Maybe You’re An Arsehole

As I go through the old comics I have drawn over the years, sorting them, cleaning them up, getting them ready for public presentation, one thing becomes clear: I have, in the past, been an arsehole.

There’s no shying away from it, and I don’t have any excuses for it. It’s the ugly truth. I have been an arsehole.  I look back through my comics and I see that I have made jokes about self-harm. I have made jokes where “being gay” is the punchline. I have made jokes about “fake geek girls” — not ironically, but genuine gatekeeping bullshit.

(I have never made a rape joke. I am proud of that, I guess.)

These comics will not be seeing the light of day. I do not shy away from them and I do not disavow them. I am their author and I am responsible for them. But I am choosing voluntarily to censor myself and to not display them to the world.

Why do I do this?

I do this because I believe in improving myself. I believe in changing my behaviour as I learn new things. I believe in making others feel comfortable and welcome around me.

Here’s another thing I believe.

I believe that if you refuse to make a trivial change to your own behaviour that would make someone else feel more comfortable and accepted — that makes you an arsehole.

If someone says “Please stop using the word ‘raped’ when you play online,” they’re not asking you to change your entire personality.

If someone says “Please stop saying things are ‘gay’ when you don’t like them,” they’re not asking you to compromise the very core of who you are.

If someone says “Please stop calling things ‘retarded’,” they’re not demanding that you betray the fundamental principles by which you live your life.

Again: if you refuse to make a trivial change to your own behaviour that would make someone else feel more comfortable and accepted, you are an arsehole.

Arguments against this are as reflexive as they are insane. “Don’t tell me what to do! I’m politically incorrect and proud of it! I always call it like I see it and if you can’t handle it, that’s YOUR problem!”

Sorry, buddy — you’re an arsehole, and condescendingly throwing words like “social justice warrior” or “tumblr user” around won’t change the bottom line.

Answer this for me, if you will: do you really think that your entire personality will change if you stop calling things “gay”, or stop making rape jokes?

Are you seriously suggesting that the very essence of who you are, your very soul, is so deeply rooted in being wilfully offensive to others?

Do you genuinely fear that to make even the slightest change to how you interact with others is to unmake you and warp you somehow into a meek, compliant slave to a politically correct agenda?

God, I hope not. Because if you do, if you really believe that, then I do not even know how to begin a conversation with you.

So much of the backlash I see against feminism, against progressive politics, in the hashtags of gamergate, is rooted in this anger and frustration where being asked to use your inside voice is to somehow be enslaved or controlled.

“You don’t know me,” they lash out. “Stop telling me what to do, or how to live. Stop trying to control freedom of expression. Stop pushing YOUR beliefs onto ME. Stop censoring me.”

“Stop bullying me.”

This inability to make a distinction between a reasonable request for a more welcoming environment, and an authoritarian, tyrannical demand, lies at the heart of this anger and frustration.

Z-grade right-wing celebrities seize on this disaffection, whipping it up with sensationalist claims about “SJWs trying to control you”, amassing armies of angry people eager to loudly declare their loyalty to freedom of expression.

“I know I looked down and spat upon gamers just a few months ago, but now that I’ve seen you’re angry at feminism, I think we can work with this. I love gamers! I love them. Really guys, this is genuine. Buy my book about Gamergate. SJWs want to tell you how to think.”

Turns out there’s a lot of money and brand power to be made in encouraging people to be arseholes.

Saying “wouldn’t it be nice if video games had better representation of women” is not an insidious tentacle of control worming its way into the free market. Pointing out that “the majority of women in video games are sex objects” is not cultural marxism. Observing that many women find video game culture toxic isn’t the same as thought control.

If you’re the sort of person who hates being criticised so goddamn much that you’ll argue for the right to be an arsehole and then attack the person who pointed out what you did wrong, you’re not a noble warrior.

Making a stand for free speech when you’re using that free speech to make other people feel like shit isn’t a brave, principled fight. It’s having a tantrum.

You are a baby and you are having a tantrum. Stop it.

Published by

Tim

Used to run games.on.net, now runs Point & Clickbait. Thermonuclear shit-wizard from hell. Timeless being of perfect granite, dickhead union thug. On Twitter here.

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