Phoenix’s Response to Jick’s Apology

Note: What follows is a copy of a response to Jick’s apology posted by Phoenix to Discord that was passed to me by a member of the KoL community:

“NOTE: This document contains sexually graphic and possibly triggering content, as well as discussing sexual manipulation, general abuse and misogyny. There is a CW in the document for the sexually graphic content. Please proceed with caution.

When I first heard that some portion of your sales was going to RAINN, I thought well at least they are a domestic violence organization, at least the implication is some level of responsibility on your part, but I was mistaken.

I read the Wikipedia page, of course even in this empty, pocket-covering gesture, you chose to go with the crime someone else committed rather than your own. On a darker note, Christina Ricci is currently their spokesperson, which reminded me of the time you said she was “hot in Addams Family”, y’know, when she was 10. You said the same thing about Natalie Portman in The Professional – I didn’t see it until years after we split, but the comment was lodged in my mind with all of the other random, casually shitty things you said and did over the years, even if I didn’t clock them as shitty at the time. [to clarify: this is about how you viewed girls as little more than “future sex objects”, and more generally bought into misogynistic views of women and girls, like how you wanted kids but only “as many as it takes to get a boy”, etc. Because some folks may read this as some kind of accusation (it’s not), I am only talking about buying into a misogynist culture that sexualizes girls and infantilizes women. that’s it. a good article on how mainstream and normalized this is in our culture -> https://www.feministcurrent.com/2015/09/28/youve-heard-of-rape-culture-but-have-you-heard-of-pedophile-culture/%5D

You have said that Asym was about creating joy, as if joy is an inherent unqualified good. Certainly it created joy for you as you exploited adult teenaged women, going so far as to read their private in-game messages to gauge their sexual availability to you. Surely it created joy for you and others when you had an NPC call female players “fatty”. Historically, you have punched down in both your creative and in your personal life.

Even recently, in the article in which you completely walk back any good faith I might have gleaned from your meager twitter response, you say I never did anything more than give feedback for KoL, which is patently untrue, but fail to say anything about Randy’s contribution, lack thereof, or why CDM took his name off of the acknowledgments page. Did you feel it necessary to emphatically deny my contributions, but didn’t want to cast shade on a rapist?

You have not contacted me privately to apologize. As far as I know you still haven’t actually read my document. Jim said this when he reached out saying you didn’t want to read it but you would like to apologize for things in 2017 which he‘d brought to your attention. He reached out on your behalf because you didn’t have my email; it’s [literally my player name from the game you created]. Did you forget? Is it possible you have blocked out or forgotten other things?

You have said that you were certain you were the victim, but during the divorce I asked you what I had done wrong and how I could be a better person in the future. Some of what you wrote feels like fair criticisms, my mental health, my suicidal ideation; these are things I still struggle with and I understand how hard they can be for a partner and how you didn’t sign up for it. However, you mention these things as almost passing annoyances, your main focus? The thesis of your statement? That I didn’t do what you told me to do. That I am unreliable unless I’m doing something I actually want to do. That I should do the next guy’s laundry.

It’s been 10 years and I still can’t do my OWN laundry. My clothes stay in the dryer or a crumpled heap on the bed and I have never owned an iron. I just pay a very nice lady to fold my stuff now, and every partner I’ve had since has never demanded I do their laundry or anything else I don’t want to do.

I am grateful that doing things I don’t want to do isn’t actually the basis for a healthy life or relationships.

Here’s something I remembered only after talking to one of your exes about how when you didn’t get the kind of sex you wanted from them, you said “I can get this somewhere else, y’know”. That somewhere else was me. This triggered a memory from after I told you how Randy got me and Naamah drunk and then raped me.

[CW: SEXUAL MANIPULATION, GENERAL MISOGYNY]
….

….

….
I remember not wanting to have anal sex because it was painful and kinda gross. I had done it once with a previous partner (also abusive, though he reached out to make amends over a decade ago), but I’d only been having sex for a year and a half at this point. Despite my reluctance, my rape just weeks before, my previous relationship that you knew was sexually controlling, you kept pressuring me into it and explained you would be gentle, and we could make it not hurt, etc. Wanting to please you, I agreed to try.

You took me to what you called a head shop to buy poppers. I had never heard these terms before and this was all new to me. It was a little vial of liquid that said something like VCR head cleaner. You told me to sniff it because it would make my muscles relax. This isn’t a traumatic memory for me mostly because I can barely remember anything more than the woozy, dazed, glossy-eyed feeling I mostly associate with going to the dentist.

[END CW]

Adult me, however, looks back and feels sadness that there were so many red flags from the very start, and no one to protect or look out for me. That you had me basically huffing paint to get your rocks off after I had been willfully intoxicated and raped is not criminal, just incredibly shitty, and speaks to your inability to empathize with me even in cases where I am unequivocally the victim.

I have significantly less public power/success than you, but by the time I was 30 it was easy to see the power I had over younger people. I’ve had exactly one romantic encounter with a 19 year old since I was myself 19. One and only, because even in my 20s as a grad student, they are just too eager to please, too naive, it feels gross. I think your success enabled exploitation but was not the cause. You even admitted being cruel to V and other women in your life before KoL.

Speaking of red flags – you constantly told me I should be angry at Jezerfly for getting me so drunk at KoL con I. You used it as a way to demonize her for being reckless, even though I never had any negative feelings over it. Curiously, you never blamed Skully, even though Jez was only 20 and Skully bought the actual vodka. I had seen the photos posted on your blog – me at dinner, me curled up cozily on a couch. It wasn’t until 5 years after our divorce did I see the picture you conveniently left off of asymmetric.net, the one where I am face down and you are right there with everyone else, smiling over my body.

I wonder if I would have felt differently about you if I had seen that picture on your blog, particularly since Skully said the picture was your idea. (I have a text log, though at the time I don’t seem to know what picture he was referring to.)

I bring up these things because it highlights the subtle ways in which you reframe the truth just slightly, but in ways that always make you seem like the good, reasonable, stand-up guy compared to others:

It was wrong of Jez to get A.M. drunk, let’s burn her for it, but while we’re here might as well get a photo.

Skully is wrong and gross to host KoL hindsight, but on her 18th birthday, I’ll send A.M. a custom item that is anal beads, and read in-game messages to see if I can hook up with barely legal players.

Skully and met Jez when she was 17, but I have mostly dated 19 year olds regardless of my age (at least til 33/34), that year and one month grace period means they’re not “barely legal” and therefore it is completely ethical.

“Randy has always been a creep and dirtbag.” But I kept him in close proximity of his victim, took her to visit him, kept in contact with him for years, and less than two years ago, told the person he raped that he had some good qualities. I made a rapist feel so comfortable around me that when confronted, they offered to call and explain themselves to me rather than their victim.

I’ll share one more: We went to a therapist once. I begged you to go. I kept begging you to go. You told me you would go if I stopped texting you about it and let you work. I said okay. We got to to the therapist and you immediately told her that one of my problems is how I bothered you and wouldn’t leave you alone (okay). But then you said “I had to threaten that I wouldn’t come to this appointment unless she stopped texting me.” You said this with a soft, sympathetic, exasperated tone. As if you didn’t want to threaten it, but you were just at your wit’s end, y’know?

I bought it, I felt bad. It wasn’t until after the appointment that I realized you had just…made that up.

Me pestering you until you agreed to a therapy session got reframed into you…having to threaten me with no therapy to get me to stop pestering you about agreeing to therapy? It’s hard to even put that into a coherent sentence. This is what you do, you frame things to your advantage based on the audience. You lie. You do it so subtly, consistently, and with such confidence that it used to make me feel crazy.

Like how you said my name was added to the acknowledgments per my request…I mean I guess if me finding out you kept the Black Forest in unchanged for 5 years after telling me you were taking it out, and thus being absolutely livid about my lack of credit or a work reference/theft of my labor is a “request”. If CDM being decent, going through logs and taking it upon himself to add my name because “just looking at logs, Phoenix has contributed more than half the people on that list” is your definition of a “request” then…okay go off I guess.

Or how about the time we were in the car, you me and Kevin – I think we were driving in Austin but definitely on the road out of town. We were talking about Spookyraven and I said “Oh! The entrance HAS to be a book you click on a shelf! Is there a way to do that?” Kevin said “image maps!” We were all excited, it was going to be a great zone.

Later when the content was implemented and folks took awhile to figure out this new mechanic, you would give Kevin sole credit for a great idea. I told you way back then “hey, that was my idea” but you didn’t remember it that way even when I walked you through it. You just chuckled dismissively and said, “well I guess Kevin said the image maps”.

Pulling a book off a shelf isn’t even some remarkably unique idea. It’s a trope. But that you couldn’t even register this contribution, and have vehemently denied my work just goes back to how you continue to abuse, gaslight, reframe, deflect, and disregard.

It’s about power and control. Even in 2017 you told me I had to stop straightening my hair (because you always liked it curly). The hair on my head that has nothing to do with you and hasn’t for a decade (well, 8 years then). You have more opinions about your ex-wife’s hair than you do about the rapist company you kept.

None of your latest statement feels in good faith. You couldn’t even consult me in what charities I might want to support. (I do like the idea that folks get Mr. As with proof of direct donation to charity, though this has nothing to do with you personally making things right for your victims, which you have not attempted.)

Look, I’m not a psychologist. I can’t diagnose you. I can only say that your behavior then and now seems consistent with narcissism. You did terrible things and “feel bad” but what is it you feel bad about? Letting down folks who held you in esteem but do not know you? Or the harm you have directly caused and enabled? Maybe you are truly vexed by feelings of shame and guilt, if so I think you should forgive yourself. I don’t think we can really have compassion for others until we have it for ourselves, but you can’t forgive yourself for things you don’t admit to. I can’t forgive you for things you won’t admit to.

We could have done all of this privately if you had ever reached out. In 2017 you admitted to me how you were only “medium-woke”, how you couldn’t believe all that you got away with. I told you I never said anything against you. You told me I compared you to Dov Charney (my profile page in-game), I’d forgotten and said you could take it down, you waved it off and joked how legally you couldn’t (divorce terms preserved my game account and statuses – speaking of which I’m still supposed to be a forum mod).

Now I have spoken against you. Staying silent did nothing but perpetuate harm. Staying silent allowed a rapist to get off scot-free. When I confronted Randy in 2015 do you know how he shut me down? By implying that you, my most powerful ally against him, had characterized me as crazy.

You said that you got modestly better by being around better people. I get that. I also asked why you were telling me all this, even telling me some of your failings when I am your ex-wife and we were in a public space with those “better people” you spoke of. You said “because you know me.”

Those are your words. Maybe you were just humoring me and making conversation. I think I might know you, and of everything, I truly believe you are ashamed. Maybe too ashamed to look at yourself, but that doesn’t help any of us.

I hope you look into narcissism. I hope you consider how being a “functional alcoholic” (your words) maybe isn‘t helpful to getting better. I don’t know, I’m not a doctor. I do hope the public airing, pressure, hit to income (if there is one) ultimately results in your transformation for the better, and that it manifests in positive action and making amends.

Again, we could have even done this part privately if you had at any point responded privately to my allegations. Maybe I wouldn’t have even remembered a bunch more awful stuff if I wasn’t constantly being triggered by denials and now, consequently, fucking gaters. Maybe public pressure is the only thing you’ll respond to, it certainly seems that way.

*i’ve been writing since 4 am bc nightmares fuck up my sleep lately and I’m on a phone so typos be damned [has been edited from OG post stuck in mod limbo]”

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