Art can show us new perspectives and values without providing direct instructions. Simple example: in most Hollywood movies, before a good guy shoots a bad guy, he first trembles like a jackass for about an hour, and then the bad guy makes a sudden attack, and then the good guy has no choice but to shoot. Now the lesson that we, the audience, take away from that is not, "Before you shoot a bad guy, tremble like a pussy for two hours." The vast majority of us will never be pointing a gun at anyone, and those of us that do will probably not be pointing it at some criminal mastermind.
No. The lesson that we, the audience, take away from that is a bit more nebulous, but no less powerful. We learn that "good guys" do not act with cold-blooded ruthlessness. Us "good guys" don't act with godlike decisiveness. In order to be good, we have to be weak, indecisive, docile, meek, etc.
On the other hand, take the critically acclaimed series Firefly. In the opening episode, a government representative is pointing a gun at one of the crew. The protagonist, Malcolm Reynolds, strides in and shoots the federal agent without a split second of hesitation. He doesn't even slow down. Now the lesson there is not, "If an agent of a repressive government is pointing a gun at one of your people, then you should shoot him without hesitating." The lesson is closer to, "To be free of a repressive government, we must be tougher and more ruthless than they are. We cannot hesitate. We cannot tremble. We must attack coldly and ruthlessly." Again, this has nothing to do with guns, and everything to do with perspective.
And these aren't just perspectives influence the way we approach the world. What type of person is going to question cultural values and reject mindless obedience to cultures, religions, and governments? Will it be the type of person who believes that good guys tremble and hesitate and act like pussies for an hour before some external event forces action? Or will it be the type of person believes that good guys defy authority with ruthless force and no hesitation?
Just as Firefly's lessons have nothing to do with guns and federal agents, Stockholm's lessons are not really about rape and kidnapping. This may come as a surprise to some of you (who have never actually seen Stockholm, but love to comment about it anyway), but I am not actually a proponent of rape. I dislike rape. I hate rape. I am, as it turns out, very strongly opposed to rape. Same thing goes for kidnapping. To draw a parallel, Joss Whedon, the creator of Firefly, probably does not want people to start shooting federal agents.
But there is something else that I am not a fan of. And that is the current, official, feminist-endorsed, Hollywood-promoted perspective on what love is. Roughly, this love:
1. Is always monogamist
2. Is never possessive
3. Is doting, not dominant
See, I don't agree that that is the only definition of love, and I really don't like the kind of perspective it creates. Because a man who manages to believe in that version of love often undergoes an abnegation of a key part of his spirit. It's hard to describe exactly, but here is a way to look at it: A lion has something a housecat doesn't. Even though a housecat is a bit safer to be around, there is something about a lion that inspires us. The above version of love often essentially domesticates a man, turning him from a "lion" into a "housecat". And that housecat will approach other parts of life as a housecat.
The point of Stockholm has nothing to do with kidnapping, and everything to do with attacking that domesticating version of love. Most women already know that the above is not the only kind of love. Hundreds of romance novels, popular with women, portray a kind of love that is a lot more like Stockholm and a lot less like the above. But, for whatever reason, some of them don't want men to know about that perspective. Maybe that's why they love to protest Stockholm, which, as a video game, attracts a male audience, and say nothing against the hundreds of similar romance novels with a primarily female audience.
Stockholm, on the surface, portrays kidnapping. But, more importantly, it shows a version of love that is just as emotionally powerful as the current official version, if not more so. Stockholm is not dangerous because it shows a crime. Many video games show far worse crimes than kidnapping. Stockholm is dangerous because it shows the truth about a powerful emotion. It is a first step in illustrating that there are versions of love that do not involve castrating the mind, or domesticating the male spirit. Many of those who have won Stockholm have realized that this type of undomesticated, uncastrated love can exist without kidnapping or rape. Kidnapping and rape might help illustrate it in a simulation, but they are certainly not prerequisites.
The actual situation shown in Stockholm, much like the situations in movies described at the beginning of this post, is pretty unlikely. Most of us will never have a gun pointed at an evil criminal mastermind, and most of us will never be in a situation in which we have a captive and a poison gas set up and a bunch of other hidden options that we discover along the way. But we will be confronted with situations in which we are told that there is only one type of love, the kind where you turn from a lion into a housecat. Those of us who have won Stockholm will know that there are other options.