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CAH Founder Accused of Sexual Assault

CAH founder Max Temkin accused of sexual assault, responds with post about negative effects of rape culture.

The Internet is a place populated by the ghosts of past failures and misdeeds, a graveyard of our own failings. In this realm of digital communication, we can rarely escape our own past. 

This story popped up on my Twitter earlier today -- an accusation against popular card game Cards Against Humanity, or more precisely one of it's eight founders Max Temkin that back when he attended Goucher College he sexually assaulted one of his neighbors. 

There are a variety of complications to this story. For starters, the woman/accuser has taken eight years to speak up about her assault. This isn't inherently a sign of dishonesty; The Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN) states that:

RAINN asserts that from 2000 to 2005, 59% of rapes were not reported to law enforcement. For college students, that figure was 95% in 2000.

Rape and sexual assault are not reported for a variety of different reasons, as varied as victim blaming & shame. Non-reporting is simply a symptom of a larger problem and the fact that Magz, the woman in question, didn't step forward before now doesn't speak to her falsehood. 

It is very clear, from her blog post on the Tumblr she's started (Humanity Against Sexual Assault) that she feels that she was violated many years ago by a person that she felt she could trust. She writes: 

I am not interested in pressing charges. I don’t think my attacker is a serial predator. I see my assault as an almost textbook example of a “crime of opportunity”. I have no interest in personal compensation, monetary or otherwise. I have no interest in his company or in stifling his intellectual or personal life

Temkin himself has also taken the time to write his own response to the accusation, available at his blog. In it, he espouses confusion and states that he does not feel that a sexual assault occurred. There are few specifics from Magz's side of the story, but Temkin states that they had a short college fling that resulted in awkward make-outs, no sex, and a poorly timed break up on his part. 

He makes the point though, that there is the potential for crossed signals, boundaries that a college kid didn't realize he crossed until much later on: 

It is entirely possible she read something completely different than I did into an awkward college hookup. If any part of that was traumatic for her, I am sincerely sorry, and I wish we would have had a chance to address it privately.

He credits "rape culture" for silencing an uncomfortable college girl, for letting a boy think that what he was doing was alright when it was evidently not. 

This issue is further complicated by issues surrounding Temkin and CAH, specifically issues related to their own use of rape jokes in the past. Cards Against Humanity has long been billed as a game for horrible people, but it has also profited from selling cards that make jokes about rape and sexual assault. Offenders include: Date Rape, Roofies, Surprise Sex!, and Beating Your Wives. Temkin has spoken about those cards in the past, as well as this most recent blog post: 

We removed all of the “rape” jokes from Cards Against Humanity years ago. We’ll continue to use the game as best we can to “punch up” and not “punch down.”

This is not a story that will go away. The Internet is a pervasive thing, a repository of all the forgotten secrets and failures of the past bundled comfortably so that anyone with Google access can easily uncover your dirty laundry. 

Perhaps Temkin and Magz can agree on this: sexual assault is wrong, and the culture that pushes people to not report needs to be pushed aside and forgotten. At her conclusion, Magz writes: 

I am speaking out because it helps survivors of rape and sexual assault. It helps them know that they are not alone. It helps them find their own voice. It helps us own our stories.

Published Jul. 16th 2014
  • Capt. Eliza Creststeel
    Contributor
    To his credit, Max did not simply deny the incident and the fact CAH removed some insensitive cards seems a positive sign. I love the game, as bawdy as it is, and I'm sure some might consider the move too P.C. but they probably did the best thing.

    As for college guys, sadly the campus culture does lead to such incidents. Part of it to me seems to stem from guys using sex conquest as a status symbol among other guys. But, how can anyone take advantage of a bad situation and consider it a conquest?

    I did find this interesting -

    "A draft of this statement was sent to my assailant in response to an email from him. I received no reply."

    And yet, there has been reply. His blog. And while she stated she didn't want to affect his work, he claims she was calling for a boycott of C.A.H.

    Did she approach him directly first? She wouldn't have to go to his house. As much as it angers me how some men feel entitled to affection or that sex is something that be bargained for or pleaded into, I feel conflicts like this need to be resolved amongst those involved and the justice system.

    Maybe, she felt the only way to balance the scales was to publicly attack him, damage his business and reputation - take power away from him. To me, that doesn't help you win any argument, especially considering how vague her single blog post is about this.

    I know my thoughts may sound like I've made up my mind, but I'm going to reserve judgement on this... for now.
  • Atlanta Man
    I have been falsely accused before and I know how Max must feel, nothing you say can disprove the false allegations. Her story comes up real short in my eyes waiting eight years to accuse a man of a heinous crime when she is not pressing charges and has no real legal burden of proof. A lot of people claim false accusations of rape are rare, and that she has nothing to gain. That is untrue, false accusations of not just rape but also physical and mental abuse are common, and the accuser gains sympathy and deference in her social interactions with everyone aware of her claims. She should either file a warrant with the legal authorities, file a civil suit, or keep her accusations to herself because lashing out at a man with no proof is just wrong.
  • Amanda Wallace
    Former Staff Editor
    I'm sorry for your situation. However I believe it is coloring your opinion. The statistics simply do not back you up for a couple of reasons.

    To start off with, the frequency of false rape accusations falls somewhere between 1.5-8%, making them relatively uncommon. There are people who falsely report rape, but those are by and large a small proportion of the effected.

    And secondly, as I point out in the article, the mere act of waiting 8 years is a) not peculiar for her type of offense and b) does not point to her lying. College aged women, in a study performed in 2000 (which is relatively close to the year of assumed incidence) do not report their rapes or sexual assaults in 90% of cases.

    She explains in her blog post, and I might not have done that justice here, that her decision to speak out was motivated by a desire to share her experience with others so that they know that they are safe in talking about their own rape. In a sense, Max Temkin points to his own feelings on the matter -- speaking to rape cultures pervasiveness that contributes to why people feel they cannot speak up about rape and their own boundaries. Also, after 8-10 years, it would be virtually impossible for her prove her own rape as much as it is impossible for him to prove his innocence. If she had been beaten, would she have the same requirement for silence.

    Again, I'm sorry for your experience.
  • Zachary Welter
    Featured Contributor
    For better or worse, the burden of proof falls on her. And, well, frankly, there's not much proof she can give so many years later.

    If the girl is telling the truth, then she spent 8 years keeping silent about one of the worst possible things a human being could experience, and probably suffered from its psychological consequences.

    And if she's lying... well, in fact, regardless of whether or not she's lying, Temkin is going to have his work cut out for him trying to calm down the ensuing PR storm.

    That being said, the language she used in her statements is not the language of a victim that's coming out and telling her story. It's vindictive, purposefully cruel, and details are vague at best, whereas Temkins actually comes forth with information for everyone to scrutinize. So, I'm inclined to side with Temkins on this one.

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