This is going to take some background. The story i’m working on right now is basically a deconstruction of the escapist portal fantasy genera. The anime inclined among you would probably know it as “Iseki”. Think Sword Art Online or any of the fifty other similar stories. The basic premise is that the MC, a introverted nerd girl that spends most of her time daydreaming about being whisked away to a fantasy world where all of her problems go away and she’s a marry sue, ends up in a dark high fantasy world. Before anyone asks, no this isn’t a rape scene. This story is dark, but not that kind of dark.
Basically the main character is, at this point in the story, an apprentice war mage. (name pending, I suck at those kind of titles) Her master is a general in a army currently trying to quell rebellions and invasions (think later days of Rome). She decided to learn under him to travel the country and master magic in an attempt to find a way home. Of course a trade off to this is that she effectively becomes a soldier and is subject to the orders of not only her master but also any high ranking officers.
This is where things get messy. One character building scene for her is when a officer that ranks higher than her but below the general orders the massacre of a group of civilians, something the general doesn’t do. She intervenes and helps a group hide when she hears what’s happening. While the general does secretly support her actions, the officer was in his rights to do it because he was the highest ranking man there and he wasn’t ordered not to do this. So she’s given the option to either run and desert the army along with her chance if getting home, help them find the family she hid for a lighter punishment, or stay and take the punishment. She chooses to take the punishment which consist of 20 lashes and a week locked up in a cage.
So here’s the question. Would the average reader be overly uncomfortable to read a scene of a woman getting a punishment like this? This is actually tame for a real life Roman soldier (the rough inspiration for this army), but im worried that most readers would be put off by a female protagonist getting this treatment. This scene is mostly a character moment to mark a point in her development, so it’s not a throwaway.
I should also say that this isn’t a question as to weather or not this is PC, the entire premise is that the main character is receiving the same treatment that any man in the army would after all. I just want to know if you would be uncomfortable reading it.