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On Using the Threat of Rape as Commentary

I read an interesting post over on Brian Keene’s blog concerning how a friend of his was treated when she wrote an article.

Janelle Asselin, one of my former editors at DC Comics, wrote an article for CBR critiquing the T&A aspects of the cover to the forthcoming Teen Titans #1. Some readers liked the article. Some didn’t.  And some of those who didn’t decided to anonymously threaten her with rape.

I’ve seen this pop up all too often in commentary on articles that were written by females. Most of the time, it is posted by imbeciles who think they’re posting anonymously. Hint: As a 35-year professional in the IT industry, folks should understand that they are almost never anonymous on the Internet. You have to go through extraordinary effort to even approach anonymity, such as running everything you do through a TOR system via an encrypted VPN tunnel while running your Linux OS from a boot optical disc with all scratch in RAM. Can be done, but not by the usual folks who sign up to a website with a Yahoo email address and think they’re removed enough to be considered anonymous.

Using the threat of rape as an answer to a female who wrote something one doesn’t agree with makes no sense. If that commentator was shopping with their mother when she was looking for a new wristwatch, and she was looking for a black leather band, wouldn’t one be upset if the sales clerk rudely insisted she should buy a metal band instead of leather because metal was better than leather? What if he said he would rape her if she disagreed? Anyone would be livid at the idiot sales clerk who was treating one’s mother that way.

The problem is, all of those women who are getting hit with threats of rape because they have a different opinion are someone’s mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend, neighbor, or just plain old fellow human being. If you heard someone threatening your mother or female friends with rape, I’m pretty sure fists would be introduced to the bully’s jawline.

Yes, I know it’s not a perfect analogy. That’s not the point. The point is that using the threat of rape when someone disagrees with a female writer shows some important aspects to the “anonymous” rape threat commentator’s personality. They’re cowards. They’re too ignorant to actually explain their disagreement in a coherent and logical manner. Using the “you’re a poopy-head” argument goes out the window once one graduates from the third grade.

Your mother didn't raise a troll, did she?
Your mother didn’t raise a troll, did she?

It’s important to note that it is completely fine to have a different opinion, and to voice that opinion whenever or wherever one wants. Try to use the same respect that you’d like others to use when addressing your mother. Agree to disagree, if it comes down to it.

Rape is a terrible thing. It causes ripples throughout the lifespan of the person who was raped, plus everyone who knows that person. Note that I didn’t say female here…males can get raped too. Threatening rape is as bad as threatening to blow up a day care center, and should be treated by the police in the same manner.

I attend a lot of conventions, and I now carry my cell phone pre-set to camera mode. If I see anyone threatening rape, taking creepy pictures of cosplayers (I saw 12 older males (and some near my age of 50+) hiding behind things and taking close-ups pics of under-aged female body parts at one con alone), or someone getting too hands-on/grope-happy with someone who does not want that to happen, I will take some pictures of the offenders and report them to the con security staff. I recommend you do the same.

Overall, just be respectful. Disagreement is fine and dandy. Polar opposite opinions are appreciated. Give the mothers of the world reasons to be proud of their offspring.

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