Santino asks a good question

2 Jan

I’m doing some editing on the third Rachel Peng book, and there’s a throwaway bit of dialogue that struck me as interesting. Here’s the spoiler-free version of the text:


The suspect’s face was thinner, her eyebrows altered to look further apart. Her hair was a different color and cut after she had lost the red wig, and she now sported a longish brown bob. She was wearing a trendy but loose jacket, and a pair of Armani jeans that looked painted to her body but moved easily when she walked. A stylish pair of sneakers finished the outfit: she was ready to run if she needed to.

“She knows she could be caught,” Rachel mused through the phone lines. “She’d definitely here for a reason.”

“Maybe a handoff?” Santino asked. “Is she carrying the [MacGuffin]?”

Rachel started to protest: she tried to avoid prodding around clothing and what lay beneath. Larger objects, like guns and most knives, she could pick out no problem, but they were chasing a piece of metal the size of her palm and that involved a slower, more… thorough set of scans.

“Just do it,” Santino muttered. They’d had this discussion many times before. “If you asked someone if they’d rather have you stare at their naked bodies, or pry into their minds, I bet nine times out of ten they’d rather be naked.”

“Reading emotions is not the same as reading minds,” she said, as she fine-tuned her scans to go through pockets and purses and all manner of private places. “And who’s part of a hivemind here anyway, you or me? I’d much rather have someone in my head than pawing at my body.”

“Yeah, right. Ask Zockinski which he’d rather… You know, this might be a gendered issue.”

“Jesus, Santino. Go write a paper on it.”

“Good idea!”

“Shut up,” she muttered, and this time she meant it. Her partner fell silent as they held their positions, keeping Miss Armani in sight until the police could get close enough to tag her.


So! I’ve already asked friends who identify as male or as female whether they’d rather have someone spy on their emotional status or spy on their naked body. So far, it’s been unanimously males who’d rather have someone look at their bodies, while females would rather have someone look at their emotions. But I think my sample size is too small.

If you’re okay with answering these questions, would you mind noting which type of privacy violation you are most okay with, and whether you identify yourself as male, female, or differently gendered?

34 Responses to “Santino asks a good question”

  1. Moni Leigh January 8, 2015 at 8:17 pm #

    42yo cis female here, and… Erf. Erm. Um. I think I’d sliiiiiiiightly prefer a body scan. As others have said, it’s just a body. Otoh, yeah, I’ve been ogled my fair share. Maybe that’s why it edges out emotions? I’m just that used to it?

    I’m going to jump on the no-thought-scan train, too. Emotions are okay, especially as they’re pretty transient unless one is doing a *DEEP* emotional scan (which, tbh, seems rather close to scanning actual thoughts). I’ve had people claiming to be able to read my emotions (said person claimed to be empathic), and 99.99% of the time they caught surface stuff that wasn’t actually relevant to the situation (they claimed I was upset by a current situation, but I was actually upset about a slightly recent past event that had fleetingly crossed my mind — randomly, as upsetting events will often do. Those sort of random thoughts will show up in body language, and I’m sure they would in an emotional scan.)

  2. Nobody January 17, 2015 at 6:35 pm #

    Cis female and would far rather have my emotions spied on. I don’t have anything to hide and generally have fairly mellow emotions anyway. Actually, given how much of a straight face I have and how many people (even my own mother) don’t notice when I’m really upset, angry or happy, it might even be kind of nice to have someone actually able to tell when I’m feeling something for once. Whereas as far as looks go, I seem to be the sort who attracts all the creeps no matter how many layers I dress with, and adding any fuel to that fire freaks me out even if it’s for a legitimate purpose… Really, what it comes down to is that I get seen for my body far more than for myself, and 99% of the time I’d rather be seen for myself. I’m not a chunk of meat and don’t want to be treated like one.

    Now, if it were reading thoughts I might reconsider. But emotions are fine.

  3. DQ January 19, 2015 at 10:03 am #

    Female and body, absolutely body! Stay out of my head!

  4. Peter Emuss February 8, 2015 at 12:31 am #

    Cis-male and body.

  5. SpyOne February 18, 2015 at 6:10 pm #

    Male and body, I think.

    My initial reaction is that my emotional state is sort of being broadcast to everybody around me, so it wouldn’t bother me if somebody was more clued-in than average. Then I realize that I spend most of my time actively concealing my emotional state, often choosing what to project and how strongly, so I’m less sure.

    By the same token, most of why I cover my body (aside from physical comfort) has to do with other people. I mean, I put pants on to go get the mail in the summer because my neighbors have a right to look outside and not see naked people. Also, Michaelangelo’s David I’m not.
    But if somebody actively WANTS to see me naked, … to each his own, I guess. I’m not actively trying to keep my naked body secret, I just assume most folks don’t want to see it.

    Just like most folks don’t care if a member of my family has died, or if I am really pissed off right now. I hide my emotions from the general public and share them only with people close to me not because I want to keep secrets, but because …. When you ask the store cashier “how are you”, you don’t really want to know. You don’t want a long conversation about how much pain standing causes, how I’m relating to my family, or whether I’m worried about making the rent. And you don’t want my to dig onto those parts of your own life, either. You want me to say “Fine” or “Pretty Good”, and ring up your purchases and wish you a nice day.
    I don’t actually like lying to you, but it works better for everyone if we keep our interaction superficial.
    So again, if somebody actually wants to dig deeper than that I suppose they are welcome, especially if they can just “read” me, as opposed to dragging me into conversation about it.

    Honestly, I’m not sure I’d even mind telepathy. As long as we all agree that there is a world of difference between thinking something and acting on that thought, and we also agree that if something I think offends you that’s your problem, because I didn’t mean it for communication, … There’s some ugly stuff in here, view it at your own risk.

  6. Ooorah February 27, 2015 at 2:23 pm #

    I’m male, and I’d rather someone looks at my body.

    I think that, for me, it boils down to the fact that I’m average in appearance, and I don’t believe that I’ve ever been looked at as a sex object. Anyone deliberately trying to see me naked is probably doing so for a more utilitarian reason than for a gander at my naughty bits. That many males seem to be of this opinion as well may be part of that “male body is a Jeep” effect:

    I have no problem going through those body scanners at airports that essentially show me naked. On the other hand, I would have a serious problem with a random cop on the street pulling me off to do a strip search. I’m really not sure where the line is drawn for me. Add that to the fact that “reading of emotions” can be done by people just skilled at reading faces and body language, and now I’m all confused.

  7. Patrick Sheehy February 27, 2015 at 7:14 pm #

    Male and body

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