[REVIEW/ACRA] End of Month Reviews #41 - May 2007 [spoilers]

Martin Phipps martinphipps2 at yahoo.com
Thu Jun 14 15:10:46 PDT 2007

On Jun 14, 9:40 am, Tom Russell <milos_par... at yahoo.com> wrote:
> On Jun 13, 2:33 pm, Martin Phipps <martinphip... at yahoo.com> wrote:

> > On Jun 13, 10:03 am, "Saxon Brenton" <saxonbren... at hotmail.com> wrote:
> > > Jolt City #8
> > > 'Panic In A Pretty Box'
> > > An Eightfold [8Fold] series
> > > by Tom Russell
> > > on a visceral level
> > > I found myself cruising through, wondering if there was some way to
> > > heighten the effect - perhaps by differentiated the consensual sex scene
> > > from the rape scene by choosing different words (a formal 'penis' as
> > > opposed to a slangy 'cock' or euphemistic 'male member', for example).
> > I thought the same thing.  The more vulgar language may have been
> > appropriate here.  One could even go farther and have the Contessa use
> > words to objectify Martin, the way a male rapist would do likewise to
> > dehumanize his victim.  It's all a question of whose point of view one
> > wants to emphasize I suppose.
> It's a good point-- less vulgar language for less vulgar sex, more
> vulgar language for rape, giving the latter a more visceral and
> unpleasant charge.  By using the same language for all three sexual
> encounters in the piece, the rape scene is rendered less horrifying
> and dramatic.
> Which is exactly what I was going for.

Well, then, congratulations. :)

> My intention was not to heighten the drama or surface revulsion, but
> to explore something deeper and, potentially, more disturbing, for
> both the character and the reader.  Martin is unable to maintain an
> erection during his encounter with Dani, a woman that he has declared
> his love for.  But he's unable to cease an erection when he's being
> raped by the Contessa.  This is very disturbing for him, because it
> implies that, on some level, that he enjoys it.
> Now, I don't think that he does-- but the important thing here is not
> what I think but what he thinks.  And what he thinks isn't something
> definite.  Martin Rock never really has an answer, but rather floats
> or ping-pongs between extremes.
> I tried to further cloud the issue by making the sexual encounter with
> Pam particularly violent.  Not violent in the sense of a rape, but
> violent in that it's hot and sweating and there's clothing being torn
> and it's ultimately, at least at this point, more about sex-- about
> animal lust and power and frustration-- than about anything as
> healthy-- or lofty-- as love.
> The fact is, he's able to go the distance with Pam, he's able to reach
> climax-- but he wasn't able to do so with Dani.  Does that mean that
> he craves more lustful sex, that he's attracted to power-playing?  Or
> could it simply be the issue of trust-- he can trust Pam whereas he
> can't trust Dani?  Or honesty-- he knows Pam likes Martin Rock, warts
> and all, while Dani-- and the Contessa-- love the dashing Green
> Knight.
> The rape scene, then-- at least the way I designed it to work within
> the structure-- is meant to comment not only on the sexuality issue,
> but also on the larger issues of trust, love, and personal identity.
> And it was also my way of commenting on that most disturbing of
> superhero tropes-- the femme fatale supervillainess who ties up the
> hero and seduces him.  (Admittedly, this occurs more in fan-fiction
> than in actual comics.)
> The sexually potent female villain occurs far more often than the
> sexually potent male villain.  The potent male villain is gross and
> icky and revolting, the product of a sick, sick mind.  But the potent
> female is "cool" and "sexy".
> If a male villain was to tie-up and seduce a female superhero, it
> would be disgusting and unquestionably rape.  But if it was a
> supervillainess, it'd be "awesome".  An aggressive female doesn't
> register as being aggressive, or rather that aggressiveness is
> considered "hot".
> My aim, then, was to pointedly and blatantly say that no matter who
> the perpetrator is, a rape is a rape and still horrific.

I really don't want to go there.  The fact is "No" means "No" and you
can't qualify the crime based on whether or not you think the victim
"Wanted it".  I'm not saying that this is what you are doing but,
ultimately, whether or not Martin ultimately enjoyed the experience is
beside the point: what made it rape is the fact that he said "No" but
the Contessa continued anyway.

> I think if I used different language for the different scenes, it
> would have the effect of sensationalizing the rape.  I was aiming for
> more subtle and disconcerting contrasts.

I still think it's good to experiment with using different words to
establish a different effect: the slight differences in connotation of
different words (as you pointed out yourself in the disclaimer) can
have a different effect on the reader.  If Martin were going to a
hospital to have his "male member" examined then he probably _would_
say "penis" and not "cock" for example.  The choice of what word to
use really depends on how you want the readers to interpret what the
scene is about: if the nurse at a hospital were to refer to Martin's
"male member" as a "cock" instead of a "penis" then readers (and
probably Martin himself) would get the impression that there's some
sexual tension going on here.

> Now, it's certainly possible that I made the wrong choice for my aims,
> and it's also certainly possible that I had the wrong aims in mind.
> I'm not rambling here to say that I'm right and anyone else is wrong;
> I'm just trying to explain my aims and purposes, and to encourage
> discussion.
> So, please, Saxon-- Martin-- and anyone else-- except Mitchell, who
> can't read the story until he's older ;-) -- respond, argue,
> discuss! :-)

Martin... suddenly has the urge to go watch his "Dirty Nurses" DVD but
he'll have to wait until his wife is sleeping ;)

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