Original Version of Cards Against Humanity Article (written by Patricia Hernandez and subsequently revised and published by her here).
A Different Way To Respond To A Rape Accusation [Update]
Last weekend, Max Temkin, co-creator of the popular card game Cards Against Humanity, wrote a blog post about rape accusation. The post went up somewhat unnoticed, thanks to a combination of EVO, the World Cup, and GaymerX happening all at the same time—but it's something that we, as a gaming community, should talk about.
You can read Temkin's post here—he describes his previous relationship with the woman who accuses him of rape, and he talks about his complex feelings around social media, to which some people have taken to protest him and Cards Against Humanity. He notes that he feels hurt but will try his best to continue to be a feminist moving forward. And above all, he wants you to know he didn't do it. The accusation is "patently false." It's "baseless gossip." He hasn't even spoken to this girl in a decade. He's never been accused of something like this before. He doesn't plan on suing her, but he wants you to know he would have a "clear case" against her.
Yesterday morning, Josh forwarded me a tweet that said:
"TIL: Max Temkin, co-creator of Cards Against Humanity, raped a friend of my friend while attending Goucher College. I don't support CAH."
We assumed this was someone making a tasteless joke, and I replied to tell him that it wasn't funny. But after some more digging, I found a Facebook post from a girl I knew in college accusing me of sexually assaulting her, and urging people to boycott Cards Against Humanity.
I had a really brief relationship with this girl in college; her dorm room was next to mine, and after a few evenings staying up talking all night, we made out. We spent a few nights in each others' rooms, but we never had sex and neither of us pressured the other into doing anything we weren't comfortable with. After a few nights, I broke things off in the cowardly way that 19-year-old guys do, and I just stopped returning her calls and texts. I can imagine she was hurt by this, I know that I would be hurt if someone broke up with me that way.I haven't spoken to this girl in nearly ten years. If she felt I did something wrong in our relationship, she never confronted me about it or brought the issue to the school.
A lot of the discussion I've seen about Temkin's post has been about whether he did or didn't rape his accuser. It's about who is telling the truth. That's important, of course, but that's not what this post is about. This post about how poorly Max Temkin responded to an accusation of rape, and about what I think his post could—perhaps should—have been about instead.
There is of course no right way to respond to being accused of raping someone. I don't fault Temkin for not getting something like this completely right. Still, he handles it badly. He spends too much time trying to defend himself—which I understand as an impulse, given the gravity of the situation—and not enough time contemplating the idea that he might've messed up. Or, more importantly than either of these, taking the discussion in a useful direction.
Other people have written about their issues with the post, and you can read some of those critiques here. If you want the Cliffnotes version of it: Temkin doesn't completely apologize, and it's hard not to read the parts about the legalities here as a threat to the woman. That's not cool.
There's a part in Temkin's post that stood out to me, though. The part where he talks about rape culture:
Part of rape culture that hurts everyone is that it makes it difficult to talk about what is and is not consent, and makes it incredibly scary for people to speak up when their boundaries are crossed. It is entirely possible she read something completely different than I did into an awkward college hookup. If any part of that was traumatic for her, I am sincerely sorry, and I wish we would have had a chance to address it privately. I've sent her an email and a Facebook message and given her my contact information, but so far I haven't heard back (but she did edit her post to remove my name).
Now, there's a lot about this paragraph that is kind of gross. As our sister site Jezebel says, Temkin is basically "employing the tropes of rape culture in his own defense, even while wrapping himself in the language of social justice and positioning himself as a good feminist." Nevermind the non-apology (if it was traumatic!), or the mention the deflection about how she must've read the situation. Or the fact that he reached out to this woman privately, and how at this point that's kind of weird.