A Lifetime Commitment

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Fanfiction
Title: A Lifetime Commitment
Author(s): ficsoreal
Date(s): April 2, 2008
Length: 7022 words
Genre: slash
Fandom: Bandom
External Links:
Fic: A Lifetime Commitment, page 1; archive link, ; page 2; archive link, page 2,

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A Lifetime Commitment is a Brendon-centric Bandom story by ficsoreal.

The pairings include background Pete/Patrick and implied Ryan/Brendon.

The story is notable for the author's decision not to warn. After commenters on the post asked her to add a warning, she added the general warning below. The result of this decision can be seen in the comments.

A year after the fic was posted, it was brought in as a past example during the 2009 Bandom trigger warnings wank, but comments from another fan in 2008 suggest that this was not the first wank over warnings in Bandom.[1]

Author's Header

From the author: "Summary: Brendon’s seen the type of guys wearing Greek letters across their chests and they’re more likely to shove his head into a toilet than welcome him into their fraternity. Warnings: This story has warnings that I'm not going to post but take that into consideration before you click the link. Have one of your friends read it first if you are leery.

A/N: I do belong to a sorority and I pulled from personal experience a lot but all sororities and fraternities are different. Fabulous Beta by megyal . All remaining mistakes are my own.

Disclaimer: This is a fictional representation of real people; none of this is true and if it is, I did not know about it."

Reactions and Reviews

Comments at the Author's Livejournal

A sample of the discussion in the comments, see Fic: A Lifetime Commitment, page 1; archive link, ; page 2; archive link, page 2, for many more.

[achika_chan]: Ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! Yay! Oh man, I love this just like I knew I would. Brendon did a good job! Pete donates TEN GRAND because of Brendon's ass! Shane's brother! The Epilogue with Spencer! ♥
[theaerosolkid]: It was incredibly jarring to hit upon the rape scene with absolutely no warning. I can understand that you want your stories to have an emotional punch and for the suspense to not be removed, but it's really unacceptable to include rape without warning for it. A vague disclaimer is nobody's friend -- you say to have a friend read over this fic, but that's no guarantee. What if the friend you select typically considers themselves squick-free but has a very serious problem with rape and noncon? There is a reason that phrases like "trigger warning" exist. The philosophy of the Internet is "if you don't like it, don't click it" or "you know where your back button is". That's not possible if you don't let people know what they're getting into.

This was really irresponsible. I understand your viewpoint as a writer, I really do, but this was pretty upsetting. It'd really be nice if you could edit the post to reflect the story's content.

[ficsoreal]: This fic has actually been finished for days and I didn't post it for just this reason. I decided not to warn for rape and I'm not going to. The header is not vague; it explicitly states that you think before you read. You read the fic knowing that it had unwarned for situations. You decided to do that.

I'm sorry for your distress but I am not responsible for your decision and I have never been warned for rape in a book in the library, in the store or randomly on the shelf.

The story is meant to be jarring; you are supposed to be upset. That's not irresponsible; that was the point. I'm not here to hold anyone's hand.

[theaerosolkid]: I'll of course concede the point that my decisions are my own -- there's no question there. However, you might want to consider that there are any number of unpleasant things which can be associated with a story about fraternities. We could be talking violence, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, the list goes on. Some people are emetophobic, for example. When you say that there are unpleasant happenings in a fic but don't specify what they are, we as readers are forced to just guess. That's what's irresponsible, not posting a jarring and upsetting story. Do you understand the concept behind a "trigger warning"? There are people who have very serious issues with this kind of material, and just because you've got a past battle with things like sexual abuse does not mean that you should have to tread lightly around every single story with vague warnings.

It's your own decision what you choose to do regarding warnings -- personally I'd advise you to at least allude to sexual violence, because, yes, it's quite serious and reading about it really can mess someone up pretty badly -- and I would point out to you that reading stories in books and reading fanfiction on the Internet are two entirely different ball games.

I'll conclude by saying that there's a difference between holding someone's hand and making them fully aware of situations that you're presenting.

[ficsoreal]: This is a well thought out comment and I appreciate it. However, the fic header will remain as it is. I think the warning should make a person consider all the possible things that might upset them and if they decide to take the plunge after that; I can't stop them.
[alwaysseven]: I would just like to stick my nose in here for a second and thank you for your well-spoken, logical and thoughtful comment and the one below it. I think you've set a really good example on how to go about offering criticism and a differing opinion without causing drama. So thank you for that, I've found it lacking in my fandom experiences of the past.
[stealstheashes]: I tried to send this to you as an email, because it's not exactly a review, but I kept getting failure notices, so I'm copying my email here.

I really enjoyed most of this fic but I have to say that the part you didn't post the warning for was really jolting for me and a friend. Now, I am the sort to ignore warnings and go boldly anyway, so I can't really complain, but the warning that you did include, neither of us noticed. It would be nice if you could bold it, or maybe include a warning in white to be highlighted? to save from ruining the story for people who don't want warnings but stop people who would be really discomforted by it. Also, I think theaerosolkid made several good points in her comment but still felt the need to comment anyway.

Anyway, like I said, I really enjoyed the first part, and the squicky feeling the second part left me with testifies to the quality of the writing, because I've read many similar scenes and few have struck me so much.

[ficsoreal]: I will bold the warning but I won't make it any more explicit; thanks for taking the time to let me know your opinion.
[impertinence]: ..."dubcon" can cover a lot of things. It's vague enough to not be a spoiler. I really wish you'd put the actual accurate warning in the header; if your story can't stand up to even that small revelation prior to the actual fic, if your biggest shock is the rape scene itself, then you should probably revise your fic.

[ficsoreal]: But you've already read it, why do I have to warn you now? This fic and the header are exactly like I want them. I clearly state that caution is warrented. I thought about this for days before I posted it and I'm okay with it.

[impertinence]: ..so was the fic posted for you, or for your readers? If it's the former then I fail to understand why you're posting it publicly.

I think it's awesome that you're happy with your vague warnings and your triggery fic, but there are many, many people in fandom who don't have that luxury, and it is inconsiderate and bordering on callous to post a fic like this, handwave the warnings, and then poo-poo people who call you on it.

[ficsoreal]: I don't want you to think I'm poo-pooing you, because I don't mean to. I hear what you're saying and I want you to know that. I posted this fic because I really like it and this is how I wanted to present it.

This fic has a warning on it.

[impertinence]: It has an incredibly vague warning that doesn't come even close to warning for a really graphic scene that could disturb victims of sexual violence. I respect your right to present your fic however you want, but I think you're dead wrong and acting incredibly inconsiderately.

[ficsoreal]: I'm sorry you feel that way.
[bethac]: Good story, wonderful writing. I was never in a sorority or fraternity, but just assumed something bad was going to happen (which is a bad stereotype, I know). Because a story about frats and a warning to have someone else read it first if you were worried is a big sign to me. Also, I don't think I have read any happy stories about hazing. Anyway, I liked it because it made me want to punch Jon Walker in the nose, and I've never read a story like that before.

[ficsoreal]: I think that would be a big sign to me, too, but some people are really upset about the lack of explicit warning.

I'm happy that you were not horribly upset and managed to enjoy the story as written. Thank you for the lovely comment.
[girlintheband]: I'd just like to point out that not all of us are familiar with fraternities or sororities. As a non-American, we don't have such concepts in my country. So such a warning means nothing to me.

[ficsoreal]: But there is a warning on the story that indicates the story contains questionable content. I'm only speaking for myself (obviously) but if I thought a story might contain something that would offend me, I would not click the link.

I have seen some people say they were put off by that warning and happily did not click the link. So, it's not as if 100% of the readers went on to read the story and be offended after reading the warning.

I did remove the story from a public community that lends itself to people just clicking links without reading the full fic header (even then I had suggested that people read the full fic header).

Your point about people unfamiliar with fraternities/sororities is extremely valid.
[pluginexbaby]: Hey there. I don't want to jump on any sort of hate-bandwagon on you or this fic or anything like that. I just felt a strong need to add my two cents and you are perfectly free to ignore them. Let me start by saying, I haven't even read your fic. I read your warning, and, not really getting any idea of what sort of thing I might be getting myself into, I jumped straight down to the comments to see if they'd give me a hint. They did, obviously, and based on that, I'm choosing not to read it.

But I do have to say that reading it probably would have been an upsetting experience for me. And I would have appreciated that you'd just warned upfront rather than making your reader hunt and guess at what you might have planned. Now, I saw that you've said that you thought long and hard about the decision not to give specific warnings, and, not having read the fic itself, I obviously can't say this for certain. But I really can't see how warning for something like 'dub-con' or 'sexual violence' could destroy the integrity of your story. What I do see, is that a simple warning like that would show respect for your reading audience.

Rape is much more than just a squick. For a very large number of women, it's a painful memory. And I can't think of one more common or potentially triggering than date-rape in a college setting. For me, personally, it would actually be less jarring to read some sort of down and dirty prison rape or something. That's not something so easy to identify with. And given that the vast majority of bandom (your audience) is compromised of college-age women, it just seems to me like something you might take into account and consider out of respect for them.

Anyway, again, just my two-cents. But knowing how this fic would likely have made me feel, I felt obligated to throw them out there.

[ficsoreal]: I understand where you are coming from and I regret posting the fic on a public forum without BIG, HUGE warnings. I appreciate you not jumping on the hate wagon even though this is quite the novel experience for me. I'm used to flying under the radar and now I'm being crucified. Interesting.

I deleted the post from bandslashmania and there are people warning other potential readers now. I'm not going to apologize for not putting a warning on the fic because I'm not going to modify the header.

I thank you for leaving such a considerate comment.

[pluginexbaby]: Thanks for understanding and at least taking it into consideration. No hate here. :) Fandom is a funny thing, sometimes. You wake up one day, eat some cereal, make an off-hand comment, and the next thing you know, you're inbox is full of people sipping haterade. You really never know what's going to set people off.

I respect your decision to present your work as you'd like, without apologies. I do agree that, in light of that decision, removing it from public forum was probably the best way to go. So good on you.

Thanks again, and you're welcome.
[mandy croyance]: While I agree with everyone telling you that there absolutely should have been a clear rape warning for this fic (and yes, there really should), right now I have to put that aside to tell you what a wonderful fic I think you wrote.

I really loved the vivacity of the college setting and how you absolutetly went there. As pluginxbaby said, drugged rape is a very real experience for many college students and, in my opinion, those stories deserve to be told as much as any other (and perhaps even more).

You succeeded in not a lot of words to make me identify with you characters enough that I felt an honest-to-goodness punch to the gut when Brendon was abducted and violated. I also appreciate the non-explicit manner you described what occurred in that scene and yet still gave us enough detail for the reader to understand the horror.

I can appreciate a fic that effects me emotionally and leaves me with a low, unsettled feeling in the pit of my stomach. It speaks of great writing as much as the fluff that makes your heart swell and burst.

So, yes, it's very unfortunate that such a good story was overshadowed by such easily avoided controversy. Shame.

[ficsoreal]: I think so, too, especially since I've been in fandom for years and this is my first time being involved in wank of any kind. I admit to still being a bit puzzled by the backlash, but I made that decision and I have to deal with the consequences.

Thank you for your comment, despite the overwhelming outcry, I was not trying to be especially edgy or shocking, hence, the lack of explicit detail. As I mentioned in the header, I have pledged a sorority and the hazing was quite rampant and once you're on the inside, you do get to know what other organizations are doing to their pledges. I've thought about this type of story a lot, every time I hear a news report about some high school kid getting sodomized by a broomstick, or pledges being made to perform sexual favors and this story developed pretty naturally from there.

And there was many a fraternity that offered the choice between caning or taking the cane.

Yeah....controversy. Well, I'm sure everyone has been warned by now.

Thanks again for the comment. It's very fearless of you.

[mandy croyance]: Fearless? Hardly. Mostly just honest. I honestly do think it's a tragedy that you won't be getting much honest feedback in the wake of all the backlash.

Please don't stop writing or posting fics like these, however. I think these are very important stories to tell. They may be very painful to some, but that's really the point, isn't it? Do warn for it in the future, though. It's a very sensitive issue and it really doesn't ruin the story to expect it. You'll save yourself a world of trouble.

<3

[ficsoreal]: :),

I don't think this cat will ever be stuffed back into the bag, but thanks. I'm going to keep writing because that's what I do for stress relief (imagine that!)

I wanted to tell this story and I'm glad it's out there even if no one else reads it or leaves any comment other than, "OMG! You douchebag!" As I mentioned in another comment, I'm not just pulling this out of my ass. I have pledged, I have known pledges that have went through things just as illegal and questionable as this Brendon.

And, yes, several of them did stay in their fraternities/sororities (did not press charges, friends with the people that did it).

I'll probably, you know, not post to a public community again, but that many people don't read me anyway.

Thanks, again, for commenting.
[rimestock]: I know that people have been tossing around the word "trigger" in this post; you mention squicks, such as scat; and then there are general warnings, whether they are about triggers, squicks, or rainbows (for instance). If there had been squicks, such as scat, in this story, would you have warned about them? If so, why is it different to warn about squicks instead of triggers?

It seems to me that you have answered a lot of reasons that aren't why you chose your vague header, things that don't apply in this case, but I still have not seen something that says why you did, what positive force caused you to make this decision. It's also possible that I'm misreading your answer and you have answered that, in which case sorry! Sometimes I miss things that are right in my face, so.

I don't know you, and I have no reason to make personal judgments, so curious or not I promise I'm not calling you a douche. ;)

[ficsoreal]: No, I get what you're saying.

Honestly, I did not want a warning because no one warns for rape in real life, in books, in movies, in other media. I understand that people are used to warnings in fanfiction. I warned people that there were NOT warnings on the fic. I didn't even want to put the vague warning up; that was a concession for my lovely beta.

I'm telling you the absolute truth. No, I wouldn't warn for squicks either; you can't know everything that will squick people.

This is the way the fic came to me and this is how I posted it.

Feel free to ask any and all other questions you have; it's difficult for me to explain the feeling this fic gives me. I love it; it may be my favorite fic ever and I felt and still feel that putting warnings on it diminishes it.
[theaerosolkid]: Honestly, I did not want a warning because no one warns for rape in real life, in books, in movies, in other media. I understand that people are used to warnings in fanfiction. I warned people that there were NOT warnings on the fic. I didn't even want to put the vague warning up; that was a concession for my lovely beta.

I'm telling you the absolute truth. No, I wouldn't warn for squicks either; you can't know everything that will squick people.

I take a lot of issue with what you've said here.

Regarding real life -- that's real life, and that's horrible and wrong. Regarding books/movies/other media: yes. People do get warned. Can you name the last movie featuring a rape scene that honestly surprised the general public by the time it was released? That's what the MPAA does for movies, that's what the ESRB does for video games. There are also hype machines, and typically summaries for books are much more in-depth than fic summaries. Also, it's much more personal here online. We can go to your journal. We run in the same circles. We think of you as being "one of us", and it feels like a betrayal to have something so terrible sprung on us. What you don't seem to be recognizing is that rape is almost as horrific to relive as it is to live through. I understand that this story is hugely important to you, really, I do, but what you're doing has the possibility to severely mess with people.

Think about it like this -- victims of rape frequently come to develop self-damaging behaviours, usually when something triggers the same feelings of helplessness and filth that the violation first brought upon. By not warning for rape, you're taking away the agency of possible victims. You're taking away their choice to remain happy and sane. And that's wrong.

More to the point, even if someone hasn't been a victim, it still could hit them very hard; it still could affect their mental state. You need to warn people. There is a reason this practice of warning is de rigeur.

As for not warning about squicks, you're absolutely right. However, there are a number of very serious squicks that you regularly see in warnings headers. Incest, character death, self-mutilation, eating disorders; these are all common examples. It's not that difficult to figure out.

I do feel badly that you feel like you're being persecuted (there are much kinder ways to express what people have been saying and a hate-fest does nobody any good at all), but I really think that you're not listening to what people are saying.

[ficsoreal]: I am listening to what people are saying and I'm sorry people did not see that warning and think I shouldn't read that. I removed the fic from a public comm. Now, the fic is posted solely on my personal LJ and will not be modified. I can not change the people who have already read the fic.

Don't worry about the hate fest; I'm not. People need something to talk about. In re: movies and warnings; people have been warned by word of mouth now and the fic is rated R and is not explicit.
[lexicon]: I don't mean to be bandwagoning here, but I just really cannot understand your unwillingness to warn about the content of this fic. We're not asking you to give it away, but in no way does "there are warnings but I'm not going to tell you what they are" + fraternity = drugged rape. You said that you were in a sorority, so I cannot see how you can call yourself a Greek and put forth such a view on Greek life. As a member of a sorority, I'm really upset that you would act like this is an accurate portrayal of what happens in the rush process. Yes, there is hazing, and in some places it is worse than others, but rape? I think that might be a bit far-fetched.
[rockmylawn]: This is a really powerful story. It's left me pretty speechless actually, but I loved the strength of Brendon's emotions at the end with such little words, just by the way he squeezed Ryan's wrist. I'm really sorry that there's such some of the impact was lost and that the focus is about your warning (which, I generally do think should be little more specific, but in no way ultimately effects the way I view your story). Great work.
[anansigirltoo]: Wow, good job with this. I can't say I enjoyed it precisely, since it's not non-con for porn's sake, but I do admire how you captured the skin-crawling horror of rape without being too graphic, and the ending was terrifically off-kilter.

It's just a shame that your work and efforts got swallowed by the wank. Personally I thought the warning you placed in your journal was more than adequate, although I admit I was more specifically warned elsewhere before reading. When I see something like that though, I tend to assume that what I find under the cut will be severe and possibly triggering - but apparently that's just me *shrugs*

[ficsoreal]: Thank you for mentioning that it is not non con for porn's sake. People are warning for graphic rape and the whole scene is almost fade to black.

The ending...I love the ending, so, I'm really excited that you liked it too. \o/!

I think it's a shame that wank happened but I made that decision about the warning. I have to deal with it, but thank you for your kind comments. You've made my day a little brighter.
[wildestranger]: First of all, I very much admire the way you've responded to comments and the potential wank. You've been both impeccably courteous and unapologetically firm about your point, which is an interesting combination in fandom - usually we get people being excessively eager to show either remorse or contempt - so I really liked your style.

Secondly, although I very much disagree on your view on warnings, I'm also aware that this is because I have a particular policy on such matters, and I don't expect you to behave according to my policy. I also have a firm policy against telling other people what to do. I'm interested in how you've explained the way you came to have this conclusion, and even if I would approach the matter from a completely different perspective, I do find your arguments to be compelling.

Finally, and this is the reason I'm making this comment, and wanted to preview it with the above thoughts, I'm impressed with what you've done with the fic. I read it when you first posted it (and actually, I probably wouldn't have read it if you had warned for rape, although I did guess what it might be alluding to - apparently my brain associates fraternities with potential rape) and thought, hmm, okay, no happy-making porn then. And didn't comment, and went away to look for happy-making porn. However, I found myself thinking about this fic, and Brendon, and Ryan and Jon and Tom and how they might have come to terms with what happened, or might have not. I've spent a lot of time thinking about how and why this story works, and what you might be trying to do with it (and how fanfiction need not be, although it often is, happy-making porn; it need not leave the reader happy at all, but what can it do when it does not?). I've also found myself curious about how people reacted to it, which is why you find me here stalking your comments and adding to them.

In conclusion, this has been a interesting experience, so thank you for that, and thanks for writing a most thought-provoking story. And sorry for rambling at you. ;)

[ficsoreal]: First of all, thank you for coming by and leaving a comment. Although the temptation to shout and call names has been strong, I was not trying to cause wank when I posted this fic and I'm still not trying to add to the wank that did occur.

It's not that I'm against warnings, I have warned for things on other fics in the past. This fic I decided not to warn for even before I had completed the first paragraph. I really struggled with it and talked to people about it and against their advice decided to go with a vague warning. I actually think of this fic as almost gen; it's about Brendon, not the rape scene which isn't graphic or juiced up to please people's palate.

I don't believe all fic has to be happy making porn and fic with rape should most definitely not be happy making porn. This fic was meant to be upsetting, harsh. I have seen comments that state the rape scene comes out of nowhere and is never resolved in any meaningful way. There is no lead up to rape in RL; one minute you are walking down the street, the next you are being dragged behind a building, into the woods, into a van. The percentage of rapes that go unsolved is way more than the percent solved and in this fic where a drug was used, the memories would not be clear at all. Nothing in this fic was solved at all. That is how I wrote it. The end.

Please, feel free to ramble at me some more. I am not adverse to discussion; I just made a decision and decided to stand by it.

Comments a Year Later

In June 2009, megyal wrote about "A Lifetime Commitment" and, among other things, her remorse at not standing up for its author. It was posted, in part, as a response to the 2009 trigger warnings wank and the lengthy comments regarding another bandom story in the spotlight called Cello Sonata No. 1 in B Minor "Naissance de Libertè".

See Incendiary thoughts ahead for the comments to the post below.

Remember how I had this thing about wank, and how you should avoid it or jump in? Hey, how about you explore with me.

The main issue here is about warning about dub-con in fic. That is a very delicate issue to deal with, an extremely loaded aspect of writing. But that is not what I'm looking at now.

See, I tend to remember things.

I remember when TK, that's ficsoreal, posted a little fic called "A Lifetime Commitment." It's with Brendon Urie and he got assaulted with a speculum. I totally spoiled you all, you guys! Get over it. But you know what happened? Fucking dogpile on ficsoreal.

Readers attacked TK, personally. I believe she was called the antichrist. Or an attention whore. I didn't inspect the comments closely because I was kind of confused at the time, and I didn't have the balls to defend my friend. No, seriously. Yeah, I know.

I'm not disregarding how one's personal experiences have influenced an approach to reading fic online. Please understand that.

It's just that am I seeing is that there's a repeat of the same situation; TK didn't post a warning, or one that was clear enough for some, and people were upset about that. Upset enough to become pissy over it. It just appears that the same set of people that jumped down ficsoreal's throat, or who were conspicuously silent, like me, are now preaching about constructive criticism and not personally attacking the writer.

I could be very wrong, okay? It might be two different things completely, or a different set of players. I went through that previous wank kind of on the sidelines and it really affected me on how people view warnings, and I was simply amazed at how how fandom kind of exploded over it. And the same thing is happening, and it's like the rules have changed.

So I posted this so you can remember, Bandom. Maybe I'm missing the issue? Maybe. I doubt it, though, even through all this incoherence.

If you don't agree, I kind of don't care right now. Ask anyone, I'm usually fairly level, but I don't give a fuck. Remember, if you want to talk about warning about dub-con in fics, I'm not talking about that, so go find your wank-fix somewhere else.

References

  1. "...And if I've just kicked off Bandom's 2008 entry into the unending lineage of warnings-debates, I do apologize." Posting this: probably not as good an idea as it seems like right now.: dsudis, Archived version, livejournal post by Dira Sudis, 3 April 2008.