Gender and Online Identity: The Toading of Mr. Bungle

The main concept I was left with after reading the entire article of ‘A Rape in Cyber Space’ was that although ‘virtual rape’ does not sound like a serious issue to someone who doesn’t have experience playing in a virtual world, I’ve learned that it most certainly is.

What happened in this article that shocked me the most was in a seemingly innocent, friendly online virtual reality program, a ‘virtual rape’ took place. Out of no provocation, a user named Mr. Bungle assaulted several users who then formed a type of society that wanted to ‘toad’, or have Mr. Bungles player removed. Eventually, the player was removed (despite coming back again) but the sad truth remained: the real life users were left to live with what they’d experienced.

This article went in depth about how the characters (legba and starsinger) had reacted after being virtually raped. In an online forum connected to the virtual reality, legba posted that she was enraged after what happened to her. She said how she wanted Mr. Bungle’s player “castrated” and how she wanted his “sorry ass scattered from #17 to the Cinder Pile”.Although she did not come right out and announce in this post how traumatized she was, her harsh words express it. She also had an interview with the writer of this article months later, that straight out said “as she wrote those words posttraumatic tears were streaming down her face.”And if that doesn’t explain how strongly she felt after this horrible experience, her relentless petitioning and rallying for Mr. Bungle to be removed from the virtual world says it all.

The fact is that virtual reality rape is a serious matter that truly affects people. Legba’s character was actually psychologically traumatized after this experience because although her physical body did not experience it, her mind did. But the sad truth is that as much of a monstrosity virtual rape might be, there is little to be done about it. Mr. Bungle’s character was ‘toaded’, or removed from the community, but what stopped him from coming back as a new character? Nothing.

This leads to the sad truth that I’ve learned from this article: as morally right as it may be to have an individual banned from a website due to using their freedom of speech inappropriately, this is nearly impossible due to the anonymity of the world wide web.



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