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A Rape in Cyberspace

Prior to reading this essay I was only mildly familiar with the idea of Muds (as explained during an EL236 informal presentation last year). I must note that when I first began reading I was a little bit disturbed by the actions of Mr. Bungle a.k.a Dr. Jest. I had never specifically heard of LamdaMOO, and frankly it sounded like the name of a fraternity. The funny thing is, it kind of was. It’s a close knit group of online text gamers that meet and have fun together. They all have a common interest and build stories off one another. I found that to be pretty neat, and it reminded me of some of the Buffy Role Play chat rooms I had been in before.

In regard to the act of sexual violence that Mr. Bungle committed I was at first perplexed. From his description alone you could tell he was a rather sick individual; “- he was at the time a fat, oleaginous, Bisquick-faced clown dressed in cum-stained harlequin garb and girdled with a mistletoe-and-hemlock belt whose buckle bore the quaint inscription KISS ME UNDER THIS, BITCH!”

I personally didn’t see why these users were so incredibly offended. Yes, they were defiled and violated, but it was on a game, not in real life. If they didn’t like it, they could change their username or make a move against Mr. Bungle. I am glad they did take action instead of whine about it forever because that would have been the kicker to really make me think less of the situation.

Points that I liked in this essay...

“Netsex, tinysex, virtual sex -- however you name it, in real-life reality it's nothing more than a 900-line encounter stripped of even the vestigial physicality of the voice.”

“And if the virtual setting and the interplayer vibe are right, who knows? The heart may engage as well, stirring up passions as strong as many that bind lovers who observe the formality of trysting in the flesh.”

Agenda Items (2)

“Some asshole blasting violent, graphic language at you? Don't whine to the authorities about it -- hit the @gag command and said asshole's statements will be blocked from your screen (and only yours). It's simple, it's effective, and it censors no one.”

Why can’t these users simply gag or block the one that is bothering them? When you are on AIM and you don’t like what someone is saying you hit the block button and all is well with the world. I think there are a lot more serious issues to be worrying about than a virtual rape. Maybe Bungle really was a psycho or he was just playing one in the game. I also thought that an interesting point to bring up would be the comment of the one user that suggested maybe this was better than this man (Bungle) going out and committing an actual rape. I agree, doesn’t mean he’s any less sick, but I mean which one would you prefer?

"perhaps it's better to release...violent tendencies in a virtual environment rather than in real life,"

Comments (4)

Kayla Lukacs:

You make good points. I agree that there are more important things to worry about then virtual rape but if you think about the sick and preverted people on the other side of the computer in the real world they would be the type that may hang out at a playground or go watch the girl's volleyball practice after school. But if this activity is contained in the cyberworld by businessmen(who lead perfectly normal lives) after work then its just a sick way for them to get off but is okay. "Perhaps it's better to release...violent tendencies in a virtual environment rather than in real life,"--A perfect quote to sum it up.

I enjoy the debate over whether Mr Bungle's user is "sick." It is not much different then Grand Theft Auto. You are given a choice to act freely. A sandbox with no visual stimulations, only your vocabulary. Is there a separate behvaior psychologists have to research, or is Mr. Bungle a reactionist, he feels like he can control. It might be interesting to teach people that it is a false sense of control, that their power exist within a bigger program, but maybe that will just lead to more hackers...


Interesting point, Stephan! Is it an issue of sick or is it an issue of power? Even if he is sick, how would one define sick? Vulgar? Psychopathic? Suffering from one bad cold?

But I think the real issue is not why he did it, but how he did it. How could he impose psychological damage on somebody with just mere words? After all, "sticks and stones can break my bones..." right?

This is the power of media. As Dibbell noted, "Amid flurries of even the most cursorily described caresses, sighs, or penetrations, the glands do engage, and often as throbbingly as they would in a real-life assignation -- sometimes even more so, given the combined power of anonymity and textual suggestiveness to unshackle deep-seated fantasies..."

Words in themselves mean nothing; however, we place meaning into words and they have power. Like an actor caught up in his role, these sorts of interactions may be completely synthesized, but--as any good actor knows--they feel completely real.

Leslie Rodriguez:

Evan in response to your comment about it being not what but how he did it I totally agree. The issue is that he snuck up on people, took advantage of them unwillingly with words and then waited for a response, which he inevitably got in mass quantity. Attention seeker...for sure.

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