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#1 Nick Aldebaran

Nick Aldebaran

Posted 24 April 2015 - 07:14 AM

Ethics and Society.


He was already sick of the class. It was nothing against the subject itself-- in fact he quite enjoyed reading the topics assigned, as he was a deep thinker and genuinely enjoyed philosophy-- but the people in the class were definitely... interesting. A class discussing ethics was an easy, quick way to see into someone's moral code; he found himself disturbed by the amount of self-proclaimed "libertarians" in the class who obviously hadn't read the chapter. Abortion had been an interesting topic, even if they'd barely touched the subject before the teacher delayed it to a later date. Apparently discussing it twice wasn't worth the argument.


Sometimes he enjoyed hearing the arguments, however. When different but understandable opinions were brought to the table, it was a class worth going to. But when all the ultra-religious idiots got into the room and started going off on Bible rants, he just wanted to leave. It wasn't worth his time to suffer through all of that, especially when he typically didn't speak up in class to argue in the first place. He had certain subjects he wouldn't dare touch, religion being one of them, so he felt very restrained.


Besides, he was as introverted as they came. People made him terribly anxious and he shut down easily, so expressing himself in a philosophy class did not sound like a good way to spend his time. There was an outspoken girl in the class that occasionally touched on what he wanted to say, however; he'd picked up that her name was Leena, and while she got sort of obnoxious and loud, he had some level of respect for her. When she spoke up, he actually listened.


So it came as no surprise that he had absolutely no interest in arguing with her on the subject at hand-- god, that girl was fire and he'd be consumed if he dared speak up-- but unfortunately he heard his name being called. Nick realized he'd been making a face of disagreement as the girl spoke. The professor had caught his expression before he had the opportunity to school it off his face. "Care to argue with her?" The guy said, and Nick swallowed, biting the inside of his cheek as he tried to find words for it.


They'd been discussing Noddings' idea of feminine ethics, of course. And he'd long since gathered that Leena was a feminist-- he considered himself the same, but she took it to a degree he didn't agree with-- so he had to carefully compose himself. "Sure," he said, leaning back in his desk. "I agree that Noddings' idea of ethics is a good one. And I agree that if you're abiding by a gender binary, feminine is a good label for it, since it's seen as a motherly instinct to love her child in that way. It's not an abstract decision that you have to think about. But um-- I mean, obviously I agree with it, right? It's possible for men to embrace feminine ethics by default. My dad's more of an abstract "ethical caring" guy and you'd think I learned from him, but... I dunno." He didn't dare look around the rest of the classroom, instead focusing his attention on the chalkboard behind the teacher.


"I think things progressively change. Men embrace that type of ethics more and more as time goes on. Plus the gender binary can be restraining and ineffective. There's nothing wrong with being both masculine and feminine." He dared to spare a glance at Leena, then, his expression hesitant. As if he was afraid he'd be burned alive.

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#2 Leena Koyel

Leena Koyel

Posted 25 April 2015 - 05:54 PM

She'd caught that look.


It was hard not to. She may have been completely consumed by her argument, she may have been intently focused and altogether furious towards the a good half of the class, but as soon as silence settled and she caught that look, all of her rage redirected instantly. It was hard for it not to. He'd made a face of such overwhelming disgust that she couldn't help but jump fifteen hurdles to her conclusion instantly. There was no inbetween, no middle ground -- disgust was disgust and obviously that meant he disagreed not only with her, but with every single one of her stances in general. It was that personal, that deep, like somehow he had become a curator for every word she'd said during the entirety of the semester and was now unable, no unwilling to hold back his opinions anymore.


Nevermind the hesitant expression or the way he worded himself so carefully, so preciously. Nevermind how absolutely terrified he seemed. Nevermind how he actually had a point she would have agreed with had she thought, believed, even trusted that men were capable of even a percent of the ethics that women had. All of this, every bit of it, failed to settle in at all because Leena was stubborn and strong willed and wholly aggressive and these traits only strengthened when her opinions were met with resistance, no matter how kind or careful it was.


His wince was mirrored by her except extremely distorted, like a horror movie expression shift that took careful lines and cautious eyes and made them vicious. She had absolutely no idea who he was. He was quiet, he kept to himself, and he was male which meant that her radar had skipped him three times over, but now he was all she could see, his half-assed, apologetic glance tunnel visioned in a way that painted him entirely red. 


The entire classroom blurred around the edges, bled together in a way that made everything else meaningless as her jaw set, teeth gritting together harshly. A deep breath would help, probably, if she could find it in herself to collect herself at all. Instead, when her mouth opened, she didn't inhale but instead exhaled furiously, a short gust of breath that had a slew of words tacked almost carelessly on the end.


"No." It was all she could manage at first. One word was all she could muster, all she could imagine in response to such an asinine statement. "You really think that men are capable of even possessing a fraction of the ethics that women have? You can honestly look me in the eye and say that despite the evidence that proves otherwise? Did you know that in every six serial killers, only one is a woman. What about rapists? Or the ideals in general that men perpetuate about women? How we, as a gender, are less worthy in society, how we aren't respected, how we're force fed on a daily basis certain standards to justify our existence and if we stray even slightly, we're looked down on, beaten, or even killed? What about men that kill women simply because they turned them down? Go on outright rampages because of the so called 'friendzone?' What about that? Do you really think that men are capable of any ethics knowing that?"

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#3 Nick Aldebaran

Nick Aldebaran

Posted 25 April 2015 - 11:01 PM

Here it went. Here came the fire. Nick knew it the moment he spared a nervous glance at her, only to feel like he was looking directly into the sun. The one word-- no-- had his heart rate rising automatically as he prepared himself for whatever fallout would happen from here on out. Before he'd respected the girl's passion for her moral code-- they rarely disagreed, after all-- but seeing it turned on him had his hair standing on edge, his hands gripping the desk so tightly that his knuckles went white.


Not out of hostility, mind you. Instead he was carefully keeping himself pulled together so that he wouldn't devolve into the pitiful, defensive side of himself that he hated to be. That side of him was accidentally condescending and rude, not someone who needed to be pitted against this girl with fire in her eyes. He listened to her speak, eyes carefully trained on the desk as opposed to her, as he didn't want to see the hatred there. He could hear it, and that was enough.


She had a point. Now that he thought of it, he'd been asking to be torn apart by her, being one of the many white males of the class who decided to speak up in some semblance of defense of his gender. Not that he was a "meninist" or misogynist in any sense of either of the words-- he was very pro-rights and thought women needed to run the damn world a majority of the time-- but he just didn't think all men had to be pinned into a corner that way. Not when there were plenty who tried to fight the patriarchy themselves. It was a system he benefited from, yes, but that didn't mean he was comfortable with it.


His expression was some attempt at being level, though she could likely see the tension in his features increase as she spoke. Eventually he looked as if he might throw up, which likely wasn't far from the truth. He swallowed, considering not even speaking up once she was finished, but Nick simply wasn't that sort of person. Once he got started, it was hard to get him to stop. "I hear you," he said as carefully as he could. "What you say is legitimate. Men, as a majority, have behaved disgustingly towards women in the past." A few guys in the back of the room scoffed loudly, as if Nick was somehow less of a person for taking her side in her feminist rants.


"And it still happens today. We live in a society bent on pleasing men. I'd never deny that. I'd never deny that women have far more to worry about than typical white men of our time." He had to pin on the "white" there. Some feminists had the uncanny ability to ignore racial issues of men in favor of women as a whole. "But," he said, his voice breaking slightly as he continued, "I don't think that means we lack an intuitive moral code. Yeah, most men have raised morals to an abstract like 'god' or something," he made quotation marks with his fingers there, indicating his lack of a belief rather easily (already he was beating himself up for that reveal), as he continued, "but I think some morals are just common sense. Caring about someone should be intuitive."


He leaned forward a little, rubbing the bridge of his nose as he tried to gather his argument with some dignity. "I don't have to raise my moral code to some... abstract ideal to be able to understand that serial killing, rape, murder, and misogyny is wrong. Society is the issue. Not men inherently." Lord, here they went. He could already feel it.

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#4 Leena Koyel

Leena Koyel

Posted 26 April 2015 - 02:21 AM

Everything about his body language came across entirely wrong. His nervous demeanor, the way he opted to avoid eye contact, the white-knuckled grip he had on his seat, it was all wrong. He seemed irritated, dismissive, condescending even and that fact alone only pissed her off further. She could only barely get passed his prior speech without damn near exploding and now this? Disrespect presented with a half-assed argument? He'd basically just summed up his entire argument by throwing out the 'not all men' excuse and really, while she'd probably expected such a response somewhere in the bitter depths of her soul, it still infuriated her to hear it. She hadn't exactly been willing, prior, to greet this argument with an open mind and a collected tone, but if she had, everything about his rebuttal was definitely enough to throw that all in the trash.


This was going to end badly. She didn't have the self-awareness at the moment to realize that, though, although she probably wouldn't care if she did. This issue in particular was one that her entire personality for the past six or so years had been built upon. It was her foundation, the groundwork to the castle that was her being and he'd all but stepped on it. Carelessly, and without a second thought, he'd attempted (and failed, in her mind) to pick apart an argument that likely played in her head over and over again at night. 



To put it bluntly, he was in so much shit even beetles wouldn't touch him. She mad, son.


She attempted to recollect herself for all of one second, though her breath came out ragged at best and the attempt to relax her every muscle backfired, pulling her every limb backwards until she was entirely too similar to a lion given human form. And she stared at him, too; for every second he avoided granting her and her argument the respect of his undivided attention, she picked apart his every movement. The twitching way his hands gripped his desk until they were white-hot and taut, the way he seemed to be completely and totally ignorant to any other point of views, or the uppity, haughty way he responded were all documented and filed away in the corners of her mind only to be revisited later.


Probably in a petty and pissy way, too, but I digress.


"So what I'm hearing you say, the bullshit you're actually trying to sell me, is that we should excuse men because society made them that way? That's the dumbest shit I've ever heard. You realize you just gave me the 'not all men' excuse, too, right? What are you, an infant? Haven't we as a society moved passed that? Why can't you just accept that men are problematic as a whole and can't just be handwaved with the excuse of 'well, society made us this way!' Is it so hard to just step back and look at yourself and go, 'maybe I do perpetuate the standards and ideals set by my forefathers?'"


A pause. She dissected him again, noting now his attempts, at least, to look in her direction, though his expression left a lot to be desired. The air quotes and tentative way he pinched the bridge of his nose didn't do him any favors. Anything, at this point, wouldn't do him any favors, even if he begged on bended knee for forgiveness. She was done, finished, completely and totally over this entire argument in a way that meant the exact opposite because oh no, don't think for a second that backing down was at any way in her future, or his.


"You're absolutely right! Morals should be intuitive, no one should have to tell people that murder and rape and disrespect not only of the sexes but of all minorities, gender, sex, orientation, or ethnicity included, and yet that doesn't seem to be the case now, does it? You're trying to tell me that not all men are rapists, or murderers, but what about discriminatory? What about controlling, manipulative, what about the men that continue to strive and flourish in a world built by them, for them, without making any attempt to change things? You're talking all these nice little words but I don't see you changing anything or even trying to change anything. In fact, this is, I'm pretty sure, the first time I've heard you speak up at all in this class, and there have been plenty of opportunities for you to express a view that differs from any of your fellow men. Silence is just as harmful as a gun, silence can be worse. What good are you to society if you recognize the problem but quietly turn an eye? You're an advocate to the treatment that me, and my sisters, that minorities and queer folk face on a daily basis and you're going to speak up now, of all times, because I happened to say one thing about men and their nonexistent morals? Right, okay."


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#5 Nick Aldebaran

Nick Aldebaran

Posted 26 April 2015 - 11:12 AM

He'd given off the wrong image so quickly. Even Nick would've been surprised to hear that he was already putting off a bad vibe for her. Typically it took at least a bit of pressure to get him to crack first; she was in for a whole lot more if she already thought he was being condescending or dismissive. He could be so, so much worse. The defensive side of him was already rising up with every word she said, and the moment she said bullshit he knew there was no way he could control his attitude. He glared at the teacher for a moment as if to say you did this, knuckles tightening even more on the desk in front of him. Going to class today had been a disastrous, idiotic idea, though it wasn't as if he skipped at all to begin with.


He let her finish. He might burst into flame if he interrupted her. And for a hot second he considered just answering her with silence, as he knew quite well he would get nowhere if he continued to give her his point. Not only that, but the points she made were valid. Of course he agreed with her. He just didn't agree that men inherently were born with skewed morals. Assuming they were almost raised the idea itself to an abstract concept. Society-- that made much more practical sense. And lawd, he was already preparing his words to come back at her.


His tone was level now. There wasn't as much anxiety present, nor the caution he held before. Instead he sounded very firm as he started, "My argument wasn't at all supposed to be the 'not all men' rant, though I'm not surprised you would assume so." Not cool, Nick. He already knew he needed to dial back on that level of defense; he would only reaffirm her beliefs if he attacked her in any way for being as passionately feminist as she was. "And I do accept that men are problematic as a whole. I accept that women are rightfully fearful of men and that we live in a society that favors one over the other. I do. I was just pointing out that, you know, the whole point of Noddings' writings--" Oh here he was, getting all condescendingly academic-- "was that feminine ethics, according to her, aren't about universal truths. Caring is intuitive and a case-by-case basis to her. Assuming men as a whole are problematic by default is making another abstract, universal truth, isn't it?"


He raised an eyebrow at her, though he didn't let the silence stretch on for too long. "I'm not defending the actions of men. I'm not saying they're less horrific just because society conditioned them to be that way. It's just true that it is society that's the problem. I'm afraid you might be thinking very Eurocentrically, too, as not every single culture has subscribed to a patriarchal society." He was shaking. It wasn't extremely visible, but he was starting to shake from just how worked up he was getting in this conversation, especially as he continued. Especially as she demonized his silence, as if everyone was supposed to be as outspoken and obnoxious as her.


"You do not know me," he started, clearing his throat in some effort to keep himself calm. "So don't assume that just because I don't speak up in a lower level college course, I automatically stay silent on the matter when I'm out in the world. You know, where it actually matters." His voice was starting to crack then, and he finally dared to look at her. He was cautious, but his eyes held a challenge. Now she'd drawn him in and he'd argue with her all day, even if he hated it.

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#6 Leena Koyel

Leena Koyel

Posted 01 May 2015 - 04:51 AM

He could have done anything, said anything, begged, pleaded, and cried at this point and she'd still stand strong. He'd dug his grave entirely by both action and words combined and nothing he was doing or saying now was helping, especially not getting further irritated at her assumptions. The problem was that he got it, she knew he got it, she was presenting her point crystal clearly and there was absolutely no instance where things should have been blurred or confusing at all. He was understanding, but he wasn't listening, wasn't absorbing any of it and he didn't seem to intend to. That was the problem, that was where things were getting heated.


And he was defensive, viciously so. That, to her, seemed a little too convenient, like a rebuttal shaded just dark enough to cover up guilt. The snappy little insults didn't help. The pointed bits of sarcasm neither. He'd been condescending and dismissive earlier, but now he was fighting back and it honestly wasn't much better. She wasn't surprised, really, as all arguments seemed to split into this path eventually, but she was shocked at the audacity of the situation and at how viciously his opinions had been voiced given his tranquil nature just minutes earlier.


It probably showed on her face, too. She'd been fiery before but now her expression splintered between shock, anger, and outright venomous spite. "Oh, of course, excuse me for taking an argument that was reworded and offered to me so generously as what it was. Not all men may not have been your exact words or even your conscious intention but it is essentially what you said. Not all men are morally conflicted, not all men are rapists, not all men are murderers, not all men are vicious and abusive and dismissive of females in general, but the ones that are? Oh, that's society's fault. Right? Isn't that what you said?"


"No one is pinning a scarlet letter to every single man in the world and no one is lumping them altogether universally, no one is saying not all men, but enough men worldwide are a problem that women worldwide feel pressured and unsafe and terrified for their lives when they do something as simple as walk outside. Not all men, but a good portion of them, at least. And how do you tell which one of these men are the special snowflake man that actually gives a shit? How do you know that your charming, doe-eyed boytoy isn't going to wake up one day and decide that a text message from your cousin warrants murder? Not all men, no, but enough of them that the entire sex can be logically and rationally avoided or, in the very least, scrutinized heavily by all women."


A pause to collect her thoughts, a deep breath, and she's at it again, standing taller this time as she swivels and stares him down, eye contact initiated and held as she caught and mentally recorded the cracking voice and quietly shaking hands he was now suffering from, assuming immediately that it was from anger instead of stress. "And silence is just as much of a crime as actually committing it. What change do you hope to accomplish by sitting quiet and pretty? Where do you think you'll get to if you don't speak up? How do you think you're helping us or proving yourself any different if you turn a blind eye to problems?"

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#7 Nick Aldebaran

Nick Aldebaran

Posted 04 May 2015 - 03:40 AM

Nick wasn't getting angry, per se, so much as he was getting defensive. Humiliated. People in the room were staring at him now-- this wasn't just a confrontation with Leena-- and he felt his cheeks turning red. His grip on the desk loosened considerably as he drew his arms closer into himself, as if he thought he might shrink into nothing if he tried hard enough. If he could do anything he'd go back in time and school that look off of his face-- or simply refuse to give his own opinion on the matter. It was clear that the girl was completely missing his point. She was too stuck on feminism to approach the subject with any kind of objectivity; she missed the reading entirely.


That was, perhaps, what irritated him most in the end. It wouldn't matter how long he argued his point-- if she wasn't willing to listen to it, she wouldn't understand what he was trying to say. She'd already categorized him, placed him in a nice little box like everyone else did. She'd already determined him as her enemy and was bent on tearing him down, despite the fact that he actually mostly agreed with her. So it would've been in his best interest to shut down and stop arguing the point, yet he found himself tensing up anyway as he leaned back in his chair, despite the beginning signs of a panic attack starting to settle in.


He was dizzy. He felt overheated. Perhaps class would end soon, along with this discussion. Yet his mouth opened in spite of it. "I'm not arguing against feminism, Leena," he said. His exhaustion might have made him sound as though he was being dismissive of her now, when in all honesty he was trying not to hyperventilate. "I'm arguing about the reading for class. Noddings' writings. I would never argue that the things men have done aren't horrendous. A patriarchy is a disaster. I would never try the 'not all men' rant. Women have every reason to resent and be fearful of men."


Purple dots in his vision now. Would it be acceptable to lean forward and place his face against the desk? It seemed cool. But his pride was too strong for that. Instead he continued, shaking his head as if hoping he could shake himself out of it. "I'm just arguing that it is possible for men to embrace this form of ethics that Noddings suggests. That men can also value interpersonal relationships over abstract ethics and power. It's not in defense of men, it's just-- stating fact. It's possible. It's stronger in women because of hormonal differences, but--"


Was this even worth arguing anymore? The teacher was starting to sense his distress-- or else time passing-- as suddenly he spoke up to dismiss class. People were starting to get up. Nick hesitated for a moment if only in hopes of collecting some kind of physical energy, though soon enough he was packing up his bags as well, hoping either she'd leave first or she'd at least let the argument settle long enough for him to calm down. Because if this kept getting worse, it wouldn't end well for either of them.

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#8 Leena Koyel

Leena Koyel

Posted 07 May 2015 - 08:54 PM

She heard the dismissal somewhere in that fury-fueled haze of her's but it didn't really register. Even within silence, everything was so loud. Her blood, her breathing, her heartbeat. Each and every single part of her was screaming, flashing flames that blurred and bit at the very real fact of just how out of control this entire debacle had gotten. She wasn't inherently mean-spirted, either. Outspoken, maybe, brutally honest, definitely, but she never intentionally made it a point to bully people. She really only stepped in or bit back when provoked, so this wasn't inherently coded into her personality by any means. Of course, that didn't mean she thought it was justified. She had no idea that his reaction was one of anxiety, of nervousness and trauma from memories that were likely very similar to the situation at hand. She may have gone a little easier on him had she known, though given the subject and the sensitivity she had towards it, there was really no telling. 


But in the heat of the moment now, with his defensive remarks and his all too uptight body language, it was hard to pay attention to anything but him. Changing him, enlightening him, breaking him until he understood in detail just how she felt, just how every woman ever felt. The degradation, the humiliation, the fear and fanfare that came with it, she wanted him to know in ounces and pounds just what awaited her and every woman like her when they opened the door and decided not only to exist, but to exist outside of society's constricted and preset notions. She wanted him to fear her in every sense of the word, not physically, but emotionally, verbally. If she could make him understand that, make any man understand what it felt like to see a shadow over her shoulder, she could change the world.


Of course, that wasn't the healthiest notion, by any means, nor was her way of going about it, but it was hard wired into the way she walked, talked, breathed now and it wasn't something she saw any reason to change.


"A lot of things are possible." Her words were less loud, now, and more scathing, more vicious, more a hushed whisper bitten beneath the volume of their professor. "But that doesn't mean they're happening, or even that they're understandable on anything but a basic level. You mean to tell me that you, a privileged white man living in America understands both my side of the story and yours? You mean to tell me, a woman that has suffered, that has seen everything I've talked about and more, should believe that you are special, that you and a select hand few of chosen men are not all bad? Why would I believe that? Why would I open myself up to a situation that could get me raped? Killed? By taking the chance that 'some men' are capable of empathy on the same level as a woman is opening myself up to more threats than you could ever imagine. Some people are smart enough to play that card, you know."


And some women were blinded enough to fall for it. Not Leena, not her. She'd taken her stance and the only way a man would get her killed was by force, by dragging her through hell and back and that's only after she'd fought all she could. She wouldn't be falling into a trap of trust and betrayal. 


"Do you think this is over just because you leave?" She hadn't moved, not even a tick; she stood, rod straight, staring straight at him as he attempted, as all men did, as everyone with privilege did, to ignore and evacuate the situation. He was trying to shrug it off, ignore it like it hadn't happened. Turn a blind eye and leave. "Because it isn't."

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#9 Nick Aldebaran

Nick Aldebaran

Posted 08 May 2015 - 12:29 AM

Everything he said was completely missing the target. He wasn't even sure why he was wasting his breath. Perhaps if he'd phrased his argument a little better he might have gotten away with it, but unfortunately she'd already gotten a message he never meant to convey from it. Never in a million years would he assume what it was like to be a minority of any kind, either racially, in gender, or even in sexuality. He was a straight white male living in the United States; to say he had it easy was an understatement. Even he knew that. He knew he was privileged and he knew he had no right to be. That everyone deserved the same around of rights, and that she was absolutely right in that he could never understand.


Not that the world exactly bowed to him when he stepped out of his front door. His nervous, quiet demeanor left much to be desired for most people. He felt like a disappointment, a drain on society. Certainly he had the privilege, but he didn't much self-confidence or even mental health that could do him a lot of good. Not that he was about to bring up either of those points, no, as it'd only make him sound like a whiny little bitch. Which apparently he was already doing a fine job at sounding like anyway.


"Christ, Leena," he said, rubbing his temples, hoping he wouldn't pass out. In his experience he could calm himself down before something like that happened. To some extent he wondered if it was even possible to faint, though he'd heard of it in rare cases. God knew that if there were rare cases, this could be one of them. She was digging up a lot of history here, placing him right back in the position he'd been in in high school. Ironically it was always the other way around; he was the one with the progressive views, being shot down constantly. They used gay as an insult. He wasn't, but he didn't take offense to it. That just made the teasing worse.


"I know they're not understandable for me," he told her, still not making eye contact. "I know I'm a straight white male living in the US-- life is relatively easier for me than you or every other minority out there. I'm the enemy. I get that." Finally he looked straight at her, locking eyes to convey that he was both irritated and on her side. "You're the one not listening to me right now. I'm not asking you to believe 'not all men' or whatever. I'm just saying that men are capable of caring. That we don't have to seek a god or abstract concept to understand basic human rights. Men often ignore human rights-- I'd never deny that-- in fact half the reason men seek that out is because--"


His breath was becoming shallow. Why the fuck was he still sitting here? He could exit this situation and take a breather. He took a slow breath. She might have heard his breath shaking then, his limbs shaking by his sides. The more he sat there, the more he looked vulnerable. He was becoming weak, even physically, even slumping slightly in his seat. "It's because men want to oppress. They want power, so they seek moral permission from an abstract concept. I'm just saying that men can seek morals from within themselves. Not that we could ever understand what a woman goes through, or that we even have the capability of feeling as intensely caring as women do."


And then the purple dots started to take over. Was this happening? Was this seriously happening?


Apparently so, as slowly he slumped forward. His body managed to retain some level of balance for a few seconds, before it slowly started to move sideways. Nick tumbled right out of his seat then, face first on the cold, dirty flooring, completely unconscious.

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#10 Leena Koyel

Leena Koyel

Posted 11 May 2015 - 05:08 PM

Driving a man to unconsciousness via anxiety didn't have quite the groundbreaking effect on Leena that it absolutely should have. She felt bad, sure, there was no denying that, but it didn't make her reconsider her approach or her words at all. Instead it spiked her own anxiety and drove her into a panicked mess because holy shit, he'd just passed right the fuck out. That wasn't exactly the outcome she'd expected, nor could she even fathom where such a reaction came from. He'd been fine just moments before, a little riled up, definitely, but nothing that could warrant anything even close to this. 


Her first thought was to find the professor. He hadn't moved too far so it was easy enough, thankfully, though she wasn't sure what to do after that. She'd gotten him help, but leaving seemed a little heartless. Staying implied forgiveness and concern, though, and while she cared about his well-being in a human-to-human sort of way, she didn't want him to get the impression that everything was fine and dandy when it wasn't, it wasn't even close. She'd be lying if she claimed her mind wasn't split halfway down the middle between concern and confusion and his words, still fresh, making a mess of her every thought process.


Hell, she'd be lying if she claimed she wasn't still mad, wouldn't still be mad for weeks or even months to come.


But she lingered anyway, partially because she couldn't think straight and find an answer to the ever lingering question of 'what to do' in all the mess. Time didn't seem to be moving anyway. She did everything she could to keep from being idle but there wasn't much at her disposal besides pacing and picking at some lint on her blouse. The professor talked a few times, too, a few questions here or there about what happened after he left, but she couldn't really offer much. He'd seen the brunt of everything, he knew as well as she did what was happening, what had happened.


He maybe had the foresight and compassion to gather the rest, though, where Leena didn't.

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#11 Nick Aldebaran

Nick Aldebaran

Posted 14 May 2015 - 04:59 AM

Nick had only had panic attacks to this extent a few times before. They were fairly frequent in high school-- anytime he had too much attention or was humiliated publicly, they were bound to happen-- but lately they'd been mostly reserved for smaller, personal interactions with others. Public humiliation just hadn't been a thing in years. He still had a fear and panic reaction to it, yes, but he'd started to feel as though college was a safe zone. People kept to themselves. He flew under the radar, as he wasn't the most unusual person on campus whatsoever.


But this tipped the scale. Not only because it was right in front of the rest of the class, but because it was so heated that it riled him up even more. It made him feel misunderstood, like his opinion was stupid; of course he was passionate about his opinions. Of course he didn't like his intelligence questioned. And most of all, he'd thought this all passed. He'd thought that this was all behind him. Yet here he was, so panicked that he'd managed to hyperventilate to the point of fainting.


He wasn't out long. In fact he was mostly aware of his surroundings. He was hardly "out cold," as he'd only hyperventilated, not taken a punch to the face (though it certainly felt like it). Still, he wasn't entirely cohesive. He didn't quite register Leena getting help so much as someone checking on him at all. His mind just needed to shut down and recover for a moment; it was somewhat peaceful then, as if pressing a reset button.


His head was killing him too. As he came back to the land of the living, it was the first thing he was aware of-- the pounding heartbeat in his ears, the searing pain making its way across his forehead. Hopefully this wouldn't result in the first migraine he'd have in years. He chose to be optimistic for once on that front. His eyes darted around the room, taking in the professor first, which was humiliating in its own right. And then he saw Leena standing there. Instead of making himself out to be a victim, though, he just felt even more humiliated.


His face was red as he stirred, and while he wanted to rest for a moment or two, he knew he needed to exit this situation as soon as possible. "I'm fine," he told the professor, wondering if he could wing an excuse about blood sugar or something. That certainly had never been an issue for him, but it was much less humiliating to admit than "you know, I got so worked up that I passed out."


For a while he refused to make eye contact with Leena, but as he wearily stood, grabbing his backpack, he couldn't help it. Just locking eyes with her freaked him out all over again, though, his heart racing (not in the good way, mind you), so he just shook his head. "It's just-- it's just a thing. Don't-- I'm fine." He had no idea what to say or do, but it was clear by his reaction to this that he wasn't concerned. He just wanted to leave.


"I'll go. Yeah. Bye." With that he ducked his head and started towards the doorway, eyes trained on the ground and shoulders hunched forward in something like ultimate embarrassment. And that part was absolutely true. He'd be thinking about this situation for days, wishing he could relive it and erase the humiliation. Part of him was tempted to drop the class.

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