Penny Arcade Strip Sticks in Craw of Rape Survivors

While Penny Arcade could never be called politically correct, a strip that ran last week in the online comic has offended some feminists and rape survivors.

The strip in question, entitled The Sixth Slave, took a jab at quests in massively multiplayer games and featured an extra slave who was not saved because the hero in question had already achieved his quota needed for a quest completion. This extra slave, in an attempt to sway the hero, utters the line “Every night, we are raped to sleep by the dickwolves.”

The use of this term caused a Shakesville columnist (and self-described feminist) to pen a story in which she argued that rape isn’t funny, writing:

Because rape survivors exist among us, and after being victimized by rapists, they are revictimized by a society that treats even real rape like a joke, forced to live in a culture that actually has a lot of rape jokes, including those about rape victims being actively denied justice for no other reason than because people don’t take rape seriously. I don’t find rape funny because rape victims are often doubted, mocked, and insulted openly.

Penny Arcade’s Gabe (Mike Krahulik) and Tycho (Jerry Holkins) since published a cartoon that had the pair, in their cartoon form, talking to the audience and stating that they hate rapists and adding, tongue firmly in cheek, “It’s possible you read our cartoon and became a rapist as a direct result. If you’re raping someone now, stop. Apologize and leave.”

In another post Gabe noted that one recurring character in the comic is a literal rapist (the fruit fucker), adding:

For the most part I think that people are perfectly happy to laugh at offensive jokes until the joke offends them. Then it’s not funny anymore. There is no way we can know what each and every person who reads the comic has decided to find offensive.

In the end I just disagree with these people about what’s funny and that’s perfectly okay.

The artist’s responses didn’t do much to temper their critics as a second Shakesville column was authored by a different columnist who wrote:

No, one rape joke does not "cause" someone to go out and commit a rape. But a single rape joke does not exist in a void. It exists in a culture rife with jokes that treat as a punchline a heinous, terrifying crime that leaves most of its survivors forever changed in some material way. It exists in a culture in which millions and millions of women, men, and children will be victimized by perpetrators of sexual violence, many of them multiple times.


It exists in a culture in which rape not being treated as seriously as it ought means that vanishingly few survivors of sexual violence see real justice, leaving their assaulters free to create even more survivors.

The author added:

If Tycho and Gabe want to make rape jokes, that’s their prerogative. I’m not calling for a repeal of the First Amendment or asking their strip to be censored; to be perfectly frank, I would love nothing more than for them to continue their comic with a newfound appreciation for why rape jokes fucking suck, and thus not use (or defend) them anymore by their own choice.

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  1. Father Time says:

    Rape culture may not be vaguely defined but the things that supposedly contribute to it seem arbitrary and senseless. Although there’s no proof of any of it.


    Debates are like merry go rounds. Two people take their positions then they go through the same points over and over and over again. Then when it’s over they have the same positions they started in.

  2. valseven says:

    If ya’ll are going to use the argument that Melissa McEwan (the blog owner) or Milli (the author of the OP) are cherry-picking this one PA strip to "complain" about, you obviously haven’t spent 30 second to click through the site.  Her "Rape Is Hilarious" feature has 53 posts and counting.  If you’re going to respond, avoid the following logic fails:

    *She’s looking for things to be offended about!  [I’d rather play in gamer culture in peace, and not have to deal with this crap – why would I go around looking for it on purpose?  And how is continuing to read a comic that you’ve been reading for years because you like it "going out of your way"?]

    *"She thinks slavery, assault, and murder are okay, but rape is bad!  Hypocrite!"  [A: that’s not true.  B: This is a version of "But what about [insert random issue here]?!"  This post is about rape, not violence or human trafficking.  Use your Google-fu to find posts about those subjects.]

    *Gamers and feminists are mutually exclusive.  [I don’t even know how that makes sense, unless a pre-requisite for enjoying games is being a douchebag, and surely, Brokenscope, you don’t believe that?]

    *They’re idiots for saying that rape jokes make men go and rape women.  [Even the quote in the post above states clearly that they don’t believe that.  And Rape Culture is not "vaguely defined": a thorough description is here.

    *I know a woman who was raped and she wasn’t offended!  [This is the same as "I have a black friend and she doesn’t think it’s racist!"  One person is not representative of a whole group – the word for that is stereotype.  And even if you’ve gone through something similiar (and aren’t just parroting someone you know), that doesn’t give you the right to erase someone else’s experience.]

    Better arguments please!

  3. vaccine says:

    I wanted to reply to their blog but it seems they delete any posts that don’t agree with their opinion, so what is the point.

    I’ve read PA a little over the years and seen jokes on all kind of horrific real life situations. The poster of the blog impiles they’ve done the same. Why is it this is the first one they are reacting to? It’s hypocrisy at its finest.


  4. Father Time says:

    I love how these losers try to have it both ways.

    "Rape jokes don’t cause rape but they do contribute to a vaguely defined rape culture, and that causes rape. But like I said rape jokes don’t cause rape that’d be ridiculous"

    Later she says

    " I’m bothered by the fact that the jokes normalize and effectively minimize the severity of rape"

    So basically rape jokes doesn’t cause rape they just desensitize people to rape. Oh joy, where have we heard something like that a thousand times before?

    And bear in mind this is over a joke that treated rape as a bad thing.


    Debates are like merry go rounds. Two people take their positions then they go through the same points over and over and over again. Then when it’s over they have the same positions they started in.

  5. Attack_Gypsy says:

    Ever play WoW? Ever see how often the word rape is used?


    Get a life, lady.


    My sister was raped. It was horrible. She had some trouble the first few months. She was a completely different person. After that, she started living again and became the sister I so dearly love again. She’s now married to a good man and they have 5 kids.


    If you let it run your life, it will. Its up to you to make that decision.

  6. GoodRobotUs says:

    I feel sorry for her, so busy trying to find reasons to feel offended she has to search quite hard to find them on occasion.

  7. prh99 says:

    “But unlike Gabe killing Tycho so he doesn’t have to share a video game, a slave being raped is a real thing that happens in the world every day.”

    Someone didn’t do their research, there have been a number of cases were someone has been killed or seriously injured another over video games. Some of the more heinous cases involve small children and an unstable parent.

  8. Shahab says:

    Fuck you there isn’t. Examing does not mean censoring. It means taking a moment to think about rape, whether man on woman, date rape, prison rape, man on man, or whatever. It means not letting the joke take away the significance of the act or what it means that these things happen in our society.

    It doesn’t mean you can’t make the joke. It doesn’t even mean that  you don’t make the joke. It just means you don’t let the joke allow you dismiss the act.

  9. MechaTama31 says:

    Joke about slavery, assault, murder, whatever you want, but not rape!  Rape actually affects people!

    God, I hate these one-issue whiners.

  10. Michael Chandra says:

    The rape-comment in the comic was full satire, given the dick-part of the dickwolves, and also only a small part of the horrible experience. The complete lack of a moral compass of the player (or the character, forced by game mechanics) doesn’t focus on the rape part at all, it is one of many things. Makes me wonder though, she doesn’t mind the slavery jokes then? So slavery is just alright, while rape is wrong? It’s not as if there’s not plenty of people forced into horrible working conditions that are the equivalent of slavery…. But hey, that’s not rape but slavery, completely different issue, so why care, right?! I mean, slavery doesn’t get you forever changed in some material way, since you’ll be stuck like that permanently and thus won’t ever get a chance to even look back with terror on your horrible experiences, since you go through the terror every day!

    Seriously, if you’re going to be offended, be offended by ALL, not just a specific target. Either ALL the things are out of line, or none are. Don’t single out the rape-bit when the comic itself gave no preference to either condition.

  11. Weatherlight says:

    And just remember, that only women and children can be raped, unless we are talking to a feminist and then only women. [/sarcasm]


  12. jedidethfreak says:

    That really has absolutely nothing to do with this particular situation.

    With the first link, the chain is forged.

  13. jedidethfreak says:

    It’s funny.  Your second sentence seems to be completely at odds with the rest of the topic.  Either rape jokes are allowed, or they’re not.  There is no "examining" involved.

    With the first link, the chain is forged.

  14. hellfire7885 says:

    More people would take rape seriously if there were no opportunists making false reports for attention or to get back at someone.

  15. Father Time says:

    Why are we reporting on these people? Putting my feelings about them aside, they are a single blog and even they said they have no interest in censorship or whatever all they are doing is complaining, so why should we care?



    Debates are like merry go rounds. Two people take their positions then they go through the same points over and over and over again. Then when it’s over they have the same positions they started in.

  16. Cattleprod says:

    “When they were telling jokes that were offensive to other people, that was fine, but how dare they tell jokes offensive to me, personally? That crosses a line!”

    I hate whiny hypocrites.

  17. Thad says:

    I thought the Penny Arcade strip was funny.  I don’t think any topic should be off-limits in comedy.

    BUT, the pervasiveness of rape jokes in American culture IS worth examining.  Prison rape jokes, in particular, are something that most people employ unthinkingly, dismissing a pretty horrific systemic problem with our correctional institutions (and also, with a homophobic bent, implying that man-on-man rape isn’t as bad as man-on-woman).

    Again, I think the Penny Arcade strip is funny.  But I also think the subject of rape jokes is worth examining.  There’s no reason to dismiss other people’s opinions on the subject with the jerk of a knee just because they’re criticizing Penny Arcade; it’s a good conversation to have.

  18. Father Time says:

    They basically said rape jokes desensitize people to rape and contributes to a culture which causes rape.

    So at the very least they say that the rape jokes indirectly cause rape.


    Debates are like merry go rounds. Two people take their positions then they go through the same points over and over and over again. Then when it’s over they have the same positions they started in.

  19. Brokenscope says:

    Your average "gamer" is someone who will froth at the mouth about any criticism of games or game culture. They will not hear any criticism on the subject.

    If that doesn’t describe you then you are not a "gamer", you might be a gamer or a person who plays games, but you are not a "gamer".

  20. FlakAttack says:

    Awesome generalization there! I mean "gamers" are all cut from the same cloth, right? It’s not like they come from all walks of life and would have responses that are just as varied, lol!

  21. Shahab says:

    You know what, you’ve really hit the nail on the head there in a way most people have missed. If you read the strip, its is pointing out that people don’t do quests b/c of the story, or helping the poor diseased polygons of peril, or whatever, they do it for the quest reward. They were picking some of the most horrible things they could think of to illustrate this point, one of them being rape.

    The joke is actually implying that rape is a horrible horrible thing. This clearly went right over the heads of the people complainig.

  22. Andrew Eisen says:

    Shakesville columnists,

    Number one, lighten up.

    Number two, if Penny Arcade didn’t find rape as abhorent as you, it wouldn’t have used it to build up the joke’s punchline.


    Andrew Eisen

  23. Shahab says:

    These people want page views and nothing else. I’ll bet they go through all the big successful sites just looking for references to rape they can get indigant over and more importantly get extra page views and "ad impressions" from.

    I hope these people DIAF. Did anyone read the comments section? HEAVILY moderated to the point where its a sycophantic stroke off for the author. Seriously these people make me sick to my stomach. They are essentially victimizing Gabe and Tycho for fun and profit, smearing their good name. These guys do a lot for the community and really give back with their involvement in Child’s Play and other work.

    How dispicable to stir up this kind of back asswards controversy just for page hits.

  24. jedidethfreak says:

    Well, even if they WERE attacked by wolves, they weren’t attacked by WoW Dickwolves, since they don’t exist.

    With the first link, the chain is forged.

  25. jedidethfreak says:

    Nobody is telling anyone to "move on," or even being dismissive.  The point is, a lot of the people offended by this one strip are perfectly okay with a long-standing character – the FruitFucker – who’s sole basis for existence is rape.  How are these people okay with that, but offended by something that has absolutely no basis in reality, but only as a reference to a WoW quest?

    With the first link, the chain is forged.

  26. Kincyr says:

    not to mention the fact that none of the rape-survivors were attacked by wolves

    岩「hey Glenn Beck, I heard you oppose Net Neutrality, so we blocked your site.」

  27. E. Zachary Knight says:

    What is really sad is that the rape portion of the strip was not even the punchline. It was part of the lead up to the punchline.

    When I read the "retraction/apology", I had to do a double take and try to figure out what it was they were talking about. So I guess you really had to be looking for something to be offended by to actually find the offensive part. At least as far as I am concerned.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA

    E. Zachary Knight
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  28. Thad says:

    "If they want to believe that jokes can turn normal persons into rapists, then they should hide into a cave for the rest of their lives."

    That would be what we call a strawman, Rodrigo; nobody is actually saying that.

    Penny Arcade employed that strawman as a joke, because it’s a funny thing to suggest.  You seem to be serious about it.

  29. Rodrigo Ybáñez García says:

    VGCats apparently get through the same thing some years ago and this one was their response (the first two panels):

    I can´t avoid except to feel that people complaining about offensive jokes are just being opportunistic and just looking for publicity. Rape jokes are old and many use them but they are not condoning it.

    If they want to believe that jokes can turn normal persons into rapists, then they should hide into a cave for the rest of their lives. 

    ———————————————————— My DeviantArt Page (aka DeviantCensorship):

  30. Thad says:

    I know what you’re trying to say, but I’d be careful about being so dismissive toward rape survivors.  "Move on" is a pretty insensitive thing to say under the circumstances.

  31. sirdarkat says:

    It’s very simple either everything is open to having jokes made about it or nothing is open to having a joke made about it.  These people need to get off their high horses and move on.

  32. GoliathWon says:

    I wouldn’t refer to the statement "raped to sleep by dickwolves" as making fun of real rape.

  33. ChrowX says:

    Is this really the most infuriating thing they can find to harp on? Is this even worth a mention? Sure, Penny Arcade is arguably the most popular webcomic there is, but this isn’t worth getting worked up over.

    Are jokes about imaginary, hypothetical rape in bad taste? Probably. But starting an article with soemthing like, "I’m a feminist with no sense of humor because of crap like this" is just.. really silly. It invalidates the worth her opinion on anything, really, because it shows that she’s a person who takes everything too seriously and is probably always on the prowl for something to get worked up about whereever she goes.

    It’s a bit too late to get all worried and pissy about society being morally bankrupt and insensitive. It’s been that was for quite a while and during that time, we’ve come up with a lot of rape, dead baby, and holocaust jokes. It may be mean and cruel, but if you don’t like it, then don’t laugh and stop bringing attention to it.

  34. Brokenscope says:

    Your average "gamer" will always slam anyone, especially a woman, who criticizes any segment or individual that the average "gamer" feels to be part of the "gaming" community.

    The criticisms will be quite predictable as well.

  35. nighstalker160 says:

     Wow I have to appreciate her measured response. Like she said, she was expressing her views, was calling for censorship or for them to pull the comic. She was just saying "You guys are, in my opinion, assholes for this."

    Nothing wrong with that. Let’s not slam the woman for expressing her views.

  36. BearDogg-X says:

    "Rape is funny. Picture Porky Pig raping Elmer Fudd. Why do you think they call him ‘Porky’?" – the late, great George Carlin

    Geaux Saints, Geaux Tigers, Geaux Hornets, Jack Thompson can geaux chase a chupacabra. Hell will stay frozen over for quite a while since the Saints won the Super Bowl.

    Proud supporter of the New Orleans Saints, LSU, 1st Amendment; Real American; Hound of Justice; Even through the darkest days, this fire burns always

    Saints(3-4), LSU(7-0)

  37. sirdarkat says:

     Its simple its a popular site and it makes them (the feminists) feel self important that they can whine and complain about something as silly as dickwolves … though I have to say if they think dickwolves are some how a commentary on society’s view of rape they (the feminist) are really messed up in the head.

    Frankly I loved the comic cause it was a great commentary of seeing people in trouble in an MMO and going to bad for you guys I met my quota (reminds me of playing City of Hero and flying by people who were being mugged but the muggers were to low for me)

  38. DorkmasterFlek says:

    What the fuck?  Are we still talking about this?  Nobody is arguing that rape is okay.  Why the hell do people think that this comic is like the representation of what’s wrong with society’s view on rape or something?  I’m with Gabe on this one.  What the fuck were you people reading the last 11 years?  This isn’t even the worst joke they’ve ever made involving rape, not to mention the numerous other taboo topics they’ve made jokes out of, which Gabe lists in detail.  That joke was pure Penny Arcade, and yet now they want them to be raked over the coals for it?  Get that stick out of your ass.

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