Author Topic: EP237: Roadside Rescue  (Read 26466 times)

Swamp

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on: February 07, 2010, 11:07:33 PM
EP237: Roadside Rescue

By Pat Cadigan.
Read by Stephen Eley.

First appeared in Omni, July 1985.

“That’s a long time to wait.” The navigator’s smile widened. He was very attractive, holo-star kind of handsome. People who work for aliens, Etan thought. “Perhaps you’d care to wait in my employer’s transport. For that matter, I can probably repair your vehicle, which will save you time and money. Roadside rescue fees are exorbitant.”

“That’s very kind,” Etan said, “but I have called, and I don’t want to impose—“

“It was my employer’s idea to stop, sir. I agreed, of course. My employer is quite fond of people. In fact, my employer loves people. And I’m sure you would be rewarded in some way.”


Rated R. Contains profanity and mature (if alien) themes.


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tinroof

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Reply #1 on: February 08, 2010, 06:04:12 PM
I was a little disappointed by this, if only because I expected the initial conversation to be about how gender and sex really are different. But then it turned out they were only talking about the verb.

It was an interesting idea, overall, but it just fell a bit flat for me, especially since, after the warning, I figured out what was up pretty quickly after the alien showed up.



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Reply #2 on: February 08, 2010, 11:49:30 PM
Clicker artifacts at 8:30 and 14:20.

Anyway, I smiled widely after about ten seconds; I actually read this story years ago, and recognized it immediately.  (For some reason, titles never stick in my head, but openings do.)  I just had some thoughts regarding the ending comments:

Funny or disturbing?  Yes, both.

Can you be violated sexually if you don't know about it?  Uh... yeah, I'd say so.  What d'you think happens to small children who are abused?  They might not realize that what they're doing is sexual or verboten until later.  Or Peeping Toms; don't they violate their targets, even if they never even meet them face-to-face?  Make no mistake, this alien raped Etan, whether or not Etan knew he was being raped at the time.  Just because it wasn't as expressly traumatic as forced sex by another person doesn't mean it wasn't rape.

An interesting story, and one I enjoyed both in the reading and the listening.  (Especially because the alien reminded me of Murgatroyd, from Bruce Coville's "My Teacher is an Alien" series, which lends a whole new veneer to the way that thing rode around on the protagonist's shoulders all day.)

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Reply #3 on: February 09, 2010, 12:41:25 AM
My initial reaction to this podcast was to call this interaction a form of human-alien S&M, but after reading Scattercat's post I have to say it seems more like rape after all. S&M whether physical or emotional is after all a voluntary occurrence between consenting adults. Otherwise it's bullying or torture. It doesn't surprise me given the sexual nature of this story that it came from Omni which was part of soft-core porn publisher Bob Guiccione's holdings. Guiccione was never one to shy away from controversy.



tinroof

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Reply #4 on: February 09, 2010, 02:52:38 AM
I'm honestly not seeing where the funny comes in.

The rape part, yeah, what makes it especially eerie in retrospect is how he needed to be genuinely scared. If it was just, "This alien gets off on speech, come read a book to him", that would be one thing - still with the creepy, but not too much weirder than your average fetish so long as everyone knows what's going on. But he was not given the possibility of consenting, and consenting would actually have lessened the alien's pleasure. That's really, really creepy. Just... eegh.

May have to revise my initial opinion. Hindsight is definitely improving the effect, if not the enjoyment.



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Reply #5 on: February 09, 2010, 03:16:52 AM
Loved this story.   Rape?  I don't know.  Was Etan harmed in any way?  I didn't think he was.  I thought it was more funny than anything.  I guess I wonder if I was in the same spot having some guinea pig getting off on my shouting I would look at it in a lighter manner than crying rape.  Yeah, he was scared but was he violated?  It wasn't sexual in any way.    The thought of a little tribble having an orgasm in the back of a limousine is hilarious in my book. Great story and I enjoyed Steve's intro and outro. 

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Reply #6 on: February 09, 2010, 03:24:29 AM
Ew.  If this story spawns a "was that technically rape?" discussion, let me put in my vote for "yes".  I figured out what was happening long before the protagonist did, and the whole scene made me feel more yucky than most Pseudopod episodes do.

That's not meant as negative criticism, though, as I'm pretty sure it had the effect on me that was intended.

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Reply #7 on: February 09, 2010, 04:04:05 AM
Loved this story.   Rape?  I don't know.  Was Etan harmed in any way? 

Harm isn't a requirement for rape.  Rape is forced sexual intercourse.  The alien forced Etan into sexual intercourse, even if it wasn't intercourse of a means or style he could have comprehended.  Was he violated?  The anger and fear had to be genuine, remember?  Not faked.  I'd say threatening someone so that they feel true anger and fear counts as a violation, personally.

Still, even if it required unforced laughter to get off, it would still have been rape.  Non-consensual sex = rape. 

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Reply #8 on: February 09, 2010, 04:31:46 AM
Very much liked this story.  I don't pay too much attention to the warnings, so I had forgotten about it by the time the story started and as a result had no idea where it was going.  Great feeling.  The vibe of being in over your head and having no idea what's going on was oddly similar to the last road story.

At the time I thought it was funny, but it became more disturbing as I read the above comments (thank you).  IMHO, I think rape is too strong.  If you go to someone's home, they verbally abuse you and forcibly physically detain you until you have an outburst, and they say, "Hey, sorry.  It's a joke.  BTW, my buddy gets off on this, so I had you outburst videotaped, and he's going to masturbate to it later"  you would have been assaulted and creeped out, but not raped.  If you had been a virgin before you would still be one after.   I think Etan could have the Navigator and alien prosecuted for assault, but not rape.  

What if the Navigator hadn't physically detained Etan?

This got me thinking.  What would the reverse be?  Assuming the alien doesn't feel he violated Etan, what would be the thing that a human visiting another world would find erotic, but still decent, but the aliens would find indecent.  It's tough.  Humans are pretty sensitive towards violating others when it comes to sexuality.  



tinroof

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Reply #9 on: February 09, 2010, 02:12:11 PM
In line with the part of the navigator's spiel about not holding everything to human terms, yes, if to the alien it was sexual intercourse, and the man did not consent, it is, by definition, rape. It doesn't matter if the man thinks of it that way, or if he even cares - the alien is by its own terms a rapist and that's what makes this creepy to me.

wakela - yeah, it's tough, but tough mainly in that we can't honestly predict what alien sexuality would be like. In the specific context of this story, there's one obvious possibility, though - if human speech is analogous to sex to these creatures, then a human coming to the planet and talking at an alien and not stopping if asked. If the creature isn't interested then that would be non-consensual sex and potentially very shocking to the aliens.

I hope that helps illustrate what I mean by the broader terms thing. If to at least one participant it is sex, and consent is not involved, then it's rape. Doesn't mean it has to be inherently harmful or unpleasant to either of them, especially if the standards held are widely different. Just means it's rape.

Edit: Also, most people instinctively feel violated at the idea of an anonymous sleazeball masturbating to them. I'm feeling that the videotaping and the story are different situations, possibly to do with the relative presence of the victim or something but I'm having difficulty explaining exactly why.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2010, 02:16:26 PM by tinroof »



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Reply #10 on: February 09, 2010, 07:06:31 PM
The story felt very drabblecast-esk at first. I think if this story was read by Norm Sherman the more comedic aspects of this story would have been highlighted by his reading style and I would have fond it really funny, but Steve Eley's reading had a more thought provoking effect. I really empathised with the main character's shock and confusion at the end. Unknowing becoming a prostitute for an alien became less of a punch line and just left me wondering how I'd feel in such an awkward and uncomfortable situation. It's actually pretty interesting thinking about how the reading of a story can effect how I feel about it too.



wakela

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Reply #11 on: February 10, 2010, 12:33:34 AM
In line with the part of the navigator's spiel about not holding everything to human terms, yes, if to the alien it was sexual intercourse, and the man did not consent, it is, by definition, rape. It doesn't matter if the man thinks of it that way, or if he even cares - the alien is by its own terms a rapist and that's what makes this creepy to me.


wakela - yeah, it's tough, but tough mainly in that we can't honestly predict what alien sexuality would be like. In the specific context of this story, there's one obvious possibility, though - if human speech is analogous to sex to these creatures, then a human coming to the planet and talking at an alien and not stopping if asked. If the creature isn't interested then that would be non-consensual sex and potentially very shocking to the aliens.
I was thinking more along the lines of what situation would the human be the "rapist" and get sexual satisfaction.  Though your idea about someone raping another by causing unwanted sexual satisfaction is very interesting.


I hope that helps illustrate what I mean by the broader terms thing. If to at least one participant it is sex, and consent is not involved, then it's rape. Doesn't mean it has to be inherently harmful or unpleasant to either of them, especially if the standards held are widely different. Just means it's rape.

Edit: Also, most people instinctively feel violated at the idea of an anonymous sleazeball masturbating to them. I'm feeling that the videotaping and the story are different situations, possibly to do with the relative presence of the victim or something but I'm having difficulty explaining exactly why.

The idea that rape can happen without the victim being harmed is very interesting.   I definitely see you point, but I still don't completely agree.  What if you have a man who suffers from premature ejaculation who can achieve orgasm just by watching a pretty girl walk down the street.  Would he be raping her?  I know this isn't completely analogous because the girl in this case isn't forced.  I do think the alien and the navigator are guilty of assault.   If the alien hadn't been there that's all it would have been. 



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Reply #12 on: February 10, 2010, 04:27:50 AM
I thought the parallels between the encounter described in the story and how children are abused made the story stink.  Preying upon one’s sense of obligation and politeness, entrapping, and ‘tricking’ them into a sexual encounter they may not understand.  Eww.



tinroof

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Reply #13 on: February 10, 2010, 05:21:43 AM
What if you have a man who suffers from premature ejaculation who can achieve orgasm just by watching a pretty girl walk down the street.  Would he be raping her?

That's a little different because he isn't doing anything intentionally, really. And he's not... involving her directly in the same way that the driver was involved here.

I don't know, we can call it "sexual assault" if it's the terms that are bothering you. It is a little weird to think how humans and completely hypothetical alien sexualities might intersect and it's hard to find accurate real-life parallels. My real point boils down to the fact that a violation did occur, and it was sexual, and I think it's kinda gross.



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Reply #14 on: February 10, 2010, 03:04:27 PM
To focus solely on the story itself and stay out of the debate over "was it rape", let me just say that the ending seemed to take too long. The navigator obviously hated himself for what he had to do. We get that. But he just kept forcing the money on Etan. And forcing him. And forcing him. And Etan just kept saying "I don't want it. I don't want it. I don't understand." I think that might have been gotten through a little more quickly.

Here's an interesting point: was the navigator (or the alien, or both) paying Etan so he wouldn't feel like a victim? The author doesn't say it, either explicitly or implicitly, but given that this was written in the 80s perhaps attitudes were different -- ie: if you're paid for sex, it's not nonconsensual. (I find it difficult to believe an educated woman -- the author -- would hold this personal view but from the navigator's POV it might make sense.) So by paying Etan afterward, the navigator feels like he's mitigating the offense or removing his/his employer's personal responsibility by turning it from rape into prostitution.

If no laws exist to punish the entity for what was done to Etan, then at the very least he could hold the navigator accountable for some form of assault or pain-and-suffering. I'm sure the alien would love to be in the courtroom for that, and would gladly pay.

In other news... the tech of Etan's car really didn't hold up very well over time -- keycards, steering modules, etc? The most advanced starters these days only activate if you're within range of a key. I have a Prius (not the "Moving Forward. Whether you want to or not." version) and I don't have to put the key in. I just have to have it in my pocket when I push the button. And I think steering wheels will remain as they are for a long time to come, instead of the handle/joystick controllers that 80s futurists might have imagined. And the "powerplant"? Yeah, even when aliens come we'll still be using gasoline or electricity, not a self-contained nuclear reactor or whatever Etan's car had, and simply fixing the connections to the motherboard won't solve the problem if the car breaks down.

I know the tech isn't a focal point of the story, but it was amusing to me.

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Reply #15 on: February 10, 2010, 03:22:43 PM
Clicker artifacts at 8:30 and 14:20.

Clicker and repeat.  I've come to expect those in Eley's readings of late.

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Reply #16 on: February 10, 2010, 05:14:06 PM
Clicker artifacts at 8:30 and 14:20.

Clicker and repeat.  I've come to expect those in Eley's readings of late.

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MacArthurBug

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Reply #17 on: February 10, 2010, 05:46:21 PM
on the whole rape thing: I'm leaning closer to molestation/violation aspect. Not knowing until after is moot. The MC was uncomfortable and did not want to participate. The main rule for peaceful co-existance is "do no harm" this obviously did harm, psycological harm. so = bad.

Story wise, good, well read, well told. I enjoyed this, I enjoyed the pondering, the story managed to make me mildly uncomfortable. I like most stories that get my little thinking wheels turning, so I'm content.

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Reply #18 on: February 10, 2010, 06:23:22 PM
Eeeewwwwwww!!  I feel dirty now just for having listened to it!  (not that it wasn't a good story)

I thought it was good, challenging definitions of sex--a topic that comes up from time to time even without aliens involved.  There seemed to be something sinister going on throughout, but I didn't predict the actual cause before it was explained.

As for whether it was rape, I would say not.  Or, at least, not rape from his point of view, but possibly from the alien's (rape is in the eye of the beholder?).  And definitely NOT analogous to child molestation--the man is sexually and mentally mature as he's going to get. If anything, I'd put it akin to bestiality (again from the alien's point of view)--it is interspecies, and the other species doesn't understand what you're doing but that doesn't mean it's not gross.  That brings up the question of whether it's still bestiality if both species are "intelligence" but then that raises the question of whether the alien considers humans intelligent.



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Reply #19 on: February 10, 2010, 06:39:06 PM
Also, was I the only one that thought the protagonist's name was "eytanz" from time to time?  I suspect it was when they used the name with a possessive:  "Etan's".



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Reply #20 on: February 10, 2010, 07:44:04 PM
And definitely NOT analogous to child molestation--the man is sexually and mentally mature as he's going to get.
I don't think that holds up well.  Sexual violence, like sexual harrasment, does lie in the eye of the eye of the beholder, even if the beholder is not the subject of the act.
I think the molestation comparison holds up well.  Though the MC was sexually mature, he had no idea what was being done to him, or what he was being involved in, sort of like an abused child.  He certainly had no understanding of the sexuality of the situation he was in.  The sexual maturity of the MC has no bearing when his sexuality is a non-factor to his assailant.
Victims of sexual violence have been known to excuse the behavior of their assailants.  Does that mean no crime was committed?  Of course not.  Even if the MC didn't feel violated (I would assert he did) that doesn't mean it didn't happen.



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Reply #21 on: February 10, 2010, 08:28:07 PM
Hmm..Given the ease and speed  that the human "assistant" was able to fix the disabled vehicle it kinda makes me wonder if this audiophile didn't set him up in some way. And which makes the whole denouement even creepier. Back in the day date rapers used to use the old "oops..we're outta gas" or some variation of breakdown that miraculously repaired itself as soon as they got what they wanted from their now stranded date. Nowadays this would be called date rape and criminal charges could well be involved. Until the early 70's this sort of stuff was mainly seen as a joke. Except to the victims.

As for the mispronunciations, clicks and so forth: I don't notice them enough to ruin the reading unless they are really glaring. But that's just me.  ;D
« Last Edit: February 11, 2010, 12:20:48 PM by KenK »



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Reply #22 on: February 11, 2010, 02:47:36 PM
And definitely NOT analogous to child molestation--the man is sexually and mentally mature as he's going to get.
I don't think that holds up well.  Sexual violence, like sexual harrasment, does lie in the eye of the eye of the beholder, even if the beholder is not the subject of the act.
I think the molestation comparison holds up well.  Though the MC was sexually mature, he had no idea what was being done to him, or what he was being involved in, sort of like an abused child.  He certainly had no understanding of the sexuality of the situation he was in.  The sexual maturity of the MC has no bearing when his sexuality is a non-factor to his assailant.
Victims of sexual violence have been known to excuse the behavior of their assailants.  Does that mean no crime was committed?  Of course not.  Even if the MC didn't feel violated (I would assert he did) that doesn't mean it didn't happen.

I didn't say that no crime was committed, but I definitely wouldn't say it's like child molestation.  Rape is more accurate than that, but still not very close.  Something more than assault and less than rape I'd say.



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Reply #23 on: February 11, 2010, 09:08:07 PM
If a person (including aliens) enjoys the sounds of people in fear and so they induce a condition of fear in them (even with no intention of actual physical harm in mind), it is still wrong. As I see it, if only sexual pleasure was involved here why did the "navigator" try so hard to get Etan to cancel his road service call? Answer: Because navigator and the alien both knew what they were doing was wrong and/or illegal. Using the Occam's Razor principle here I see no further reason to seek out nuances of meaning or debate cultural norms and such to try to explain away the obvious.



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Reply #24 on: February 11, 2010, 10:41:42 PM
As I see it, if only sexual pleasure was involved here why did the "navigator" try so hard to get Etan to cancel his road service call? Answer: Because navigator and the alien both knew what they were doing was wrong and/or illegal.

Ditto the offering of money.  You only offer to repay someone if you suspect that you've wronged them, ne?

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Reply #25 on: February 12, 2010, 01:56:14 AM
As I see it, if only sexual pleasure was involved here why did the "navigator" try so hard to get Etan to cancel his road service call? Answer: Because navigator and the alien both knew what they were doing was wrong and/or illegal.

Ditto the offering of money.  You only offer to repay someone if you suspect that you've wronged them, ne?

I'm not sure who KenK was responding to, but I think most of us agree that a wrong thing was done.  We just disagree on whether or not this wrong could be called "rape."  Judging from the general lack of heat in the discussion, it seems we are debating mostly for the fun of it. 

Can you have victimless rape?  Petty rape?  The alien had sexual intercourse (or he might have been masturbating), but Etan didn't. 

I think if a man masturbates while his friend pretends to assault a woman the man isn't raping her.  But both of these guys ARE assaulting her. 

Someone could cut and paste this thread and into a sequel to this story that takes place in a courtroom after Etan has these pervs busted.

Since I'm often critical of EP stories, I think it's only fair that I say that this story and the discussion and thoughts it inspired are precisely why I like science fiction.  The story has made me see things in a way I had not before and in a way that would be very difficult and awkward to do outside the SF genre.  Like.



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Reply #26 on: February 12, 2010, 02:24:47 AM
You know, way up near the top of this thread, just after I listened to the story, I said that in my mind, what the alien did to him was definitely rape.  Now, after reading everyone else's excellent comments, I'm not so sure.  Assault, yes.  Immoral, yes.  Icky, yes.  Rape, I dunno.  And I don't think I can come up with any situation in human relationships that's really and truly parallel to what happened in the story.

Hey, this story was nothing if not thought-provoking. 

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Reply #27 on: February 12, 2010, 04:06:37 AM
@wakela

I, at least, have been socialized to have a VERY broad definition of what rape is.  Frankly, given the way culture still inherently favors the male over the female (and the disturbing prevalence of "She was asking for it" and "She's a slut anyway" as defense arguments in rape trials), I think it's best to err on the side of caution.

For instance, in the assault/masturbator example, I would say that both of them were involved in the rape, even if one didn't stick his penis in any orifices.  Rape is an ugly word, and justifiably so, and I think the inclination is to 'protect' it by only using it when it's really really serious.  I think sticking with the definition - forced sexual contact or a sex act without consent - should serve just fine.

Legally, well, you probably have a lot of wiggle room.  (And the fact that Etan kept the money would probably guarantee he wouldn't be able to successfully bring a suit against the alien, though he might be able to bluff into a plea bargain.)  On the other hand, lots of things can be legal without being ethical or moral.

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Reply #28 on: February 12, 2010, 05:02:55 AM
I must admit, I primarily found this story funny. It definitely had a Drabblecast-level of weird about it, and it was that very weirdness (boosted by the fact that the protagonist wasnt actually harmed..) that eliminated for me any disturbing aspect. A fun little tale.

As to the rape debate, I say no. Its fundimentally irrelevant what was going on with the alien sexually - what the alien was going through did not affect the protagonist in any way that could be concieved sexual by human standards. Assault? yes, certainly. But when you involve aliens that function in a fundimentally different way from humans, thats on just such a different plane, some human terminology doesnt really apply, as human terminology as we know it relates specifically with interacting with other terrestrial things or creatures. I think you'd need a new term for this sort of crime. A post-first-contact term.

If you want to lay terminology aside, and get down to the philosophy of it, well, that'd depend on how the protagonist feels, which is difficult to determine. Its evident, judging by his comments at the very end, he does feel some violation occurred, but the extent to which this has impacted him is impossible to measure. So I don't think this is truly answerable from such a standpoint.

Also:
Also, was I the only one that thought the protagonist's name was "eytanz" from time to time?  I suspect it was when they used the name with a possessive:  "Etan's".

Well now I'm all concerned, we should check in with him to make sure he hasn't been assauled by aliens lately :p
« Last Edit: February 12, 2010, 05:05:33 AM by Talia »



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Reply #29 on: February 12, 2010, 01:20:28 PM
And definitely NOT analogous to child molestation--the man is sexually and mentally mature as he's going to get.
I don't think that holds up well.  Sexual violence, like sexual harrasment, does lie in the eye of the eye of the beholder, even if the beholder is not the subject of the act.
I think the molestation comparison holds up well.  Though the MC was sexually mature, he had no idea what was being done to him, or what he was being involved in, sort of like an abused child.  He certainly had no understanding of the sexuality of the situation he was in.  The sexual maturity of the MC has no bearing when his sexuality is a non-factor to his assailant.
Victims of sexual violence have been known to excuse the behavior of their assailants.  Does that mean no crime was committed?  Of course not.  Even if the MC didn't feel violated (I would assert he did) that doesn't mean it didn't happen.

I didn't say that no crime was committed, but I definitely wouldn't say it's like child molestation.  Rape is more accurate than that, but still not very close.  Something more than assault and less than rape I'd say.

More like the stories you hear about someone being fondled or groped on a crowded subway.  all contact may have been fully clothed, but...  I believe the sexual term is Frotterism (sp?) where someone gets off on rubbing against something or someone.  it's sexual assault.  So is a peeping tom but many would not call that rape either.


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Reply #30 on: February 12, 2010, 02:40:53 PM

I'm not sure who KenK was responding to, but I think most of us agree that a wrong thing was done.  We just disagree on whether or not this wrong could be called "rape."  Judging from the general lack of heat in the discussion, it seems we are debating mostly for the fun of it. 

(snip)

Since I'm often critical of EP stories, I think it's only fair that I say that this story and the discussion and thoughts it inspired are precisely why I like science fiction.  The story has made me see things in a way I had not before and in a way that would be very difficult and awkward to do outside the SF genre.  Like.

Yeah I'm debating for the fun of it, and it's a credit to the story that the after-discussion maintains it's interest.  :)



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Reply #31 on: February 12, 2010, 02:43:50 PM
More like the stories you hear about someone being fondled or groped on a crowded subway.  all contact may have been fully clothed, but...  I believe the sexual term is Frotterism (sp?) where someone gets off on rubbing against something or someone.  it's sexual assault.  So is a peeping tom but many would not call that rape either.

yeah I'd put it somewhat akin to peeping--a violation, yes.  Disturbing, yes.  But not really rape.  It's not too far from the subway analogy, except that being groped is more obvious to the victim what the purpose is.  If, instead, a stranger is aroused by sniffing another's hair and they smell the hair of the other person on the subway without that person at first realizing it, but then their friend tells them about it later--that's closer.  It could still be creepy, still considered a violation, still causes arousal in the perpetrator, but the victim doesn't realize anything is happening at the time.



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Reply #32 on: February 12, 2010, 03:24:10 PM
As to the rape debate, I say no. Its fundimentally irrelevant what was going on with the alien sexually - what the alien was going through did not affect the protagonist in any way that could be concieved sexual by human standards.

No, see, that was my original point, although maybe I didn't get it across very well. It's not even that the protagonist was raped, necessarily, if you take "rape" to imply that the act was sexual for the victim. It's that the alien is a rapist. The alien forced someone into an experience that was sexual to the alien, without obtaining rational consent. That's being a rapist.

I can't help but associate the victim-centered argument with our cultural tendencies to blame the victim. You always see posters telling women to be careful at night, watch their drinks, don't walk home alone - you never see posters telling men not to rape them. (And if anyone brings up "BUT MEN CAN BE RAPED", that's ignoring my point. I'm talking about cultural trends here, and men are not culturally rape victims like women are culturally rape victims.)

And I'm not sure if it's really relevant whether or not we can find human analogies for human/alien interactions. Because the whole point is that they're aliens. What the alien did was wrong and reflects extraordinarily badly on it, whether or not we can draw an accurate parallel to human wrongs.



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Reply #33 on: February 12, 2010, 04:02:30 PM
I can't help but associate the victim-centered argument with our cultural tendencies to blame the victim. You always see posters telling women to be careful at night, watch their drinks, don't walk home alone - you never see posters telling men not to rape them. (And if anyone brings up "BUT MEN CAN BE RAPED", that's ignoring my point. I'm talking about cultural trends here, and men are not culturally rape victims like women are culturally rape victims.)

I don't see those sorts of posters as blaming the victim.  I just think it would be a waste of money to make posters that say "Don't rape." or "Don't murder" because presumably the people who are doing those things are not going to be dissuaded by a poster, while a potential victim COULD choose to change their habits because of a poster.



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Reply #34 on: February 12, 2010, 04:32:47 PM
I can't help but associate the victim-centered argument with our cultural tendencies to blame the victim. You always see posters telling women to be careful at night, watch their drinks, don't walk home alone - you never see posters telling men not to rape them.

This is because that's common sense. Everyone knows rape is bad (at least in most of civilized society). Some people do it anyway because they just don't care.  No poster can affect that.

That advice to women has nothing at all to do with "blame the victim." Its just suggestions for keeping oneself safe from the people mentioned above.. the people who ignore the posters, who ignore other people's well being. The selfish, the sociopathic. You can't reason with those kinds of people. So you have to take another strategy and offer advice to women to help keep them away from such people.

And I'm not sure if it's really relevant whether or not we can find human analogies for human/alien interactions. Because the whole point is that they're aliens. What the alien did was wrong and reflects extraordinarily badly on it, whether or not we can draw an accurate parallel to human wrongs.

Its wrong in OUR society. I personally think that when you're talking about the intersection of terrestrial vs extraterrestrial society, the vocabulary has got to change some. Its hard to explain what I mean. Although it brings to mind a certain far side cartoon...



This is obviously not a perfect comparison (heh), but I think its suggestive of how cultural and otherwise differences can play into things. :p



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Reply #35 on: February 12, 2010, 05:01:04 PM
Hilarious cartoon, Talia.  :D  And it does serve the discussion well as far as alien vs. human perspectives.

I don't want to join the debate per se, but I think one of the things that needs to be discussed is escalation.  If we go with the view that is was not rape, but simply voyeuorism or groping on a subway.  For humans it rarely stops there.  Those are the early signs.  If left unchecked, either by morality, social pressure, or whatever, the behavior will easily escalate and could lead to rape.

What about the implications of that in this story?  What if the level of fear and anger shown here are no longer enough the satisfy the tribble's appetite?  What are the lengths it will go to get off?  This could lead to a story on Pseudopod.

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Reply #36 on: February 12, 2010, 05:41:56 PM
Regarding the discussion of intersocietal and/or interspecies views of crimes, I recently read Perdido Street Station by China Mieville which had some relevance.

A crime occurred in a bird-man species culture that we would call rape.  They called it something like "choice theft of the 2nd degree with utter disrespect" or something.  This particular case was also a terrible crime in their culture but for very different reasons--it wasn't terrible because of it's sexual and abusive nature, but because of the loss of choice, the ability to choose being their highest societal ideal whether it comes to food, mates, freedom to live where you wish, etc...



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Reply #37 on: February 12, 2010, 06:58:21 PM
Hilarious cartoon, Talia.  :D  And it does serve the discussion well as far as alien vs. human perspectives.

I don't want to join the debate per se, but I think one of the things that needs to be discussed is escalation.  If we go with the view that is was not rape, but simply voyeuorism or groping on a subway.  For humans it rarely stops there.  Those are the early signs.  If left unchecked, either by morality, social pressure, or whatever, the behavior will easily escalate and could lead to rape.

What about the implications of that in this story?  What if the level of fear and anger shown here are no longer enough the satisfy the tribble's appetite?  What are the lengths it will go to get off?  This could lead to a story on Pseudopod.

Escalating fear to the point of murder.  and is it raping or at least psychologically damaging to the Navigator?  It can't be pleasant to have to antagonize someone to the point they are angry and afraid or in the case of escalation that they are driven to torture or murder the victim for the tribble.


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Reply #38 on: February 12, 2010, 07:14:18 PM

Escalating fear to the point of murder.  and is it raping or at least psychologically damaging to the Navigator?  It can't be pleasant to have to antagonize someone to the point they are angry and afraid or in the case of escalation that they are driven to torture or murder the victim for the tribble.

I got the impression that the Navigator had been heavily influenced by the alien's psychic influence to the point that nothing much bothered him.  He was little more than the alien's avatar.  Which is damaging in its own respect, but I don't think he has enough of himself left to be bothered by his participation in the alien's schemes.



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Reply #39 on: February 12, 2010, 07:29:50 PM

Escalating fear to the point of murder.  and is it raping or at least psychologically damaging to the Navigator?  It can't be pleasant to have to antagonize someone to the point they are angry and afraid or in the case of escalation that they are driven to torture or murder the victim for the tribble.

I got the impression that the Navigator had been heavily influenced by the alien's psychic influence to the point that nothing much bothered him.  He was little more than the alien's avatar.  Which is damaging in its own respect, but I don't think he has enough of himself left to be bothered by his participation in the alien's schemes.

so the alien is actually violated two people. 


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Reply #40 on: February 12, 2010, 08:56:26 PM
I don't see those sorts of posters as blaming the victim.

They're blaming the victim in the sense that nearly all anti-rape material puts the responsibility on the victim not to get raped. I'm not sure this forum is the best place to go into all the messy details of rape culture and what the media tells men is okay but there are a lot of messages telling women how they need to limit themselves to avoid rape, and not nearly enough telling men to, you know, treat women as people. Not to take drunkenness or flirtation as permission to do whatever they want. Not to assume they're owed sex for just being there or doing them some simple courtesy.

'Cause yeah, everyone knows rape is bad. But a lot of people will find a lot of excuses to not call what they do "rape". Which is maybe why I'm getting rather involved in this conversation because it is in some ways eerily similar to the kinds of arguments that happen about ordinary human rape, too.



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Reply #41 on: February 12, 2010, 10:06:29 PM
I don't see those sorts of posters as blaming the victim.

They're blaming the victim in the sense that nearly all anti-rape material puts the responsibility on the victim not to get raped. I'm not sure this forum is the best place to go into all the messy details of rape culture and what the media tells men is okay but there are a lot of messages telling women how they need to limit themselves to avoid rape, and not nearly enough telling men to, you know, treat women as people. Not to take drunkenness or flirtation as permission to do whatever they want. Not to assume they're owed sex for just being there or doing them some simple courtesy.

'Cause yeah, everyone knows rape is bad. But a lot of people will find a lot of excuses to not call what they do "rape". Which is maybe why I'm getting rather involved in this conversation because it is in some ways eerily similar to the kinds of arguments that happen about ordinary human rape, too.

Sorry I can't agree. That's not blaming the victim. Its done that way because its easier to help women take steps to prevent being attacked than it is to convince people out of a bad mindset. The whole point is not to say "if you dont do this, its your fault if you get raped." no one is saying that. The point is to prevent the act. You want to do that in the most effective way possible. You have a better chance of suggesting to women who to keep safe than you do of convincing a sociopath not to rape.



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Reply #42 on: February 12, 2010, 10:59:29 PM
i'd be curious to see what you think a poster targeted at sexual predators should look like.  keep in mind that most of these people don't care about social expectations or get off by shattering them.

your intentions come from a good place.  women already have to put up with the danger that's inherited when thousands of years of sexual instinct gets twisted into something ugly.  it hardly seems fair to create an environment fear to keep hammering at it, just in case we ever start to relax and enjoy ourselves.

for the record, i dislike awareness campaigns that cast women as victims.  i wouldn't be surprised to find out that these actually whet the predatory impulses in people inclined to them.  but realigning society so that everyone is aware of their surroundings and able to physically take care of themselves is a good thing.

i'm of the mind that the word 'rape' should be used when the word's definition is met, forced sexual intercourse.  there's a temptation to make our disapproval explicit by throwing around the word rape (it works in the short term) but there's a definite, qualitative difference between what happened here and having a knife put your throat while, fully aware of the sensation and implication, you're violated.

molestation & assault are perfectly viable terms and should be used when appropriate.  otherwise we have to have say things like, 'real rape, like actual rape' when it happens and that's something you don't want to deal with at that time.



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Reply #43 on: February 12, 2010, 11:52:31 PM
The "no means no" campaign targets potential perpetrators and I think it was successful in the sense that everyone has heard it, it's easy to understand, and it's not open to interpretation.  No idea whether or not it stopped any rapes.


Edited to correct spelling

« Last Edit: February 13, 2010, 12:27:51 AM by wakela »



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Reply #44 on: February 13, 2010, 12:20:51 AM
You have a better chance of suggesting to women who to keep safe than you do of convincing a sociopath not to rape.

This is making the totally unqualified assumption that all or even most rapists are sociopaths.

There have been studies done asking men's sexual activities along these lines. A lot of men who claimed they'd never raped anyone also said they'd had sex with an unconscious or heavily drunk person, had coerced someone into sex, or other things that really are rape but a lot of people seem to believe "don't count". Rape culture. Look it up.



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Reply #45 on: February 13, 2010, 12:30:10 AM
You have a better chance of suggesting to women who to keep safe than you do of convincing a sociopath not to rape.

This is making the totally unqualified assumption that all or even most rapists are sociopaths.

There have been studies done asking men's sexual activities along these lines. A lot of men who claimed they'd never raped anyone also said they'd had sex with an unconscious or heavily drunk person, had coerced someone into sex, or other things that really are rape but a lot of people seem to believe "don't count". Rape culture. Look it up.

I agree that this happens and that there are guys who think it's OK, but I'm not sure how it is encouraged by the media or the culture at large.  Do you have examples?



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Reply #46 on: February 13, 2010, 03:10:57 AM
I agree that this happens and that there are guys who think it's OK, but I'm not sure how it is encouraged by the media or the culture at large.  Do you have examples?

Look, this is a huge topic.  Academics, sociologists, and psychologists have been trying to unpack it for years.  You're basically asking us to give you "examples" of the entire patriarchal system on which Western culture is founded. 

I spent twenty-five minutes writing a really long post about this, and then I hit "backspace" and my browser decided I wanted to go back two pages.  So you lost my story about how men and women have completely different views of the world and what's threatening and what isn't.

Here is a good essay.  There are other good essays.  I remember one that was a teensy bit brittle-sounding that was called "How not to be a rapist" or something.  And my google-fu-in-two-minutes is weak, so I can't find the surveys.  I know the survey tinroof mentioned, or at least a similar one.  Most 'rape' is 'just' coercion; friends and acquaintances, a little emotional blackmail, a little shame, a little mind-altering substance...  Basically, the fact that sex in the Western world is fundamentally understood as something women *have* that men *want*, or something that men *take* from women, something that women *give up*, etc.   I mean, the very language of it is rife with the inherent possibility of rape.  The answers to that are varied, but the fact of it is pretty hard to deny once you really look at it.

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Reply #47 on: February 13, 2010, 09:11:22 AM
The "no means no" campaign targets potential perpetrators and I think it was successful in the sense that everyone has heard it, it's easy to understand, and it's not open to interpretation.  No idea whether or not it stopped any rapes.

oh yeah, forgot about that one.

i agree that it was a relatively successful campaign but (personal opinion) the most positive results came indirectly by inspiring women not cave to social pressure.  if my memory serves, there were girls wearing 'no means no' shirts and throwing around a lot of attitude.  generally those were the girls who didn't have any trouble sticking up for themselves anyway but it shifted our cultural image of femininity a step or two away from demure & deferential.


studies that artificially inflate the incidents of sexual assault by using questions like, 'have you ever agreed to a sexual encounter even though you didn't feel like it?' do just as much to hide actual cases of sexual assault as a culture of shame.  classifying a girl who's moving faster than she wants to because her boyfriend threatens to leave her as a case of rape is, frankly, condescending.  it suggests that women can't handle their own interests and the man in the relationship needs to take care of them.

sexual assault is a serious issue, as serious as they come, but overusing the word rape isn't the way to handle it.



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Reply #48 on: February 13, 2010, 06:47:59 PM
Yeah, actually, the "no-means-no" campaign has some problems with it too, because it ignores that for the most part, people don't just flat-out say no when they don't want something. I read a paper in a Language and Power course that actually did a linguistic analysis of how people phrased refusals in everyday situations and the word "no" comes up in a vanishingly small percentage of cases.

So that has two implications: one, "no means no" is expecting women to act against years and years of social conditioning in order to avoid rape, and if they don't it's their fault they got raped because they weren't "clear" enough; and two, it implies that men are somehow able to understand polite, indirect refusals in every other aspect of their lives but suddenly become bone-stupid about it as soon as sex enters the picture. Which a lot of people really do seem to think, and that "boys will be boys" attitude is one of the major factors feeding into the aforementioned rape culture.

The paper brought up "yes means yes" as a better campaign, although I can't recall if that's actually been used or if it was just a theoretical suggestion.


deflective, I'm not positive I understand your argument. You're saying girls feeling pressured into sex by boyfriends who hold a breakup over their heads as a threat is not an incredibly bad thing? Rape. Culture. That's part of it too. And I did not say the survey asked that question. Frankly, claiming that we're "overusing" the word rape is misrepresenting the actual situation. In the actual situation, courts will go out of their way delving into women's personal lives just to prove that what happened to them was not "actually" rape.

An Italian said that a woman could not have been raped because she was wearing jeans. A British court said a woman could not have been gang-raped because she had at one point fantasized about group sex. If anything the cultural definition of rape needs broadening. Most people, whether they realize it or not, have a very narrow, "innocent-virgin-attacked-by-vile-strangers" definition of it and that's impossibly damaging in so many ways.



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Reply #49 on: February 13, 2010, 07:19:34 PM
...O-kay - a lot of discussion in this thread that I don't want to engage with unless I have time to engage with it seriously, and I don't have the time right now. So, instead I'll just make several comments on the story:

- I developed an irrational hatred for Etan. I think having a character with essentially the same name as mine (though not pronounced the same) was really annoying. Especially because the guy was really, really slow to catch on to what happened to him. I don't enjoy sharing my name with someone so obtuse.

- I think the navigator handing him money wasn't supposed to be a de-victimization, but rather a further insult - an allusion to the 'money on the nightstand' trope.

- I think the story would have been a lot more interesting, philosophically, if the alien wouldn't have gotten off on distressed males, but on something that doesn't require people to be discomforted in any way. I don't really care whether any type of sexual pleasure or not - hijacking and physically restraining unconsenting people, in anything other but self-defense or defense of others, is always wrong. So the navigator/alien's actions would equally unjustifiable if instead of sex, the alien's motivation was that he was writing a senior thesis on fearful males and wanted to collect data.



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Reply #50 on: February 13, 2010, 07:37:15 PM
- I think the story would have been a lot more interesting, philosophically, if the alien wouldn't have gotten off on distressed males, but on something that doesn't require people to be discomforted in any way.

Maybe a more nuanced philosophical point, but probably a much less interesting story overall. ;-)  Weird threats and gun-toting chauffeurs are fine entertainment even without sticky moral questions.  I maintain that it would have been rape even if the alien got off on unfaked laughter rather than anger and fear.

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Reply #51 on: February 13, 2010, 07:40:23 PM
- I think the story would have been a lot more interesting, philosophically, if the alien wouldn't have gotten off on distressed males, but on something that doesn't require people to be discomforted in any way.

Maybe a more nuanced philosophical point, but probably a much less interesting story overall. ;-)  Weird threats and gun-toting chauffeurs are fine entertainment even without sticky moral questions.  I maintain that it would have been rape even if the alien got off on unfaked laughter rather than anger and fear.

Oh, I agree it would be harder to write an interesting story about it. But harder does not equal impossible.



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Reply #52 on: February 13, 2010, 07:52:14 PM
...O-kay - a lot of discussion in this thread that I don't want to engage with unless I have time to engage with it seriously, and I don't have the time right now. So, instead I'll just make several comments on the story:

Thank you for bringing it back to the story.  I am very interested in all of the rape discussion, but it was starting to veer away from the story a bit.  I really want to avoid spitting the rape debae into its own thread because it is so relavent to the story at hand, but I may consider it if the conversation becomes solely about that.  Carry on.

Edit: I doubt I will split it unless it gets completely out of hand.  It's all good.  Just remember to remember the story.
« Last Edit: February 13, 2010, 08:34:20 PM by Swamp »

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Reply #53 on: February 14, 2010, 03:20:31 AM
I still want to know if the alien got pregnant.




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Reply #54 on: February 14, 2010, 10:05:58 AM
Yeah, actually, the "no-means-no" campaign has some problems with it too, because it ignores that for the most part, people don't just flat-out say no when they don't want something.
...
So that has two implications: one, "no means no" is expecting women to act against years and years of social conditioning in order to avoid rape, and if they don't it's their fault they got raped because they weren't "clear" enough; and two, it implies that men are somehow able to understand polite, indirect refusals in every other aspect of their lives but suddenly become bone-stupid about it as soon as sex enters the picture.
...
You're saying girls feeling pressured into sex by boyfriends who hold a breakup over their heads as a threat is not an incredibly bad thing? Rape. Culture.

you seem unfamiliar with the campaign.

that aside, it's unlikely that we will ever find middle ground on this.  i say that a case cannot be considered rape, that we should use the words molestation & assault when appropriate, and you hear me saying that the case isn't a bad thing.  when an appeal to accurately represent the situation sounds like an attack on your beliefs it's time to take a step back and reassess your assumptions.

i get the impression that my beliefs sound chauvinistic to you, that they're an attack on women's rights.  i'm not sure that you know that your beliefs sound at least as chauvinistic to my philosophy.  the idea that women can't be expected to represent themselves properly and need to be given special consideration is insulting.


- I think the navigator handing him money wasn't supposed to be a de-victimization, but rather a further insult - an allusion to the 'money on the nightstand' trope.

aye, there could be several motivations here and extra degradation is a possibility.

it also adds a level of culpability to the victim so that if he decides to report the assault it would look bad for him.  if he had refused the money outright it would have been an indication that he wasn't ready to let the incident slide and it may have escalated things to a new level.


I still want to know if the alien got pregnant.

it seems unlikely that this was the equivalent of intercourse for the alien.  a more likely analog is a fetishist getting off on a kink.



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Reply #55 on: February 14, 2010, 04:15:56 PM
the idea that women can't be expected to represent themselves properly and need to be given special consideration is insulting.

Show me, with direct quotations, where I said this.



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Reply #56 on: February 14, 2010, 04:54:47 PM
check your messages (top left corner of the page, right under your username) for my reply, tinroof.
if somebody else is interested in the back-and-forth send us a message and we'll create a thread for it.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2010, 04:57:24 PM by deflective »



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Reply #57 on: February 15, 2010, 01:03:03 AM
WARNING:  This post has absolutely nothing to do with the story.  If you are not interested in my attempts to make other people see the world exactly as I do, feel free to skip.

I agree that this happens and that there are guys who think it's OK, but I'm not sure how it is encouraged by the media or the culture at large.  Do you have examples?

Look, this is a huge topic.  Academics, sociologists, and psychologists have been trying to unpack it for years.  You're basically asking us to give you "examples" of the entire patriarchal system on which Western culture is founded. 

I spent twenty-five minutes writing a really long post about this, and then I hit "backspace" and my browser decided I wanted to go back two pages.  So you lost my story about how men and women have completely different views of the world and what's threatening and what isn't.

Here is a good essay.  There are other good essays.  I remember one that was a teensy bit brittle-sounding that was called "How not to be a rapist" or something.  And my google-fu-in-two-minutes is weak, so I can't find the surveys.  I know the survey tinroof mentioned, or at least a similar one.  Most 'rape' is 'just' coercion; friends and acquaintances, a little emotional blackmail, a little shame, a little mind-altering substance...  Basically, the fact that sex in the Western world is fundamentally understood as something women *have* that men *want*, or something that men *take* from women, something that women *give up*, etc.   I mean, the very language of it is rife with the inherent possibility of rape.  The answers to that are varied, but the fact of it is pretty hard to deny once you really look at it.

Man, that's a bummer.  I've been there, and I say without any intended sarcasm that I'm sure your post would have been interesting and informative.

I'm actually already OK with the fact that we live in a patriarchal society.  I was a liberal arts major, and that's all anyone talks about.  But patriarchal society does not equal rape culture.  IMHO, mainstream movies, TV, music (with the possible exception of rap), news media, and academia all are intolerant of rape.  In the case of the Duke University lacrosse players the culture at large believed they were guilty of rape even though they were determined not to be.  This article shows that rapes in the US are down 85% since the 70s.  Our society tolerates adultery, recreational drug use, and even prison rape to some extent, but it does not tolerate rape, and it doesn't tolerate date rape. 

Things I already know that do not convince me that we live in a rape culture:
-most rapes are unreported
-women are objectified by the media
-women have not achieved equality with men in many areas of society
-rape is often not a clear-cut, violent act
-there are guys who think that sexually assaulting a women is not a big deal
-there are aspects of language that encourage misogyny

Also, I can think of no situation where the victim of a crime is at fault, though there are steps people can take to decrease the likelihood of becoming victims.



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Reply #58 on: February 15, 2010, 02:39:28 AM
Also, I can think of no situation where the victim of a crime is at fault, though there are steps people can take to decrease the likelihood of becoming victims.

Yet somehow in every rape case the defense brings up the victim's sexual history, because everyone knows that a slut deserves whatever she gets. 

Etan wasn't hurt, right?  And he got paid!  I'd start working for these aliens on a regular basis if it was that easy!  Har.  Stupid dork should've known better than to get in a car with an alien anyway.  He knew what he was getting into, the little tease.  "Car broke down," yeah, right, haven't heard that one before.

(/sarcasm, in case that wasn't clear.)

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tinroof

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Reply #59 on: February 15, 2010, 02:44:18 AM
I'm actually already OK with the fact that we live in a patriarchal society.

Ouch. Unfortunate phrasing choice there.

You do realize that your argument boils down to "I don't believe it, therefore it isn't true"? I'd be interested to know why you don't think the facts you listed point towards rape culture. What about my examples of rapists getting acquitted for ridiculous reasons? What about the persistent social trope of women owing their partners sex, especially right now on Valentines Day? What about the casual use of the word "rape" to describe minor grievances like failing a test or losing a fight in a video game? What about deflective's claim that coercion isn't rape? If these don't point at rape culture for you, what would?

Rape culture isn't about people shouting from the rooftops that rape is awesome, just like patriarchy isn't about people shouting from the rooftops that women are less than human. It's the little things that count.



And what Scattercat just said.



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Reply #60 on: February 15, 2010, 05:12:12 AM
I think it's very telling, in fact, that in this story, the aliens are implicitly in a position of power and authority.  It's "normal" for aliens to have personal servants (and specially-altered, at that) and to drive around in flashy cars and generally be high rollers.  The culture seems to bend toward politeness and deference to the aliens.

Rape, as many, many experts have pointed out, is not about sex or sexual release.  It's about power dynamics: who has it, and how they use it.  The alien has the power here, implicitly, through its money and status, and it abuses that power over Etan. 

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Reply #61 on: February 15, 2010, 07:56:17 AM
Weird.

And, I wouldn't have thought this would generate so much discussion. But there ya go.

One awesome thing about Escape Artists and the stories they run is that they generate such a wide variety of opinions. That's good! And the folks on these boards are pretty much erudite, forthright and robust enough to take and work through whatever misunderstandings might arise. That's also good!


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Reply #62 on: February 15, 2010, 01:13:34 PM
But is it sex if you don't know it is?



tinroof

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Reply #63 on: February 15, 2010, 04:20:17 PM
Well, yeah.

Take child molestation. Lots of kids don't understand sex. Doesn't mean it wasn't.



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Reply #64 on: February 15, 2010, 04:38:54 PM
I think it's very telling, in fact, that in this story, the aliens are implicitly in a position of power and authority.  It's "normal" for aliens to have personal servants (and specially-altered, at that) and to drive around in flashy cars and generally be high rollers.  The culture seems to bend toward politeness and deference to the aliens.

Rape, as many, many experts have pointed out, is not about sex or sexual release.  It's about power dynamics: who has it, and how they use it.  The alien has the power here, implicitly, through its money and status, and it abuses that power over Etan. 

That sure seems like it would lead the the abuse of the term "rape" to me. You simply can't compare what happened to Etan to what happened to a woman who was physically raped. That's not right.



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Reply #65 on: February 15, 2010, 05:14:07 PM
Well, yeah.

Take child molestation. Lots of kids don't understand sex. Doesn't mean it wasn't.

See, maybe it's just because I like to keep to a sex-positive ideology, but I wouldn't classify child molestation as sex, any more than I would classify beating a child as a fight.



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Reply #66 on: February 15, 2010, 06:08:01 PM
Well, yeah.

Take child molestation. Lots of kids don't understand sex. Doesn't mean it wasn't.

See, maybe it's just because I like to keep to a sex-positive ideology, but I wouldn't classify child molestation as sex, any more than I would classify beating a child as a fight.

And if penetration occurs then I say it's sex.  Child molestation doesn't have to be sex, but it doesn't mean it can't be.


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Reply #67 on: February 16, 2010, 02:51:19 AM
Well, I don't think that equating those two things works.  A child has no concept of sex as a concept.  The man in this story certainly knew about sex and gender.  So he knows what sex is.  Its just that the actions that occurred were, to him, NOT sex.  But to the alien they were sex.  True, he was "forced" into an artificial set of actions to pleasure the alien.  But they were actions that if, you removed the alien, would have no relationship to sex for the human at all.

So, if an alien wanted to watch you shovel snow and paid you for it and he "got off" on it, the question remains; is that sex?

Once you KNOW that those actions represent sex for that species, once your ignorance is removed, if you were to perform that act again, I would say that it would be sex then.

Steve was right, lots of comments on this one.



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Reply #68 on: February 16, 2010, 03:45:55 AM
Also, I can think of no situation where the victim of a crime is at fault, though there are steps people can take to decrease the likelihood of becoming victims.

Yet somehow in every rape case the defense brings up the victim's sexual history, because everyone knows that a slut deserves whatever she gets. 

Etan wasn't hurt, right?  And he got paid!  I'd start working for these aliens on a regular basis if it was that easy!  Har.  Stupid dork should've known better than to get in a car with an alien anyway.  He knew what he was getting into, the little tease.  "Car broke down," yeah, right, haven't heard that one before.

(/sarcasm, in case that wasn't clear.)

I'm not a legal scholar and I have spent zero time researching rape trails, but my impression is that most rape trials boil down to he said/she said with no witnesses.  There is proof that sexual intercourse has occurred.  The man is going to argue that it was consensual, and the woman is going to argue it was forced.  If the defense can establish that the woman has a history of having consensual sex with partners she does not know very well it cast doubt on her story.    I don't think lawyers bring up the victim's sexual history because they think promiscuous women deserve to be raped.  I think convincing a jury that anyone deserves to be raped would be very difficult.  And irrelevant because whether or not she deserved it, it's still a crime.  Convincing a jury that the sex was consensual and that the victim is lying or remembering incorrectly would be easier.  The defendant is innocent until proven guilty and guilt must be proved beyond a shadow of a doubt, so all the defense has to do is cast doubt, and rape defendants are entitled to the best defense their lawyers can provide just like everyone else is. 

Quote from: tinroof
Quote from: wakela
I'm actually already OK with the fact that we live in a patriarchal society.

Ouch. Unfortunate phrasing choice there.
On this we can agree wholeheartedly.

Quote from: tinroof
You do realize that your argument boils down to "I don't believe it, therefore it isn't true"? I'd be interested to know why you don't think the facts you listed point towards rape culture. What about my examples of rapists getting acquitted for ridiculous reasons? What about the persistent social trope of women owing their partners sex, especially right now on Valentines Day? What about the casual use of the word "rape" to describe minor grievances like failing a test or losing a fight in a video game? What about deflective's claim that coercion isn't rape? If these don't point at rape culture for you, what would?

Rape culture isn't about people shouting from the rooftops that rape is awesome, just like patriarchy isn't about people shouting from the rooftops that women are less than human. It's the little things that count.

The facts I listed point to us being in a patriarchal culture, which means that men have more power than women (not that women are less than human).  Humans have more power than sheep, but I don't think we live in a bestiality culture.  Murderers get acquitted for ridiculous reasons, and you can use murder-related words in your examples about the video games and tests.  I don't think we live in a murder culture either.  Though murder happens, and some people aren't bothered by it as much as I think they should.   I don't know which comment of Deflective's you're referring to.  I can't think of any TV show or movie or newspaper article that endorses the opinion that women owe men sex in any circumstance.

I would be convinced that we lived in a rape culture if there were a public figure who admitted raping someone or was convicted of rape and they were able to maintain their public figure status.  Compare this to all the people who have admitted to using drugs or committing adultery -- those are things our society tolerates.  If a late night or daytime talk show host made a joke about rape (besides man-man prison rape), I would give some ground.  David Letterman made a joke about baseball player Alex Rodriguez (Arod) knocking up Sarah Palin's underage daughter, and he was forced to apologize.   I can't think of any sympathetic character on a popular TV show who rapes.  Dexter kills people.  Would the show be popular if he were a serial rapist only raping bad women?  A rape culture would not take steps to insure the anonymity of rape victims who go to court.  And I would not expect incidents of rape to decrease by such a large amount if we lived in a rape culture.

It's true that there are some men who congratulate each other on having coercive sex and thinking that women sometimes deserve it.  I don't have statistics for how prevalent they are, but I think they are in decline.  They are low enough that popular culture has decided to ignore them. 




tinroof

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Reply #69 on: February 16, 2010, 04:05:09 AM
And if penetration occurs then I say it's sex.  Child molestation doesn't have to be sex, but it doesn't mean it can't be.

N.b., of course, that having this as your sole definition of sex excludes lesbians and, you know, most anyone who practices sufficiently unconventional sex. Which is mainly why I've been trying to err on the side of broader definitions in this thread. If the alien came and there was another entity involved, without further knowledge of the alien's culture I'm just gonna have to assume it was sex.

Dr. Crisp - The character has an understanding of sex as it works for humans. That was sort of the point? That other species don't necessarily work the same as we do. I mean, they even came out and said it, it's not all that subtle a theme.


Wakela - ....y'know what, at this point, I'm just going to have to say that I wish I lived in the shiny fantasy world you've found your way into. I really do.

The world doesn't work that way. If you can't see it at this point I'm not sure what I can possibly say to convince you.



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Reply #70 on: February 16, 2010, 10:42:38 AM
I was hooked into listening to this one because of the warning: "... and sexual content... of a sort."
Anyway, I liked the story, despite realizing with horrorthat this cute fuzzy thing is a phonophile (a word I probably made up meaning "lover of speech"). "Lover of speech", indeed. A bit disturbing, but all together amazing.



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Reply #71 on: February 16, 2010, 01:55:38 PM
I was hooked into listening to this one because of the warning: "... and sexual content... of a sort."
Anyway, I liked the story, despite realizing with horrorthat this cute fuzzy thing is a phonophile (a word I probably made up meaning "lover of speech"). "Lover of speech", indeed. A bit disturbing, but all together amazing.

Yes that is definitely a good hook.  and I loved the story.


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Reply #72 on: February 17, 2010, 07:32:39 AM
I liked this story. It was extremely disturbing (I think it was rape) and yet I still found it funny. That is really hard to do, so kudos!



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Reply #73 on: February 17, 2010, 03:46:21 PM
Abuse, yes.  Assault, yes.  Disturbing, yes.  Rape?  I don't think so, because Etan never thought of his actions as sexual, nor will he likely ever be in a society that views them as such.  I don't think that, as disturbed as he was, Etan will be scarred by this event.  There's a big disconnect of cultures here, and I would have to disagree that this assault was sexual in nature, due to those disconnects. 

For an analogy of what humans could do to an alien culture that would be considered rape, I do not have an answer.  An analogous situation of human/alien culture disconnect does come to mind, however.  In "Foundation", by Asimov, Sheldon goes to a planet that has a culture in which everyone has a shaved head.  He has to wear a skin cap to cover his head, lest he be considered indecent, vulgar, and perverted.  One of the denizens of this world as fascinated by his hair, and seduces him under the guise of wanting to touch his hair.  As it turns out, she's just a spy looking for information, and is in fact repelled by his hair, and finds it disgusting. 

The cow says "Mooooooooo"


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Reply #74 on: February 21, 2010, 09:21:04 AM
the weird part is how the alien, and his driver, *want* ethan to realize that his fear was producing pleasure to the alien. this is why the discussion about sex vs. gender, and the insisting on money at the end. if ethan would have never been told what is the purpose of the whole thing, and (surely) if he would have not been physically assaulted, then i think there would have been no problem.

but why would the alien insist on him knowing? that was actually the condemnable part.




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Reply #75 on: February 21, 2010, 10:06:30 AM
the weird part is how the alien, and his driver, *want* ethan to realize that his fear was producing pleasure to the alien. this is why the discussion about sex vs. gender, and the insisting on money at the end. if ethan would have never been told what is the purpose of the whole thing, and (surely) if he would have not been physically assaulted, then i think there would have been no problem.

but why would the alien insist on him knowing? that was actually the condemnable part.


I interpreted it differently - the alien didn't care one way or another, but the driver wanted Etan to know what was going on. Probably as a rather misguided attempt at self-justification, where he feels that explaining to people somehow makes what he was doing better.



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Reply #76 on: February 22, 2010, 05:27:03 PM
the weird part is how the alien, and his driver, *want* ethan to realize that his fear was producing pleasure to the alien. this is why the discussion about sex vs. gender, and the insisting on money at the end. if ethan would have never been told what is the purpose of the whole thing, and (surely) if he would have not been physically assaulted, then i think there would have been no problem.

but why would the alien insist on him knowing? that was actually the condemnable part.



Maybe that's the alien's OTHER fetish--the creepy "I need to shower" reaction. 



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Reply #77 on: February 23, 2010, 09:16:55 PM
I've just read four pages of responses to this story and it's been a truly gratifying experience.

I wrote this story to raise questions. I don't know all the answers; I know what I think is right according to my own ethical and moral code. But one size doesn't fit all. An experience some people brush off as forgettable can be significant and/or disturbing to other people. Two people can encounter each other--for one, it's nothing special and for the other, it's a life-changing moment. One person's erotica is another person's belly-laugh...or theology. Pornography is in the eye of the beholder...but what if the beholder doesn't perceive with eyes?

If something happened to you and you felt raped, but everything in the world, including the law, said you hadn't been, what is your recourse? Where can you turn to for understanding? How do you recover?

When I first wrote this story, I was actually thinking of Robert Sheckley's story, "Untouched By Human Hands," in which two humans are searching a warehouse on an alien planet--ravenously hungry, they're trying to find something to eat. First, they work from the hypothesis of one person's meat being another's poison. But after discovering that the aliens' food and poison are both poison for them, they look for yet another alternative. They do find one, but I'm not going to tell you what it is.

Thanks to all of you for your reactions. I appreciate them.



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Reply #78 on: February 24, 2010, 03:30:56 PM
If something happened to you and you felt raped, but everything in the world, including the law, said you hadn't been, what is your recourse? Where can you turn to for understanding? How do you recover?

I always like when the author drops in.  :)  This question you mentioned is an interesting addition.  Society would probably dismiss such a person as eccentric or insane, and any justice would be left to that person to carry out themselves--the retribution itself would be seen as further proof of insanity, thus confirming people's suspicions. 

(I did just watch Shutter Island last night, so I may be riffing on that a bit)  :)



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Reply #79 on: February 24, 2010, 08:44:01 PM
Moral discussion aside, I think the fact that this little story has generated so much discussion is a testament to the author.

I especially liked the extended awkwardness of the ending. If you live long enough to experience a situation that is so completely beyond your control -- and I'm not talking about sex, just life occurrences in general -- that you can only submit and ride the tide and may never really achieve a resolution, then you can appreciate that awkward moment. "Should I be mad?" "Was I just an unwitting victim to something?" "Does it matter?"

In the end, the morals don't matter anyway. 'Violation' is purely subjective, and subjective from each side. If I have sex with my wife at every opportunity and go into it feeling as though it's all about me and I don't care what she gets out of it, then I am violating her. By many of the definitions in the preceding discussion I am raping her. However, if from her point of view she gets out of it what she wants, then she is not being violated, but rather gratified.

Screaming 'rape' in the absence of such both gives unnecessary weight to a non-crime and diminishes the deserved attention of actual violations. In that case, the screamer is the criminal and deserves to be harshly punished.



tinroof

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Reply #80 on: February 25, 2010, 04:40:29 PM
Screaming 'rape' in the absence of such both gives unnecessary weight to a non-crime and diminishes the deserved attention of actual violations. In that case, the screamer is the criminal and deserves to be harshly punished.

Because the risk of prosecution if no one believes them is really going to help victims feel comfortable with reporting their abusers.



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Reply #81 on: February 25, 2010, 05:10:49 PM
Screaming 'rape' in the absence of such both gives unnecessary weight to a non-crime and diminishes the deserved attention of actual violations. In that case, the screamer is the criminal and deserves to be harshly punished.

Because the risk of prosecution if no one believes them is really going to help victims feel comfortable with reporting their abusers.

Well, people who maliciously file false reports should absolutely be punished. Its a criminal act with the potential to destroy the other person's life. You can't just let that go.

And people do, in fact, do this. Here's one rather mind boggling example:

http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/years/2010/0128101cigs1.html

As far as I know its only in the cases where its very clear the woman was lying that she is charged with anything, as in this example, which is as it should be.



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Reply #82 on: March 04, 2010, 12:31:37 AM
Whether it was rape or not, the story thoroughly creeped me out and left me with a sick feeling in my stomach. 

I don't know if it was the author's intention to inspire nausea.  If so, then the story was a success, if a rather unpleasant one.

I doubt it, though.



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Reply #83 on: March 04, 2010, 12:35:41 AM
Hmm, i wonder if we put up a poll with the options "I am a female and was disturbed by this story", "I am a female and was not disturbed by this story", and the same for "I am a male...", how the percentages would work out.  I'm thinking that more females would be disturbed by the story, even though the victim in the story was a male, due to women in human cultures tending to be victims of assault more than men. 

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Reply #84 on: March 12, 2010, 05:51:23 PM
Wow!  I had no idea there was such an interesting discussion board on here!  I just came on to see why there hadn't been any new episodes lately, I may have to come back to get in on these convos!

I'd like to briefly chime in about what I thought about the story.

I am really grateful that this story is opening up a conversation about "what is rape?" in a culture that seldom has the stomach to look at the issue for very long.

I think it is very unfortunate that we live in a society in which victims of sexual assault of any kind feel the need to remain silent for fear of stigmatization.

did the tribble rape etan?  Here I think that we've really assumed that the creature is capable of understanding human emotions.  If you are defining his rape as: intentionally invoking fear and alarm for sexual gain, than from Etan's perspective, then yes.  What are not considering is does the creature understand that the particular vibrations he prefers are from fear?  from anger?  Can he understand that sex is a power/control/trust issue in humans?  Can he be committing a crime if he's unaware of the implications?

Now I am NOT trying to promote that human rapists/sexual violators can/should be freed from this idea of intent, since they are part of and in tune with the human condition.  I think it's interesting that no one so far (that I read) has questioned our automatic assumption that the Tribble experiences life the way we do and can conceptualize harm/fear/rape.  Very anthropomorphic.

The navigator is obviously uncomfortable with what he is perceiving as a sexual violation.  He passes that concept onto Etan.  Had the navigator never mentioned sex, Etan would never have thought of it in that way, and hence (because of the lack of physical intimacy) would not have been violated in anyway other than the way we all feel after encountering a indolent, crazy person on the bus.

What if the navigator is misinterpreting the creatures feelings of sexual satisfaction?  How can we really know if that's what's going on, or if that's the navigators interpretation of events?

I'm just saying, let's not assume that we can understand Tribbles.

It is the way it is, because it is that way


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Reply #85 on: March 12, 2010, 07:03:48 PM
Wow!  I had no idea there was such an interesting discussion board on here!  I just came on to see why there hadn't been any new episodes lately, I may have to come back to get in on these convos!

I'd like to briefly chime in about what I thought about the story.

I am really grateful that this story is opening up a conversation about "what is rape?" in a culture that seldom has the stomach to look at the issue for very long.

I think it is very unfortunate that we live in a society in which victims of sexual assault of any kind feel the need to remain silent for fear of stigmatization.

did the tribble rape etan?  Here I think that we've really assumed that the creature is capable of understanding human emotions.  If you are defining his rape as: intentionally invoking fear and alarm for sexual gain, than from Etan's perspective, then yes.  What are not considering is does the creature understand that the particular vibrations he prefers are from fear?  from anger?  Can he understand that sex is a power/control/trust issue in humans?  Can he be committing a crime if he's unaware of the implications?

Now I am NOT trying to promote that human rapists/sexual violators can/should be freed from this idea of intent, since they are part of and in tune with the human condition.  I think it's interesting that no one so far (that I read) has questioned our automatic assumption that the Tribble experiences life the way we do and can conceptualize harm/fear/rape.  Very anthropomorphic.

The navigator is obviously uncomfortable with what he is perceiving as a sexual violation.  He passes that concept onto Etan.  Had the navigator never mentioned sex, Etan would never have thought of it in that way, and hence (because of the lack of physical intimacy) would not have been violated in anyway other than the way we all feel after encountering a indolent, crazy person on the bus.

What if the navigator is misinterpreting the creatures feelings of sexual satisfaction?  How can we really know if that's what's going on, or if that's the navigators interpretation of events?

I'm just saying, let's not assume that we can understand Tribbles.

Welcome, elleasea!  I'm glad you've decided to check out the forum and join the discussion.  :)

Interesting points!  I assumed that the alien understood human fear/reactions/taboos because of the presence of the navigator.  The navigator seemed to be both dedicated to doing his job well and also prone to talk, so I would assume that he would've told his employer at great length about whatever he wanted to know.  Then again, the alien might just not be interested in explanations as long as he gets his satisfaction, and could've ignored any explanation.

And your questioning of the assumption that the navigator understands the alien to any great degree is also a good point.  We don't know if he made that interpretation up himself or if his employer told him directly.  Even if he was told directly, that doesn't mean that he wasn't misled or that he didn't misunderstand.  If I had an assistant of another species, I doubt I'd tell him certain details such as details of certain "taboo" subjects, and the definition of "taboo" varies widely even between human cultures.

And is this alien's "sexual" feeling necessarily the same as what we'd interpret as sexual?  Our minds can have other strong reactions provoked by sounds or scents.  If I walk past a music hall and hear the sounds of a beautiful symphony I might be overcome with emotion.  If I tried to explain this to a member of another sentient species, would they really understand that this human emotion caused by music is any different than human sexual pleasure?  So in the story, when the navigator is explaining this, I don't think it's far-fetched to speculate that the navigator doesn't entirely understand his employer.  Would this story be any less creepy if the alien were only experiencing an emotional reaction to an auditory cue that triggers something in its brain that has nothing to do with sex, much like a beautiful symphony might have on me?  Could it still be construed as rape if neither Etan nor the alien see it as sexual at the time of the event, but the navigator convinces Etan's it was sexual after the fact?

And in the case of experiencing strong emotion when walking past a music hall--could that be considered a violation?  If this alien responds sexually to different noises, maybe the sound of a violin simulates a similar feeling in its mind as being raped.  If you invited the alien to a symphony, is that a crime?
« Last Edit: March 12, 2010, 07:06:56 PM by Unblinking »