Penny Arcade's dickwolves problem is part of a bigger issue: misogyny
Geekdom has a dickwolf problem.
Now, most of you -- even perhaps some of the geekiest among you -- are asking, "What the fuck is a dickwolf, and what kind of problem is it having?" The dickwolf got its start as a throwaway line in a comic strip from the immensely popular -- and influential -- webcomic Penny Arcade. In its second panel, the strip in question contained a joke about some poor bastard being raped by these mythical dickwolves. (Which, by the way, are wolves made of dicks. Of course.) This lamentable rape joke was part of a larger joke about some of the odd situations that crop up in video games. The main joke, lampooning video-game tropes, was actually pretty funny. The rape joke ... not so much.
At this point in history, you have to live in a cave (or perhaps Fox News headquarters) to not realize that rape jokes are almost never appropriate. There are ways to make a rape joke that is both funny and non-offensive, but you don't do it by poking fun at the victims of rape, which is what this particular comic was doing. Anyway, there was a big Internet kerfuffle (you can read all about it with a simple "dickwolf" Google search, or check out this timeline of the incident), and the guys (of course it was guys) at Penny Arcade defended the joke, even going so far as to push things further by making and selling a Penny Arcade-branded Dickwolves shirt. Eventually they got tired of all the fighting and offered a typical non-apology and pulled the shirt. Okay, kinda squicky, but whatever -- they backed down. Agree to disagree on what constitutes a funny rape joke, nothing to see here, move along.
Until this past weekend.
Then, during a panel at the massive gaming convention they sponsor every year, Penny Arcade co-founder and artist Mike Krahulik stated, on stage, that they never should have pulled the Dickwolf shirts at all. Non-apology rescinded, and all of you people who have an issue with rape, well, fuck you! Naturally, this got a roar of approval from the crowd. And that is precisely why geekdom has a dickwolf problem.
Let's parse this a bit. Even if you don't find the initial comic that offensive -- I'd argue that it's offensive, but not horrifically so -- the sale of Dickwolf shirts is just ... WTF? These dickwolves, in the mythology that Krahulik and his partner Jerry Holkins dreamed up, exist solely to rape. They are a mythical embodiment of rape. What kind of fucking sleazebag, then, thinks it's a good idea to wear a shirt proudly proclaiming their fandom of the mythic embodiment of rape? Worse, what kind of sleazebags think it's acceptable to profit from the sale of these shirts? And the biggest problem of all: a room full of guys who roar their approval when Krahulik proudly defies his critics and announces that, if he had it to do all over again, he never would have stopped promoting rape in the first place.
Fuck those guys. Seriously.
Yes, okay, he couched it in terms of not backing down, not engaging with critics, etc. Honestly, that probably makes it worse, not better, because it shows that he just does not get it -- that he refuses to get it. And so do the legion of fans gathered to hear him speak, which is the real problem. He enables their mouth-breathing misogyny by standing up there and telling them, "Hey, if we find rape funny, we have a right to laugh! We have a right to promote it, and to profit from it, and anyone who has a problem with that isn't worth even responding to."