Stigma and Fusion - ethics 101

Discussion in 'Star Trek: Enterprise' started by Guest, Feb 26, 2003.

  1. Guest

    Guest Guest

    from all your posts I guess everyone's just a miffed as I am. The episodes should have been called "Con-fusion" and "Stig-up-my-a..." You get the picture.

  2. Guest

    Guest Guest

    (To Plum: I'd guess that LadyC and I are females, not sure about the rest of you.)
    Yeah, "Fusion" is about rape and assault. But its not a perfect analogy. The two shows (forget any outside ENT continuity arguements, for now please) propose that melds are not practiced by the vast majority, and that the practice is shrouded both by feelings of disgust and a certain willfull ignorance on the part of the authorities. I got the distinct impression from the doctors in Stigma that the whole issue (the action and the disease sometimes spread from the action) is just not talked about in polite Vulcan society. Is T'Pol aware of what she was getting herself into? No, it seemed not, at the time. Could an adult be so ignorant? The story is written so that she is. The analogy to sex is telling. In this day and age we (most of us) try to educate our youth about sexuality and assault using sex. There's plenty of information available. It wasn't that long ago that this wasn't so. The writers here imply the same sort of ignorance surround a mind meld.

    After having been assaulted, did T'Pol proclaim that she had been abused and demand justice? No. My take on it was guilt, misplaced or not. Is this an analogy to rape? It sure is. I think some of the comments in this post show you why (RenoF is right. "No" is the only thing that makes it non-consensual in a conscious adult.) There's evidence that male on male, and adult female on boys, rape/assault is dramatically under reported. Why would it be? Guilt, humiliation, not wanting to look like a "sissy". There are intelligent adults out there, mature by most standards, who would rather keep their mounths shut about such an assault, especially if they felt they might have a) brought it on theirselves, or b) will be humiliated by the process of reporting it.
    In the case of "Fusion", T'Pol, already seen as "odd" by other Vulcans for her desired closeness to, ick, emmotional humans, feels safer allowing her human friends to take whatever limited actions can be made, and to support her. She's not going to blab about the situation to her own government because of her own guilt in "fooling" around with these Vulcans who are even more strange than she. Later, in Stigma, T'Pol, is now appearently (my kingdom for better, less confusing writing) more educated about melds and the disease she's carrying. She feels the minority is unfairly descriminated against, so she determines not to tell how she got the disease. She decides not to be a "good" victim. But note that she still wanted to keep the whole thing under wraps. She doesn't want to discribe anything to the other Vulcans: not her condition, not her assault, nothing. She'd like to continue dealing with the whole thing privately because its just too damn emmotional!

    P.S. If you think we're all sexually educated, an example: An 80 year old widow I know, married 3 times, having 2 children, was totally ignorant that there was any type of sex other than the good old mish-pish, and was mystified by a film we were watching where two characters were obviously having sex standing up.
  3. Guest

    Guest Guest

    I'm also a woman! (daggumit) and at the risk of sounding like a Calvin Klein commercial; Where does consent end and rape begin (in this have baked allegory?) She first consented then she changed her mind and beat him off! Yes he was a piece of *&^%(^&%, yes he was manipulating her but she still should have know better, she is not supposed to be a stupid teenager (or is she?)

    Was she really trying to protect this group of melders or was she trying to protect her self image in the light of her own foolishness. Or more likely was it a mixture of these two. All in all I think we don't see enough to hold this whole allegory together. As soon as you look to hard at it, it's starts falling to pieces or worse yet sends very bad messages. (I'm getting a mild headache already.)

  4. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Bold your quote for emph. Yeah, I don't disagree, the writing not exactly clear on this, but neither is "real life". But considering in "Fusion" "the date" has to explain to her what the meld is, I'd go with the ignorant teenager 80%, foolhearty thrill seeker, 20%.
    But I don't think she was ever trying to "protect" the creep who assaulted her. She was trying to avoid using her own assault as an "out" for her disease, because she felt melders (in general) were unfairly persecuted. This is very clearly explained.
  5. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Maybe she was trying to protect "Melders" (cheese melder or tuna melders?) on one level but can you really ignore the whole aspect that was missing namely the part she played in her own attack? I'm sure there must have a been a point of at least remorse that should have been shown.

    We are all asked to accept this at face value. She should have admitted some responsibility on her part for her situation (to herself of course. How you feel that I'll leave to the professionals :)) Instead she chalks it all up to "I'm trying to protect this group of people" which of course is laudable but doesn't ring entirely true either.

    Aliza Z
  6. voodoowoman

    voodoowoman Commander Red Shirt

    Jan 11, 2003
    The fact that the ep makes no sense is because it is largely contrived to make Jolene the heroine/victim. This increases her popularity with female fans. Any "feminist" issue episode is always skewed to the liberal side of the agenda. Only one outstanding example of the opposite side was when SEven declared herself abused and insisted on punishment. It turned out to be a false memory and Janeway refused to do anything without evidence.
  7. Guest

    Guest Guest

    I don't totally disagree. I didn't think these episodes were perfectly written drama by any stretch. I found them far better than average because them were actually interesting and about something. But I don't find the character's not conforming to one's sense of appropriate contriteness breaks down the analogies involving intimacy, assault, disease and descrimination in the episodes. Personally, as T'Pol was protrayed as being ignorant of this particular intimacy and (I've forgotten his name) was protrayed as being preditory and controlling, I didn't need to see the character confess her "responsibility" any more than her actions seemed to express it. Were we ever to have an episode focusing on a legal proceding against her attacker, yeah, I'd want it discussed. (Similarly, I don't need to see Tucker and Reed confess to everyone on the shuttlepod, 'Yeah, we were stupid drunken sailors who got mugged.' Nor, do I need to see Tucker confess his responsibility for playing wierd mind games with an alien who got him pregnant.)

    However, having started this plot complication, I would like to see the writers return to T'Pol's illness, and its impact, both to her own self image and her place in the crew.
  8. Guest

    Guest Guest

    ... it's funny. T'Pol, and Hoshi, are rather beat upon characters. Notice the guys never have any real internal problems... just the women. T'Pol has suffeed abuse from Archer, the crew, the cute Melder guy, the Vulcans, ... mind rape. The brain washing in The Seventh. Her obvious weird ass attraction to Archer. ... it all treads dangerously close to a 'victem fantasy' or 'wife beater fantasy'. This show really seems to have problems with the women being strong intellegent characters. When Hoshi was actually crying while translating with the alien in Fight or Flight I couldn't believe it... that's her frickin' job! It's the reason she's there. :rolleyes: Some saw this as suspicious character assassination.

    The way women on Trek have been portrayed on modern Trek has gotten more and more conservitive if anything. So called Liberal sexuality (Phlox's Wife) is skewed. Notice that particular incident was only there to demonstrate the writers knowledge of schoolboy inuendo and that abstinance is the best answer. Which anyone with a brain knows is just stupid. Notice how this sort of thinking has been a disaster in American High Schools in the past few years.

    We live in really conservitive times... especially down in the USA. Stigmas confusing and perhaps Freudian in a bad way message may be more than just bad writing... but actually a symptom of the political mores of TPTB. :(
  9. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Thank you! It's so difficult to sift through all these mixed moral messages! We don't know what the writers are trying to say (and I doubt they do either)

    Too many cooks or more likely too many producers. I think it's great that important issues are being address but they have to be address properly. There was alot of good point to be made on this episode, as a matter of fact too many!

    If they had chosen one or two topics and addressed them responsibly and with some depth it would have been preferable. Leave the other points for upcoming episodes.

    Life is confusing enough do we have to watch it on TV too!

  10. Guest

    Guest Guest

    You forgot about Reed. The character appears to need a superior to either insult him or antagonize him in order to express emmotion.
    I thought it very appropriate (and even interesting) in the 1st season for her to be so whimpy, but still soldier on. She's an academic, a landlubber. I'll only agree with the character assassination if they drop back to the 1st seaon characterization in the future. Sato's not had lots to do this season, but what there was is positive (the whole 'when aliens are about to blow up the ship, I spring into action' fantasy in Vanishing Point, helping with target practice, being otherwise competant at her job).
    If its the answer, Tucker hasn't learned it. I think adultery was the issue here, not mere fornication vs. abstinance.

    However, with only 2 female "leads", and one of them representing "the alien", its a pitfall that anything that happens to them will stand in for 'the experiance of all females, everywhere'. Whereas you have 5 male 'leads' to represent 'MEN'. I would prefer to see other crew members developed, yeah, some women here, to avoid such a trap.
  11. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Good thread. Lady Conqueror I can agree with much of what you have posted.

    My take on something else... Since they were trying to do an AIDS message with Stigma by continuing the storyline in fusion I kind of took T'Pol's ignorance about mind melds and the disease to be symbolic of 'if you don't understand about AIDS and the acts that can leads to AIDS you are putting yourself and others at risk'. The way I worked it out to try to make it all fit was in Fusion she knows little about the mind meld which seems to be being used in a more sexual context. She gets in over her head. Says no, he doesn't stop, ends up assaulted, is injured, blames herself and then later discovers she has contracted a disease. At that point she'd probably research and find what info she could and discover info about the melders, the mind meld and the disease itself. I also agree that because the Vulcan society does not talk about melds and it seems has stigmatized the act, and from what I've seen in TOS even sex, T'Pol is naive and the Vulcan guy knowing more about these things can manipulate and prey on her. Like any victim, she blames herself first.

    Just my take as another female. Jeeze. Very confusing episodes and even more confusing trying to explain how I interpret the poor writing. I would pick this for my first post. :rolleyes: :D
  12. Guest

    Guest Guest

    You're doing fine. Welcome.
  13. Guest

    Guest Guest

    LOL! :lol: Nicely put! :)
  14. Raoul the Red Shirt

    Raoul the Red Shirt Vice Admiral Admiral

    Sep 9, 2001
    Raoul the Red Shirt
    I'm not sure what you mean by this.

    Archer has a lot of daddy issues, as seen in "Singularity" and almost any time when the Vulcans came up in Season One when he was upset about them not sharing info for the Warp 5 engine. He had a crush on T'Pol that he didn't know how to deal with. He also had presumably some level of guilt over his mistakes.

    Reed has a fatalistic suicidal streak that people commented on after such episodes as "Minefield."

    Trip has problems with relationships.

    We haven't seen enough of Phlox's or Mayweather's mindsets to know about what their issues are.
  15. Guest

    Guest Guest

    I think the confusion expressed repeatedly in this (thoughtful and thought-provoking) thread is what happens when writers try to infuse something on a past episode that just wasn't there before. Trying to make sense of it can become an exercise as irrational as what the writers did in the first place.

    Fusion was about a date rape analogy, which is going to have elements more ambiguous than a straight forward violent rape.

    Stigma was problematic on many accounts, however. It was purportedly an "AIDS Awareness" message but didn't really make us "aware" of anything IMO. It's message (taking the A & B plots together) seemed to be that we shouldn't ever criticize anyone's behavior or choices even when it is spreading a terminal disease.

    I realize I'm beating a dead horse here, but had they depicted half-way intelligent Vulcans, they could have argued that there are "logical" choices that their people have an obligation to follow in order to curtail the spread of this disease. Doctor Phlox could have argued that such an attitude is not wholly realistic, and Archer could have argued for compassion. Using the "old formula" for debating issues, you could still have had an AIDS allegory, but one that was not so one-dimensional and ultimately troubling in its message.
  16. Lady Conqueror

    Lady Conqueror Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Aug 14, 2002
    *dances into thread. Pokes out tongue* Take that everybody.

    (sorry, forgot to take my anti-silliness pills this morning)

    Welcome to the boards Mithrilbow - your post was great (but since you agreed with me I might be a little biased ;) ).
  17. Guest

    Guest Guest

    One point that I found disturbing in "Stigma" was that Archer kept prodding the Vulcans to accept and embrace this new "lifestyle" or "talent" or whatever it was refered to as. I thought this was unnecessary.

    It's enough for them to have been tolerant of this segment to treat them. You can't demand someone to accept beliefs and activities that are completely contrary to their grain, you can however ask them to be tolerant of other.

  18. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Agreed, they were also the most clunky sounding and delivered lines in the ep.
    IMO Archer should have berated the Vulcan doctors on not treating a disease that had at least the potential of reaching any part of their population, and alienating and driving underground a minority with such a disease. The emotional humans can always emphasize that compassion can work hand in hand with logical self interest.
  19. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Thanks for the welcome. :D

    I know that what is logical may not always be ethical especially to human sensibilities. T'Pring's shrewd maneuvering with Kirk in the fight to the death proved that. Spock even commended her reasoning as 'flawlessly logical' but it certainly wasn't ethical. However, I also saw the IDIC symbol hanging in the 'Stigma' medical area and wonder what the Enterprise era Vulcan spin is on that concept.

    What I've seen on ENT may not fit neatly with my idea of what Vulcan is but I am able to reconcile the ENT Vulcan attitudes and failings with the later TOS Vulcans. To measure vulcan ethics, I have to consider a quote by Spock describing Vulcan's 'veneer of civilization'...

    "It [Pon Farr} strips our minds from us, brings a madness which rips away our veneer of civilization." ("Amok Time")

    So I start pondering...

    veneer: thin layer of valuable wood glued to surface of inferior wood.

    civilization: the state of being reclaimed from a savage state; enlightened.

    This veneer of civilization is formed by logic which is the science of reasoning and the science of pure and formal (according to form; conventional; ceremonious) thought.

    They are trying to get beyond their savage natures and find enlightenment but they have a long way to go. They've got a veneer of civilization by TOS Amok Time and they TRY to govern their lives by the science of reasoning and the science of pure convententional or cerimonious thought but I think haveing more direct interaction with the Andorians and Humans is challenging their conventional thinking. ;)

    I can make it all fit but I wish the writing were stronger so all of this subtle content would be a little more noticable and make the stories less confused.

    And yeah, I am a big Vulcan fan in case that wasn't too obvious. :D
  20. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Welcome and great post! I'm a big LOTR fan so your nick makes me happy!

    Galadriel (Sindarin):
    I amar prestar aen
    'The world is changed'
    Han mathon ne nen
    'I feel it in the water'
    Han mathon ne chae
    'I feel it in the earth'
    A han nostron ned wilith
    'I smell it in the air'
    -- * --

    ... and it's interesting an IDIC symbol has been seen on ENT. Some people have been wondering if IDIC has been completely forgotten by the ENT writers. I'm of the opinion that Vulcans have been damaged as characters. They seem to have become something completely different... but of course, a lot of that comes from the confusing stories... Personally, if I were B&B I'd have Lady Conqueror edit each script before it airs. It would prolly mean the male characters will rarely have shirts on for mysterious reasons... but at least the stories would be heart felt. :)