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Of Rape and NES's Ice Hockey

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I apologize for the strange headline, but if you'll bear with me you'll see it makes sense eventually.

This last week has been an interesting one if you're concerned about rape culture, particularly how it affects life in college. Forbes contributor Bill Frezza penned an (since taken down) essay detailing how the biggest threat to fraternities was how women might attend parties drunk and get everyone in trouble. To quote...

False accusation of rape months after the fact triggered by regrets over a drunken hook-up, or anger over a failed relationship. And false 911 calls accusing our members of gang rape during a party in progress.

Forbes relieved Frezza of his writing duties, but his words have made him a hero in the Men's Rights crowd on reddit. Meanwhile, on Fox's Outnumbered host Andrea Tantaros defended Frezza and said women need to take more responsibility to prevent their rapes at drunken frat parties. Again to quote...

It makes the drunk girl completely clean no matter what happens -- and again, we have to say it because some cuckoo person is going to start blogging how we are supporting women getting raped (Author's note: Happy to be of service, Andrea), which we do not support. And she is not guilty or any of those things, but the point is that the drunk woman is -- she's just not held accountable for anything. The drunk guy, however, is supposed to make all these amazingly perfect decisions, and not make any mistakes.

I was honestly going to let this one go. I didn't really feel like I had anything new to add to the conversation. These are terrible people, but I'm not allowed to turn in "these are terrible people" 200 times in a row and call it an article (I asked). However, I got into a discussion with someone on a friend's page and got the following, mind-blowing comment among many others.

When I read that I started thinking about playing Ice Hockey on the NES with my brother back when we were still little kids. I say play, but we never really played Ice Hockey. All we did was run our characters into each other in order to spark a riot on the ice. Suddenly all eight little pixel dudes would be involved in an all-out brawl until a ref would drag one off to the penalty box. The goal of our play was to see who could get their entire team locked up, leaving the other person free to score unhindered.

But have you ever thought about how weird that game mechanic is? It's not alone, either. Blades of Steel not only had a fight mechanic, it had a full-fledged fighting game that started up when things got rough on the ice. The only time I've ever seen that sort of thing was Basewars and that was about battle robots being forced to play baseball. Even Bill Laimbeer's Combat Basketball, which put landmines on the freakin' court, didn't have you actually stopping to have a fight in the middle of a game.

"But hockey has fights!" you say, but again, why? Why should we expect fights in a hockey game in the first place? It's not in the rules. No one says that fisticuffs are an acceptable form of expression in place of the penalty shot.

It's a crowd draw. That's it. Oh, there are a lot of other reasons that are put forward. Some say that it discourages other rougher forms of play, while others simply point out the long history of fighting in the sport as if that were some reason to keep doing something meant to try and win a game that should be based on personal skill and team acumen through physical intimidation and threat of violence.

All I know is that ever since I can remember whenever I play a hockey video game the tide turns when someone wins a fight, not when someone proves a better hockey player. It's so ingrained in the culture that we're never bothered about how balls out insane that is.

Maybe, if we all started booing when hockey players threw down their sticks and started punching they'd stop doing it. Maybe if players were suspended instead of getting a five-minute rest in a box they'd stop doing it. Maybe, just maybe, if a few people realized that, wow, we're totally comfortable with allowing a contest of strength, speed, and skill become an unregulated blood sport for our amusement, they'd stop doing it.

Just like maybe, just maybe, if we stopped pretending that the rape of an unconscious or incoherent woman was something that just happens rather than something that a person intentionally does to another person, it might make those things be done less. If we punished it, it might mean a fair bit fewer rapes. Fights don't "happen" in hockey any more than rapes "happen" at frat parties.

It's the strong holding down the weak with physical dominance. Pretending otherwise just means it goes on and on and on and on and on.

Jef has a new story, a tale of headless strippers and The Rolling Stones, available now in Broken Mirrors, Fractured Minds. You can also connect with him on Facebook.

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