Monday, June 16, 2014

Don’t Comment Before Reading...

 ...all of this post.

I stumbled into a discussion of the group Fantasy Writers on Facebook. A writer posed a question that garnered over 200 comments.

Here is the question. But remember, read all of it including the points before formulating an opinion:

Ladies! I need your input here since I'm not fond of the idea of physically asking strange women at a bar lol. 
If you were forced to get naked, not in a good way, and then told to put clothes back on. What would you put on first and why? 
The scene is a man who is to train an unruly and difficult woman in martial arts. She has to be broken mentally so this exercise is designed to break her further by making her realize that she has no control or power over anything, even her own body.
He gave these points:
  • This is a training exercise, to "break her further" and watch ‘for any frailties’.
  • There is nothing sexual about this training procedure. Nothing.
  • She is "also a mother of a child that the state is trying to take away from her. The man is trying to help her so she can prove to the state she is adult and able to care for her child".
  • The trainers "role in this book is to define the MC, which is the woman, and to further explain the Order of the Mages".
  • The training is "the same way knuckle heads get trained in military boot camp. Sometimes you have to knock heads around make the points clear".
  • Shaming her isn’t the goal. "The goal is to break her spirit so that she can receive the training well. So that she can understand. Because she is so stubborn the male (trainer) understands this and knows it has to be done to save her and her child.
  • The goal isn't sex and the motive was never sexual in nature.
  • The training is voluntary, requested by the woman
I took it as a training exercise to break the MC's inhibitions and school her to *listen* to the trainer, just like a bootcamp.

Other writers went a whole nuther way. They were greatly offended. It was sexual, it was demeaning, it was rape. How could the author "...possibly understand how terrible it was since he wasn't a woman...."

Insert my *confused face* here. 

I found the different views fascinating. Even with the author's explanations in the comments, still people expressed their disgust to what they determined was sexual and demeaning in nature.

So what do you think? Do you take offense, judge this as a terrible scene? Or is this simply a serious question posed by a professional writer wanting feedback? And how would you answer the question?


  1. If the trainer were a woman they wouldn't think it sexual.
    Demeaning yes, but boot camp and basic training are designed that way. I view the scene the same way you did.

  2. I'm a very cold person, ie, I am only 'comfortable' at temps above 70 degrees (and really I Iike 75-80) so this determines how I get dressed after my shower: bra, undershirt, shirt, undies, pants, socks, shoes. Why the bra and undershirt first? Because it covers my core and that gets me warm fastest. And since it's habit, I dress in that order pretty much all the time. But that's just me...

  3. Oh! And I did not find the question offensive. Jeez. The guy was just asking the opposite sex how they would do something under certain circumstances.

  4. How else can you find out information? Personally I'd probably put on the underwear first, bottom then top. Why? Habit mostly, and contrary to mshatch, I have a very warm inner core (why I moved north) and sometimes I even put on socks first if I'm wearing them. . .

    However, that said, I wouldn't like boot camp at all - to force a person to disrobe bothers most females more than males and yes, it does put the female at a disadvantage. She is going to be annoyed.

  5. There were enough caveats in the description to explain the situation. But people only see what they believe to be true, and no matter how many caveats you give, someone will be offended. Sigh.

  6. Nope, didn't take offense. I think it's good that he's actually trying to get accurate information. In place of your confused face, I insert an eye-roll. It's a non-sexual training exercise. No, it isn't pleasant, but like people, characters go through crap too.

  7. I am assuming this is research for a book or story? Writing also includes countless hours of research. We live in a crazy country.
    That said something was passed onto my FB yesterday with a hashtag of #StopFathersDay the campaign says because it is too gender specific. I am starting my own @ #stopbirthdaysnow. Birthdays are killing people!

  8. Seriously? That is mild compared to the rape, enslavement and perverted treatment of women I read in Epic Fantasy almost daily. And for the life of me I can't figure out how his scenario is sexual at all.

    And believe it or not, I freeze to death after a bath even in mid summer. I do shirt first, without inserting my arms because I need those under the shirt to do bra next. I want as much area covered as quickly as possible. :>P

  9. Mmm... yeah that's just people taking things way out of proportion.

    Honestly, if he really succeeded in breaking her, what she puts on hardly matters. She might not even really bother with it immediately.

  10. It wasn't sexual in was part of training. Although I have to wonder if the man would have actually LOOKED while she was naked, if it was, after all, only about training...

  11. Perhaps it was the way the original was worded: "If you were forced to get naked, not in a good way, and then told to put clothes back on. What would you put on first and why?"

    It's a bit ambiguous, but it could be interpreted that "not in a good way" meant being forced/raped. I was uncertain exactly what that meant; maybe others were too.

  12. Carol made a very good point. The writer could have put the specifics in a better way and not freaked people out. I had an angry gut reaction. It sounds like an abusive power-over-woman thing. Then I realized it could just be a G.I. Jane thing. Either way, you couldn't pay me to read a book like that.

  13. I didn't take it in a sexual or demeaning way, particularly since the person posing the question made a point of explaining the point of the question.

    Having read the way Terry Goodkind did various trainings in his books, I'm open minded to see how things can be done, especially when it comes to training meant to "break down and rebuild".

  14. It generally makes my skin crawl and the explanation/points didn't really help that much - if the trainer is going to "break" her, then shame is definitely on the table because shame is a part of breaking someone. And the question is really a dumb one because it depends on how broken the character is at the end of the scene or if she's extremely bold and not broken. The idea of "breaking" someone completely to make them stronger is . . . actually not that viable. The people who make it through the toughest training in the military may feel broken, but the ones that don't make it all the way through the special forces training and have to 'quit' out are the ones that walk away actually broken and it's devastating. I've met people who were "broken" completely in that way and it takes years for them to heal - stronger, eventually, yet, but not strong in the way that the trainers may have intended.

  15. Talk about a hornet's nest! Just from the comments here I'm sure this other writer wished she had not hit that nest with a stick.

    I did not think it sexual at all. Demeaning, shaming and perhaps a tad cruel but I saw the reason behind the action. It is for a book. Books are not real.

    I, in my stubborn state, would probably not dress again to prove a point.

  16. Hello, words from the author of said post.

    Just letting you guys know I still read this from time to time. I enjoy your understanding and appreciate your perspective. Thanks!

    In case you're wondering I ended up having her put the bottoms on first.

  17. Hello, words from the author of said post.

    Just letting you guys know I still read this from time to time. I enjoy your understanding and appreciate your perspective. Thanks!

    In case you're wondering I ended up having her put the bottoms on first.


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