A couple of days ago Carl of Swindon, aka “Sargon of Akkad”, the full-time #Gamergate ideologue and professional victimizer, tweeted this comment out to his thousands of followers:
I wouldn’t even rape you,
@jessphillips. #AntiRapeThreats #FeminismIsCancer
Wow. The result of Carl’s tweet was a firestorm of similar abuse from his fans, with scores of people weighing in on whether or not they would rape this particular female politician. Yet there’s a lot to unpack in his comment – about Carl’s beliefs about rape and how Carl himself perpetuates rape culture.
Now, I don’t believe Carl is himself a rapist. But he seems to want to have his cake and eat it too when it comes to rape – to belittle and minimize female fear of rape whilst also reminding women that rape’s still an option in the male toolkit. And in this moment at least, he was certainly willing to invoke rape rhetorically as a way of asserting his dominance over this MP, who’s on the record discussing her own experiences of being sexually assaulted as a teen.
It sends a message. Carl’s got the ear of hundreds of like-minded fellows, who pay him handsomely to act as the full-time MC of a virtual pillory. In this role he enjoys some power and influence – perhaps not of the same caliber as a member of Parliament, but much more than he would if he were still just some schlub in a pub. Saying he “wouldn’t even rape” a female MP is red meat for this crowd, and I suspect Carl knows this. In fact, I suspect he said it to get attention and further build his brand on the notoriety.
The central thesis of “Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape” states: “Rape is a conscious process by which all men keep all women in a state of fear.” This seems like the kind of statement Carl would scoff at, but it might be closer to the truth than he would like to admit. After all, Carl knows he need not be a rapist to cash in on the terror rape inspires – he merely needs to invoke it to make his point. What Carl doesn’t seem to realize is that in some substantial fraction of men are indeed rapists, and to them this public discussion of whether or not certain rape victims are worthy of a second assault normalizes and supports their pro-rape outlook. Carl does seem to get that he could “trigger” some rape victims with this kind of talk. Again, that kind of thing is red meat to his channel.
This isn’t the first time Carl’s staked out positions that seem indefensible to me. He also defended Elliot Rodger’s killing spree, and in that instance he seemed to accept that mass shootings were an inevitable (if regrettable) resolution to incel ennui. To me, that bodes poorly for Carl’s internal compass. After all, if some men will inevitably start mass killings because they feel lonely, doesn’t it follow that some men will inevitably rape?
Carl’s been defending this comment because it’s phrased in the negative, but this seems insufficient. In fact, the whole thing seems like sour grapes. After all, Jess Phillips isn’t banging Carl’s door in looking for ravishment. He’s offering this comment apropos of nothing – so it’s similar to catcalling, except with an implicit threat of violence. If you’re not planning on raping anybody, why the fuck are you bringing it up at all? To call attention the fact that you could rape, if you chose to? To remind a sexual assault victim of a previous trauma? To build your channel and make a bit more money? Do tell me, Carl – I am sincerely interested to know.