(Penny Arcade's comic, The Sixth Slave)
Back in August 2010, Penny Arcade published a comic entitled "The Sixth Slave"
that was a pointing fun at World of WarCraft
. It featured a Worgen about to exit a cave when a slave begs to go with him. The slave mentions that he alongside all the other slaves are raped at night by dickwolves and wants to be free. The Worgen waves the slave off saying the quest only required five people to be rescued and does not want to make things seem weird. The punch line was nothing more than a shot at the tedious "collect or rescue X amount of this thing" quests that flood not only World of WarCraft
but any MMO. This point was even expressed in Tycho's post
for the day. I personally found it to be very amusing, especially after just logging off of WoW less than ten minutes ago. However, other's thought otherwise.
The following Friday both Tycho and Gabe posted apologies
about the comic. Tycho mentions that in no way shape or form was Penny Arcade "advocating the actual rape of human beings". Gabe elaborates on people's responses by mentioning about how shocked he was to receive emails from longer term readers who felt very offended by the comic. "I just don’t understand that," Gabe writes. "Did the comics about bestiality, suicide, murder, pedophilia, and torture not bother them? Or how about the fruit fucker? I mean, we have a character who is a literal rapist. What comic strip have they been reading all these years?"
But why are we talking about an "offensive" event that occurred almost five months ago? It is because the pissed off screams haven't died down yet.
For those who frequent the Penny Arcade store, you might have seen the athletic-styled "Dickwolves" t-shirt that was available both for males and females. There are the keywords though: was available
. If you go onto their store now you will be greeted with a "404 Game Over" message on the page the shirt was featured on
. Though there seems to be no explanation on the site as to why this t-shirt is no longer being sold, but one young lady is taking praise and claiming it is a victory for women.
(The Dickwolves T-Shirt that is no longer available to purchase.)
Courtney Stanton, known as Kirby Bits, posted an article
on her blog a few days ago explaining why she was turning down a chance to be on the PAX East panel. "I think the recent merchandising decisions of Penny Arcade have made PAX and PAX East into spaces that I don’t want my industry to align itself with," Stanton wrote, "and I’m not going to give Penny Arcade content as long as they keep selling [Dickwolf shirts]." Her blog goes onto to explain how hypocritical she finds Penny Arcade to be.
PAX does not feature booth babes despite the results from Penny Arcade's PAX Booth Babe survey
. She says she admires Penny Arcade's decision to protect "women attending without being surrounded by objectified women", yet makes rape jokes in their comics.
Stanton explains, "The idea of being in a room full of mostly men, where some of those men are wearing it, feels like a threat against me. (Which, given the shirt basically says, “Team Rapist!” on it, doesn’t seem too far-fetched)."
This is concept that Stanton pointed out back when the shirt was first released
. "Wearing this shirt reinforces the idea that rape is a topic that you sprinkle over your other content to spice it up a little, or that it’s 'edgy”' somehow to laugh about rape," she wrote.
Melissa McEwan from Shakesville
- a feminism blog - added onto Stanton's original 2010 post
. She points out that even though both Gabe and Tycho apologized, it does not change the fact that rapists still exist by explaining how even though "that dickwolves are mythical but rape isn't". She took their apology comic
offensive since they attempted to make a lighthearted response to people's reactions to their previous comic.
(Penny Arcade's "apology comic".)
You would imagine that months later, this disgusted feeling would have faded, but apparently it has not. "This company doesn’t represent me or the type of culture I want to work in or create for," Stanton finishes saying in her blog from January 24th of this year. The blog post was then bumped on the 26th with a thank you letter to her readers:
" That link originally pointed at the page where one could buy a Dickwolves t-shirt. That t-shirt is no longer for sale on Penny Arcade. Even if Mike and Jerry don’t want to acknowledge it (the shirt appears to have been removed without comment), it deserves to be acknowledged. Thank you, guys. Thank you for listening to whoever you listened to, and thank you to whoever that was who spoke up and managed to convey what I, and a lot of others, have been trying to convey for months. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
While I do not find rape to be a funny topic, I stand on Gabe and Tycho's side when they say supporting rape was never their intention.Neither comic nor the shirt glorified rape or try to imprint the idea that rape is a good thing into their readers' minds. It is not as if the shirt features a wolf holding down a girl and raping her with the words "This is fun!" written on it, nor does it have a picture of an alluring attractive, naked woman laying unconscious on it. Women are not sexualized or targeted in any way by this shirt; there is nothing on it other than the word and a picture of a wolf head. If anything, the average person would not understand the shirt since only those who read the comic would understand the reference. The average person is not going to look at the word "Dickwolf" and automatically think they need to rape someone. Due to this, I see no reason as to why the shirt needed to be removed but I admire their decision to do the "right thing" to please their audience.
There is still no official explanation was to why the shirt has been pulled from the market, but as this story continues to unfold, I will keep you updated.
Updated Jan. 28, 2011:
The controversy regarding the shirt's ban has been spreading. A blogger by the name of TheFremen has shared his opinion
. He seems to be offended by the fact the shirt was quietly removed from the site without any proper statement from Penny Arcade.
"...the end effect is the inane design which dog whistles “I support rapists” was made unavailable for purchase without them actually saying (free of sarcasm) that they give a fuck about rape survivors/victims or feel the need to make survivors/victims feel safe at their con," he strongly writes.
I know that I would still like to know what is about the shirt that screams, "I'm a rape supporter!" I have been trying to get points of view from both parties and search for an answer to this burning question. I have sent an email to Tycho, tried contacting Kirbybits, and also recently tried to post on TheFremen's blog. I have yet to receive any response from Tycho nor has my post been approved for either Kirbybits' or TheFremen's blogs. If and when someone finally decides to share their side, I will be sure to update again.
LOOK WHO CAME: