This is a blog post that’s incredibly confusing and painful for me to write.
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.
Having gone to college with both of these people I cannot understand why he thinks this is something she would make up. All she’s asked for is people to know that this happened.
I’m standing with my friend against her rapist.
Please, please, before you reblog this, read Max Temkin’s response. Read it again, and keep reading it until you see all the things he’s saying. Read it until you see all the things he’s not saying.
Notice how he never apologizes. The word “if” has to be inserted into every sentence. “IF she felt I did something wrong,” “IF any part of that was traumatic for her.” Notice how he bandies about words like “feminism” and “rape culture”, and how he uses them to divert blame from himself.
“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.”
It’s not his fault. It’s rape culture’s fault. Rape culture muddles boundaries. How was he supposed to know that he crossed one? Don’t forget, a huge part of rape culture is the presumption of consent.
I will continue to be a feminist and an advocate for women’s rights to the best of my capacity. Cards Against Humanity will continue to hire amazing, talented women.
We removed all of the “rape” jokes from Cards Against Humanity years ago. We’ll continue to use the game as best we can to “punch up” and not “punch down.”
In what way is Max Temkin an advocate for women’s rights? Because he removed the date rape card from CaH? Because he hires women? That’s a pretty low bar for advocacy. Google “Max Temkin women’s rights” and the very first hit is this post. There are no records that I found of any activism on his part.
Even if he were, how does A equal B? What does his hiring practices or the cards in CaH have to do with an accusation of assault? Max Temkin can’t have hurt a woman, because he’s a feminist? Hey, I heard that person isn’t racist because he has a black friend.
Notice how bad we’re supposed to feel for him.
I have made a career on the incredible power of social media, and the radical new ability that we all have to say whatever we want to a mass audience. Today I can’t help but feel hurt by those same tools that I love.
He feels hurt! He needs a hug! Never mind that he states outright he’s harassed his victim, sending her at least two messages (one via email, one via FB message) that he’ll admit to. No where in the text does he acknowledge the harm done to his victim, and while he tells his fans not to harass her further, he doesn’t acknowledge that this harassment is taking place, nor apologize for it. Because, remember, this isn’t a post about her assault. It’s a post about how “This is just baseless gossip that will now haunt me for the rest of my life.” Like those poor Steubenville kids with their bright futures.
But the point where this gets truly disgusting is here:
I spoke with my lawyer, and she thinks I have a clear case to sue this woman for libel and get a restraining order, but I have no desire to bully or harm her. Additionally, I’m not wild about the precedent that sets for other women to come forward in cases of actual sexual assault.
Part of this paragraph, like the rest of the post, is crafted to earn our sympathy. He could seek legal action, but he won’t, because he’s such a good guy. Look at him taking the high ground (and flaunting it.) Look at him protecting “other women.”
The truth is, he almost certainly could win a libel suit against his victim. The crime wasn’t reported at the time, and there’s no physical evidence. We all know our courts will go to any lengths to avoid prosecuting and convicting rapists, even in recent cases with clear and unambiguous evidence. What chance does a victim shamed into silence for ten years have?
But the second, more sinister part of this is the way he throws shade on his victim. Don’t miss the implicit threat. He never says he won’t sue, he says “he has no desire to bully or harm her”. (More than he already has, presumably.) He doesn’t want to hurt her, but again, she’s forcing his hand. If he sues, it will be because she made him. And there’s that subtle dig at the end, too. “Cases of actual sexual assault”. He’s minimizing her experiences to make himself look better.
All in all this is an epic piece of mansplaining. It’s also super gross.