Massive trigger warnings for rape, abuse, and mutilation up ahead.
With the possible exception of Cersei’s penance walk, the Jeyne-Theon-Ramsay storyline in A Dance with Dragons was both one of the best and also one of the worst reading experiences I’ve suffered my way through. The whole thing is incredibly uncomfortable. I can think of very few villains worse than Ramsay, and his treatment of both Jeyne and Theon is so appalling that it’s difficult to imagine anyone so evil.
Game of Thrones’s fifth season attempted to tackle this subplot. Unsurprisingly, it failed. The show was also incredibly offensive in the process. At face value, this seems like an odd thing to say. What happens in the show is nowhere near as bad as what happens in the books. In Game of Thrones, Sansa replaces Jeyne, Ramsay rapes her, and the whole thing is rather senseless. In the books, Ramsay does a lot more than rape Jeyne. He threatens to mutilate her—her body is covered in his bites marks—and he forces her into acts of bestiality. On top of all that, he rapes Theon by proxy, since he also forces him to help in Jeyne’s torment as well. It’s worse than I just made it sound. Significantly.
Yet A Song of Ice and Fire does not treat this subject matter the same way Game of Thrones does. What happens in the books is awful, but it’s not just for shock value. The storyline tells us a lot about a person’s identity and autonomy, about rape culture, and about the monsters who hurt us. There’s a lot to unpack here, so for this post, I’m going to get into Theon’s issues with identity and then talk about Jeyne and rape culture in a second post.
Recently Saika and I started watching Sense8, the Wachowski siblings’ new Netflix offering. I’d been hearing great things about it in the news and on Tumblr—so far I’ve avoided spoilers about its more problematic parts, so please no spoilers—and I was pretty pumped to start it. Within the first few minutes of the first episode, though, I quickly figured out that, like Hannibal, this was not a show that I could go into blindly. I scoured the internet to see if anyone had put up lists of trigger warnings for Sense8, and I was thrilled when I found an entire Tumblr dedicated to helping out TV fans with triggers.
Well, after months of putting it off, I finally got around to finishing True Blood’s third season. Once again, I found myself absolutely adoring this show, while simultaneously hating a great deal of its themes. Last season put me off by its portrayal of religion, and it even featured a religious fanatic who attempted to sexually assault Sookie, because why the fuck not? This season also put me off by its gratuitous rape themes that existed for no damn reason. Despite being a really good show with an awesome female protagonist, True Blood’s biggest problem seems to be offensive clichés, and that is no more apparent than how the show treats both Tara and Eggs’s characters and their misogynistic and racist plotlines.
THIS POST HAS BEEN UPDATED TO REFLECT THE ONGOING NATURE OF THIS ISSUE. I AM AWARE THE IMAGE IN QUESTION IS NO LONGER HOSTED AT MY LITTLE BRONY. THERE IS NEW INFO/ OPINION AT THE BOTTOM.
There’s not going to be a lot of funny things or cute images in this post. I am pissed and pontificating, so be forewarned if you were expecting a happy MLP post.
The world of memes is an odd one, and there are many that are creepy, sexist, racist, or downright disturbing. The recently-introduced Dolan is all of the above, depending on application. Dolan is a poorly-drawn, psychopathic reimagination of Donald Duck, and the humor that comes out in Dolan rage comics tends to be anything but – graphic murder, rape ‘jokes’, and mental images that are just unpleasant and terrible, and which, like the Pedobear meme, seem to exist solely to push the boundaries of what is okay to say on the internet.
I don’t usually get involved with drama on other websites. I’m a born-and-bred lurker, and, on sites like ICanHasCheesburger’s My Little Brony, I scroll past all the images and call it a day. I hadn’t checked that page yet today, but a faithful follower of this blog and that page put me on the scent of one of the ickiest, most downright reprehensible things I have ever seen posted on that site.
Unfortunately at this point I must warn for rape triggers, something My Little Brony did not have the courtesy to do.
Among the crop of fresh images that was posted this morning was a Dolan comic crossed over (if you can call it that) with MLP. The image depicted Dolan raping a crying Fluttershy while patting her head and saying ‘Shhh, love and tolerate’ (misspelled, of course, in true Dolan style). It was titled ‘Your Punishment For Abusing the Language Filter’. I will not be posting it or linking to it here.
Let me count the things that are wrong with this image. First of all, pictures on any of the Cheezburger sites must be vetted through a voting process. Judging from the comments on this particular image, it is not a picture that 99% of the bronies following this page would have upvoted to a point where it made the front page. This means that the mods of the site plucked this picture out of obscurity and gave it front-page status. I am not going to say that the creator of this picture is faultless – they are sick as well to think this is in any way appropriate, even within the realm of trolling – but that the mods thought this was something acceptable for the front page is beyond the pale. They censor out curse words in images/comics and yet feel it’s totally acceptable to post an actual image of brutal interspecies rape on the front page? That’s bucking ridiculous.
Secondly, the caption. It is a slap in the face to bronies who actually embrace that mantra – love and tolerate – as it 1) suggests that Fluttershy should sit back and accept being violated and 2) says to the bronies who read it: “What are you going to do about this? You have to love and tolerate me – it’s what you believe, don’t abandon that!” I know that the first, second, and third rules of the internet are ‘Don’t feed the trolls,’ ‘don’t feed the trolls’, and ‘don’t feed the trolls’, but to sit back and accept something like this is, in fact, unnacceptable. It is more in line with the values of MLP to vanquish something like this (through peaceful action, but to vanquish it nonetheless) rather than to sit back and tolerate its goings-on.
Finally, regarding the title. Comments on Cheezburger pages have a language filter that can be got around with a number of html tricks or by simply saying ‘w3apon’ or ‘$hit’ or typing in binary instead of their fully-lettered alternatives. (You can’t post comments which contain the actual words.) It’s highly unlikely that the original submitter of this image had used that title; it was probably changed by the mods because of frustration with policing comments. But the message it sends is just disgusting: “If you don’t do what we want you to, we will post pictures of sweet and innocent characters being sexually brutalized.” (It’s a sad irony that the dozens of bronies protesting the posting of this image could not even spell out rape (r@pe) because it was blocked by the filter.) I acknowledge that the language filter is a good idea in theory, but it’s far too easy to circumvent, and posting a picture of rape as a punishment for something as trivial as spelling ‘fuck’ fu( |< is.. I just don’t have words.
In reality, I doubt this picture was intended as ‘punishment’. I can only assume that some mod thought it would get the site a lot of pageviews and comments. In either case, however, that mod is a douchebag above and beyond regular douchebaggery, and has failed as both an internet moderator – we put our trust in mods to stop things like this from being posted, not to give them vindication – and as a human being.
This is how I feel. I need a drink.
EDITED TO ADD: The image in question has been taken down by the site, and this text has been posted in their banner: “Let’s call a truce! No more abusing filters and Fluttershy will remain out of harm’s way!”
This just serves to show that they do not regret using a disgusting and triggering image, and feel that we as a community have been taught a lesson through that use. I am appalled that they are not showing any sort of regret about this incident and instead call for a truce, as though this was a war between people whose viewpoints are equally worthy, rather than a stand against calling filthy rape imagery ‘humor’. I know that for some of the bronies involved this was more about the langauge filter issue than the rape picture itself. Regardless of why we opposed the use of this picture, it still stand that this was an inappropriate and despicable use of mod power.