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They used to advertise "a fate worse than death": what did that mean?

Type: General

Submitted by lk2fireone (196)
Female loss of virginity 11% 2 Votes
Forced to give a blowjob 0% 0 Votes
A violated male 16% 3 Votes
Forced to change religion 0% 0 Votes
Child married to monster 5% 1 Votes
Other (Explain in comments) 68% 13 Votes

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19 Votes Total

Jun 6, 2013

Poll Replies (18)

Replies to the user poll above.

Msg # User Message Date


Capn (28) Different things for different people, I think.

Cap'n. :0/

06-06-13  12:57am

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jberryl69 (Disabled) From http://www.phrases.org.uk:


Any misfortune that would make life unlivable (but then wouldn't you be dead?), especially r@pe or loss of virginity. The phrase was formally a euphemism for r@pe.


This phrase originally attested to the belief that a dishonored woman was better off dead. It is still used, but ironically of late. The earlier view was expressed in Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, 1781:

"The matrons and virgins of Rome were exposed to injuries more dreadful, in the apprehension of chastity, than death itself."

The current version of the phrase was used in several works from 1810 onward but was probably brought into public use via Edgar Rice Burroughs' widely read Tarzan of the Apes, 1914:

"[The ape] threw her roughly across his broad, hairy shoulders, and leaped back into the trees, bearing Jane Porter away toward a fate a thousand times worse than death."


Having to live infirmed and unable to care for myself.

"Through early morning fog I see
visions of the things to be
the pains that are withheld for me
I realize and I can see...
that suicide is painless
It brings on many changes
and I can take or leave it if I please."


06-06-13  05:31am

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lk2fireone (196) REPLY TO #2 - jberryl69 :

jberryl69, in some of my reviews I tend to ramble, but your comment goes all over the place.

I read Tarzan when I was an early teen, and I don't remember Jane being raped. And I'm sure (because ERB was writing in a different climate than the current one) that Jane was utterly pure when she married Tarzan. Tarzan might have kissed her before marriage, but even though they were both living together in the jungle before they were married, there was absolutely no hanky-panky going on. Not like modern times.

Your comment reminds me that I enjoyed Tarzan and also John Carter of Mars when I was much younger. I will try to read some of them again, to see if I can still find pleasure in reading them today, or if my tastes (and ideas) have changed too much.

06-06-13  08:10am

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graymane (33) I've never seen this phase used in an advertisement, but I do know it's one very commonly used.... wherein existing conditions are such as to make life, and the continuance thereof, sorely unbearable.
Needn't expound on that because jberry -- a Porn User power-hitter on commentary -- already covered it very well in his reply preceding mine.

06-06-13  08:48am

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RustyJ (145) None of the above although some of them aren't good ;)
06-06-13  10:33am

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jberryl69 (Disabled) REPLY TO #3 - lk2fireone :

What I did was go to that website I linked on top - that was the source of those confusing comments - I just copied and pasted it. I think the quote was directly from ERB's book.

The last part was my personal "worse than death" fear. Which then reminded me of the song, "Suicide is Painless" from the movie MASH and I included the lyrics and a link to a youtube video of it. I look at it as my get out of dodge card.

I too like John Carter.

06-06-13  11:35am

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turboshaft (24) I can't really think of it ever being used to advertise anything except mostly fictional films and occasionally TV. Usually it seems to mean being left helplessly imprisoned or abandoned somewhere for the rest of your life rather than a quick, possibly easy, death.

TV Tropes has an interesting page on it, though it says it that it originally just meant r@pe.

06-06-13  02:06pm

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pat362 (373) I don't know the origin but I think jberryl69 has the right etymology of the expression but Capn is also correct that it has grown over time to mean different things than it used to.

One of the reasons why that expression might be used with a girl getting r@ped or her losing her virginity is that she might get pregnant from these things and there was a time when unmarried women who had babies were considered pariahs and their children were considered bastards.

06-06-13  02:28pm

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Drooler (220) I've heard it as a euphemism, but not as something advertised. Might be a niche market, for all I know. I haven't a clue as to who "they" might be.
06-06-13  03:24pm

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gaypornolover (38) I don't really understand this poll. I know the phrase but I can't recall it in any advertising?
06-06-13  03:53pm

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RagingBuddhist (65) What gpl said
06-06-13  06:51pm

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Wittyguy (105) I don't know what it means, we should ask the Dos Equis Most Interesting Man in the World as I'm sure he's faced multiple fates worse than death .... but did he like it?
06-06-13  08:12pm

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lk2fireone (196) My bad.

I did not "literally" mean to ask "advertise a fate worse than death". I just meant that there used to be an expression "a fate worse than death", and what did the expression mean.

So my meaning was definitely not clear, based on the replies given.

And when I gave the poll choices, I was trying to inject a bit of humor or oblique thought in the choices, because the common historical meaning was a woman who had been violated, but in today's culture, it could be interpreted as any crime or transgression against a person that was terrible.

06-06-13  11:26pm

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exotics4me (463) I first thought this was about a porn site saying you would have a fate worse than death if you canceled your subscription. No joke. I really need to start paying more attention.

I've always heard this saying tied to actions/reactions. Things then happening as the reactions to your actions that cause suffering in you. If anyone is bored and can take the graphicness of it, youtube, "Immortal Technique - Dance With The Devil". Best if you get the lyric version. Song will really shake you up a bit emotionally. The main person in it, Billy, would be facing a fate worse than death. Not to give it away, but he does die in it, but I would think what causes him to seek death was the fate worse than death.

06-06-13  11:33pm

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Jay G (67) Being forced sexually was a "fate worse than death" and I remember being taught that (in Catholic schools), though suicide was otherwise a mortal sin...it was OK for a woman to kill herself to avoid rape, and, indeed, it was best that she do so.
06-07-13  08:31am

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jberryl69 (Disabled) A fate worse than death: Actress Shannon Richardson being arrested and charged for sending ricin-tainted letters to President Barack Obama and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
06-07-13  03:34pm

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Drooler (220) It is an interesting topic. The shift in usage for the expression is a reflection of social change. I've actually used it contemporarily in reference to potentially unpleasant situations (root canals, proctoscopies, and employee reviews).

I suppose that male prison r@pe would dovetail the social change aspect while maintaining some sense of the earlier meaning.

Well, that's certainly enough commentary.

06-07-13  05:48pm

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YankeeBastard (0) Burying your own child is a "fate worse than death."
03-25-14  10:48pm

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*Message rows highlighted in light orange are replies to replies.

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