[WoW] Rescuing Mina Mudclaw from a rape joke

I’ve been slowly wandering through the new World of Warcraft expansion, Mists of Pandaria.  Cultural appropriation aside, I’ve been quite enjoying myself.  The pace is nice and relaxed, the quests have been charming, the world is beautifully designed with bright colors and attention to detail.  However, I ran into a quest line in Valley of Four Winds that felt just a little too problematic to completely ignore.

In The Farmer’s Daughter, Den Mudclaw (a Pandaren farmer) asks you to sneak down into a virmen hole to rescue his daughter.  Naturally.  Virmen are these creepy rat-mouse looking critters that are obsessed with carrots and stealing things from farms around the Valley of the Four Winds.  Yes, it’s a damsel in distress again.  The farmer’s daughter character stereotype is problematic in itself, being that it references a naive yet promiscuous young women who is always the object of sexual attention to provide the hero with a always willing yet “girl next door” romantic love interest.

However, it gets worse.  When you finally get past all of the virmin in this hidey-hole and find Mina Mudclaw, she is standing up on a raised area of the cave surrounded by these creepy rat people.  Who have been forcefully making her do “horrible, horrible, silly things” with carrots.

A screenshot of the quest journal in WoW. Quest name: “Seeing Orange”. Text: “Those virmen….they make me do horrible, horrible, silly things. All involving carrots. I couldn’t tell you how many carrots they threw at me. Let’s not waste anymore time, Get me out of here!”

You could see this through a pretty innocent lens, since she also mentions that they keep throwing carrots at her.  It’s not an ultra blatant rape-joke, but it’s quite clear what the innuendo was supposed to be here.  You are seeking out the naive farmer’s daughter, the object of all sexual affections, who happens to be captured by a group of rabbitpeople who are making her do horrible things with carrots.  It doesn’t involve much imagination to figure out what Blizzard was trying to hint at here.  And I’m not the only one who caught on.

The top most-upvoted comment on the quest on WoWhead.com. A player says “Horrible, horrible silly things involving carrots. My imagination is running a mile a minute.” Another player replies “Dirty Blizz, very dirty”. A third player says “I just completed this quest and came here to check the comments!”

I was hoping Blizzard had learned from previous critical analysis of problematic quests within World of Warcraft.  It’s not a game that generally features strong female character design, so I don’t look to it as the shining example of how things should be done.  But it definitely took me out of my zenlike experience in Pandaria when I stumbled across this quest.

About Tami Baribeau

Lead Editor and co-founder of The Border House, feminist, gamer, lover of social media, technology, and virtual worlds. Pansexual, equestrian, dog lover, social game studio director and producer. Email me here and follow me on Twitter!
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29 Responses to [WoW] Rescuing Mina Mudclaw from a rape joke

  1. Wait until you start doing Halfhill dailies. One of the vendors you collect debts from for Gina Mudclaw specifically says he will work out “something” with that “pretty little pandaren” and remarks about favors.

    GROSS.

  2. Gunthera1 says:

    I have not gotten that far in the expansion so I have no seen that quest yet myself, but it is very disturbing from your description. I don’t find it funny, I just find it creepy.

    But, thank you for linking that wonderful article about cultural appropriation in the new expansion. It was a great read and an important one as well.

    One of the things that has been really bothering me about the expansion is the number of Pandaren characters I see with racist names. I have been reporting them, but I tend to see one at least once every few days.

    Overall, I have been enjoying my time in the expansion but there are several things about it that make me uneasy.

  3. Nezumi says:

    Blargh… and here I was so far impressed with the expansion. It’s not perfect, but I’ve seen far, far worse and it makes some steps in the right direction. (You don’t generally see even socially-acceptable “fat” girls in games — either they’re idealized super-thin things, or monstrous blobs like Queen Brahne or God of War’s Clotho) Also, despite the cultural appropriation issues, at least in the starting area for Pandaren it does make some effort to remain consistently a Chinese-influenced fantasy, rather than “Generic Asian culture because Asia is awesome and doesn’t really have different countries or cultures.”

    Then I hear about creepy rape references and indications that apparently after that starting area they say “screw it” and make another generic hyper-appropriative mish-mash a la Dungeons and Dragon’s Oriental Adventures or Lo5R’s Rokugan.

  4. Nezumi says:

    Although, whatever Blizzard’s merits or faults in their handling of this, if I see another Pandaren PC with a racist dick joke for a name, I will eat the sun.

    • Gunthera1 says:

      Report them, report them, report them! It is all we can do :-(

      Luckily, Blizzard has made it very easy for us to report players based on their names.

  5. Pai says:

    Screw ‘rape jokes’… in WotLK the entire reason you’re sent to kill Keristrasza in the Nexus is because Malygos kidnapped her and is magically brainwashing her to become his ‘new consort’, and that’s painted as a fate worse than death so HEAD OUT OUT THERE AND MURDER HER FOR HER OWN GOOD.

    There was a lot of moral WTF-ery in WotLK, and Blizzard has never acknowledged any of it. Most people probably didn’t even bother to read the quest text, either.

      • Nezumi says:

        I am questioning why they even needed to include this element, and although I’d have a hard time arguing that death isn’t preferable to being turned into a glorified sex toy against my will, shouldn’t that be her decision while she’s still capable of making it, rather than imposed on her from outside?

        This is even more inexplicable when contrasted with the similar issue of Moira in Blackrock Depths, where you’re sent in to “rescue” a “brainwashed” “damsel in distress.” Even at the time, it was heavily implied that this whole story was a fabrication by a father unwilling to admit that his daughter had fallen in love with one of his most hated enemies… and when that plotline was advanced in Cataclysm, it turns out that, yup, you straight up murdered a guy and kidnapped his wife for no good reason because you were too quick to buy into a convenient fairy-tale narrative.

        • Cuppycake says:

          Oh yes, Moira. We had a great crosspost here from Pewter about her:

          http://borderhouseblog.com/?p=3454

          • Nezumi says:

            That post (though I didn’t remember it was from here) was where I got much of my information on Moira — despite attempts, I never really played WoW extensively before the current expansion. Apparently, I misremembered a few details and had forgotten about how her initial strength and subversive role was undermined later, but… yeah.

            Still a rather harsh contrast to killing a “damsel-in-distress” character so she can’t be brainwashed without her having any say in it and without even the slightest indication that this is remotely morally ambiguous.

            • Pai says:

              Especially since the quest giver who sends you to ‘spare her the indignity’ is a male red dragon, which set off all kinds of patriarchal alarm bells in my head.

              It’s like, how thoughtful of you to be so concerned with a female dragon’s dignity that your first response to her being kidnapped with the goal of being forced to become Malygos’ mate is to send people out to kill her so she won’t be ‘degraded’ in such a way so that you can rest easy. In the text he doesn’t even know if anything’s happened yet, just that it probably will ‘eventually’.

              What a pal.

      • Ms. Sunlight says:

        You’re fucking kidding me? They send you to commit an honour killing? Yet another reason to not buy Blizzard’s crap.

        • Cluisanna says:

          Well, she *does* attack you on her own, so she was already “corrupted”.

          • Eraziel says:

            well, I’d not say that red dragons are patriarchal. Their whole culture resolves around (giving and preserving) life and honoring their Queen, Alexstrasza.
            While I do find the Quest for killing Keris problematic in the way it is presented (focusing on sexuality), the act itself is not as morally questionable as it might seem.

            First, dragons are not prone to mortal morals. They mate with whomever they find willing and appropriate. The dragon queen herself has had many consorts in the past, so purity should not be an issue at all.
            Second, dragons can be “easily” corrupted and bend against their own will, doing things they would have preferred to rather die than do had they remained sane. Such has happened with Vaelastrasz and many times with youngling dragons Nefarian and Deathwing experimented upon.

            So, had the Keristrasza quest focused on her own will and the duty of her flight to prevent an insane, immensely strong corrupted Red from being unleashed to Azeroth, it would not have mattered that much that the also-insane Malygos wanted a substitute for the mate Keris and the player just killed previously.

            However, I know that Blizz repeats the same mistakes with female characters over and over again expansion after expansion. Very little important women again and we got one “mammal humanoid race” that actually shows more than one gender…. sad…

  6. Kimiko says:

    Gee, the quest’s title doesn’t even refer to Mudclaw by name. She’s not herself, or “a farmer”, but instead just the daughter of a farmer. Way to unpersonize her.

  7. Jeremy says:

    It gets worse later on in The Valley of the Four Winds.

    Spoilers
    Trigger warning: pedophilia, child abuse

    Later on in the zone, you enter the Stormstout Brewery (separately from the instance located there) and help characters defeat mini-bosses.

    Li-Li (Chen Stormstout’s child niece) is chased by Jooga, a giant hozen, who makes comments like “Ooh, pretty Pandaren girl!” and “I just want to feed you my banana!” Li-Li responds with “Eww, gross!” The player must kick barrels at Jooga to stun him so that they can catch up to do damage.

    Also, apparently a different hozen boss in the Stormstout Brewery instance tells the players that he is going to “Ook you in the dooker!” “Ook” is used in other contexts roughly as a substitute for “fuck”, and “dook” as a plain substitute for “poop”, making the meaning of the combined phrase rather clear.

  8. Dani A. says:

    Yeah, this quest made me REALLY uncomfortable. And it was frustrating that it was JUST VAGUE ENOUGH that someone could claim -I- was the creepy and dirty-minded one for reading it that way. “We didn’t say WHAT horrible things were done with carrots! Why would that be the first place your mind goes? Pervert! *smug smirk*”

    And then I got creeped out AGAIN when a villain mob went all pedocreep on Li Li. LI LI. She is freaking, what, ten years old? Twelve? Just… guh.

    YES they were villains. YES they were supposed to be bad monster mobs. YES we got to kill them. I do not care. It is horrible and traumatic for someone to go through that, I don’t want to deal with it in an escapist fantasy, and it was played as a GODDAMN JOKE. BOTH TIMES. HAHA. LOOK AT THE FUNNY ANTHRO ANIMAL SEXUAL PREDATORS.

    I’ve been really enjoying this expansion for the most part, so these little things were just…. jarring. And saddening.

  9. menunu says:

    I’m just not sold that it is sexual. She says “horrible, silly” things with carrots. I obviously don’t think that rape is silly, and I just don’t think that they meant for this to be sexual at all. I didn’t see it as sexual when I first read it (granted, I hardly read the quest-lines because the story doesn’t captivate me and the game doesn’t begin until I’m level capped). I think am naive, but I just don’t see it. It could be argued that they chose “carrots” out of all of the vegetables not for their phallic shape, but because rabbits really like carrots.

    I find “Ook you in the dooker” to be way more offensive and strange.

    By the way, this is coming from someone who always reports offensive names and language. I’m also an officer in a guild who added an article to our “constitution” about our no tolerance policy for people who use the word rape, and I know that I have changed a lot of our members’ viewpoints about it. I am very sensitive to these issues. I see this quest as a ridiculous way to “save someone” and get more XP. There are also stories where you save men in this expansion, as well as children (and baby serpents who are oh-so-cute.)

    • KA101 says:

      To me, “horrible” trumps “silly”, and pushes for the carroty things being something Not Nice.

      Come to think of it, though, it does seem like her easing back on their initial report, as though she doesn’t really believe it…IIRC self-doubt isn’t uncommon among rape victims. So, inclined to believe that whatever was being done, it wasn’t something bilzzard felt they could write out.

      (Which is another problem. They could have had her complain about being forced to wash & peel carrots, building something using carrots, or otherwise doing something genuinely silly. Instead, it’s conveniently left vague. Basic principle in my line/work is that vagueness is construed against whoever wrote the vague thing.)

      • menunu says:

        Fair enough. I see your point. It shouldn’t be vague. I wish they had just said she had to wash and peel the carrots.

  10. melponeme_k says:

    This is one of the reasons why I don’t play WOW anymore.

    I got sick of the female characters being treated as sexist jokes or weaklings or sirens. And this gives the trolls in the game permission to make the chat channels horrific.

    Done with all that. I’ve discovered I can live without seeing Pandaria.

    • Korva says:

      I hear you. I was beyond sick and tired of the way they treat their female characters, especially in “lore” developments and retcons. While I do miss my old guild (though most have quit now, and for similar reasons as I did) and I also miss the gameplay of tanking and teamwork, there’s no way I’m going back. Ever. All I need to remind myself of why Blizzard will never get a cent of my money again is to think of Tyrande or Jaina. And now this, too.

  11. Nezumi says:

    This may just be me being silly and naive, but might I suggest direct complaints to Blizzard about the issues brought up in the article and comments? It may not change anything, but it will at least let them know that players think these things are inappropriate.

  12. Pingback: Sexism and Rape Culture in Pandaria | Apple Cider Mage

  13. Kylie Byron says:

    If you go back to Den Mudclaw at the end of the Farmer’s Daughter quest, he makes a remark on the order of not understanding why Mina still has so much difficulty with carrots. Pretty much a PTSD acknowledgment on the face of it; Blizz couldn’t have done this accidentally.

  14. Zeph says:

    Thank you for addressing this. I, too, was disturbed by this quest and the one involving Li Li in the brewery. I knew I wasn’t the only one who felt deeply uncomfortable about it. The problem, as Dani A. mentioned, is that both times it is treated as a joke, not as any type of moral lesson or to show how evil a character is. Rape, sexual abuse and pedophilia are never funny. I find myself in a constant state of disappointment over the treatment of so many of WoW’s female characters and representations (or lack thereof, such is the case in many of the npc races).

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