CAH Founder Accused of Sexual Assault
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.