Trigger warning: there’s a video game called RapeLay. I’ve read a lot of descriptions of it online, and much discussion of whether it should be sold and by whom (do not miss Shakesville on this creepy Amazon backdoor rape search). I’m going to describe the game and then provide a meaningful answer to precisely what’s wrong with it. See, once you read the description, vomit, bleach your brain out, and come back quivering to see if you can finish reading this post, it’ll seem so obvious what’s wrong with it that it doesn’t need saying. Except I think it does.
And then: I’m not touching the subject of rape for two weeks. I just can’t.
In this game, you, the player, rape a teenage girl and her mother and sister because the teenage girl once had you put in jail for molesting her on the subway and this is your revenge. Then your friends rape them, too. Then you all go rape some other women. Actually, I’m oversimplifying – it’s a game, after all, so there are steps you must take before you get to rape anybody. You first have to “pray” that God will send a wind to lift up the mother’s skirt – He does, of course, bless Him. Then you have to grope and fondle her in various ways to get her “arousal meter” to go up. When she’s sufficiently aroused, then you get to rape her. Then you get to rape her daughters and all sorts of other alleged women. These “rapes” involve crying and screaming and saying “I want to die” on the part of the victims (when they complain they want to die, one of your options is to rape them again to shut them up). One of the rape victims looks 10 years old and you rape her in her bedroom full of teddy bears and other childish stuff. Then there’s this neat twist where the women and girls being raped can become pregnant, and if you don’t force them to have abortions, they throw you under a train. And according to Slate, the rape victims have orgasms. And it’s good to know the game is designed for one-handed control in case you need to wank off while watching it.
Something Awful (NSFW! and TRIGGER WARNING!) has a very detailed and sickening review (complete with screencaps – again NSFW!) which includes a priceless paragraph:
There are many lessons to be learned from RapeLay, about not wearing a skirt on a train in Japan or the need to equip your daughters with suicide pills, but the lesson foremost in this game is that rape is easy. You can wantonly grope women on a train without consequence and repeatedly rape their entire families without much fear. The only thing you can’t do is not force them to get an abortion, because that’s a sin in the eye’s of god and leads to murder. He is the same god that answers the prayers of rapists standing on subway platforms.
Unfortunately, somebody managed to get this game banned, so now it’s all over the internet for free. Enjoy! (This is why I don’t support censorship – it tends to become self-defeating.)
So what precisely is wrong with the game? Some gamers asked this at Jezebel, but most of them behaved like trolls rather than asking in a reasonable way, so the conversation devolved. I want to attempt to answer that question specifically.
What’s wrong with this game is that it’s more of a rape primer than a rape fantasy. The game is geared toward letting players know what it really feels like to rape somebody. For example, it would seem to come under the heading of “rape fantasy” if the victims get aroused first. But isn’t this exactly the lie many rapists convince themselves of? That their victims enjoyed it? Or deserved it anyway? That particular “fantasy” is part and parcel of the experienced as perceived by many perpetrators. Instead of being a consensual sex fantasy with a patina of resistance added for kicks, like the traditional “boddice-ripper” romance novel genre, this game focuses on the anguish and vulnerability of the victims. That’s what the player is wanking off to.
There’s a psychiatric term for people who get a sexual high from a victim’s anguish: sexual sadists*.
Each offender’s account confirms that it is the suffering of the victim, not the infliction of physical or psychological pain, that is sexually arousing. In fact, one of these men resuscitated his victim from unconsciousness so that he could continue to savor her suffering. Inflicting pain is a means to create suffering and to elicit the desired responses of obedience, submission, humiliation, fear, and terror.
If you find this game arousing, you can consider yourself in good company with Ted Bundy, Robert Leroy Anderson, Mike DeBardeleben and others. Here’s what you have to look forward to in your life: if the fantasies stop doing it for you at some point in your life, you’ll move onto roleplaying with paid or consensual partners. If roleplaying loses its appeal, you will become a perpetrator.
Which is why I suggest that, far from trying to have the game banned (which got it more attention than it ever would’ve had if we’d just ignored it and drove it underground where anyone can get it online now), maybe we should simply have required stores selling it to take down the driver’s license information of everyone buying it (like they do when you buy pseudoephedrine now). That way, we’d have a list of likely next generation sex offenders to look for next time someone’s victimized in their area. Of course, that’s not fair to those who would buy it out of curiosity and find it too icky to play. I’m being facetious. I think.
The real solution I advocate is this. Every country where this thing has been downloaded or sold needs to sit down and think – really think: how did there get to be a market for this game in my culture? Are there so many sexual sadists out there that they constitute a market niche? And do you really think culture can’t change this? Culture is what’s making it happen in the first place. My culture has been teaching us “sex is bad” for so long it’s hardly surprising people can’t tell sexual assault from sex, since it’s all “bad.” It also teaches victim-blaming, and that all human downfall is Eve’s fault. It teaches that men are predators and women are prey. And in a final ironic twist, it teaches many men to feel such shame and self-loathing that the only way they can feel anything is by perceiving the suffering of someone they’ve brutally degraded.
That’s what this game is about.
*Any comments saying, “You’re mean – sexual sadists are nice people” will be deleted. “Sexual sadist” is an actual psychiatric term, as the article explains, complete with a helpful link. People who roleplay sexual sadism are not actually sexual sadists. That’s why it’s called roleplaying. Do you get it now?