Mind rape?

Jul. 24th, 2009 11:31 am
ext_396464: (Default)
[identity profile] xdoop.insanejournal.com posting in [community profile] scans_daily


While they didn't create the term, TV Tropes defines "Mind Rape" as when "a character is attacked by a villain in the most painful non-physical way possible. Their mind and soul are assaulted with painful, horrifying visions and memories, and broken until they're powerless and numb, but not dead, although afterwards they may wish they were. Nothing sexual occurs, but everything else is there to resemble a rape - violation, helplessness, and the poisoning of what could otherwise be a source of joy."

However I've seen a lot of people throw the term around whenever a character gets their mind read without their permission, as if it's just as bad (or almost as bad) as the act of sexual assault itself.

One such example occurred in New Avengers #19, by Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Deodato.

SHIELD has asked the New Avengers for help dealing with the Collective, which is later revealed to be the unified energy signatures of all the mutants depowered after "M-Day." Spider-Man and the Young Avengers' Vision are on the Helicarrier when SHIELD discovers that the energy readings match those of a large number of the depowered  mutants. When Spider-Man discovers the connection to the House of M, Iron Man tells him to take the Vision and get off the ship.




Later...






Another example of when the term "mind rape" was used was in reference to this scene from Captain America #28, by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting.




So, do you think any of these examples are comparable to actually raping someone?

Date: 2009-07-24 03:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taggerung301.insanejournal.com
i would use the word "mind-torture" for the spiderman one
granted, they did take something from him, but rape is a strong word, and I personally wouldn't want to throw it around too lightly

and the one with crossbones is hardly rape or even torture in my opinion

Date: 2009-07-24 03:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kagome654.insanejournal.com
You know what's like rape?

Rape. That's it. The more I think about it the more I'm all for retiring the term 'mind rape' entirely. While I admit that something like what Asuka suffered in Evangelion suggests a type of violation, and leads to an overwhelming sense of powerlessness, that makes it tempting to compare it to the act of rape, I still don't think it's appropriate. It's an entirely fictional and sci-fi/fantasy based attack, as are most attacks that are considered 'mind rape,' making it a completely different monster than something as real as sexual assault. The idea of attacking someone mentally is abhorrent to me, and I used to use the term 'mind rape' frequently, but now I feel really uncomfortable when fictitious mental attacks are compared to something like rape, even if the people using the term aren't actually equating the two.

Date: 2009-07-24 05:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bluefall.insanejournal.com
It's an entirely fictional and sci-fi/fantasy based attack

Eh, not really. Actually reading someone's mind isn't possible in real life, no, but many of the control/distort things telepaths do in fiction are: altering someone's memory through hypnotism, drugs, etc; messing with someone's personality and priorities through psychological manipulation and/or torture; inflicting fear or hallucination or altering perception through drugs - these lack the precision and accuracy rate of sci fi telepathy, but they're still quite plausible. Examining the morality of that kind of activity through a close metaphorical lens, trying to find a way to accurately describe and codify just what it means for the person being manipulated and how that relates to other forms of human interaction, actually strikes me as one of the major purposes of genre fiction.

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Date: 2009-07-24 03:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] volksjager.insanejournal.com
There was a really good example of this in Suicide Squad. Bronze Tiger was interrogated by some Gov. types about his past history with the guild of assassins and they tried to make him wear his tiger helmet to prove he was over their influence. Can't recall the issue number . Anyone ?

Date: 2009-07-24 05:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] daningram.insanejournal.com
I don't know if I'd go so far as to call that mind rape. Steel was definately trying to, if not undo or undermine, at the very least test Tiger's deprogramming from his time with the League of Assassin.

Steel pushed some very big buttons, but Tiger could have left, resisted or just flat out ignored Steel. That was no more mind rape than a very harsh and informed questioning by the police.

IIRC, that was in Suicide Squad 38, but I can't say for certain.

And I really gotta wonder if Steel was smoking crack at the time. I understand why he felt the need to make sure Ben wouldn't snap (or would crack there instead of somewhere worse), but it was just Steel and two other guys in an empty room coming down hard on one of the greatest martial in the freakin' world! They'd just been briefed that Ben outfought *Batman*. If Tiger had killed the three of them in a fit of rage, I certainly wouldn't have shed a tear.

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Date: 2009-07-24 04:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mullon.insanejournal.com
Nah, this is more like stealing.

Date: 2009-07-24 04:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] merrickm.insanejournal.com
Thing is, if nonconsensual mindreading equals rape, than pretty much every comic character with the power to do that is guilty at least once. Who's a telepath and has never been seen doing this? I'd agree with the people are pretty uncomfortable with calling it that.

Date: 2009-07-24 08:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greenmask.insanejournal.com
This is why I am hugely prejudiced against telepaths. They are freakin' creepy. Always.

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Date: 2009-07-24 04:13 pm (UTC)
ext_376821: [a wreathe of Kryptonite for Superman] R.I.P. - From, The Mafia (Dnyarri's flowers)
From: [identity profile] galateus.insanejournal.com
(I like how you restrained from directly linking to the TV Tropes entry. It keeps everyone's valuable Internet time from disappearing)

It's hard to compare anything to rape, really, though I can see how the first one might be comparable. General memory-probing like the second one I'd compare to an invasive strip-search. It's not malicious, and the heroes believe they're justified because if they did find something useful it might save lives, but it's still a violation.

Date: 2009-07-24 04:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fungo_squiggly.insanejournal.com
Wait, so all it takes to bring down Spiderman is some no-name SHIELD psychic?

Obviously his rogues have been going about it the wrong way all along. If Spidey ever attracts the attention of a bad guy with a name like Mesmero or Mentallo or Hypnotoad, I expect he'll be dead within the hour.

Date: 2009-07-24 04:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taggerung301.insanejournal.com
that's very true - he has pretty much no mental defenses

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Date: 2009-07-24 04:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stratosfyr.insanejournal.com
Hey, I remember this discussion! :P

Actually comparable to rape rape? No, I don't think so. But it's definitely a violation. It'd be like reading someone's diary, wiretapping them, or taking secret pictures of them in the shower. Depending on the intent of the mind-reader and what was done with the information (is it made public, for instance) it could be absolutely devastating. The psychological effects of having a sensitive or embarrassing secret exposed can be very bad.

These particular examples are both somewhat justified because they amount more to searches by law enforcement... albeit probably warrant-less ones. I'm assuming SHIELD is allowed to do stuff like that, although they really shouldn't be (IMPO). The Spider-Man scene is particularly disturbing to the reader because a) we know what his secrets are and why he tries so hard to keep them secret (to protect his family), and b) we sympathize with him and know that unlike Crossbones, he's not a psycho criminal.

So. Rape? No. Strip-searching, warrantless wiretapping, creepy secret photography, "enhanced interrogation," interrogation without access to legal representation, revocation of the right not to incriminate oneself, and a dozen other reasons to be illegal and immoral? Definitely.

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Date: 2009-07-24 05:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vitruvian23.insanejournal.com
None of your images are coming through at work, so I won't comment on them specifically.

As a general statement, though, I'd reserve the 'mind rape' phrase for acts of mind *control*, rather than mind reading, and even then only for cases of mind control where somebody is actually forced to do something that's either morally or personally repugnant to them, or somebody's mind (character, personality, personally important memories, etc.) is actually changed against their will. What Faustus and the Red Skull do to Sharon Carter, for example, strikes me as qualifying fairly well. The Purple Man evidently frequently combines 'mind rape' with actual rape, and so on. Memory wipes and attempts to 'decriminalize' somebody's personality are kind of borderline cases.

Mind *reading* on the other hand could certainly constitute a major invasion of one's privacy, but doesn't rise to the level where it's a valid metaphor or analogy.

Date: 2009-07-24 05:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bluefall.insanejournal.com
Yes, this. What was done to Dr Light during IdC was mindrape. What was done to Batman was not. What was done to Jessica Jones by the Purple Man was mindrape. What was done to Spidey here was not (though it was stupid and inexcusable). Telepaths are innately sketchy about privacy issues, but looking is a very different thing than changing, which is a grotesque and horrifying concept which I have no problem acknowledging through terminology as the violation that it is.

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Date: 2009-07-24 05:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cygna_hime.insanejournal.com
The thing about nonconsensual mindreading/mindprobing/whatever is that the victim has no way of knowing whether the perpetrator "just" looked for one specific piece of surface knowledge or not. Maybe the SHIELD psychic just went in, Google "House of M" in my brain, and came out...or maybe she didn't. Maybe she went rifling through all my thoughts, from my secret identity to all those little things about myself I've never told anyone. Maybe she left a psychic suggestion behind. Maybe she altered my perceptions in some way. Maybe she made me walk out into the hallway and murder someone. I can't tell. Crossbones doesn't know his memory has been altered; if Xavier had decided to do so as well, would Crossbones have been able to tell the difference?

A psychic can do a lot of horrible things to a person's brain. I do, actually, think that mind control can be construed as rape. Mind reading cannot, but the victim doesn't know which has just happened. A skilled telepath doesn't leave traces perceptible to anyone but another telepath. So if the victim can't tell the difference, is there a difference? (Serious question, not rhetorical.)

I don't really think that mind-reading is totally comparable to the wiretapping analogy, either. I mean, yes, it's the most comparable thing I can think of, but it's not just my actions that someone's spying on, it's my brain. That's where I keep my me, and as such is infinitely more private (for me; YMMV) than my mere body. The idea of someone being able to go in and look through everything I've felt but not said, every silly dream I've had, every idea, everything I've never been willing to share with anyone because it's too personal and private to tell to the people I love most...I'll be over here. In the corner. Shaking.

Date: 2009-07-24 05:12 pm (UTC)

Date: 2009-07-24 05:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] toasty_fresh.insanejournal.com
It's obviously not the same as rape (not least because it's not real), but having your mind forcibly entered against your will would be, I should think, quite a psychological violation that would lead to a feeling of powerlessness, a feeling of never being safe in one's own mind, and other deep emotional ramifications. Because it's fictional, however, classifying it as mindrape probably isn't the best idea, because you're suggesting that something that isn't real is as horrible as something that is real and affects real people. Idk. I've used it, even though it probably isn't the best term to use, mostly because there wasn't any other way to succinctly express it . . .

Date: 2009-07-24 05:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] box_in_the_box.insanejournal.com
I wouldn't call it "rape," but it is pretty much evil, in the way that Hill did it. Not that this is anything new, since the entire basis of her character is that she believes civil liberties are for pussies ...

Non-consensual mind-reading is always pretty dodgy, but what makes it a quantum leap of worse with Hill is that she resorts to tactics like that as a FIRST resort, and indeed, if you look at the way she treated Peter, for all of her "I don't have time to play games" bullshit, she very clearly extracted information from his mind in the most painful and humiliating GAME-PLAYING way possible, for no other reason than to assert her dominance. She WANTED Peter to know that she'd ripped the information from his mind, and she WANTED it to hurt him, or else she would have had her psychic take the information from his mind WHILE HE WAS UNCONSCIOUS (because really, WHY would she need him awake, when he'd be putting up LESS RESISTANCE while he was asleep?), and she wouldn't have wasted time TELLING HIM WHAT SHE'D DONE AFTERWARDS.

Maria Hill = Dick Cheney-level sadist.

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Date: 2009-07-24 06:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] arilou_skiff.insanejournal.com
I tend to reserve the term (and I don't use it much) for specifically traumatizing and violating results... And generally there has to be some effect other than just plucking information out of your mind.

Date: 2009-07-24 06:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] merseybeatler.insanejournal.com
Frankly I find the idea of having my mind read - another person exposed to my thoughts, emotions, fears, memories, secrets, ect - far, FAR more terrifying than physical rape.

Date: 2009-07-24 07:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aaron_bourque.insanejournal.com
Never visit a "psychic."

Or play with professional poker players.

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Date: 2009-07-24 07:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aaron_bourque.insanejournal.com
Peter's experience comes closer to mindrape, but Xavier's is a threat of mindrape.

Simply reading someone's mind isn't mindrape. There's a reason it's called "mind reading."

Mindrape is forcing someone to perform an action or actions (typically reliving memories, but sometimes more) for the mindrapist's jollies. So he/she can feel power over the victim.

Rape is forcing someone to perform an action (typically sexual, but sometimes more) for the rapist's jollies. So he/she can feel power over the victim.

Date: 2009-07-24 07:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] liliaeth.insanejournal.com
Personally I'm not so sure if I would see either of these two cases as mindrape. Though Xavier is definitely making a threat that would count as such.

One example that I would consider mindrape is what Willow did in All the Way, OMWF and Tabula Rasa. Erasing Tara's mind, to make her girlfriend forget that she was angry with Willow so that she'd stay with her/sleep with her.

Date: 2009-07-24 07:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] starwolf_oakley.insanejournal.com
Maria Hill may have been on a power trip, but I'm hoping most SHIELD psychics are more "just get important info we need to save people's lives" rather than "let's find out how his powers work and if he has any loved ones we can threaten."

This is more of an invasion of privacy (that's not even that private) than any kind of mind-rape.

Xavier probably hates probing Crossbones' mind. After all, this is a guy whose childhood hero is the RED SKULL.

Date: 2009-07-24 09:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] icon_uk.insanejournal.com
SHIELD don't have the best track record with trustworthy metahuman agents. Mentallo (being a good case in point here), the Fixer, the Vamp...

Date: 2009-07-24 07:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] btravage.livejournal.com (from insanejournal.com)
Mindrape is what J'onn J'onnz evil twin did to get kicked off Mars.

Date: 2009-07-24 09:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lonewolf23k.insanejournal.com
That's really more like Invasion of Privacy, and unlawful Search and Seizure.

Now, if the telepaths had forcibly re-ordered those subjects' thoughts, like what Charles had threatened to do to Crossbones, -then- it would've been torture.

Date: 2009-07-24 10:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] goblinthebamf.insanejournal.com
the second example you have with Xavier I think clearly is not. I would agree with Icon_UK and say that the first example of what happens with Spidey is more psychic torture, except then I thought of the example from Uncanny X-Men 131, where Emma has Ororo restrained and uses her powers to painfully extract information on the X-Men. now, under the definition, this is psychic torture, not rape, although Emma is about to step over that line just before Jean steps in, and the whole event is deeply discomforting.

later Emma pulls a bodyswitch but without nearly the same amount of violence involved, simply doing so in a flash and then screwing with the X-Men in Ororo's body. while much less violent an attack, I do think this example qualifies as a rape of some kind- Emma took Ororo's body away from her, came to know it intimately without Ororo's consent and generally violated her. it's not a "mindrape" because Emma doesn't assault Ororo's mind, and it's certainly not a bodily rape as we understand the term, but, especially considering implications of what Emma did off panel with Ororo's body, I do think it fits somewhere under the definition.

tl,dr: psychics are creepy and when they hurt you they can go well beyond any sort of terminology we understand.

Date: 2009-07-26 04:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ashtoreth.insanejournal.com
There's also the implication that Emma had sex with Shaw while in Ororo's body.

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Date: 2009-07-25 06:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] autumn_lily.insanejournal.com
I don't think it is within the same classification as rape really. I would akin it more to someone manipulating another person to the point they feel emotionally and mentally helpless - there's no physical assault - traditional rape is typically a physical show of dominance and humiliation. This is something that happens in real life, without the aid of psychic abilities. It's abuse, I'll grant you, but more along the lines of torture or terrorism. For instance, if you wanted to torment a woman whose kid had just passed, you could send her pictures in the mail of child autopsy photos (I don't approve of this!). It would achieve the same effect as what Xavier threatened to do to Crossbones by forcing him to relieve memories of a troubled childhood, it's similar to what the psychic did to Peter to jar him conscious (but to lesser degree as it's more like a bad dream Peter's having rather than a constant visualization of a terrible event).

Date: 2009-07-25 05:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] menagerie.insanejournal.com
Okay, a few things. Rape can also mean "an act of plunder, violent seizure, or abuse" (ie: rape of the countryside)". (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/rape)

The second thing, and the problem with telepathy at large in fiction, is that how it actually feels is unknown to us. We have no idea how that would effect anyone psychologically or physiologically because telepathy doesn't exist. There's no way to gauge this, or the damage it could do.

However, if you know someone is in your mind, or has been in your mind, against your will, and you can do nothing to prevent them from not only looking at your deepest darkest bits but also not being able to stop them from putting whatever they might like to in your head? Yes, I could see the term as entirely appropriate and potentially even more traumatic than sexual rape. It'd leave a victim with not only the fear of another predatory telepath doing it to them again, but also they'd have to wonder exactly how much of their memory, habit, and personality are actually theirs and how much may have been put in by the violator telepath.

Spidey in the first scene had no idea that a telepath had been in there. What else did they do while they were in there? Change his favorite ice cream flavor? Make him suddenly forget the unfortunate Amazing Bag-Man incident? Made him forget a highschool crush, or how he beat Hydro-Man the past 23 times, or the smell of baking bread? How about make him salivate every time he hears the word "dendrochronologist" and strip whenever he hears the word "defenestrate". I mean that telepath could literally have done anything to him and he would have been entirely helpless to prevent it, and what more, he may never even know it happened. I could see that as much much more terrifying. I think that's a violation of the very core of one's being.

Mind you, mainstream comics are piss poor at addressing how characters deal with this sort of thing psychologically, so it's almost a moot point. Personally, I tend to use the phrase for the more extreme examples of this. ("You'll vomit uncontrollably for 48 hours when you hear the word parsley" etc).

Date: 2009-07-25 07:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] crinosg.insanejournal.com
Now me, I've always considered Mind Rape to be defined as a form of psychic torture; Forcing someone to expect a traumatic event mentally, forcibly digging up past traumas and forcing them to relive it, or driving someone insane using mental pressures.

When Rogue made Bobby relive getting his teeth drilled without novicain in ultimate X men? That's a mind rape. When Agent Mist sicced his hellspiders on the Billberg Sci-Fi club in Fans!? That is a mind rape. What Sarda did to the dark warriors in the latest 8 bit theater, that is a mind rape.

The above scans? Just telepathic interrogation. Probably sketchy under the laws of the land, but unless the victim is notably traumatized from it, I doubt it is mind rape (although Charles did threaten mind rape on Crossbones in the second example).

Date: 2009-07-26 05:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ashtoreth.insanejournal.com
As some have said, telepathy has never been proven to exist, therefore nothing can be said definitively about it. I have met someone who claimed to have such power in RL, and although I didn't believe him, his presence made me feel self-conscious and icky and I wanted to hit him and never be around him in person again. Please note I considered this man my best friend. I'd liken uncontrolled mind-reading to molesting.

Because the power is not well-defined, its been described in many conflicting ways. Both as ambient noise (shallow, surface thoughts that are often meant to punctuate conversation and thoughts deliberately projected) and internal thoughts that are less articulated because they're not meant to be internal monologues but bursts of images/leaps of intuition and logic. In addition there are supposedly deeper levels of thought and memory. Some telepaths claim to hear all surface thoughts around them, like the extra sense that Bluefall describes. Some claim that they need to project, "probe", a part of their astral self into the target mind in order to read it.

Telepathy has been described both as so beyond the target's senses that he cannot feel it, and as a physical feeling, not always pleasant, of someone inside your body/mind.

The actual technique is also variously described. Xavier has been depicted as an astral form flying inside a worldscape. Looking at a person and seeing images and information flying by, not always well understood. A library with files, some of which can be locked. In Moon Knight, the Profiler has visual telepathy--he sees graffiti around a person that details everything about them.

There are also various forms of rape. Usually, the word is meant to mean when someone brutally forces another person to have sex. In general, it means whenever sex occurs when the other person doesn't want to, date rape, coercion, etc. There is also the additional versions, like when you "rape the countryside" by ruining and taking what you like without asking.

Many people also liken home invasions to a feeling of deep violation. Just knowing someone has been inside your home without permission makes many people angry.

It is possible to touch someone against their will, and if it is not intended, there is no harm, no foul, though it is certainly uncomfortable. We can liken this to telepaths who can't control themselves. They are basically children running around taking shits everywhere. You don't blame them, but you don't want them around either. And it is certainly possible to punish them if you think they've done business deliberately, ie. revealing information from someone's mind you couldn't help reading. I've read a number of rapefics which depict rape exams being enacted afterward as being nearly as traumatic and shameful as the initial crime. I know for a fact that gynecological exams can be horrible, shameful and painful experiences. Sex itself can be as neutral as a biological function, or it can be a wonderful, sharing experience.

The only person who can tell you how it was is the target.

Please note, there is no excuse for any of these things. There's a reason protections against violations are part of the law. Both civilian law and the Uniform Code of Military Justice provide limits and punishments. Discipline is not optional and the military, at least, does not appreciate people assuming that because some criminals think they could do as they please, that these are heroic soldiers whose actions should be excused and glorified. Only politicians and those who directly do their will are, at present, too difficult to prosecute. However, someone's refusal to take responsibility for their actions is usually a good measure of whether they knew it was wrong or not.

Date: 2009-07-28 05:37 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Aside from the main topic of the post, isn't spider-man/parker usually (when written correctly) the kind of guy who's smart enough to realize something like this is going on and avoid it or something....rather than, you know, just fall like gullible joe-schmo into their trap (the oh we just needed you to think it, fooled you!)

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