This is a blog post that’s incredibly confusing and painful for me to write.
Yesterday morning, Josh forwarded me a tweet that said:
TIL: Max Temkin, co-creator of Cards Against Humanity, raped a friend of my friend while attending Goucher College. I don’t support CAH.
We assumed this was someone making a tasteless joke, and I replied to tell him that it wasn’t funny. But after some more digging, I found a Facebook post from a girl I knew in college accusing me of sexually assaulting her, and urging people to boycott Cards Against Humanity.
This is totally, patently false. I have never sexually assaulted anyone, or previously been accused of any kind of assault.
I had a really brief relationship with this girl in college; her dorm room was next to mine, and after a few evenings staying up talking all night, we made out. We spent a few nights in each others’ rooms, but we never had sex and neither of us pressured the other into doing anything we weren’t comfortable with. After a few nights, I broke things off in the cowardly way that 19-year-old guys do, and I just stopped returning her calls and texts. I can imagine she was hurt by this, I know that I would be hurt if someone broke up with me that way.
I haven’t spoken to this girl in nearly ten years. If she felt I did something wrong in our relationship that she never confronted me about it or brought the issue to the school.
But yesterday, as near as I can tell, she saw a newspaper article about me in the Baltimore Sun, and made a Facebook post attacking me and Cards Against Humanity:
Several people that I went to school with have posted a Baltimore Sun article from 2012 about the success of Cards Against Humanity, a popular indie party game created by a Goucher alum.
That is my rapist.
Having his face pop up on my news feed unexpectedly in any context has the capacity to ruin my day. Seeing him praised in the press is giving me a panic attack.
He should not be held as a good example of the excellence that Goucher grads have, can and will continue to achieve.
Her more recent posts have called for a boycott of my work, and she (or her friends) started a Twitter account to tweet at celebrities and organizations that I work with calling me a rapist.
Part of rape culture that hurts everyone is that it makes it difficult to talk about what is and is not consent, and makes it incredibly scary for people to speak up when their boundaries are crossed. 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. I’ve sent her an email and a Facebook message and given her my contact information, but so far I haven’t heard back (but she did edit her post to remove my name).
I spoke with my lawyer, and she thinks I have a clear case to sue this woman for libel and get a restraining order, but I have no desire to bully or harm her. Additionally, I’m not wild about the precedent that sets for other women to come forward in cases of actual sexual assault.
I have made a career on the incredible power of social media, and the radical new ability that we all have to say whatever we want to a mass audience. Today I can’t help but feel hurt by those same tools that I love.
There is no evidence for this story. I will never have a chance to defend myself. The structure of the modern internet is such that these things never reach resolution and never go away. This is just baseless gossip that will now haunt me for the rest of my life.
Here’s what’s going to happen moving forward:
- I will continue to be a feminist and an advocate for women’s rights to the best of my capacity. Cards Against Humanity will continue to hire amazing, talented women.
- 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.”
- You will not harass or threaten the woman making these claims. I am not looking for a mob of people carrying pitchforks on my behalf. If you harass her or go after her in any way, you are not a friend of mine, and you are not a friend of Cards Against Humanity.
- I am probably going to take a brief internet break; the last few days have sucked. If you see me this weekend at GaymerX, I could use a hug.
(I could not make this shit up)
My apartment has windows facing the street, meaning I can hear pretty much everything that happens on the sidewalk beneath them. And this morning, just as my side of the street was getting the cars cleared for street cleaning, I heard some dude outside go, “C’mon, I just want your number, is that so much to ask? You’re so pretty, you know?”
Well, in light of recent conversations, I was like RED ALERT, and bustled my nosy butt outside to see what was up. Sure enough, a guy in his mid-to-late thirties had stopped his car, gotten out, and was now following a girl down the street. And when I say a girl, I mean a teenager.
Now, I’m brave and stuff, but this guy had shown himself willing to go so far outside the socially acceptable boundaries of behavior that I was pretty sure if I called him on this he wouldn’t take it well, and I was weighing my options when, like an angel of mercy and goodness, a parking enforcement officer came rolling up and she got out. First she saw me and was like, “Is this your car?”
And I was like, “It belongs to that guy down the street hassling that girl.”
And bless this woman’s heart, she gave this great eyebrow and was like, “EXCUSE ME SIR, UNLESS YOU WANT A $75 TICKET I SUGGEST YOU MOVE.”
I will give him credit for balls of steel, because he actually said, “Hold on one minute, I’m talking to my friend,” which, NOPE.
Fortunately the officer is like, “Sure, I’ll wait a minute, and in the meantime I’ll be writing you this ticket.”
So the dude goes grumbling back to his car, and of course he can’t park it anywhere nearby, so he drives off. In the meantime, I ask the girl if she wants to come inside for a minute to make sure the dude left, which she did, and sure enough DUDE CIRCLED AROUND THE BLOCK LOOKING FOR HER (I watched him while the girl was inside getting acquainted with my dog) before taking off. The girl is 18, she didn’t know the guy, and the whole time I was driving her to her brother’s house she kept trying to figure out what she’d done wrong.
Not all men harass women. But all women - and girls - are harassed by men.