On Max Temkin
14 July 2014
Content warning: This post deals with the topic of sexual violence.
The gaming community is one that I’m usually proud to be a part of. It is a collection of amazing human beings, ones that I’m proud to know and call friends and colleagues.
But then there are other things like this. The gist is that eight years ago, Max Temkin—one of the guys responsible for Cards against Humanity—sexually assaulted a woman while they were both in college. She has recently come forward. His response at the link above is an exemplar of how not to respond to something like this.
Now, normally I wouldn’t get into this kind of topic here on my blog, but I’m speaking now because this is an important issue. As a man, I feel like this is something that we’ve screwed up. As a Christian, I feel like this is something we’ve gotten wrong. I don’t have the time or the patience to get into the topic of consent here, but let me go on the record that it’s vital, it’s important, and it’s something we should be discussing. I’ve got more to say about this, but you’ll have to find me in person to discuss it further.
I know some of you may be thinking, “It’s an accusation. Shouldn’t we give benefit of the doubt? Innocent until proven guilty and all that?”
No. No, we shouldn’t. We have a woman that is standing up and saying she was raped. We should give her the benefit of the doubt. If (a big if) we’re wrong, then no lasting harm is done to this man, regardless of what the media may have led you to believe. If he did, then it’s important that we’ve shown solidarity with the victim of one of the most heinous acts we as humans are capable of.
To Max Temkin I say, ”Confess and deal with the consequences of your actions.”
To the woman he harmed I say, ”I stand with you, although I do not know you and you don’t know me.”
To our community I say, ”Stop responding to these kinds of things with apathy, victim-blaming, or rationalizations. Just stop. Do the right thing.”
Modern Simulation said:
I don’t disagree that there are problems with Max’s response. If he is guilty then the right thing to do is confess.
However I think that the conversation is getting a bit muddled around questions like ‘should we give so-and-so the benefit of the doubt’. I think this problem is confusion about what we should believe, vs how we should act. I have written about that issue in light of Max/Magz here.
I’m still thinking through the implications of your post, but my initial thought is that I’m extremely uncomfortable divorcing belief and action. If a belief does not lead to action, what use is it?
Mickey Schulz said:
There is another option that Modern Simulation doesn’t seem to recognize (I could be wrong): Neither is lying.
Max may have done something that he did not, and still does not, recognize as rape, because our society as a whole sucks when it comes to actually talking about what rape is (see virginal white girl attacked by stranger with gun or knife when 75% of rapes are committed by someone the victim knows). He may, in fact, be telling the truth as he sees it.
And so is she.
Maybe he just needs to really take a good hard look at what happened lo’ so many years ago with a new filter.
What we need is further and wider acceptance of the “Yes means Yes” model of consent, where it isn’t just about the absence of “No” (because frightened and/or coerced victims frequently do not articulate that no), and look for an enthusiastic YES!
And before anyone starts talking about the myth that men can’t read nonverbal cues, this blog post references and quotes the study that disproves that myth.
Not that I think any of you would, but I’ve had that fight more often than I can count.
I could go on. But ya’ll are smart guys, you can google if you really want to look further into this.
Actually, I mentioned this on Modern Simulation’s post, but I agree with what you’re saying, Mickey.
I’ve softened my wording a little bit to say that—based on what I know—that unwanted sexual activity occurred between Mr. Temkin and Ms. Doe.
I’m comfortable with saying that unwanted sexual activity constitutes rape, but I understand stating it this way may make some uncomfortable.
I’ll definitely take the time to read your link. I’m sure it’s informative.