Rape As Back Story – now on the GF wiki

Trigger warning: rape culture

As you may know, a couple of weeks ago they announced that in a forthcoming Tomb Raider game, Lara Croft would be more “vulnerable” and that part of the game would involve rescuing her from being raped. (Link roundup at the Border House blog.)

Around the same time, TVTropes recently deleted their page on “Rape As Back Story”, replacing it with a notice that said: “We do not want a page on this topic. It does not meet our content policy.” A copy of the page is still available in Google’s cache and the Wayback Machine. And, as it so happens, TVTropes pages are licensed under CC-BY-SA. So is the Geek Feminism Wiki. That license compatibility means that content can be copied from one wiki to the other, with attribution of course.

Therefore, I’ve copied the contents of the Google Cache page (presumably the most up to date) to Rape As Back Story on the Geek Feminism Wiki. At present it’s just a cut-and-paste from the rendered page, and isn’t properly marked up. We could use a hand cleaning it up. If you’ve got a few minutes to spare and are familiar with wiki editing (or don’t mind learning), please dive in!

2014 update: as you can see in the comments, after public outcry TVTropes restored the pages. We have since deleted them from the Geek Feminism wiki.

29 thoughts on “Rape As Back Story – now on the GF wiki

  1. Alan

    By the gods, TVTropes forums are poorly organized. After far more work than it should have been I found what appear to be the relevant details if anyone else cares:



    They appear to be claiming two things:

    1: The site needs to be very clean, or else they’ll lose their advertising.

    2: They want the site to be safe for children, to be family friendly.

    They’re labeling anything that runs against this as porn. As with most attempts to label porn, the result ends up pretty goofy. They went with “we’ll know it when we see it” with a side order of “if you can’t see it, you must be broken.”

    I can no longer rely on TVTropes. People doing quick and dirty internet research to show things like, “Yes, rape-as-backstory is incredibly, depressingly common” have lost a useful resource. It’s clearly their right, but unfortunate. I’m glad Geek Feminism picked that article up.

    1. d2k

      > I’m glad Geek Feminism picked that article up.

      Yes. Thank you very much for unerasing this.

  2. MCA

    They appear to have done the same with *all* the rape-related topics. They’ve just blanked it, all of it, sweeping it under the rug lest someone be offended by being confronted by the stark misogyny rampant in pop-culture and entertainment.

    Someone seriously needs to stand up to them on this.

    1. Infophile

      There really isn’t any standing up to them short of creating a new site with different rules. The site is privately owned, and so the owner (Fast Eddie) has every legal right to set his own rules and standards. He’s the one who decided on the big “We do not want a page on this topic” banner. He’s the one who decided to throw out every single trope with the word “rape” in the title (including “Mind Rape,” which uses the word as a metaphor instead of literally).

      Now… in the conversation about this, Fast Eddie did claim that the primary reason he’s banning these pages is that it’s too much work to keep them clean. Perhaps if there were a volunteer effort to do so, he would reconsider.

  3. Annalee

    It looks like they’ve removed all TV Tropes pages with ‘rape’ in the title.

    I can work on moving the other deleted pages over (they’re linked from the new GF wiki page), if folks think it’s a good idea. I think having good records of how often rape is portrayed (and the ways it’s portrayed) in popular media fits pretty well into the mission of the wiki, but I don’t want to dump a bunch of new stuff on the wiki without input from the GF bloggers.

    Without looking at the pages (because they’re going to ‘unwanted topic’ messages), I’m guessing a lot of them will need to be cleaned up to conform to the GF wiki’s standards (trigger warnings added, oppressive language edited, etc). I’m happy to work on that if folks think it’s a good idea to pick the abandoned pages up.

    1. Terri

      I don’t speak for everyone, of course, but I have to say that nearly all of those tropes are the sort of things that should be on the wiki anyhow, so it seems to me like having cleaned up copies would be a community service worth having even if tvtropes is able to put those pages back when their advertising dispute is over.

  4. Jen Pollock

    The removal appears to be related to this discussion here, which happened well after the content policy change, though it may well be a result of said change.

    It looks like they’re removing all rape-related tropes, not just this one. The closest I’ve found to an explanation, from the page I linked, is “the topic is a pain in the ass to keep clean and it endangers the wiki’s revenues.”

    It might be worth rescuing some of the other rape tropes, for similar reasons.

    1. Jen Pollock

      Sorry about repeating so much of what other people said; I’d had the page open for a while and forgot to refresh before hitting “Send”.

  5. Morven

    I’m one of the moderators at TV Tropes.

    We’ve had serious problems with people reporting our pages to Google Adsense as breaching their advertising policies. We believe the reports to be maliciously crafted in at least some of these cases, by people motivated by an dislike of our site.

    This has, over the past two years, caused our advertising revenue to be abruptly shut off twice (against Google’s claimed policy and promises by Google employees) as well as receiving notices other times along the lines of “Remove this content or your AdSense account will be suspended”.

    The removal of all rape tropes is due to Google doing this to us again, with one of the rape tropes that had just been cleaned up of anything we considered objectionable or rape-apologetic (in our coverage, not the original media, many of which treatments are, indeed, objectionable or apologetic).

    We don’t wish to shut down all coverage of rape as used as a device in fiction. We simply can’t afford to lose one of our larger sources of funding. We will revisit this question when we receive more information from Google.

    We have, however, decided that coverage of works that are pornography or that pander excessively to the tastes of pedophiles is not something we wish to do. If something’s on mainstream sale from US outlets our policy is to assume it’s neither of these things.

    I note that Wikipedia is often criticized for its fund drives; “Why don’t they just put Google AdSense on their pages and rake in a fortune?” This is the proof as to why not. Google advertising dollars come with strings attached, and one of those is having to avoid them shutting you off. Of course, they don’t want to define exactly what they won’t let you do, and their answers in practice vary wildly over time, so the chilling effects of avoiding what Google considers bad for their business are huge.
    Please don’t spider-copy TV Tropes. If you need the original wikitext from an article that’s missing because of this, or for one you’re worried we may have to cut because of these things, please ask. I’m the same username there.

    1. MadGastronomer

      Pretty sure no one in this thread has been talking about spider-copying TVTropes, but about finding articles that are already unavailable on TRTropes on the Wayback Machine or other cache and hitting copy and paste. But even if people were: A) Why shouldn’t people spider-copy off Wayback (since deleted articles are what we’re talking about anyway, not things that are currently displayed), and B) Why should we actually trust you to provide us with the pages, when your site is acting just like a lot of sites do that end up supporting rape culture, or wait for you when we can readily go and hand-copy the articles?

      I’m sure you mean well and all of that, but you have to understand that feminists and anti-rape activists run into a lot of people who insist that they mean well, but who end up saying and doing pretty awful things, and then saying that they didn’t actually do anything wrong because they meant well, no matter the actual damage. It gets pretty hard to care whether or not someone means well when what they’re saying amounts to, “No, no, don’t go and find the information yourself, trust me to give it to you when I’m ready to.”

      1. Morven

        Ah, no — please feel free to copy whatever you like from the site or any archive of it. It’s CC-By-SA anyway, so the contributors intend for it to be available to anyone.

        I didn’t express well my meaning, which was that I may be able to obtain the latest revisions of them; I’m not sure how up-to-date the archive.org copy is. This isn’t “wait for me to provide it”, but rather “I can help ensure nothing is missing”.

        I am personally enthusiastically in favor of the Geek Feminism Wiki or anyone else doing this. That we’re having trouble with continuing to host these pages at this time lends it some urgency.

    2. Danny O'Brien

      I’ve helped organizations in the past deal with this kind of thing with Google Adsense, in particular news organizations that show explicit news content. The line that we’ve been able to draw with Google in the past (and should be documented somewhere in their Adsense info) is that you’re okay as long as you don’t show Google ads on those particular pages. So rather than remove the pages, you can just stick a regex into your ad generating code that stops adsense pages appearing on that page (which is probably a good idea in general, if you think about it).

      If you like, I can dig up my contacts at Google on this topic — it’s out of my area in the job I do right now, but I think I can pass you to someone at Google or failing that a freedom-of-expression NGO who could help.

      I’m danny@spesh.com — or I guess I’ll get replies to this comment.

  6. Sophie

    It appears that the way they’ve implemented this is by filtering on titles, as a display check. *Any* page on the wiki whose title contains “Rape” (case-sensitive) followed by a non-word character such as a space will be replaced by that message, even for such pages that do not exist (which can be verified by fiddling with the URL).

    The fact that this happens even for pages that don’t exist yet seems to imply that the articles probably haven’t totally disappeared from the database, and it’s just a check made before displaying the articles. Not that this is much better, of course, but it would at least make it easy to reverse the decision.

  7. Sophie

    [I previously submitted this comment with JavaScript disabled, so it got caught by the spam check and didn’t display. If you see this in the queue, you can safely delete it from there as I’m now resubmitting with JS enabled.]

    It appears that the way they’ve implemented this is by filtering on titles, as a display check. *Any* page on the wiki whose title contains “Rape” (case-sensitive) followed by a non-word character such as a space will be replaced by that message, even for such pages that do not exist (which can be verified by fiddling with the URL).

    The fact that this happens even for pages that don’t exist yet seems to imply that the articles probably haven’t totally disappeared from the database, and it’s just a check made before displaying the articles. Not that this is much better, of course, but it would at least make it easy to reverse the decision.

  8. Maverynthia

    Honestly I wouldn’t mind a whole new feminist TVTropes honestly. Going through even the non-Rape tropes is pretty horrible with male as default unless it’s something consider “female”, the use of the word “bitch” every chance it can get and the general acceptance of misogyny towards women concerning those tropes.

  9. FastEddie

    The pages under discussion here have not been deleted. They are just not being displayed by us until we get some sort of response from Google.

    As has been said here and many, many times in discussion of the issue on the wiki, the messages conveyed by portrayals of rape in fiction need to be examined and thought about by people who take in stories and by those who tell stories. We couldn’t agree more that the steps taken add to a chilling effect for discussion of a critically important topic.

    If we can figure out how to survive and get the articles back up, we will do so immediately.

    1. FastEddie

      Due to the concern shown here and elsewhere, we’ve put the pages back. Hopefully, since we have removed all Google ads from the pages, they will let us live.

  10. Slow Eddie

    Considering TVTropes contains a decent contingent of people who don’t understand what’s wrong with lolicon anime, I’m not sure they’re really the people you want curating feminist-positive articles anyway. Forking them is probably the right answer.

    For example, there are actually people on the site who argued that Pokegirls (imagine Pokemon crossed with World of Gor) had literary value and should not be purged.

  11. Infophile

    It appears that Fast Eddie has been influenced by the sudden bad PR, and all the rape tropes are now visible again. *tips hat*

    1. Matthew Brown

      This is my personal guess, but becoming aware that people were using those pages for more than finding and getting off on rape scenes might have made a difference.

      This is not because we have received an answer from the Googleborg; it is, rather, deciding to restore them anyway even though they won’t answer us, and risking them shutting our funds off again by doing so.

  12. Sophia

    I didn’t even know that this resource existed. I’m so totally in favor of it being saved. How can people help?

    And thank you for existing, GF!

  13. fontgoddess

    I really, really hope this fork of TVTropes’ pages on Rape Tropes (and perhaps other tropes that involve women’s issues, like ScreamingBirth, for example) takes off, but also that interested contributors here also go help with the fixes over on TVTropes. I think that the creepy people who have added content that fetishizes rape and pedophilia are best dealt with by people who are not creepy adding better content which is better framed and helping to weed out the horrifying stuff.

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