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, 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.