So yesterday I made a post about Geek Chic Cosmetics and the name of one of their lip items. I had tweeted to the company and emailed them and was initially feeling very good about the rapid response time.
And then I woke up this morning to the post on their blog called “Making Everyone Happy or How To Get Tagged ‘Rape Culture’ Without Even Trying” You can read that post here.
Highlights, aside from the snarky title (hey, you DID put a rape reference in one of your product names, if that isn’t rape culture I don’t know what is.) are below:
“We have been challenged on our products truly being Vegan, what grade glitter is harmful, not having foundation tones to match all skin tones, and wanting double secret probation proof that our products are gluten-free.
We could go on. In every case, we have considered the concern and the effect, responded with great thought and care, made changes to our products if we felt it was warranted, and ALL the above cases, we never heard back. As time goes on, it seems more and more like we are spending time handling these issues professionally when the people complaining aren’t and never will be customers of ours, no matter how we change or respond.
So why bother? It’s easy: sometimes it takes a “crusader” to call something out that other people are afraid or unwilling to mention. We would be remiss in our goal to “please as many people as possible, as often as possible” if we didn’t consider that more than this one person and their friends might feel this way. In the end, we will continue to be responsive to the concerns of our community, period. All we ask is that you speak up.
Today, we got a disappointweet™ from a visitor with a blog called “renegade femcatalyst”. Her post decried the name of our lip gloss, “Tentacle Grape”, as a turn off because rape jokes aren’t funny, an assertion we support. The name of our business was tagged along with “rape culture”.
So what hits me right away is the massive amount of scare quotes - “crusader” “renegade femcatalyst” (as if it’s some Scary Feminist Name rather than you know, a fucking Mass Effect reference) and then of course, scare quotes around rape culture, as if it’s not a real thing.
The post continues:
“The name of the gloss is a parody of the time-honored Japanese tradition dating back to 1814 of depicting fictional women in various stages of fictional carnal knowledge with fictional cephalopods in fictional art, and we explain that transparently on the item page. The item is over two years old, and this was the very first complaint.
Initially, it seemed ridiculous and “wet blanket”-y. We didn’t invent hentai. It’s a parody. We did extensive research and failed to find any legitimate cases of real-world tentacle rape. No schoolgirls were being victimized. It’s a play on words. Tentacle rape in hentai is to “real rape” as Bugs Bunny getting shot by Elmer Fudd is real animal cruelty. The term “… doesn’t promote an act of violence – it mainstreams a phrase that already exists in a popular adult subculture.” - via cosplaydeviants”
And now we’re getting more defensive - it’s historical, a cultural part of Japan, we didn’t invent it, etc. All of which are weak defenses at best. My complaint is apparently “ridiculous” and “wet blanket-y” even though from my conversation with them on twitter it seemed like they respected and understood my position - I guess that wasn’t true. This is just more “Those Humorless Feminists, Trying To Take Everyone’s Jokes Away :(” Damn right I’ll be a wet blanket all over your rape joke.
And the statement that boils down to “tentacle rape isn’t real rape because it’s animated” absolutely enrages me because this is what normalizes rape. This right here. Treating rape like a joke, saying it’s not real because it’s just a cartoon, just a movie, just a book. If that were the only place rape existed, that would be one thing. But it isn’t. Rape jokes tell rapists that rape is okay, that it’s funny, that everyone else does it. Rapists actually believe all men rape and things like this contribute to why they believe it. And wow, I guess if a person on cosplaydeviants says tentacle rape in hentai doesn’t promote violence, I’ll just take them at their word. That is the most out of the blue/ridiculously pointless “defense” of tentacle rape in hentai to throw out there.
They then proceed to call out a person who tweeted them angrily about the name, reminding people that they want to communicate in a professional and civil manner. I totally support that point of view and encourage it. However, I also understand the fact that when dealing with rape culture, people aren’t going to always approach it that way, because hey, this is a topic that inspires a lot of emotions, as it rightfully should.
The post then concludes with “we’re taking this to the masses for you to vote on,” something I do NOT agree with, considering that the poll has only been open for a short time and has already been overwhelmed with votes to not change the product, as well as comments declaring feminists “too sensitive” (you’re shocked, right?). The link to the poll is a picture of presumably the people that run the company, all frowning and holding a sign saying they don’t condone rape. First off, nobody even said you did, so why the sudden defensiveness, and second of all, you ARE condoning rape culture with the product name. Period. That can’t be denied, unfortunately.
In conclusion, if you’d like to vote in the poll, the link is here.
The post was then edited to add two things:
“Edit: An important note: this isn’t a “majority wins” vote. After voting ends, and we’ve read all the comments, if we feel that the name of this item is causing us to lose too much business (based on our own determination) we will change it. Just because the offended may be a minority doesn’t make their opinion less valid.”
So if you feel strongly and have the time, I would encourage you to leave a comment about why this name should be changed.
Finally, like we have to say it, the assertion that we condone rape or belong to the “rape culture” is absolutely untrue. We can’t address an issue that you don’t voice. Geek Chic Cosmetics is not a faceless, nameless, corporate entity. It’s a small business run by those three very human beings above. To reiterate our open door policy, email us first, give us a day before you unleash the hounds on us. We’re here for you.”
And again, having a product name with a rape joke is exactly what rape culture is.
Please reblog and signal boost this post to get the word about the vote out. Thanks.
Thank you for your post on the topic. The brevity, fairness, and frankly respect exhibited in this post is more than I can say has been done to you and everyone else objecting to the matter.