The thing is, whatever our opinions about it – and I’ll get back to that – games like Rape Day do exist. Maybe not on Steam, but we can’t pretend that removing Rape Day from a mainstream platform is going to actually eliminate it entirely. Somebody made this game, and for reasons I couldn’t (or wouldn’t) guess at, other people will play it. Rape Day is not over.
And expecting that Valve might cancel the game’s launch, the developer has already promised to find a new host. “I will do what I can to try and create/and or find an alternate way of selling and marketing my games,” he explained on Rape Day’s (now removed) Steam listing. Because you can flush a toilet, but shit doesn’t evaporate – it slips and slithers into the sewer with the other shit, churning and coalescing on a clotted tide of toilet paper and vomit and medical waste into some sort of super-toxic mega-shit, and probably ends up choking dolphins somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic.
Which is a convenient analogy, because the process on the internet is more or less the same (besides the dolphin thing, but fuck dolphins). Rape Day has been scrubbed off Steam, but now it’s oozing between the tubes, dribbling into those damp, septic spaces on the internet most of us can’t even know about. Or 8chan, which most of us know about even if THQ’s PR guy doesn’t, but keep out of because it’s exactly the kind of website you’d find something like Rape Day.
And that’s a problem. By pushing those things we abhor out of sight, we also push them out of mind, and so we maintain the false confidence that we’re safe. In the meantime, those same things we’ve rejected fester and seethe in the dark, cherished as martyrs by the counter-culture custodians of “it’s a joke lol”, “supporting a rape game to own the libs” and “b-b-but fReE sPeEcH”. I’m not even making this up.
In her essay “Must We Burn Sade?”, feminist philosopher Simone de Beauvoir wrote that The 120 Days of Sodom – a grotesque compilation of sexual perversions, misogyny, and violence – was, despite its moral repugnance, also a valuable exposition of some real, if mostly obscured side of humanity.
Rape Day is a despicable game. It’s okay to be offended about it, and I understand why our immediate response is to condemn it, ban it, make it go away. But we can’t ignore it. Despicable games like Rape Day exist because the despicable people who make and play them exist, and unless we acknowledge that, we’re deluding ourselves. Rape Day exists to remind us of that.