Ya’ll may have heard via CNN about “Rapeplay”, a Japanese interactive video game featuring unwilling, busty young girls — which users can virtually stalk, grope, repeatedly rape, and even cajole to get an abortion. In another game, the object is to exact revenge for getting fired by finding and raping a female boss.
This and similar games, as well as their ready availability on the internet, has had many individuals and women’s rights groups up in arms, including a campaign mounted by Equality Now in May 2009.
I don’t think I need to explain how fucked up this is. Themes of rape and assault in Japan are nothing new as far as porn and hentai go. But I also wonder — is there a way to measure the impact this may be having in real life, which is what many critics voice concern over?
According to rape statistics per capita by country, 53 countries rank higher than Japan, including the US, Australia, and Canada. Disturbing fantasies aside, maybe Japan just does a better job of teaching its men: “Hey guys, don’t rape! Not OK!”, while countries such as the US tend to put the onus for avoiding sexual assault — as well as the blame — squarely on the victim.
However, due to the stigma associated with being a rape victim, especially in Asian countries, I’m highly skeptical of stats since they only reflect reported cases. Even in the US, the Dept of Justice estimated that only 26% of rapes or attempted rapes are reported to law enforcement officials.
Another take on the controversy can be found at gaming blog Kotaku, which has been following the issue since last spring. To summarize today’s post from Kotaku’s Senior Contributing Editor Brian Ashcraft: “RapeLay” came out in 2006, but has been out of print since Western audiences began to protest the game. In June 2009, Japan’s Ethics Organization of Computer Software held an emergency meeting, and decided to implement a self-policing policy that the manufacture and sale of rape-type games should stop.
However, there was no legislation passed (meaning they’re technically still legal), and to me it looks like implementation and effectiveness has been spotty (see CNN’s video in which these games are still easily obtained). Some manufacturers simply found a way around the policy by re-naming games with titles like “Slave Maiden’s Rape Hell” to “Young Girl’s Prison”.
According to Kotaku and Ashcraft, the games featured in the CNN report are outdated, and the angle of the story sets up Japan as a morally-absent “punching bag”, casting an typically Western, overly critical (and hypocritical) eye on Japan’s gaming options.
I know these aren’t themes that appeal to people in Japan only. Perverts abound everywhere. But there is a difference between kinky fantasies practiced by two consenting adults, and a fantasy based upon another party’s unwillingness and victimization. At the end of the day — whether these games really have an impact on people’s attitudes and behavior or not — I’m sickened and saddened that sexually assaulting someone is used as a form of entertainment or excitement. No amount of rationalizing or justification would make me feel OK with a boyfriend, a relative, or a friend plugging into this garbage.
Thanks AZN and Char Char!