Sunday, April 25, 2010

Roleplaying Characters and the Rape Fad

So... I know that on a lot of roleplaying boards, the way to have an edgy backstory for a tough female character is to say she's been raped. There inevitably will be at least a couple of characters like this (and should be, frankly, because it isn't uncommon).

What pisses me off is that on some boards (particularly one Star Wars board that I left a while ago), this is apparently the only way to create a tough female character or a fragile female character or... really, anybody with tits. Evidently the only kind of woman anybody can think of to RP is... well... a rape victim.

Disclaimer: I think that online collaborative writing and roleplaying is an awesome way to raise awareness and create teachable moments about all sorts of things that most people don't directly confront in their lives. Want to say something about racial inequality? A scifi setting is an awesome place for this. Want to say something about commodification of women's bodies? A well-written character who is or has been a slave, or who is tangentially connected with that whole messy business in Star Wars is totally doable and potentially hugely awesome, because it can get people thinking about things they're not ordinarily exposed to. It can also be a potentially-useful way for assault victims to work through that in their writing, and I get that, too.

It's gone too far, though. Somewhere a line was crossed. I've started being surprised when a player thinks of something to do in a woman's backstory BESIDES rape her. I can probably count on one hand the number of female characters I've RPed with from this place who were not raped at least once. Can't we think of something else for women to do in their lives besides be assaulted?

I mean, women do have other things going on besides being raped all the time. Sometimes we have other problems, or other obstacles, or even goals. Sometimes we even succeed at things. But from these characters all I see is rape rape rape rape. It's like every plotline in a female RP character's life is just a forgettable transition period between rapes.

Summary: Teachable moments GOOD. Rape as a shortcut to character development BAD.

Am I the only person who gets really pissed about this? It says something seriously creepy that nobody from this board knows what goes on in a woman's life or in a woman's head if they're not being raped.

I have no idea what to do about it, either. I don't want to tell people, "Some of you need to write this shit out of your backstories, because I'm sick of it and your little clone army of identical stereotypical rape victims is beginning to piss me off." But right now that is exactly what is going through my head.