Author Topic: EP237: Roadside Rescue  (Read 26468 times)

wakela

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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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Talia

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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 »



lowky

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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.



tinroof

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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.



Talia

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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...



lowky

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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.



lowky

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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. 


tinroof

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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.



wakela

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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 »



tinroof

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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.



wakela

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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.