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Upset, depressed, angry, heartsick.

Posted about my initial reactions to the assignment over on tumblr. Posts c/p'd after the cut.
I am so upset and angry and heartsick
Thanks. classmates. Thank you so fucking much for showing me that the blame-the-victim mentality is still disgustingly present in a class with adults all over the age of 25. I am disgusted with tears on my cheeks and my hands shaking. Blackmailing someone into sex, even if she eventually relents and accepts, is not consensual sex. It is not consensual. Fuck the majority of you who typed variations of: “made the conscious decision to betray her lover”, “She…betrayed her love to get to him ”, all these things labeling her as a betrayer?
Swearing here until I can breathe appropriately again and write something coherent and appropriate on the discussion board. Actually, I need to email the professor first. I am so angry.


I wrote my prof to explain my current state and disgust. Because right now I can’t do my own post with academically appropriate language. I had a more civil and empathetic discussion about homosexuality with my adult students from a variety of cultural backgrounds last semester for chrissake.


I’m crying again and now I’m just depressed. I’m sad and exhausted because I am so disappointed. Because as many beautiful, brilliant, intelligent, empathetic, and understanding people are out there, and as many of you as I surround myself with, there seems to be an endless flow of people filled with hate, willful ignorance, and people missing a heart or full soul.

I think I’ll post the thing that we read for class and the task that goes along with it, because I want you to understand what’s behind this emotional rollercoaster for me. I’m struggling to regain my joy and happiness of the day because right now it feels like everything has been ruined for me.

So the following is what the assignment for my class is: Read the Alligator River Story: "Moral Education on the Banks of the Alligator River" By Joseph Fletcher. Go to Module 6: Discussions to find your assigned group to discuss and to eventually come to a consensus ranking for the group. Once there you will go and post your individual rankings of each character in the story (see the directions at the bottom of the story). To reiterate; Each of you represent a "high magistrate" individually rank the moral order of the characters i.e.Sylvia, Hector, Sinbad, Ivan, & Atlas (1 being the most moral reprehensible to 5 being the least morally reprehensible), then in your groups come up with group rankings.

Moral Education on the Banks of the Alligator River

In the sylvan setting of the land of Ethos runs the sinuous Alligator River, named for the reptiles who populate its water and banks and who dine upon any local denizens unfortunate enough to fall into their gaping maws. On one side of the river lives Sylvia: sensitive, demure, and chaste: across the river lives Hector, Sylvia's love: proud and strong, in spirit and mind. No wall of stone or statute more effectively separated this Thisbe from her Pyramis than did the Alligator River. No Hero pined more for her Leander, no Juliet longed more for her Romeo, than did Sylvia for her Hector.

Independent and resourceful, Sylvia determined to discover a means of transporting herself safely across the Alligator River to join her lover. Hector, Sylvia's first encounter in her quest was with Sinbad, the Sailor, Sylvia explained to Sinbad her plight, testified to him aloud her great love for Hector, and implored Sinbad to lend her his boat, the only means of transport across the river, Sinbad, opportunistic and wanton, agreed to the loan of his boat upon the condition that Sylvia first spend the night with him.

Sylvia's indignation at Sinbad's promiscuous proposition and its challenging of her chastity and of the fidelity to Hector provoked her to tears, and she turned from Sinbad in anger to pursue other alternatives for crossing the river.

Still distraught, Sylvia next encountered Ivan, the Uninvolved, to whom she related her predicament and Sinbad the Sailor's coarse recommendation to her. Ivan listened impatiently, and a slight frown of disdain crossed his face as he issued forth his reaction: "Don't bother me with your problems, Sylvia; I've enough to worry about myself without carrying the burden of your petty hardships."

Separation from Hector was hardly a "petty" consideration for Sylvia, however, and she departed Ivan more hurt and distressed than ever. Confused, lovesick, and dispirited. Sylvia decided reluctantly to return to Sinbad to accept his bargain, rationalizing that the end, being with her lover Hector, justified the means, compromising her fidelity and chastity. Sinbad the Sailor, true to his bargain, accepted Sylvia into his cabin for the night and lent her his boat the following day so that Sylvia soon crossed the Alligator River for a joyful reunion with Hector. Hector welcomed Sylvia into his arms, for he loved and admired her deeply. For one full day Hector and Sylvia enjoyed the blissful peace of their warm and tender regard for one another. Yet soon Sylvia, nagged by her conscience for the expedient she had adopted for realizing her purpose, admitted to Hector the tough bargain Sinbad had insisted upon.

Hector was not sympathetic. In fact, his rage at Sylvia's betrayal of him culminated in his casting aside of Sylvia; Hector dismissed Sylvia from his presence, vowing never again to look at her for her infidelity. Sylvia's remorse, shame, and dejection at Hector's reaction soon festered into rage at his harsh lack of understanding. As Sylvia wandered about, she happened upon Atlas, who listened to her story and completely empathized with Sylvia's ire at Hector: in fact, Atlas suggested that Sylvia retaliate against Hector. She agreed, and Atlas assumed upon his shoulders the task of becoming the agent of Hector's punishment. Sylvia led Atlas back to Hector, and Atlas brutally beat Hector, a spectacle that was accompanied by Sylvia's scornful laughter, for now she had bruised Hector physically as he had bruised her emotionally.

When the King of Ethos, Solomon the Wise and Just, heard of the Alligator River incident, he proclaimed that all five of his subjects, Sylvia, Hector, Sinbad, Ivan and Atlas, were morally culpable, that all five had made immoral value choices and judgments, and that all five should suffer some consequence for their sin. Solomon, wise enough to avoid confusing principle with practice or confusing the proclaiming of judgment with the executing of justice, delegated responsibility to his nine high magistrates to make the punishments fit the crimes. Their first task was to declare who of the five was guilty of the most heinous crime, who was guilty of the next most odious sin, and so forth until they had listed all five subjects in order of most morally reprehensible to least morally reprehensible. The high magistrates, after much painful deliberation, presented to King Solomon the following list:

Each of you represent a “high magistrate” individually rank the moral order of the characters (1 being the most morally reprehensible to 5 being the least morally reprehensible), then in your groups come up with group rankings. Have a rationale to defend the outcomes.

My ranks & rationale.
1. Hector – For someone who supposedly "loved and admired [Sylvia] deeply" he sure was an ass. He was not sympathetic or empathetic, he viewed Sylvia as having "betrayed" him, dismissed her entirely, and swore to never see her again. Sir, the woman you were claimed to love was sexually assaulted. Dismissing her entirely ranks him worse than Sinbad. If we want to discuss betrayal, it is Hector who betrayed Sylvia's love and he so-called caring feelings for her.

2. Sinbad – He blackmailed and coerced Sylvia into non-consensual sex. There is no excuse for that. Ever.

3. Sylvia – She suffered the decision to compromise herself in order to reach her lover, submitting to unwanted sex (this was non-consensual, this is sexual assault or rape, this was not willing). She admitted what had happened to her lover. She suffered what basically amounted to a breakdown and while her depression and eventual rage are fully understandable and in fact justified, she ranks 3 because she let herself be carried away on the desire for revenge. She was swayed by Atlas' encouragement of retaliation and laughed as her former lover's pain. Had she not enjoyed his pain, she would be ranking 4.

4. Atlas – Think about if your spouse/significant other/parent/sibling/child/best friend told you the story that Sylvia told – of being forced into sex in order to reach his/her significant other. Would you simply stand by? The way he retaliated and beat Hector is not how we tend to think of handling things civilly, but that he was the sole person empathetic and willing to listen to Sylvia's story puts him lower in the ranking.

5. Ivan – He avoided having anything to do with the situation. He certainly could have helped and he did contribute to the emotional toil Sylvia faced when trying to figure out her situation, but his (in)action contributed the least amount of damage to others.


Apr. 1st, 2012 08:57 pm (UTC)
I'm... literally here sobbing now because it's turned out to be a huge trigger. I cannot believe I am here hunched over a pillow and my keyboard sobbing and gasping for breath. Just fuck me.