Chainmail Bikini: Controversy!

By Shamus
on Oct 2, 2007
Filed under:
Rants

Chainmail Bikini is now on strip #8. We’ve just finished introducing Marcus’ character, and as part of that introduction one of the other characters forcefully groped “her”. If you don’t know what I’m talking about you’ll just have to read it or skip this.

This whole thing has caused a few people to object strongly to the comic, saying that I’m advocating “rape”. Conan’s fancy tiara, what the hell? I’ve held off responding because I didn’t want to jump in and argue with people before the jokes were finished. Now I’m writing about it here because the forums have finally cooled down a bit and I don’t want to get things riled up again. I don’t want to be a bad guest of FtB, so I’m a little more polite over there. I’m under no illusions about the impact my words will have on our detractors. Everyone has dug in at this point, but as the one who wrote the offending jokes I feel like I should step up and say something about this.

The situation depicted in the comic is actually pretty mild compared to a lot of real stories I’ve heard from players since I started writing DM of the Rings. There are players who have their characters rape (actually rape, not just grope) other player characters. They murder, torture, steal, and otherwise have fun at the expense of others. The story between Chuck and Marcus is tame in comparison. Really, what we have here is the metagame equivalent of a wedgie. We’re talking about comic characters who are themselves playing fantasy characters in a ridiculous world that none of us are meant to take seriously.

I don’t see the problem. This is a watered-down version of stupid stuff people do to each other in real games, all the time. The people who do this sort of thing deserve to be mocked in our comic as much as any other kind of gamer, if not more so. The series of jokes ended with Chuck enduring real-world violence at the hands of his victim for the actions of his pretend fantasy character. I really thought this would silence the critics, as Chuck didn’t actually harm Marcus in any way, but there are still people stamping their feet and demanding justice be done. I’m not even sure what they expect. Should Chuck endure real-world punishment for his in-game actions? Sensitivity training? Jail? Castration? Better yet, why don’t we just write a comic about a group of players who all respect one another in a friendly environment of collaborative roleplaying? Oh yeah! This sounds like a formula for comedy gold, man.

The main gripe seems to be that this series is sending the message that “rape” is “okay”. So let’s clear this up:

1) It wasn’t rape. It was, if we must ruin the joke by being explicit, a bit of boobie-grabbing.

2) It was in no way “okay”. Like everything else in the comic, this is a lesson in what not to do.

3) The perpetrator endured actual violence for his pretend actions.

4) This drama was played out between two pretend males who were pretending to be a male and female in a pretend fantasy world.

But most of all, the next time you think a webcomic is telling you its okay to rape people you should tell the people running the insane asylum you’re living in that you need more medicine.

LATER: Over in the forums, Roxysteve has charged me with racing right to the lowest common denominator.

Yeah. I actually did do that. A bit odd for the start of the comic, and not very characteristic of what’s to come, but there it is. We’re in the Screwing Around Phase of the game, before the players settle down and actually try to play.

At any rate, at least people have stopped accusing us of ripping of KotDT for once.

LATER STILL: Fair warning, some of the comments below get pretty edgy. I’m being more lax than usual, given the topic and everyone’s strong opinions.

AND FINALLY: This comment below is right on the money and has done a great deal to help me see the comic the way our critics are seeing it. Very interesting.

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  1. Bruce says:

    Regarding Chuck’s actions, which have upset so many people, he seems like several of the people I play with. They are not evil or bad people, and not really jerks, they are good people who like to use the game to “try out” a different kind of moral code than they have in real life. Just because a person has his character do something objectionable in a game, doesn’t mean he/she doesn’t know better, they are playing a character.

  2. BlueFaeMoon says:

    THIS is why I avoid forums like the plague.

    Forums AND raunchy barbarian-perverts yielding a lucky D20… all scum.

    Really, it doesn’t matter one whit whether I liked, disliked, or felt searing internal loathing for those specific panels. But the fact that there is a great deal more in life to worry about than FREAKIN CHAINMAIL BIKINI, has me wondering why so many feel the ‘urge-to-purge’. I’m obviously not getting the newsletter.

    Sheesh.

    I start to suspect some of these people have not ever even played D&D before. Heh, I remember this one time when the group disliked this one other player so much that they conspired to kill his character. It was murder. No way around that. It happened under the DM’s radar and the disliked player was shocked. It seemed to me that it would have been easier to say to him as REAL people, “Hey, you’re bringing down the game. Maybe you should join a different group.” He probably would have been suicidal. No, in true RPG fashion, we had to kill his character to get rid of him.

    SO… when there are REAL people playing a role playing game, sometimes those “antisocial” traits come forward in roleplay form. Obviously a hyper-homophobic would want to establish his Alpha Male status early on. Even at the expense of other men in the room. (specifically the one who is so obviously less “alpha”)

    I’ve witnessed it many times. It’s a great guffah moment. It often sparks long-term “get back” moments throughout the campaign (which creates those “inside jokes” that kinda binds us together); but seriously, it’s all just fun and games to the players.

    A comic based on a game that mimics pretend life…. I start to wonder if I can sue that damned Escher drawing for screwing with my equilibrium.

  3. ShadoStahker says:

    Found out about the controversy just now. Neither I nor my fiance even thought you were going in the direction that some people did. We both enjoyed it.

    As far as this happening in real life, it’s very true. The most humourous example of such that I can remember is the party throwing my Gully Dwarf (read: annoying) character to a group of Nymphs, in order to escape. Nothing was spelled out as to what happened, but it was implied. My character’s satisfaction was also implied.

    But I have to correct one thing from an above post.

    43 Punning Pundit Says:
    October 2nd, 2007 at 1:09 pm

    Shawn: Are we looking at the same sets of strips? Between strip 4 and 8, the only people I see are: Fat guy, Emo kid, and the DM. In strip 6, I only see Emo kid. There is no one else at the table doing anything it all, let alone being “pissed off, squicked out or annoyed.”

    Perhaps I’m missing something?

    The guy on page 6, who is shocked at the end, is Josh, the munchkin. He is not Marcus (emo-kid). He is Josh and he is clearly shocked by what Chuck is proposing.

    Keep being funny, Shamus. I enjoy your humour, and enjoy that you don’t allow anyone to change your mind about what you think is funny and appropriate.

    My fiance and I tend to agree with your assessments.

  4. StereotypeA says:

    Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa, rape ISN’T cool?

    I have some apologizin’ to do then.

  5. ohnoabear says:

    I think my main issue with the strip is that it came too early in to really get a feel for the characters and know what they’re like. Consider it this way: if a friend makes a tasteless statement and you know he would normally disagree with what he said, then you can assume he’s joking. If someone you just met said the same thing, you wouldn’t know whether or not he was joking.

    This strip is the same way: I don’t know what the guy playing the barbarian is like. I don’t know if this is in character or not; if he just doesn’t like the goth kid or if he does this kind of stuff all the time. I don’t have any context because it’s only the sixth strip. I don’t even know the names of the characters (either set); I’m just starting to get a feel for the comic and then bam! rape joke.

    The Penny Arcade comic that was referenced here is a good example. They and their characters have been around forever; you know they’re not child molesters, but the punchline is that they act like it. I don’t know what the guy in your comic is like yet, because the first real thing he’s done is try to have his way with someone else’s character. It’s too much, too soon.

    I’m sure you know these characters pretty well, since you’ve written the first bunch of them already. But your audience doesn’t have that luxury; the only way we’ll get to know them is through the comic.

    Those who still keep reading, anyway.

  6. Laura wrote: “I completely agree with Punning Pundit. There is no in-strip condemnation of Chuck’s actions; there is just Marcus’ anger, which is not the same as a rebuttal.”

    I guess I’m not seeing it: Look at strip #6. This third character is shocked and outraged by what’s happening. Then you get strip #7, which is entirely about one person complaining about the behavior while the perpetrator defends his actions.

    So you’ve got four people at the table: One person perpetrated it and we’ve seen that two of the other three people consider it inappropriate.

    More importantly, the ENTIRE JOKE is predicated on the idea that this is completely inappropriate behavior. Thus, any attempt to read these strips as, in any way, condoning the act is obviously absurd.

    Justin Alexander
    http://www.thealexandrian.net

  7. I don’t expect I’ll change anyone’s mind, but I do want to chime in, as another voice on a particular side of the argument.

    I didn’t find the joke funny. It felt too much like real life, without that special alchemy that turns it into comedy. There are characters who take actions like that within a game, and they do so because their players think it’s funny. Those people are sexist creeps, and I don’t find them funny.

    Note that this is not the same thing as saying Shamus is a sexist creep.

    A lot of women have experienced sexual harrassment of one sort or another, ranging from inappropriate comments through groping to actual rape. Those who haven’t, are often aware of the high odds of it happening to them eventually. So “an exploration of gender roles in the context of a roleplaying environment,” in a case like this, translates to “the offensive replication of an unpleasant reality.” Especially when Chuck’s defense of his action comes straight out of the real-life apologist playbook.

    Obviously this didn’t offend everybody, or even every female body. There have been women commenting, saying they found it funny, or at least that they weren’t offended. But I’m in the camp of people who found it just kind of icky.

    Maybe what it boils down to is — pardon my French — I think Chuck is, by the evidence so far, a fucking asshole without much in the way of redeeming qualities. And Marcus is an irritating example of what happens far too often when gamer guys decide to play girls. I don’t like any of the characters so far (with the possible exception of Josh, who has hardly spoken), and so reading the comic is kind of like spending time with the sort of gamer I would never want to be caught dead in a campaign with.

    The funniest bits of DMotR were, to me, things like “Give me your name, horsefucker!” (the botched Diplomacy roll) and its capping joke, “I would cut off your head, dwarf, but I don’t want to look up the mounted combat rules.” It was the least funny to me when the players were making cracks about “Leggo-lass” and other such humour that isn’t amusing when people employ it in real life.

    I’m going to keep reading, see if CMB finds its voice, and decide whether that voice is one that amuses me. But so far . . . not so much.

  8. Quanity says:

    Shamus, I regret to inform you that because of all of this, I will not be looking up your page anymore.

    The current page, that is :) I was following the discussion since I think the topic is important, but this has gotten so far out of hand that I’m losing my faith in humanity, which has worn extremly thin already. Up to now it’s just ridiculous how much over-interpreting and over-analyzing can evolve around other people’s opinions and, even worse, about a comic strip. Not that I’m surprised by it, I can see this every day.
    Whatever, keep up the good work! I guess your strip won’t be affected in any way by this discussion, and I sure hope it stays the way it is, cause it’s just right this way.

  9. Schmidt says:

    All this, over any actual ‘evidence’, proves we evolved from monkeys. This is nothin’ but flinging feces about, albeit Verbally (well, typed, but you know what they say about monkeys and typewriters).

    Now Shamus, I recommend once they get their game a goin’ you have them hit a Kobold village and massacare every male, female, and pups around. Wait… do Kobolds lay eggs? you may need to have someone stomp on eggs…
    Anyhoo, bring up the fact that they did a wee bit o local genocide and how it’s not even an eyebrow raiser.

    A Paladin might have had hours of whining to do to stay in character. Hell, he might’ve had something fun to say about the baby Kobolds on their spears. Then you’d have to draw said spears, and then make a quip about being pro-choice… about killing Kobolds at least :)

    The variance about the difference betwixt sex and violence in our modern society might make for some entertaining posts. If nothing else it’ll get some monkeys riled up, and as YouTube has proven many a time; theres nothing more funny to watch than Monkeys goin’ bananas.

  10. Da Rogue says:

    Okay, people really need to get off of their high horses and learn what a ruddy joke is. Shamus is 100% right. Guys are guys for one, and if you think you need to get bent out of shape over someone having fun with their friend (ie joking around) then yeah, get over yourself and stop being so self-righteous and judgmental.

  11. Jonathan says:

    Joshua is right! I can’t believe I didn’t notice until now: Chuck is a Gimli clone! The beards alone…

    Factor in that Chuck also made inappropriate advances on his friend’s (to use the term loosely) female character…

    These two facts have made one thing very clear to me: Shamus is biased against dwarves. The hidden message of CMB this week is that dwarves are misogynistic, rape-happy barbarians.

    Not cool, Shamus. Not cool.

  12. NobleBear says:

    Earlier, I had made some remarks that were written impulsively and had completely ignored those posts that had gone before, intending only to make my own statement and wander off to other points of interest.

    In doing so, I have marginalized and insulted at least some of those who have spoken out in their disapproval of the strips in question.

    To those who were harmed by my words, I apologize.

    While I had intended to show my support for Shamus, there are obviously better ways of going about it than to recklessly step on the toes of who’s opinions disagree with my own.

  13. Rolf Kreuzer says:

    I think the joke was not as funny as it could have been. Maybe it would have worked if, as Chuck tries to grope/rape he finds his “victim” not as unwilling as he thought it will be. Imagine how uncomfortable he would become if “Lady Sun-Sky” wants to “get it on” and Marcus or the GM demands it to be roleplayed… i think it would lead to Chuck getting all green in the face and shouting “STOP IT!”. ;-)

    So, now to find this Timemachine…

  14. Greg says:

    I got maybe 1/3 of the way through the comments and I’m starting to get a lot of deja vu so I’m going to comment with what I’ve read. Apologies if it’s already been said.

    Shamus, you say you’d explore how people get entrenched this way and can’t see each others point. Do it! Everyone loves curiosity :D

    Your claim that it was just about groping smells luck bull to me. The ‘improved stamina’ crack doesn’t make sense in that context, stamina is only relevant if you’re doing something…er…prolonged.

    I’ve got no issue with the comic, other than that I didn’t find it very funny (It’s a watered down version of things that I’ve already seen around gaming tables, so it doesn’t really say anything new) but it’s clear a lot of people did.

    I don’t think I’d have predicted the reaction to this comic an’ it looks like you didn’t either. So whether the joke’s offensive or not (which is a subjective thing anyway) it doesn’t make sense to think of you as wrong for posting it.

    I’d take the stance that there’s no objective truth in these matters, nobody really gets hurt in a comic, so right and wrong in showing this stuff is determined by what it does to the audience. I doubt that you’ve influenced anyone in a “I wasn’t going to rape anyone, but now I’ve seen this comic that shows no rational rebuttal for it in a hypothetical encounter between unreal characters generated by two other unreal characters I’m going to do it” but it does seem to have caused a considerable amount of distress.

    I figure at the end of the day everyone needs to minimise the suffering they cause in others, so regardless of whether you think the reasons that people become distressed are rational or not (That’s a pretty subjective judgement too :P) it kinda makes sense to stay off this stuff a bit in the future.

  15. Matthew says:

    Perhaps it’s bad form to quote the very site you’re posting to, but I just can’t resist referencing one of my all-time favorite bits of commentary from DM of the Rings XII: “You may be a group of unsightly men sitting around a card table on a Friday night, but your players will still be looking for chances to meet girls.” The fact is, serious subjects do not often get serious treatment at the table.

    In my last campaign, I was playing a female tiefling druid/master of many forms. At one point during the game, another character tried to rape mine in the middle of the night. It ended differently than in the comic, however, because you reaaaally don’t want to start a grapple check with something that can become a twelve-headed hydra at will, with a full attack consisting of 12 heads that hit for 2d8+6 damage -per head-. What I’m trying to get at is that rape and sexual assault, as a serious subject, are not funny. Rape that ends with the perpetrator getting devoured by an angry monster (or LARPed into submission)… well, yeah, that’s amusing. I laughed more at the declaration of “DIE, FATBEARD” than I did at anything else in this past week. Hell, I even laughed typing it in just now.

    I’ve found the comics to be very amusing thus far. It’s a fresh approach to “tabletop culture,” which I appreciate a great deal. While I can’t speak for others, my readership, at least, shall endure.

  16. Mark Caliber says:

    Oh my goodness.

    I saw this whole scenario coming since I read the title of the web comic.

    And it was confirmed when the cast was composed of four guys!

    Ugh. Shamus, you’re never going to please everyone, but one sure way to offend everyone is to TRY to appease everyone (to butcher a quote from Bill Cosby.)

    So, ignore the detractors and rock on. I mean, really. If you get too offensive, I’ll just stop reading you’re web comic.

  17. Zaxares says:

    Wow… There’s a lot I could write in response to this discussion, but I don’t have much time tonight, so I’ll keep it brief.

    1. I am a man.

    2. I did find the comics funny, and both the “Improved Stamina” line and the “Die Fatbeard!” line cracked me up.

    3. I do not condone rape or sexual harassment in real life or at the table between players.

    To me, this comic was a tongue-in-cheek look at a situation that can sometimes emerge at gaming tables. (For starters, I have players that frequently will roll dice to see how ‘well-endowed’ their characters are, and then constantly brag about it to others. … I’m not kidding!) The comic, in of and by itself, was great.

    The suggested implications of the comic and what it could mean for real players, however, is not so great. I’m sure that nobody would want to see their own character violated in such a manner, and for players who empathise really closely with their characters, this can be a very disquieting, even frightening, scenario. Sure, some people will just shrug it off and say, “It’s just a game. Nobody’s actually been hurt.” And they’re right, it IS just a game, but I know very well how distressing and hurtful experiences “in the game” can be to somebody who puts a lot of themselves into their character.

    Gaming should always be FUN, a place of refuge away from the stresses and worries and anguishes of real life. Therefore, always be respectful of another player’s limits and be very, VERY cautious about any inter-character interaction that directly or indirectly harms another player’s character. The stuff depicted in the comics is OK, as long as it stays in the comics.

  18. Oxyde2 says:

    In the end, this whole thing will be for the better.

    Those who for some reason don’t get the joke and get offended would probably not understand other jokes in the future and get upset everytime you throw in anything related to the male-player’s-female-character (which seems a very good source of recurring jokes). Getting rid of that kind of reader right now is a Win-Win situation. You don’t have to worry so much about “offending people”, and they don’t get upset at you (simply because they’re not reading it).

    Now, I’m going to criticize the execution. That joke felt a bit half-hearted, like you knew you could make it funnier and more cartoonish, but decided not to. The “DIE, FATBEARD!” made up for most of it, though. :P

    Honestly, the best way to act when dealing with people who are entrenched in their ideological positions is to just lock any posts/delete any comments of people who took it too seriously. If they’re not willing to accept arguments or even say “you have a point”, there’s no point letting them discuss anything. Would it make you a bit less popular? Sure. Would it make things a lot easier for you? Definetly. This is the internet, after all. Even if you just say “fluffy bunnies are cute”, someone is going to disagree with you. Maybe even get offended by your statement that bunnies of the fluffy type are pleasant to the eye.

    Now I want to see how the rest of the comic is going to work. Will the cleric have a grudge against the barbarian and only heal him well after he goes into his negative hitpoints? Maybe something worse? :D

  19. Site Relha says:

    My views here may have been posted before, but I couldn’t read the entire thing because my brain was screaming for mercy from the flame war.

    What happened in the comic is not rape, it is a guy antagonizing another guy for choosing to play a female character (This is also my response to people calling this comic “sexist”). The player with the female character could have chosen to ignore the other player’s challenge if he wanted.

    The player of the male character had gotten attacked in real life in response to an action he made in game (not even in game but in pre-game In-Character BS.) What more do you people want? That Shamus be given the death penalty for making a joke?

    In short, read for the funny, not the unintended under/overtones. Damn close-minded fools…

  20. Marmot says:

    I very much enjoyed the last several episodes. I’ll admit I removed the Chainmail from my bookmarks but through occasional links on your website I jump in and read. The last one was particularly amusing and I don’t see why anyone would get it wrong. Heck, it screams “DON’T DO THIS!!!” all over the place!

  21. Gyokuran says:

    I couldn’t agree more with what Esther (#85) has written.

    The #6 strip clearly implied a sexual assault (who needs stamina for groping?), so did further comments (defiled purity) even if #7’s aim seemed to be a watering down of the situation.

    Yes, rape is about power and I can’t say I’m comfortable with people who enjoy overpowering more emotional, idealistic players (“lawful good”) just for the sake of a sadisitic satisfaction of seeing them hurt.

    It’s a vicious character streak that transcends the level of RPGs as such, which is what many commenters comparing this act to ‘wrongful deeds’ like ‘burning down entire villages’ don’t seem to realize. Chuck’s stab wasn’t directed at anonymous beings in a fictional world, it was directed at an image of purity, a ‘brainchild’ created in another player’s mind and it’s raping was bound to hurt the player on many levels.

    Hint: Try to imagine a ‘game’ where someone is fantasizing aloud about raping your sister and as you fail to defend her you are forced to acknowledge your helplessness (the failing opposing roll) and watch her ‘imaginary’ rape taking place… Even if you try to think of it as a joke it really isn’t funny is it?

    What really matters here is the emotional distance of the player to his ‘creation’ at this point: fiction can be ‘real’ if corresponds with a mental image triggering a response, if it is *felt*.

    In real life, this guy would just leave the table and never come back. His mistake was to make the opposing roll rather then refusing to go into this stuff alltogether.

  22. Shamus says:

    Clue: He ALSO said it was a second-base thing. Myself, the author, defined it as such. Look at what is said:

    * Make out
    * Stamina
    * Second base
    * Lost virtue

    Those don’t really fit together, do they?

    He’s making this up as he goes. It’s incoherant, which makes it all the less “real”. The DM isn’t even involved. Where is this taking place? Nowhere, because they aren’t anywhere yet.

    The whole sister thing misses the point, yet again. If he was dealing with an ACTUAL female he wouldn’t have acted this way.

    Sigh. I suppose we can do a few more laps around this today, but I doubt we’ll get anywhere.

  23. a different laura says:

    While I don’t agree with most of what gyokuran says, I do think alignment is as much part of the reason the strips made me uncomfortable as gender, so I thank him for pointing that out.

    I guess I’ve been the Marcus in my gaming groups; I identify with being the idealistic player who’s made a lawful good character determined to uphold Purity and Virtue, only to have some jackass at the table belittle and defile them in some way. I recognize the silliness of getting so emotionally invested in a character that that genuinely bothers me, but isn’t that part of the point of the game?

    The fact that gender is mixed up in it just compounds the issue. Being made to feel powerless at the words of the most annoying person at the table is by no means akin to rape, but it is an unfortunate situation, and it’s part of the reason I no longer care to play D&D.

    I’m not offended and I’m not going to stop reading, but the storyline did make me feel a little glum.

  24. Iain Coleman says:

    A lot of why this doesn’t work well as humour, and why it’s ended up annoying people, is to do with the structure of the comic. I think Shamus really struggled with fitting a potentially amusing gag into the three-panel format, and ultimately didn’t manage it successfully.

    Here’s what I mean. Comic 6 Panel 1 has the line “I’m exploring gender roles within the context of a roleplaying environment”. The barbarian’s player throws these words back in comic 7 panel 2. It’s the punchline of a five-panel gag split over two comics. Structurally, this is a mess. It leads to a lame second gag to fill the rest of comic 7, but more importantly it means some sort of not-quite-a-punchline has to be contrived for the end of comic 6. That’s where “improved stamina” comes from. Whatever is said in subsequent comics, it is really hard to read comic 6 in isolation without inferring that the barbarian’s player intends to have his character vigorously sexually assault the female character. Because this is the last line of the comic, the additional implication is that we are meant to find this funny in itself. No wonder some people got offended.

    Now, imagine doing the same thing over a slightly longer single comic of four or five panels. You would cut the “improved stamina” line for a start – it would serve no purpose any more. Instead, the comic ends on “I prefer to think of it as exploring gender roles within the context of a roleplaying environment”. The first advantage of this is that it’s a lot funnier. The punchline is where it’s supposed to be, not buried half-way through the next comic. The second advantage is that the potential for offending readers is greatly reduced. It no longer reads as though we’re meant to find rape or sexual assault funny: the humour is in the elf’s player having his pretentiousness deflated in a basically harmless, if tasteless, way.

    I’ve felt these kinds of structural problems throughout Chainmail Bikini. I hope that Shamus does manage to adapt his writing to the demands of these shorter comics: these first eight have fallen flat for me, but I keep reading in the hope that the comedy gold of DMotR will start to shine through.

  25. Shamus says:

    Iain Coleman: That is astoundingly perceptive, to the point where at first I thought this was Shawn playing a joke on me. Yes, the entire series was written as a single DMotR-style strip and then “cut up”, inserting punchlines as needed. You even identified the location of the original ending / punchline. Amazing.

    The same is true for the earlier comics.

    Somewhere in the teens we get to the strips that I wrote after we settled on the three-panel format.

    And your explanation has done more to help me see how other people are reading this strip than the previous 150+ comments. Thanks.

  26. Ajnos says:

    I gave up reading each comment after #80 so if this has been touched on then I’m sorry. I didn’t (haven’t) thought the comic has really been funny yet. I am waiting for it to get into the stride before I decided to stick with it or not.

    The doofy *nudge-nudge* “stamina” joke wasn’t funny for me (I did roll my eyes though) because I don’t know these guys. What are they usually like? This is my first impression with them. I didn’t know what to expect. So far they seem uninteresting. Sort of the same, and where they aren’t the same they have facial hair, loud, yet dull. I get the sense that a lot of talk about the characters and what has happened before we, the reader, got here.

    So, I guess I feel a bit too left out, like we’ve been plunked down in media res /but/ been told this is the beginning. (Yeah, they’ve played before, I get that. It isn’t what I mean.) It takes a story, a series, anything serial a while to get it’s legs I know. Maybe it will. I’m undecided.

    Cheers,
    Ajnos

  27. Ajnos says:

    Wow. That’s sort of amazing. I looked at the comic again as Iain Coleman had detailed and it is funnier. I like the barbarian better, he seems less creepy and like the player might be funny as opposed to just obnoxious. It also seems like they know each other better, more of a give and take…. I’ll shut up now, but I just assume that comics are cut in ‘ways not for me to understand’ and hadn’t really considered it that way. Neat.

  28. Deoxy says:

    Joe:

    You are obviously unfamiliar with academia in America. If I wanted to keep track of all the utterly inane things that fell out of the gaping maw of every escaped loony employed in “higher education” today, I’d need a large computer database and a large time investment.

    Not to mention that I’m good with faces and awful with names. So sue me.

    Find it spurious all you want. It’s still true.

    All the examples you have given (rap of very old women, etc) are OUTLIERS. Sure, very old and ugly women get raped. CORPSES get “raped” from time to time – there are a few really sick people in the world.

    But the woman with the greatest odds for getting raped is, far and away, a highly attractive one. Wearing something that accentuates that attractiveness. There is no competition on that.

    Imagine with me, for a moment, that each male, upon reaching, say, 14, received their own ultra-horny woman, say, some kind of clone or something, not taken from the female population of the planet (and assume that women get a man, for that matter). That is assume that their sexual desires are met.

    You honestly believe that the incidence of rape would be essentially unaffected? THAT is what you (and all your experts) are claiming.

    Date rape is about power? Acquaintance rape is about power? Date rape drugs (where the whole point is to get sex without having to overpower her) is about power? Having sex with passed-out drunk women is about power?

    THOSE make up the majority of rapes in this country. The men who commit them are generally pathetic, horny losers who feel incapable of getting a woman to AGREE to have sex with them (at least, on anything approaching a regular basis).

    Let’s look at history for a moment. Conquering armies usually raped a lot of the women… but friendly armies passing through were pretty bad, too. Hence, well-run armies, historically, often brought prostitutes with them. This helped immensely in friendly areas (not to mention morale). If it were about power, that wouldn’t help.

    (Interesting historical note: “hooker” is a reference to a specific Civil War general, General Hooker. He had such a following of women for his army group, who came to be called “Hooker’s women” or some such, shortened over to time to just “hookers”.)

    Another point: if rape was about power, why are women the primary target? Men seldom rape other men. The only place that’s common is in prison, and there ARE NO WOMEN AVAILABLE there.

    Most of my friends, most of my life have been female. I have had friends who were raped, and I’ve seen the terrible effects it has had on their lives. It’s almost as bad as murder, maybe in some cases worse. It’s certainly worse than simple physical assault, even a fairly extreme one; a stab wound only leaves scars on the body, after all.

    Some cases (such as serial rapists who rape a certain class of person) are more complicated, and certainly, people can associate sexual pleasure with all kinds of weird things (nasty, disgusting example given in earlier post), but to say that, for THE MAJORITY of men who have ever raped a woman, that it is about power instead of sex is just stupid.

  29. Iain — well done. I don’t have the experience with comics to pinpoint why it wasn’t working, or I would have tried that. (Had it been a short story, then I’d have given it a shot.)

    I’ll just toss in two more things, then quit.

    One comes from a comment upthread; I’m not going to go dig it out, but I agree that part of the problem is, this is what CMB chose to start with: jokes about sexual harassment, which (due to the strip breaks) were originally presented as jokes about rape — the lines that clarify what actually occurred don’t come until later, which, given the publication schedule, means some readers spent days with an even worse impression of the joke than they ended up with. You can’t undo people’s first impressions, no matter how much you may point out “but it said this later!” Having that be the first multi-strip gag of the comic may not have been the best way to start off.

    Second — and this one, I’m sure, will piss off plenty of people — but any number of the comments made in defense of the joke (“it’s just a joke,” “get a sense of humour,” “if you don’t like it then go away,” “guys act like this, get over it,” etc.) are exactly why any number of us don’t find it funny. Anybody ever seen that bingo scorecard? The scorecard is funny (’cause it’s painfully true). The comments used to fill that scorecard are not, as they are the source of a real-life problem.

  30. Heather says:

    Regarding Iain #152 and Shamus’ reply #153 – that could be why I found the strip so funny where others didn’t. As I explained in my comment (seventy-something-lowish), I read the last three strips in one go. So to me, it was like it was all one comic. So yeah, it could be the format that has people scratching their heads and saying, “where’s the funny?”.

  31. Miako says:

    InBounds:
    1. author’s assertion: swarthy hates emo playing girls. is hassling him.
    2. my read: chainmail bikinis are stupid. swarthy is physically showing this (since disproved, actually)
    3. swarthy really wants to do things like that in reality.

    You know what? I don’t care.

    I fully expect to see next strip an interdimensional hammer coming out and thwapping McSwarthy.

    That’s comic justice for you.

    I do, however, feel a growing sense of detachment from all characters here. If no one piles on (as would have happened in any game i’ve ever played in), saying “dude, that was out of bounds. take that back NOW”

    Well, I don’t want to read about people that twisted right now.

    The instant strangling (BTW: the joke was unfunny, but the title? hiLARious!) happens first: then we get to see reactions.

    If we had already established anyone to relate to here, i would know what to expect next.

    I think this plotline, while very valid, is a horrid start to a comic. The “i’m hassling emo boy” could have been developed a bit more slowly.

  32. Rustyspoon says:

    My god. Seriously. This is just getting crazy. First of all, EVERYONE knows that rape is wrong. I don’t think we’re on disagreement there. Second, it’s Shamus’ comic, he can do whatever the hell he wants. If you don’t like it, just don’t read it. No one is forcing you to. Also, you don’t need to tell us that you’re not reading anymore, because we don’t care.

    I DID think the comic was funny. I think this comic is funny because I’ve played with some TERRIBLE groups before. This group is a very bad group, which is why the comic is funny. It reminds me of my own horrible experiences. I’ve played in sessions where exact situations like that happened. The game just slows to a crawl and everyone would just resort to killing each other. At the time I would just pound my head against the table due to the unbearable stupidity. Nowadays it’s funny because I can look back at those terrible experiences and laugh. We’re not laughing at a bad situation; we’re laughing at the level of stupidity that gamers can and often do fall to.

  33. Miako says:

    deoxy:
    Rape IS about sex. Men get an erection when they want SEX. Having sex without an erection is rather difficult.

    Have you ever met a man who has been raped by a woman before?

    An erection is easy to produce with a little bit of fear/bondage. If someone puts a knife to your throat, there’s pretty good odds that you’ll get an erection.

  34. Miako says:

    another response to deoxy:
    Gender is a societal construct. What you talk about is making fun of gender roles. If I was to say make fun of you for not being able to stitch straight (and thus why i am the better hero), that would be an example of sex funny. Likewise, if you said that my boobs were bigger than my muscles ever would be.

    physical and mental are different.

    “bitch” roles for men were at many times culturally acceptable. (note: i am not saying that prison is one of these)

  35. Shamus says:

    “Gender is a societal construct.”

    Yeah. Okay. This thread is now some sort of angry philosophical hydra. That whole discussion is turning into somekind of nightmare threadjack with about three or four hot-button topics in the mix. Between “Feminazi” and “Gender is a societal construct.” I think we have enough fodder to keep this thread flowing with invective for another week at least.

    Let’s not do that.

  36. No one will probably ever read this, but I have to say something.

    First of all I want to say that I love you, Shamus. DMotR is hilarious on many levels. I only discovered it a couple of months ago, but I spread to everyone in both of my RPG groups (DnD and SW) and they all love it, too. (Especially the DM/GMs, who find your notes at the end of each comic very interesting and informative.) I think you are a very funny man, and I also read your blog because you are intelligent and interesting and talk about things I like. Thank you for posting those videos, btw. Foux Da Fa Fa will never leave my brain.

    Secondly, I am a girl, I love gaming, and I was molested as a child, with consequences that have lasted for my entire life. So I have a fairly good background to comment on this subject.

    I like Chainmail Bikini’s style. The characters are fun and it looks like it will be interesting. I find it amusing, but I haven’t yet laughed out loud. (That’s pretty rare for me, though, even with very, very funny things.) I also am glad that you intimated that there will be a girl gamer eventually, because I’m hoping that I’ll be able to identify with her.

    On the current controversy: I’m going to have to fall into that painful middle group and say that I just don’t find it funny. The first few comics made me smile, at least, but this whole “humor arc” has had the same effect on me as a ten-pound weight. Hasn’t made my day better, that is to say, as I usually expect from reading your works. I continue to like the art and the characters, though, and I’m not going to stop reading.

    I don’t think this is because of your writing so much as it is just because I don’t find sexual assault funny. Ever. Even stuff that is hysterical to others just isn’t to me, if it involves any of kind of non-consensual assault. And yes, groping is a sexual assault, as mild as it was (and isn’t that a kicker, that we can assign degree to acts of violence? It isn’t quite right, really. It’s all bad.).

    I have been around guys who are making jokes about this kind of thing (the “locker room jousting” someone mentioned) and I can see that they are laughing and having fun. But it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

    I think you did the best you could with the topic, though, and I understand that you weren’t expecting this to happen. Sure, it’s funny to some people. Obviously, from the comments. Not everyone is bothered by this, not all women, and not all men.

    If I were you, I would just chalk this up to experience and move on. Now you know how sensitive people are, and you can work around it, or with it, as you choose. Some people will enjoy it, some people won’t. Welcome to the world. The great thing about DMotR was that it was universal, or nearly so. LOTS of people love both RPG and LotR. Your audience was waiting for you. Now you’ll have to find a different one, and they won’t entirely overlap. Good luck. I’m certainly going to be coming along.

    And to those who are crying “hypocrisy” that no one complains about the funny, funny violence: Listen, fools. People who were traumatized by violence in real life, or were always under threat of it, will probably be traumatized by RPGs that make constant reference to slaughter. Those people don’t play RPGs, because RPGs are supposed to be fun, and that wouldn’t be fun for them. They don’t read this comic. They aren’t here. But they do exist.

    The sad fact is that rape and sexual assault, and the threat of it, are far more prevalent in our society than typically violent crimes, though those are still around. And so you’re more likely to come across a person who will never, ever find sexual assault funny (like me) than you are to come across someone who will never, ever find violence funny (like a child of the Sudan, for instance).

    Good luck and God bless, Shamus.

    Much love from Different Laura.

  37. Miako says:

    responding to deoxy:

    _You honestly believe that the incidence of rape would be essentially unaffected? THAT is what you (and all your experts) are claiming._

    Yes. Rape is the experience of unconsenting sex. I have seen date rape drug recipes passed around frat houses before. Every weekend there were constant parties that involved Nitrous Oxide. These boys DID NOT need MORE SEX.

    _Date rape is about power? Acquaintance rape is about power? Date rape drugs (where the whole point is to get sex without having to overpower her) is about power? Having sex with passed-out drunk women is about power?_

    Yes, it is about the ability to not get rejected. The ability to say “she’s mine” — and not have to think about whether she wants it or not. Remember, about twenty years ago 50% of college students thought rape was acceptable under certain circumstances (guy had been paying dinners, giving her expensive crap).

    _THOSE make up the majority of rapes in this country. The men who commit them are generally pathetic, horny losers who feel incapable of getting a woman to AGREE to have sex with them (at least, on anything approaching a regular basis)._

    Factually untrue. Most rapes occur in the prison population. Most rape victims have experienced ‘date rape.’

    Let’s face facts, it is fairly easy to find women who will agree to have sex with a guy on a fairly regular basis. they’re called prostitutes. I do not believe that if every man was gifted with a skilled prostitute, that would eliminate rape. Give me ten and i’ll find stats.

    _Let’s look at history for a moment. Conquering armies usually raped a lot of the women… but friendly armies passing through were pretty bad, too. Hence, well-run armies, historically, often brought prostitutes with them. This helped immensely in friendly areas (not to mention morale). If it were about power, that wouldn’t help._

    I have gun, therefore I have woman! I dunno… that seems to make sense to me.

    Please to note that historically there were high levels of ‘gay’ sex in the military between heterosexual men.

    Also to note that it is possible that the army might attract more people who enjoy power (authoritarian types). Military is a very structured place.

  38. Miako says:

    yay! plz no thread police Shamus!

    Teh kittiz will kill you!

    Honestly, Deoxy is turning out to be someone who is at least nearby to the realm of sanity and numbers.

    There are no trolls here, and it is a productive discussion. plz allow to continue!

  39. Shamus says:

    Miako: Fine. Fire away.

    Sigh.

  40. Roy says:

    I was going to let it go, but, great Jesus alive…

    You are obviously unfamiliar with academia in America. If I wanted to keep track of all the utterly inane things that fell out of the gaping maw of every escaped loony employed in “higher education” today, I’d need a large computer database and a large time investment.

    As someone who has spent a great deal of time in the pursuit of higher education, I find it really unlikely. At worst, it’s, as you say, an outlier, but even then, it sounds pretty suspicious. If I’d ever had a class where a prof tried to claim that everything we know about the evolution of human biology and the history of the human sexual reproduction was a MYTH, you can be damned sure that I’d remember what college, class, and prof said it. What you’re suggesting is that a professor told a class that one of the most widely presented, understood, and agreed upon fundamentals of human reproductive biology was wrong, and it left such a minimal mark on you that you don’t even remember what prof said it? How many profs like that can you possibly have had? What college did you attend, because I need to make sure that I don’t attend a university that would allow that kind of prof to remain.

    All the examples you have given (rap of very old women, etc) are OUTLIERS. Sure, very old and ugly women get raped. CORPSES get “raped” from time to time – there are a few really sick people in the world.

    But the woman with the greatest odds for getting raped is, far and away, a highly attractive one. Wearing something that accentuates that attractiveness. There is no competition on that.

    That’s completely and thoroughly untrue. I strongly urge you to educate yourself a little more about the nature of sexual assault and rape, because you’re spreading a number of really harmful myths here. There are any number of places you can go to get information about sexual assault- the US Department of Justice – Bureau of Justice Statistics has tons of important information about both victims and attackers, and most major colleges, any number of health or mental health journals, and dozens and dozens of websites all have information and anlysis about the relationship between rape and power.

    A good place to start would be to talk to the people at a rape crisis center near you, and learn a bit about the people that they deal with. The information might really surprise you, I think.

    Another point: if rape was about power, why are women the primary target? Men seldom rape other men. The only place that’s common is in prison, and there ARE NO WOMEN AVAILABLE there.

    While women are the biggest target, children- male and female- are large targets, as well. 1 in 3 sexual assaults is against a child. The problem with male victims is that the stigma associated with the rape of men makes men even more unlikely to report rape than women. Roughly 10% of rape victims are men, and around 35% of children who are raped are boys. There are lots of explanations for why women are disproportionately targeted for rape, and I’m not sure that there’s any easy answer anymore than there’s an easy answer for why men disproportionately target other men for mugging or car theft.

    but to say that, for THE MAJORITY of men who have ever raped a woman, that it is about power instead of sex is just stupid.

  41. Roy says:

    Whoops, the bottom got cut off:

    but to say that, for THE MAJORITY of men who have ever raped a woman, that it is about power instead of sex is just stupid.

  42. Roy says:

    *sigh*
    Sorry Shamus, I forgot to close a tag.

    but to say that, for THE MAJORITY of men who have ever raped a woman, that it is about power instead of sex is just stupid.

    I really urge you to check out some of the leading studies and research on sexual assault and rape, because everything I’ve read about it suggests the same thing: Rape is about power, not lust. It’s not about getting off, it’s about violence or control or power over another person. Rapists rape for a lot of reason, but it’s only a tiny fraction who rape because they’re just horny guys who go to far or can’t control themselves.

  43. Da_Rogue says:

    I’m actually playing a Warlock now in my DnD group. He is chaotic neutral, but his background story implies that he was among the vilest of the vile. He and his former comrades did horrible inexcusable things (It’s quite the stretch from my old kleptomaniac halfling rogue; who was quite the riot at times). At times he sends an eldritch blast at birds minding their own business. That doesn’t mean that I’m going to walk down the street with my rifle and shoot every bird singing in the streets. Yes Chuck was being tasteless, yes he did something that I consider innappropriate, and yes this isn’t one of Shamus’ better jokes, but still if you don’t get the context in which it’s coming out, ¿Why are you reading a comic about a DnD session? If you’ve played DnD then you know the mentality of many of the players.
    Even I know the mentality and I have only played with extremely clean groups (its rare I know, but at a mormon college its a little bit easier to find.)
    So just keep it up Shamus. I’m sure the riotous laughter we all knew and loved from DMotR will shine through.

  44. roxysteve says:

    James Says:
    For all you complaining about the “Improved Stamina” punchline: “Improved Stamina” referred to the fact that Chuck initially said he was going to make-out with Marcus’ character. I think making out with someone takes stamina, don’t you?

    I believe I’m the only one centering on that aspect of the gag, so I’ll answer:

    No. It takes a willing partner. If you get winded while snogging you urgently need to see a doctor or seek a lower altitude in which to do it.

    === Putting my feet in the water with the certain knowledge that there be pirhanas in it ===

    [Rape as power rather than sex]

    Interesting that no-one (I don’t think so anyway) has pointed out that for a man*, sex is partly a power thing anyway **, especially as the hormones take over and one begins to live in the moment (as it were: trying to be delicate here). To be sure, the purpose of rape is to dominate the victim, but anyone who doesn’t understand where the endorphin rush of doing that comes from is missing a fairly serious peice of the puzzle. The sex “response/reward” setup is probably the most powerful drive a human has, and it is addictive (for a very good reason). Put that alongside an abberant behavioural model and it’s not hard to see a nasty accident looking for somewhere to happen.

    Steve

    * Can’t speak for a woman, though all my inquiries as to how it works with my partners over the years leads me to believe that for many of them it is a more receptive experience. My partners have all described their drive as an “opening” feeling as opposed to the urgency that centers the typical male response, my own included. No I am not punning here.

    ** You may like to share that power with your willing partner, or exchange it completely of course. I traded mine in on a washing machine years ago.

  45. Joe says:

    Yeah, I’m done arguing with Deoxy. When you present data including expert opinions, statistics and research material to support your argument and that is ignored and rebutted with an argument that amounts to “I know this”, no real debate is possible.

    To try to take a different tack on things, I’m going to restate a few items as simply as possible.

    1. The “improved stamina” comment does imply something more than groping and was hastily inserted for a punchline without proper consideration (Shamus has already said so above, so please don’t argue this).

    2. As the punchline of a given strip, it generally would be meant to be considered funny, which many of us found distasteful and unfunny. It was already made clear that

    3. No one believes that Shamus condoned/endorsed rape, but that the strip unintentionally trivialized it and its consequences, which is probably the biggest reason why it seemed in poor taste to those who disliked it.

    4. Part of the reason why it was disliked so strongly is that it was simply too soon (in many opinions) for a character to engage in such an action. It essentially took a character we have no connection to and made him utterly reprehensible, if for no other reason, because he bullied and intimidated another player in a very harsh manner. This is not a good way to start off a character we’re intended to like.

    5. No one is trying to censor the author, but raising objections to the way the strip started. But just as he has every right to write his strip how he deems fit, others have the right to object to things within.

    6. Contrary to many of the comments above, there are few to no comments (I’m not going to reread all of them to verify that there are none) objecting to these strips that do so militantly, call Shamus names or start tossing verbal bombs. Those that objected explained why they took issue with it, many simply saying that if you’re going to deal with a touchy subject, you have to make it funny enough to overcome the distaste and that this one didn’t meet that threshold. If you disagree, fine do so respectfully, but also recognize that that’s perfectly fair commentary.

    In short, many of us who do like Shamus’ and his work found this strip and the ones following to be a rather abrupt departure, especially so soon into the series. It took a character that we’re meant to empathize with (since he’s a non-villain primary character) and painted him as someone who’s willing to simulate a sexual assault for the purpose of grossly bullying and intimidating another player, and rendered him completely unlikeable. And if the characters are regularly going to be doing such things, many of us will probably not read the strip, not because such things don’t happen, but because we’re reading this for its humor and it ceases to be funny if we can’t like the characters (also fair commentary).

    So please, no more comments about whether or not it was rape (it was sexual assault, by definition, and implied such in #6), no more comments about people saying Shamus supports rape (which is ludicrous) and no more “love it or leave it” comments (as any author wants input, even if it sometimes annoys them). There was a strip some objected to, they explained their reasons and issues relating to construction, characterization and general tastefulness, and Shamus heard them and will choose to act however he does so. Let those who are unwilling to read more go their own way, let those who are willing to see what comes next to do so, and those who have no issue can continue to read on.

    Okay?

  46. Nixorbo says:

    [Bender]Stay the course, pal![/Bender]

  47. Miako says:

    Shamus:
    is chuck intended to be a villian?
    I note that in dndorks, there is a definite villian PC.

  48. Miako says:

    _Interesting that no-one (I don’t think so anyway) has pointed out that for a man*, sex is partly a power thing anyway **, especially as the hormones take over and one begins to live in the moment (as it were: trying to be delicate here)._

    Eh? The orgasm is a pleasurable epileptic seizure (maybe that’s more dramatic in girls).

    I think that it is falacious to assume that all guys have the same instincts and sex drive.

  49. Deoxy says:

    “1 in 3 sexual assaults is against a child.”

    That includes “children” up to the day before they turn 18. Yeah, that‘s a useful stat.

    Regarding the prof: I WASN’T IN THE CLASS. It was an interview with her, and I read the transcript. If I had been in the class, I would darn well remember, OK? But I admit: I spent about 20 minutes web-searching for it, and I couldn’t find it. I DID find quotes from well-known and influential feminists from th past 50 years up the the prsent day that can be honestly summarized thusly: women are superior to men, men are essentially all violent and bad, and heterosexual sex is at least almost always rape. (No, I’m not using the bogus Katherin McKinnon quote, either.) It’s a lot of hideous crap, but if you want me to paste any of them in, just let me know.

    As to higher education examples: Go look at the output of “Middle East studies” departments, and you’ll see why universities that want something remotely resembling dialogue, reality, or even just not “It’s all the &^@%#$*& JEWS FAULT!!!!” have had to create an “Israeli studies” department. Women’s studies departments are pretty much just as bad. The crap they spout off is really ridiculous.

    _THOSE [Date rape, Acquaintance rape, Date rape drugs, Having sex with passed-out drunk women] make up the majority of rapes in this country. The men who commit them are generally pathetic, horny losers who feel incapable of getting a woman to AGREE to have sex with them (at least, on anything approaching a regular basis)._

    Factually untrue. Most rapes occur in the prison population. Most rape victims have experienced ‘date rape.’

    So, which is it? factually untrue, or “most rape victims have experienced date rape”? Make up your mind.

    Also, if most rapes occur in the prison population, we’re worrying about the wrong problem to begin with – women aren’t the real victims, men are! Is that really what you meant to say?!?

    I would say “it is about the ability to not get rejected” means it IS about sex, not power. The power to get sex! YAY SEX! That’s the point of most of those.

    Here’s a fairly easy, possibly useful test of my hypothesis (enough sex will diminish rape levels): check out the rates of rape in European areas where prostitution is legal and encouraged.

    No, that’s not a perfect test, I admit. Also, I never said it would ELIMINATE rape (I grant that there are a few sick people for whom rape is indeed about power, or many other twisted things), only that the rate would plummet (for example, by much more than half).

    “I have gun, therefore I have woman! I dunno… that seems to make sense to me.”

    What makes a lot more sense to me is: I want a woman. I can’t get a woman. Oh, look, with a gun, I CAN get a woman. Power as a means to an end (sex), not the other way around.

    _You honestly believe that the incidence of rape would be essentially unaffected? THAT is what you (and all your experts) are claiming._

    Yes. Rape is the experience of unconsenting sex. I have seen date rape drug recipes passed around frat houses before. Every weekend there were constant parties that involved Nitrous Oxide. These boys DID NOT need MORE SEX.

    Here’s something to think about, and I mean this in all seriousness: there are men, too many of them, for whom sex is THE end. It’s what everything else is for – to help them get more sex. They have given up (or never knew about) other pleasurable activities, or just find them inferior to sex (or believe to be because they are constantly told that sex is th be-all, end-all). Not need more sex?!? If such a man is not having sex NOW (or in the period immediately afterwards, when he can’t), then he, in his opinion, needs more sex. If you gave such a man a woman (or perhaps several women, as they might well grow bored with just one, as sex really isn’t so satisfying as they have been lead to believe) who catered to his every sexual need, and sufficient funds to not need to do anything else, he would simply hang out at home (or where ever) with them and have sex, ALL THE TIME (until it became so empty that he looked for other meaning to life). The frat house guys you are talking about have bought into this pathetic and sad “meaning” to life.

    (Incidentally, men who buy into that, don’t get to experience it to the point of burn out, and begin to have difficulty “performing” as life goes on not infrequently become violent to women, taking out their inadequacies and placing blame on them, etc. Even then, the real problem goes back, often, to sex, and the inability to have what they believe to be the point and meaning of life. It’s quite a sad thing, both for the man and, OF COURSE, his victims. This is all, IMO, a result of over-hyping and over-selling sex, primarily to men, but also to women.)

    Roy: But the woman with the greatest odds for getting raped is, far and away, a highly attractive one. Wearing something that accentuates that attractiveness. There is no competition on that.

    That’s completely and thoroughly untrue.

    You are saying that a highly attractive young woman who walks down a dark alley at night and an ugly old woman who walks down a dark alley at night have the same chance of being raped?

    If that’s what you believe, there’s really no reason to have any further conversation. I’ll spend my time on more useful things, like banging my head against a brick wall.

  50. Miako says:

    Responding to deoxy:
    Re: one in three —
    http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/abstract/saycrle.htm
    that’s under the age of twelve. Any objections?

    Toss me a few names, deoxy. Don’t need the quotes, it’s not what I’m interested in. I’m interested in whether they said stuff “in cold blood” or whether you’re just getting a biased portion of the story (or they changed their minds later).

    so, you want some output from MiddleEastStudies depts that is nuanced and meaningful? From the entire department?
    http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/
    Have you tried looking for highly accredited departments(National Resource Center is the term)? I’m pretty sure the diversity of opinion there is likely to be much higher. BYU, UCLA, Georgetown. You get my drift.
    None of the colleges I’ve studied at have had a Middle East Studies dept, so you may be seeing some bias in your search terminology.

    Deoxy, when i state that Most Rapes occur in prison, I mean that the same person is raped many many times over the course of a year. So yes, most rape VICTIMS are raped in date rape cases. but most RAPES occur in PRISON. Please try to read closer and to assume more intelligence on the part of your co-conversationalist (did i just write that?? i suck at it myself ;-) )

    Last week I went to a seminar on Human Trafficking. Who says prostitution is not as bad as rape, if not worse? Prostitution merely serves to NIMBY it, where the person who is forced to have sex without legal remedy is NOT YOUR SISTER.
    Sigh. Perhaps in an ideal world, prostitution could be a voluntary service. In the real world, however, it is not nearly as voluntary as you might imagine.

    And, to speak to your point on prostitution with another angle: there is a good proportion of men who are physically unable to perform while wearing a condom. Well, okay, it’s psychosomatic and related to instinct, but still…

    Still, if RAPE is about SEX, then the frat boys would never have had any reason to drug people. I can guarantee (having seen the lines) exactly how many people were willing to have consenting sex. So why the date rape drugs? You’re trying to take something that on the surface refutes your point, and just blindly insisting that “that serves my point.” I could be wrong, however, and you’re the one making sense so I look to the crowd (shamus if no one else is reading this far and I don’t blame them) for comment.

    20% of rape victims are over age 30. (http://www.rainn.org/statistics/) If we grant, for the sake of argument, that these were date rape cases. I think that significantly overrepresents the dating population.

    Can you do me a favor, deoxy, and please start citing scientific sources? I’m particularly interested in your claim about rape being about sex and not power. Preferably studies that talk about psychology and physical measures of arousal. I may be skeptical, but that doesn’t mean i’m closeminded

  51. Miako says:

    yes. Try this one:
    Soc Sci Med. 2007 Sep;65(6):1235-48. Epub 2007 Jun 8.
    Transactional sex with casual and main partners among young South African men in the rural Eastern Cape: Prevalence, predictors, and associations with gender-based violence.

    Basically, the biggest predictor of use of prostitution is genderbased violence (rape and domestic violence toward main partner).

    What do you make of that?

  52. Mari says:

    I’m glad to finally hear your thoughts on the subject, Shamus. I refrained from posting about the “rape” thing in the FtB forums because things were heating quickly. That’s why I just popped off private messages to you and Shawn offering a word of general encouragement and moved on.

    Since the subject is at hand again and you seem to be inviting input, I’ll share my own opinion. I don’t find rape remotely funny. That said, what was depicted in CMB didn’t really strike me as rape for the reasons you pointed out above. It just honestly didn’t occur to me to think “How tasteless! A rape joke!” In fact, I actually spewed a little coffee over strip 6 because the childish response of Chuck to Marcus’ extreme pretentiousness was funny to me.

    I can kind of see people’s point once it was made in a reasonable way but the strip still didn’t bother me, I just see where their issues are coming from.

    I also have to say, though, that I disagree with some readers’ interpretation of the “improved stamina” remark. The general consensus seems to be that stamina only applies to sexual intercourse, ergo a rape has certainly occurred. It’s not my place to question random strangers’ technique, but lemme just say that stamina can apply just as much to “making out” or foreplay (if not more) as it can to intercourse. If you don’t believe me, head to random unchaperoned teen parties and take a look around the public areas. Some of those kids don’t move anything but their hands and lips for hours! Bottom line is that the “improved stamina” quip didn’t make it clear to me that we readers were witness to sexual intercourse.

    Anyway, I just felt like offering my two cents and I have. I probably won’t be back to this entry to read the inevitable slurs cast upon my opinion. I do hope that you and Shawn don’t let this firestorm get you down or affect your work. If you guys have a clear vision of what you’re doing (and it seems like you do from comments Shawn has made in the forums) and are happy with it, it seems to me that you’re on the right track. People who enjoy what you’re doing will continue reading and people who don’t will probably not. Such is life.

  53. FreindlyFred says:

    Here people are, arguing over- let’s peel away the layers here- an “incident” which happened to an imaginary person, who is in turn being played by another imaginary person, in a flippin’ comic strip.
    This is one of those situations where the only response is a good horse laugh. Grow up. Get a job. Find something worthwhile to be outraged by. Go worry about the people being brutalized in Darfur. Shamus, I hope you’re not taking any of this silliness too hard.

  54. Roy says:

    That includes “children” up to the day before they turn 18. Yeah, that’s a useful stat.

    It took me ten seconds to find an age breakdown of sexual assaults based on information from the National Crime Victimization Survey here.

    Here’s a fairly easy, possibly useful test of my hypothesis (enough sex will diminish rape levels): check out the rates of rape in European areas where prostitution is legal and encouraged.

    No, that’s not a perfect test, I admit. Also, I never said it would ELIMINATE rape (I grant that there are a few sick people for whom rape is indeed about power, or many other twisted things), only that the rate would plummet (for example, by much more than half).

    Well, that’d be great… except that the evidence doesn’t suggest that at all. Consider that prostitution is legalized in many parts of Nevada. According to your hypothesis we should find that Nevada’s rape rate is lower than almost anywhere in the United States, since men in that state have relative “easy access” to sex, right?

    And yet, according to the 2004 FBI Uniform Crime report the Nevada rate of rape was higher than the US average and was twice as high as New York’s rate of rape. The rate of rape in Las Vegas, was three times greater than that in New York City. How, exactly, does that square with your hypothesis?

    If you’ve seen a study that suggests that legalizing prostitution has resulted in a dramatic reduction in rape rates, I’d love to see it, because what I mostly read is that it results in a dramatic increase in illegal sex trafficking, and child prostitution.

    You are saying that a highly attractive young woman who walks down a dark alley at night and an ugly old woman who walks down a dark alley at night have the same chance of being raped?

    If that’s what you believe, there’s really no reason to have any further conversation. I’ll spend my time on more useful things, like banging my head against a brick wall.

    You could spend your time doing something useful like, say, educating yourself. I’m not pulling this stuff out of thin air- I’ve been providing you with sources. You’re spouting of common myths and misperceptions about rape as though saying “well, this is what I believe” makes it true. Do you think that you’ve got some incite that experts in the field don’t? You know more about rape than FBI profiler John Douglas does? Because he claims that rapists are usually fall into one of four groups: power-reassurance rapists who rape to alleviate feelings of inadequacy, exploitive rapists who rape on impulse as a means of proving their masculinity or to defend a macho image, anger rapists who use rape as a means of displacing anger and rage, and sadistic rapists who are aroused by the pain and violence they inflict on their victims.

    Or you could check out some of Dr. Nicholas Groth’s work. His interviews with rapists and the studies he’s done have influenced the nature of police and FBI sexual crime investigations. His groupings aren’t particularly different from Douglas’, though.

    Given that most rapes happen in a place of residence between a victim and an attacker who know each other, I don’t really see how examining the almost mythical case of the man in an alley is particularly significant- you’d be examining the minority case and holding it up as though that proves something about the majority.

  55. Skeeve the Impossible says:

    I just have a hard time seeing what everyone is arguing about.
    To me the whole thing seems like a mute argument. Rape is funny, just like cancer and aids and fags and puppy death and drug addiction and Charlie goes to candy mountain and racist jokes about blacks, jews, Caucasians, hispanics, germans, polish, english, eskimos, and austrailians.

    “A comedians job is to find the line….then cross it”
    -George Carlin-

  56. Skeeve the Impossible says:

    oh yeah

    nappy headed hoe

  57. Joe says:

    Since there was a rational response from Mari, I’d like to give her the same. I understand your comment about “improved stamina” being applicable to prolonged foreplay, but I don’t think that correlates reasonably with a forced grapple.

    I would argue that if you take a male figure who forces himself onto a female character, grabbing her against her will and ends by boasting of his stamina, a very obvious conclusion is that he intends to rape her. It may not be the conclusion you reached upon reading it, but it should be rather easy to see how that conclusion is reached.

    As to “Friendly Fred” and others who talk about “growing up”, “getting a life” or whatever, it would be nice if people could show some respect for those whose opinions differed from their own. So you don’t agree with my opinion or others who feel the same; why is it such a big deal to you if we express those opinions to the author, if we do so in a respectful manner? Why not just speak to refuting facts or offer a counter-opinion without involving us or our supposed immaturity?

    Our expression of opinion on something that matters to us doesn’t negate our involvement in our everyday lives or other causes. I happen to know, for example, that one of the more vocal proponents along my side is actively involved in national politics, working for causes he believes in…how’s that for having a life?

    Just tone the rhetoric down, please…for everyone’s sakes?

  58. onosson says:

    I’m kind of skipping through the morass of commentary here, and reading Shamus’ replies and their antecedents. Hopefully you’re still reading this, man, because I think within all of this there are some comments that are giving you some good feedback about your writing (I would think that would be a good thing). The thing I got out of this ‘controversy’ is that I know a particular guy who is a lot like Chuck has been portrayed to be. He’s not a terribly bad guy, he has his good and bad points, but he is the most misogynistic person I have ever known, and often a bully on top of it, to the point where I want nothing to do with him. This comic started to remind me of that, and make me feel the same way I do around this person. That is making me desire to spend less time reading the comic.

    Just some food for thought. Unappealing characters make for tough reading/viewing. (and actually, now that I think about it, that might be why my wife hates Homer Simpson and the entire show – so maybe you’re not so far off track after all!)

  59. Synonymous says:

    Oh, come on. Even the weakest don’t need stamina for just making out. Then again, after the post that claimed that a person’s race was self-selected, I shouldn’t be expecting logic from the most extreme of the joke’s defenders here, as prejudice, to those who harbor it, is its own justification.

    If you cater to the lowest common denominator, as Roxysteve noted, sometimes that’s all with which you’re ultimately left. With the success of DM of the Rings, your next project had the blessing of a wide-ranging, built-in audience. It’s a golden opportunity few artists get, but you’re squandering it with this skeevy humor right off the bat. Think about what you’re throwing away before dismissing all those uncomfortable with the choices made as lunatics in an insane asylum.

  60. Skeeve the Impossible says:

    I have decided to expand on what I had to say in comment 183 and 184. First of all I don’t agree with my brother Shamus’s approach to this “controversy”. While he is not very apologetic I don’t think he should have any apologies at all.
    Comedy is art, and if the artist who threw crap on a picture of the virgin mary doesn’t have to apologize neither should the author of DMotR/ proprietor of of 20 sided. We live in an immoral country where people and media pick and choose what we should have morals over. Shamus as some of you might not know is a christian. It is something he is not or should be ashamed of. He is offended when someone or something makes fun of Jesus. So what does Shamus do when his lord is poked fun at and berated. Well he doesnt watch whatever offened him, like south park. Shamus will engage then in a one man boycott. He on the other hand does not create some made up online handle to hide behind while he cries and spews his ideals on forums and comment threads.
    Screaming your opinion and getting mad at people online and telling them that they are wrong is just as effective as Shamus’s one man boycott. The difference is he is not irritating people around the world with his idiocy. He doesn’t think his stupid opinion is going to magically make a difference in the world. He doesn’t think people give a shit.

    And with all that said I leave you with another quote from the great George Carlin

    “Some people don’t like you to mention certain things, some people don’t want you to say this, some people don’t want you to say that, some people think that if you mention some things they might happen…….some people are really fuckin stupid.”

  61. Shamus says:

    Okay, this comment thread sucks and I’m sick of it. I’m sick of seeing the same blasted points go point-counterpoint as new groups of people join the fray without reading what has already been said. There is, as I suspected, nothing new to be said on the matter.

    The most illuminating post was #152, which has been ignored by most subsequent posters. We have a bunch of hot-button stuff about sex and politics flying around in a king hell-sized threadjack. We have hostility between posters.

    I’m sitting here plowing through this stuff, thinking about how not fun this is, and then I realized that I’m doing this for nothing. There is no point to this exchange.

    Thread is locked. Let’s go do something else.

  62. […] Webartist Finally, it seems that Shamus of Twenty Sided has hit some very heavy controversy already with his new webcomics Chainmail Bikini. In the last few strips, a male character groped a […]

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    […] Webartist Finally, it seems that Shamus of Twenty Sided has hit some very heavy controversy already with his new webcomics Chainmail Bikini. In the last few strips, a male character groped a […]