Max Temkin, one of the creators of Cards Against Humanity (one of my favorite games ever) has been accused of rape. A woman has stepped forward and said “this happened to me.” As a survivor, I never ever question people who say this. I know that it is impossibly scary to share this information. It was terrifying to tell my family, and I know even writing the words on a site post make me nervous. For me, it’s not dangerous to say “I am a survivor of sexual assault.” But for some people it is. That’s why I never doubt someone when they share their experience, and also, why I never blame anyone for the choice *not* to share their experience.
Max Temkin’s game has always struck a chord among women who are survivors. In the first edition of CAH there was a “date rape” card (I still have that card because my copy is a 1st ed). We’ve house ruled a lot of the hurtful cards to be shuffled out to people who can play them and think it’s funny versus being hurt. One of the first things which got my blood boiling in Temkin’s post was not the threats, nor was it the fact that he contacted his victim.
It was the scare quotes around the word rape when he mentioned the removal of said jokes from the game.
That’s what told me that he has no respect for women. Look, I’m still going to *play* Cards Against Humanity, I’m not going to boycott because to me, part of the charm of playing the game is being able to reclaim things. But dismissing the idea that the rape jokes were harmful? Games grow up. Games change. Wraith when it was first made didn’t address issues of psychological damage, but I bet you if Wraith were written today it would. Changeling actually went backwards. Where once Changeling was a fun game about faeries, now it has essentially become PTSD the RPG. Here’s the thing, games can change, and Cards Against Humanity HAS – but it seems as though the creator doesn’t understand *why* rape cards had to be removed. He doesn’t seem to understand why people are talking about this, or why we’re angry. So while the game has changed, and I suspect it will continue to do so, the creator may never do so.
But here’s the thing, there’s more going on with Temkin’s response. For one, he seems far more concerned about his online appearance and reputation than he does the actual implications of his actions.
It makes me feel like he’s not taking this seriously. And that’s because he’s not. He’s dismissing everything ABOUT this statement – and then he goes on to harass this woman and contact her.
Yes. That’s right, he sent her not one, but two messages. And then during his statement via his blog, he says that he “could” sue her, but he won’t, which is a thinly veiled threat to shut the hell up.
If you’ve been accused very publicly of a sexual assault, maybe the WORST thing you could do would be to contact the woman to try to get her to retract her statement, because now we all know that you’re scared and you want her to shut up.
So, let’s step away from Temkin for a minute, and talk about the actual survivors in the games community. We’re all fucking scared. We’re scared our jobs will be on the line for speaking out. We’re scared that we will just get harassed MORE for speaking out. We’re tired and angry over the rape threats and death threats which come from pointing out that yes, the games world is dominated by men. And yeah, I personally am tired of feeling like if I don’t keep silent, my career is toast. And I have to reject that. Silence was part of what hurt me for a long time, silence is what kept me from functioning. So I will be silent no more. Survivors, either female or male don’t have to speak up. But when we do speak up, we need to be heard and respected.
But that does not mean that I will blame other survivors for it. You are not a coward for not speaking. You are doing what you need to keep yourself safe and free and alive.
But for the rest of you? For the ones who have nothing to lose? For those who have NO skin in this game?
Get off your butts, please. The games community won’t change because women feel unsafe. The games community will change because women are listened to, and our male compatriots are able to stand with us against sexism, and hatred. You’re all missing the point when you act like this is a problem for women. This is a problem for everyone.
I look forward to seeing how the staff at Cards Against Humanity deals with this. I hope that they understand how hurtful Temkin’s statements are, and that as a company they make good choices.
But the only way they’re going to do that is if we stop allowing things like this to go unnoticed. If we stop telling women that they’re silly for being angered. It’s time to stand up, folks. Rise up and be counted.