Bros and Cons: A Glimpse into a Dystopic Present

Must admit, upon first viewing the Saturday Night Live sketch about The Handmaid’s Tale, I found it appalling. OK, so I’m old, but I can’t believe how those guys got it on so easily with women. Sounds like one big party, with “epic blowouts” where people of both sexes hung out and had fun together naturally. In my time, you really had to work at meeting women, making the rounds of smoke-filled flesh palaces or joining some social club to feign shared interest, only to be shot down most of the time.

But what really got me was the utter cluelessness and insensitivity of the guys toward a member of the “girl squad” who just had her eye cut out for not playing by the rules. In their world of the not-too-distant American future — a dystopian society based on religion — women have lost all rights, including control of their own bodies, existing only to be impregnated like cattle by their owner-husbands. The hard-partying boys feign concern, offering lame suggestions and offers to help. But you know they won’t, for they don’t see a problem. Instead, they blame the woman, asking why she doesn’t just leave the guy if he’s so cruel to her, completely ignoring the fact that she can’t.

Thankfully, The Handmaids Tale is pure fantasy. It could never happen here. America is nothing like that. Unlike in Margaret Atwood’s book, women today hold down jobs and spend their own money. They can marry or not marry whomever they choose and have complete control of their bodies. Religion doesn’t tell us what to do. And don’t forget, women can vote now.

Of course, women didn’t get the vote until 1920. During much of America’s early history, a married woman couldn’t lay claim to property or money she might earn, and was expected to focus on housework and childbirth, not run a Fortune 500 company. Apparently, an awful lot of guys were perfectly OK with that, for it took women 70 long years before they finally got that vote.

While the good ol’ boys may have lost that one, there are still plenty of ways to stay in control. Considering some of the laws still on the books today, maybe The Handmaids Tale isn’t so far-fetched after all.

For example, in some states, guys can still take photos up women’s skirts — yes, up women’s skirts — just as long as they are taken in a public space and the women are fully clothed. Presumably, this is illegal only if it’s in a private space and the women are naked.

Though the right to a safe abortion is supposed to be legal in this country — at least technically — the boys’ club is determined to take back control of women’s bodies. Almost daily, they come up with some new legislative game, like allowing husbands to sue to block abortions or seeing how many ridiculous hoops they can make Planned Parenthood clinics jump through while pretending it’s all about protecting women’s health.

In Indiana last year, then-governor Mike Pence piously prayed (as if that somehow made it right and proper) while he signed a law mandating that aborted fetuses be properly buried or cremated. So guys, hope you’re ready to attend a funeral where your wife or girlfriend is forced to listen as people pretend an actual human being has died and try to pin some fake abortion stigma on her as they pray for her soul, when in reality she’s totally OK with her abortion decision. Now there’s a game for you.

Forget about giving her a little extra stimulation during sex, if you live in Alabama or Georgia, where sex toys are still illegal. Relax, boys — your Viagra pills are still legal so you can prolong your pleasure as long as you want. And if your 100 percent all-natural lovemaking isn’t enough stimulation for her, too bad. Who says women are supposed to have pleasure?

If you happen to live in one of seven states and your wife or girlfriend becomes pregnant as a result of rape and decides to continue the pregnancy, she could be forced to share parental custody with the accused or convicted rapist. Despite his heinous crime, he would still be considered a “daddy,” presumably with full visitation and vacation rights. Talk about an extended family! Can you imagine the conversations when he comes to visit “his” kid? “So, Dave, how’s your other boy doing? You know, the one you had with that woman you raped last year in Montgomery?”

As for religion not telling us what to do, if your wife or girlfriend needs an abortion or birth control pills, best you not go to a Catholic hospital. The fact that 10 out of the top 25 hospital systems are Catholic-affiliated means that a pregnant woman in need of emergency care could well end up in a hospital that refuses to provide the care she needs. In fact, according to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the hospital should just let the woman die rather than provide an emergency abortion! And if you live in a state where governors and legislators pray as they pass increasingly onerous reproductive rights laws, well, just too bad. After all, doesn’t it say in the Bible that men came first — Adam’s rib and all that nonsense — and should have dominion?

But don’t worry, guys, just play dumb like Chris Pine in the sketch, as you repeat your favorite comeback: “How can that be if I never heard about it? Things like that just don’t go on in this country and besides, who’s got time to read the news? It’s all fake news anyway. What was she doing there in the first place, especially wearing that outfit? No one has more respect for women more than I do. You gals need to stop being so emotional and overreacting. It’s not so bad. At least you’ve got the vote. This is America, after all.”