into the real world. They just present rape as a normal activity.

Were this video game about bashing up a random, vague opponent in some alien setting for the sake of relieving stress, this would be a different conversation. But it’s not. This is a game that presents a particular group of people (who actually exist) as worthy of being dehumanised and attacked. It is hate speech in digital format.

I hate to bring this parallel* forward, because I find this approach problematic, but to all you who think this is ‘just’ a game: imagine a game that allowed people to dress up as the KKK and do what they did. Or a game where the aim is to hunt out gay bars and attack the people therein. The very thought disgusts me, because a game aimed at killing or hurting or raping people in a particular group is deeply problematic,in a way that no ‘shoot some random vaguely humanoid enemy’ ever is. Drawing parallels between this and random first person shoot ’em ‘ups hides the fact that rape is much more common than random murder, and that one group is targeted.

I’d argue it’s against the rights of people in that group, as a minority, to be presented with a game that encourages violence against them. Why is someone’s fantasy of raping women supposed to take precedence over the wishes of rape victims to not have their experience condoned, glamourised and highlighted in the name of entertainment? What of the rights of women to not have to deal with games like this?

It highlights a single group as worthy of being attacked, and the whole aim is to attack this group of people. And these are not a fictional species of orc or something. They’re people the player meets every day.

* the comparing racism to sexism thing is deeply problematic, I admit, and I don’t want to imply that such a game wouldn’t exist, because experience teaches me people are as disrespectful of POC as to women, and that comparisons tend to look like racism is over. It isn’t, PETA’s use of KKK uniforms in a stunt proves that.

I’m trying to point out another equally disturbing example to highlight why a game focusing against revenge against a particular real life minority is majorly fucked up, even as ‘fantasy material’. Hopefully it clarifies the picture. I don’t like using such examples at all, but I like people using the ‘but it’s just a game!’ card even less.

Shea // Posted 14 February 2009 at 12:32 pm

@ Daniel – I hear what your saying, and its an interesting argument,( a similar one is put forward about pornography), that it becomes an outlet for destructive tendencies that if perpetrated in the real world, would result in gross harm. I’m inclined to agree to some extent- that pornography or violent video games don’t “make” anyone do anything that they weren’t capable of before. (I think this is our culture’s updated version of “the devil made me do it!” and just an excuse for rapists not to be held accountable). But at the same time I believe there is a massive social and cultural influence on how we view and utilise our sexuality. I think the ease with which our society objectifies (and frequently degrades) women, particularly, is having very negative results and is not something we can ignore. (Just look at the post on street harassment if you need proof).

For my part the logic belying such arguments is weak. That men, (as opposed to women) are ruled by their biological urges to have sex and that this needs to be “controlled”. There is compelling biological evidence that bonobos, our nearest primate relative are a matriarchal society, where the female are 40% more promiscuous than the males (rape is also virtually non-existent in their world). Does this therefore mean we should accept adultery from women? (Or fight for a matriarchal society?) (oh yeah ;-)

Essentially, this is an anti-feminist, anti-male argument, that men cannot control themselves or their urges and therefore need a release (I won’t touch on rape fantasies because I believe they are more a product of the socialisation of women to feel guilty about enjoying sex and the emphasis traditionally placed on the importance of virginity in women, than a biological “cause”.) Also you are mistaking rape with a need to procreate (this is shaky anyway- given the fact sex is now more often recreational than procreational). This is often not the case- (evidently) where the perpetrator orally or anally rapes, or uses a condom.

“The question is how do we re-write ourselves so that rape will not occur.”

For me this isn’t the question. I do not honestly believe we are hard written to rape. I think too often spurious evolutionary biology is used to justify the social structure and the injustices perpetrated.

Regarding the game- I think this, like porn makes it very easy to “normalise” the behaviour seen, and to have any misogynistic prejudices reinforced. Better then that it isn’t sold– if the game/pornography/etc “makes” men rape, then just remove that excuse? Especially in a society like ours where a 6% rape conviction rate seems to condone the act.

Kuja // Posted 14 February 2009 at 2:11 pm

There’s a huge difference between rape fantasy and rape itself. Just because the rape on a video game isn’t happening in real life doesn’t make it “fantasy”. A person who wants to enact a rape fantasy (as the “victim”) doesn’t expect to be unreasonably beaten, abused, hurt or degraded or overall treated in any way that they haven’t consented to beforehand.

Whereas the circumstances of rape on this game (attacking unaware women) and not to mention the pain described on the victims’ expressions, obviously show that this is no depiction of “rape fantasy” but just rape itself. And of course graphics on games are improving day by day. How will people see a difference between the incredibly detailed pixels they’re abusing in an average everyday setting, and a woman walking down the street in a similar (but real) scenario?

Incidentally, if you think this will allow men an outlet for their “irrepressible sexual urges” so that they don’t commit crimes in real life, I think there’s a market for a video game where the main character is a strong female with a variety of weapons (Metal Gear Solid style) handy for whenever misogynists approach you/catcall/shout abuse at you while you walk down an ordinary street. That should keep ME out of prison at least!

Kevin Ramsey // Posted 15 February 2009 at 8:53 am

Anne,

Do you really believe that men are conditioned into rape in a Pavlovian manner via video games and media imagery that makes the idea of rape pleasurable for men? The idea that men are so simple that they can be trained like dogs to salivate when a bell is rung (and thus need to be trained to be egalitarian) borders on sexist, no?

Laura // Posted 15 February 2009 at 1:17 pm

Sam,

Seeing as I haven’t written any recent posts on sexist entertainment media, I fail to see the relevance of your comment. I can only assume you are referring to my post on women and sexuality, and conflating BDSM type sexual practices with violent pornography and violent pornographic games which, quite frankly, betrays a rather simplistic, black and white view of the world.

For what it’s worth, I think this game is disgusting, and it appals me that anyone would want to play it – if anyone I knew played it I’d cut them out of my life.

Redheadinred // Posted 15 February 2009 at 2:26 pm

Laura – here, here… I don’t think I could stand to be friends with another person if they played that game.

There is a LOT of difference between a fantasy you have in your head, and creating a video game, like this, where you take pleasure and light entertainment by making women get abortions, and encourage others to do so too. I know that fantasies people have in their heads can be graphic and disturbing, but in that case, you make the fantasy up and it’s not something that anyone else is aware of. I don’t have a problem with people fantsising about rape, either as victim or perpetrator. But I have a problem with somebody creating a game or porn where women’s real experiences are exploited for ‘entertainment’. Because the thing about fantasies is, they are PRIVATE. They don’t insult a whole segment of society and make life difficult for them, because you keep them to yourself. That’s the other thing, these games create a feeling of solidarity in misogyny, they legitimise it, and say, ‘see, thousands of other men are doing this too! Every man takes pleasure in seeing images of women get raped, so you don’t have to take responsibility. It’s just how all men are. You NEED this, so it’s justified whatever the cost’. I believe a lot more men than we think feel some guilt about rape porn and rape video games, they get a small nagging feeling that these games are misogynistic and insult rape victims and women. But if there’s a whole industry fueled by it, they think it’s good to support this industry because ‘it’s what everyone’s doing’. I think a lot of young boys don’t actually want to tell rape jokes and make threats to women, but they feel they have to because it’s part of the culture of being masculine, especially at school.

If no women were being raped in real life, maybe I wouldn’t feel so bad about it. It’s the same with a game where you kill zombies compared to a holocaust game where you have to catch jews and rape, torture and gas them, a’la Joseph Mengle (sp?). Would that be okay in the name of ‘fantasy’?

Kuja // Posted 15 February 2009 at 2:40 pm

Sorry to post -again-, but I’ve just found a review about this game with a lot more awful details. Despite writing about a lot of hentai games, this reviewer says that they can’t play one where the goal is ultimately to commit as many violent rapes as possible. The character can take pictures of their victims and show off to their friends.

In response to Kate’s question, I have no idea what kind of mindset these creators must have.

sam // Posted 15 February 2009 at 4:29 pm

For the umpteenth time, it is not about you and how you fuck. Really, it isn’t.

My comment is a reference to the “FPA trains youth workers to address teens’ porn use” thread where you give accolades to a pornographer who puts rape porn into the world implying that there’s nothing inherently wrong with rape porn so long as viewers choose not to learn anything from sexually violent media and kids get sex ed to help digest the steady diet of rape imagery they’re forcefed.

Your criticism of RapeLay doesn’t stop at the apologetic understatement that its producers don’t want people to learn anything from rape simulations; no makers of rape-themed media have ever claimed their intent is public education. To the contrary, they claim their entertainment products are harmless and of course but of course kids shouldn’t see them. I take issue with you reciting pornographer press releases about how pornography isn’t the problem, the need for sex education is.

Pornography is the problem. Really, it is.

George // Posted 15 February 2009 at 6:25 pm

@ Sam – “Fortunately, psychopaths are very rare so the production, distribution and viewing of rape-themed media aren’t a problem for most people who derive pleasure from rape-scenario entertainment now and then.”

But unfortunately, rapists are surprisingly common. Moreover, I think the burdern of proof is on “the people deriving pleasure” from these media to show that their emotional reaction is *not* based upon misogyny – because on the face of it, they really do look a lot like misogynists to me.

@ Daniel – hardwired psychic energy, that when unexpressed leads to physical problems?! Lol!!! Very funny … but more than a tad scary because it carries the “men are designed to rape women” message, whether or not you think that this is bad in actuality. I do wonder where people pick these theories up from…

Mike Oliver // Posted 15 February 2009 at 7:22 pm

Any type of programme which encourages discrimination against any group shouldnt be this freely available. Imagine if a small child plays this kind of game? What happens to their concept of women?

Kath // Posted 15 February 2009 at 9:30 pm

The article you are referring to is about the Family Planning Association training youth workers in how to deal with young men are are using porn. It suggests that porn-use is a problem, not that it isn’t. The people who released a press statement are the FPA, not pornographers. Laura did refer to Renegade Evolution who believes that porn is ok so long as it’s not used for sex ed, but she didn’t say she agreed with Ren, and that’s not what the FPA are advocating.

Leigh // Posted 15 February 2009 at 11:49 pm

Just to clarify what had raised my ire: “Amazon was hawking “. Was Amazon hawking or was a software and money transfer system they set up for members of the public to use being misused to sell an appalling computer game? Did they stock the game? Were they ever going they post it out to anyone? Did they list the vendors as approved stockists. And when they were told about it did they leave the item up? All those questions need answering before we can accuse amazon of hawking something.

We also have no idea how quickly they were able to respond or how that matches their response time. Can we at least give them credit for what they got right, as I see no credit given in the article above.

Qubit // Posted 16 February 2009 at 7:50 am

I don’t understand fully the attitude to sexual ideas in society. If I enjoyed in a non sexual way beating my boyfriend (with his consent) then it is likely most people would suggest I was abusing him and it was an unhealthy relationship.

However if I enjoyed beating him during sex this would be considered BDSM and fairly naturally. If I tried to compare the two scenarios I would be told they are completely different situations.

Similarly if I get pleasure from pain it is consider unhealthy and a bad sign of my mental state however doing the same during sex is considered healthy and even a positive thing.

We seem to prioritise what we like sexually and not scrutinise it in the same moral way. For example if this game just featured beating up women and watching them suffer it is unlikely it would have been made or find a market. The key difference between the above idea and GTA etc is that the suffering, pain and misery of the victim would be over-emphasised during the game rather than ignored or lightly brushed over. Certainly my limited experience of violent video games has suggested that in many ways the suffering of victims is often over looked and hence a stronger separation between fantasy and reality exists.

I find it hard to think how harmful such a game is. I work on the theory that those who’d play it are predisposition to rape already otherwise they would find the game horrifying. Similarly a game in which the suffering of the person you were beating was key would be found horrifying by many. The question then is does it have any effect on their likely hood to commit the act in reality. One interpretation is that it provides the player with a release which means they no longer need to act. The other argument is that it makes the player bask in their actions and stops them reminding themselves that these actions are wrong so encourages them to take their fantasy further. (I’m not arguing it makes them want to rape more makes them think ‘well I can’t help myself and it is wrong but why should I stop just because of that’). This may sound stupid and insulting to men but it is the way women are often portrayed as thinking about chocolate.

It is always intriguing to me though that when talking about rape fantasies it is practically assumed a man’s fantasy in this area will be about raping while a woman’s fantasy will be about being raped. The fact it is never the other way around suggests to me it is more than the biological urge to procreate and due to the way we view ourselves, power and the other gender.

I think had the game not focused on the women’s suffering it would have been more dangerous although less messed up because it would begin to imply there is nothing wrong with rape. Rape is different to violence and GBH in that a lot more of the consequences are psychological. I think it would therefore be easier for people to accept the fantasy that raping a woman doesn’t harm her than beating someone with a wrench doesn’t harm them. I think there are some males who if they honestly didn’t believe women wouldn’t like being raped would consider it. I think such a game would have made rape seem more social acceptable and possibly made some naiver people think that the victims of rape didn’t suffer.

The question I wonder is why is this a game of rape? Why not just a game where you sleep with lots of consenting women? The fact in a game you can make any fantasy and this isn’t about sex it is about rape, the fact there is no consent is key to the enjoyment of the game scares me slightly.

Laura // Posted 16 February 2009 at 11:17 am

Sam,

I am absolutely at a loss to understand how you could read my welcoming a youth training programme which aims to highlight and counteract the potential HARMS of pornography with my giving accolades to a purveyor of rape porn.

I have made no comment saying Rapelay is harmless, I haven’t recited pornographic press releases (if you’re referring to the Mail: 1) it isn’t pornographic and 2) I criticised their treatment of the news item) and I have never said pornography isn’t a problem.

I suggest you actually read what I and other bloggers and commentators here have written before commenting again.

Laura // Posted 16 February 2009 at 11:25 am

Ah I see, you’re angry I referenced Renegade Evolution. Well, as Kath said, there’s nothing to suggest I agree with every word she writes (I don’t), I was merely making the point that if even a porn producer herself thinks porn can have negative effects on young people, it most probably does. And I hardly think linking to someone constitutes giving them ‘accolades’!

Sabre // Posted 16 February 2009 at 2:18 pm

As usual, I agree with everything Anne Onne said… you are so articulate!

This game is vile in every way and cannot be justified. I wonder the apologists would be defending a game where men were raped by a male rapist – would that be ok? I think not. I think they might feel a little unsafe, outraged, targetted, vulnerable… am I wrong? Would they still come up with philosophical arguments to defend it?

Amy // Posted 16 February 2009 at 4:14 pm

“The fact it is never the other way around suggests to me it is more than the biological urge to procreate and due to the way we view ourselves, power and the other gender. ”

Yay, another ‘i think imighta read it in a scientific journal somewhere the once’ theorist.

Most females in the animal kingdom choose mates! Only human males are the choosers in our culture, as in the ugliest of men decide what is hot and not within the prettiest young girls. And i’m pretty sure most female animals from being young learn from the mother how to defend themselves from advancing males. These males often only look for signs of females wanting to mate..

Before you jump on the patriarchal bandwagon with all this, well a lot of females enjoy sub, males dom sooo…. It must be evolution!!! Before you look at animals doing it and think ‘rape every time’, when the female awaits or fights off, I suggest you take a closer look at said patriarchy. ‘it’s never the other way round’ can easily be because of the effects of indoctrination from a young age, not necessarily innate drives.

Just look at hair for instance, that shouldn’t matter if it’s shaved off in terms of evolution – except society teaches us to be repulsed by lack of head hair on women – when biologically it has nothing to do with our ability to reproduce. Men shouldn’t be turned off but a powerful cultural ideal of women with long hair overides biological ideals. A good example of the powerful influence of culture and indoctrination affecting tastes.

Sub/ dom attitudes were seen in slaves, masters for centuries. Women masters and men slaves sometimes! :o And not in any sexy, she’s- fulfilling- his-fantasy way.

Please consider your position on the dude ev psych brigade. If only because those who seem to know little about it, and yet readily accept patriarchal ideals as natural annoy nice people like me so much!

(why is anyone who defends this game allowed to post??? )

Sabre // Posted 16 February 2009 at 5:12 pm

The reason humans are different from animals when choosing a mate is that humans developed economies and societies whereby women became dependent on men to survive. That’s why the power structure shifted with regards to choosing mates and it is women who are the peacocks of the human race. One could argue that this is unnatural and counter to human nature/biology. Which would mean all that follows (the male gaze, objectification of women, ownership of womens bodies etc) is also unnatural.

Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but animals don’t rape, as far as I know. Animal mating is about reproduction, not exerting power over another creature. That’s why I laugh when people compare criminals to animals – animals are far better behaved than humans!

Overall I find it hard to believe when people bring up biological urges to justify the culture we have around rape and its acceptance. It’s not natural. Womens’ rape fantasies are usually not really rape (i.e. though the fantasy they are still somehow in control and it doesn’t hurt, cause internal bleeding, psychological scarring etc like real rape can) and I do believe that rape fantasies been conditioned into some women through society, not nature. That’s not to say it’s wrong to have the fantasy, but people should not equate it to thinking that some women want to be raped and therefore it’s natural.

Rape is only ‘natural’ in the sense that it is common. Sadly.

Anna // Posted 16 February 2009 at 5:52 pm

Animals do rape – it’s all about the spreading of the rapist’s genes. Though I think it was a sort of duck I read about a while back that’s developed ways of getting round this.

Ah, there we go:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A22547838

sam // Posted 16 February 2009 at 8:22 pm

You think I can’t read? Reread this: your post promoted the same misdirection pornographers use to flood all media with rape imagery and then blame boy’s sexual violence on other people’s inability to adequately fund de-brainwashing programs.

“there’s nothing to suggest I agree with every word she writes”

What a relief I didn’t write something so stupidly totalizing but instead focused on the content of what it means for women when violent pornographers say, “Well I said kids shouldn’t learn from it” as if that were anything but rape culture riding capitalism’s back.

I think you’re too invested in defenses of poor, beleaguered Laura to see the two-steps-backing of tacitly accepting the sexyviolent industry’s rights to sell violent porn with the caveat that it should be enjoyed but not learned from and hey, sex ed is always doubleplusgood. McDonalds says kids shouldn’t eat there every day but advertisers aim to coerce kids into doing just that, and they’ll toss a few thousands dollars into nutrition education so they can spend millions advertising their benevolent largess.

I don’t believe men rape because they lack education that rape is wrong. If we could somehow put all the pornographers’ billions into education it would not undo how pornography skips the brain to warp the body as it creates a more rape-positive society because that’s what moves porn product.

Anne Onne // Posted 16 February 2009 at 8:38 pm

Kevin Ramsey: You joined the dots yourself, I’m afraid, and not entirely accurately, too.

Assuming that conditioning can only occur to dogs (it doesn’t, nor is the idea that humans can be conditioned or have associations strengthened something new) is to assume that people as a species are entirely above the biochemical systems of other animals. We’re not. No, I’m not making excuses for men who rape, but I’m pointing out that all of us are subject to behaviours and preferences we learn due to our society/experiences/stimuli.

No, I don’t believe men are conditioned to rape via computer games. I don’t believe it is that simple, nor do I believe men have no choice in the matter. People have free will, and people certainly can’t be forced to rape against their will by some sort of brainwashing.

We do however know, that people will quickly learn a behaviour that they don’t feel strongly against, especially if it alters biochemical pathways in the brain: think smoking, drugs and alcohol. Similar mechanisms to the pleasure felt during sex, although there isn’t a physical addiction, which is why I likened it to Pavlovian responses to a stimulus. Because getting off on rape, which is suffering, is a behaviour that people aren’t automatically drawn to, but one that they learn through exposure.

We also know that cognitive behavioural therapy, where people

More importantly, we know that what heterosexual men have considered ‘sexy’ has changed a lot during history. There’s no reason for men to want women with big breasts (hasn’t always been the fashion, and the species didn’t die out when it wasn’t ‘sexy’ or especially the penchant for shaved pubic hair or porn star looks. These are tastes that people gain after associating them with sexual pleasure.

Attractiveness is not a fixed standard.

Nor do most men learn of ‘what they like’ in a vacuum. They are, however, often exposed to porn, some less problematic, some even more so. If men gain their understanding of what they find sexually appealing from a society that condones domination of, and violence against women, and churns out plenty of pornography in which women appear to get off on being degraded, it is not revolutionary to point out that some men may learn to associate degradation of women with sex, on a subconsious if not consious level. If one uses degradation as wank fodder, one learns to get off on the idea of degradation. Degradation becomes something we derive sexual pleasure from, and maybe something we believe OK to do to others, unless we are really brought up to examine this (Think BDSM and safe sex: nothing like rape).

We fill the media with rape fantasies, and we blame victims whilst condoning rapists, or pretend that rapists look shady, rather than the ‘normal’ boyfriends/friends/family they often are.

I believe humans, like other animals experience biochemical effects based on their actions which can change pathways in the brain and maybe reinforce behaviour. But I also believe a lot of this is cultural, too. We teach men that they should take liberties and do what they want, and we blame women for not resisting hard enough, or not wanting to have sex.

It’s not that we actively train men to rape via simple conditioning, but we enforce a society where rape is seen as not that big a deal. We routinely sexualise violence against women in the media (sexy photoshoots of models looking dead, anyone?). We create a society in which many men think rape is not a big deal (remember that survey where 1/3 of teenage boys think it’s OK to ‘force sex on’ ie rape their girlfriends?) and where the definition of rape is hazy and biased towards minimising the rapist’s culpability (it’s not rape if…). We create a society in which rape isn’t seen for the power trip it is, but a way for really horny guys (and men are always naturally really, really horny, it’s in their DNA dontcha know?) to get sex when the frigid bitches aren’t putting out. Something that any red blooded male would do.

So, given the culture most men get soaked in, and that a lot of men get off on porn that is built around women’s submission and sexual degradation, I’m not surprised that some men think it’s acceptable to rape, or that rape is just a harmless fetish. It doesn’t make them less culpable, nor does their social conditioning or self-reinforcement of harmful.

The point is, social conditioning and renforcement of behaviour is something both men and women face: we’re all influenced by society and things around us. It’s just in this case, the people being discussed were rapists and men with rape fantasies.

@ Sabre: thanks :) No matter how much I’ve written, or how firmly I believe a point, I always read through all the other comments written and think ‘Oh, yeah, why didn’t I think about that?’ The exchange of ideas and different ways to phrase something is the best thing about such a discussion. Everyone’s got a slightly different angle, and it adds so much to look at them all.

And I agree that it’s important to highlight the difference between people’s power fantasies that are acted out consensually, and real rape.

@ Amy: If you haven’t come accross the Evo Psych Bingo you might get a laugh out of it. It even mentions rape being an adaptation! I could weep that such weak, circular arguments are passed off as science. ‘We notice that men like X therefore this must have a purely biological basis, even though it’s never been universal, because I can think of one involving cave men and nubile big-breasted virgins…’

Laura // Posted 16 February 2009 at 9:25 pm

Sam,

I was in no way saying that porn is fine as long as we can try and counteract the damage it causes through these kind of training programmes. I was simply welcoming a programme which I think could do a little bit of good; this is not to say I think that if we have these kinds of programmes in place, then the existence of all kinds of porn is hunky dorey and we don’t need to worry about it having any negative effect on people. I just think that anything, however small, that we can do to help young people recognise the misogyny in porn can only have a positive effect. I’m surprised you don’t agree with me, to be honest.

You seem to be confusing your reading of Renegade Evolution’s beliefs with what I actually wrote in my post.

Qubit // Posted 17 February 2009 at 1:28 am

Amy, I don’t understand your point. Do you mean the tendency to rape is evolution? I don’t think it is nor do I think my post gave that impression. I am arguing a lot of power relationships are due to the way we see ourselves in relation to other people which is a socially taught structure. This is responsible for both the desire to dominate and be dominated.

However when talking about rape fantasies in particular we normally consider a scenario where a woman fantasises about being raped and a man about raping someone. This may be due to biological limits however the concept of a woman penetrating a man against his will would be treated with more horror by both parties than the other way around. Yes both men and women fantasise about dominating and being dominated but a lot of these fantasies have consent given before hand as a key element. In this case we are talking about a fantasy in which the lack of consent given and the suffering of the other party is key. This doesn’t make sense to me and suggests there is a strong social element involved.

I don’t necessarily think BDSM or other practises are wrong but the fact we turn a blind eye to considering the morals of things we enjoy sexually compared to if we enjoyed similar things non-sexual is a worrying tendency. It is implying our sexual drives are so strong that we can’t not act on them. It also goes some way to justifying a lot of immoral behaviour because of our sexual drives. Things we like sexual should be just as questioned as things we find pleasurable for other reasons.

I don’t want to defend the game, I do think it is wrong. When I describe people as being predisposition to rape I don’t mean just biologically but socially and with the way they view people. Most men (I’d hope) find the idea of watching a woman severely suffer horrifying hence would find the game disgusting. The only players of such a game would those who’d enjoy the fact the woman suffered and this suggests some lack of empathy and prioritisation of their desires that make them more likely to rape than others. This doesn’t make it OK any more than certain weapons would only be sold to people who already want to kill.

I don’t know if the game is dangerous (increases the likely hood of the players raping) however I do think it is immoral and disrespectful. I also think it is useful to make the comparison between whether this game would have been allowed if it just featured violence rather than sex because this shows how we seem to prioritise our sexual needs over our morals in a way we don’t with other ideas.

isa // Posted 17 February 2009 at 5:03 pm

Whilst I agree that people are free to act out their sexual fantasies on a mutually fulfilling basis, I do have a problem with the idea of a “rape fantasy”. As far as I’m concerned there is no such thing, if you fantasise about a sex act then you are open to to engaging in it, rape is unwanted on all levels, when you are being raped there no is sense of interaction of any kind you are simply a body, a piece of meat for the rapist to do whatever he wants to, it’s the most extreme form of objectification that there is. A “rape fantasy” is really an extreme masochistic fantasy it is not a desire to be raped.

zak // Posted 17 February 2009 at 8:28 pm

This game is just the tip of the iceberg for Amazon.

A US blog recently uncovered a much more pernicious rape culture trend on the US Amazon site. http://twurl.nl/wcvfm1

Presumably, the same can be found in the UK

Pirra // Posted 18 February 2009 at 3:25 am

I saw some of you saying you’d cut off relationships with anyone who plays this game, and I though I agreed and would do the same.

But then I ask my friend (female, 19 years old) what’s her opinion on Rapelay, and she answers “Oh come on, I’ve played it, it’s cool, and it’s just a game”.

Well, I was shocked she thought this was “just a game”. I don’t know her very well (yet, at least) but I do know she spends a lot of time on websites like 4chan.

Incidently, I don’t intend to cut off with her. I hope that, by talking to her and explaining my views, I can make her understand these games actually have a big impact on everyone’s lives.

(Excuse my English if it’s messy, it’s not my mother tongue.)

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