GONE TOO FAR: A Dystopia for Our Times

[This work was adapted from a piece by Scott Fedorason, a.k.a. @factsnotfeelings, who was banned from all social media platforms for his principled centrism and insistence on absolute free speech within the bounds of reasonable, civil dialogue.  To ensure it escapes the condemnation of these nascent global censors, it has been fictionalized and given the following mandatory trigger warnings: Sexual violence, torture including genital mutilation and branding, mechanical restraint, execution, and fictional bigotry including transphobia, racism, misogny, sizeism and anti-sex worker beliefs.  Your faithful blogger would also fall short of these requirements if they failed to give the obligatory disclaimer that this is satire, though of course not in the spirit that Mr. Fedorason likely intended, and that it is definitely not safe for work.]

At the appointed hour across the Matriarchal Collective of Northern Indiginaea, women sat watching their screens with rapt attention.   Whether or not they were truly transfixed, every one of them was too afraid to look away lest they risk being the first female tried under the Council’s new edict against cisfixment during a public broadcast.

The men, meanwhile, had no such luck.  After the previous week’s massively successful livestreamed trial, the country’s dwindling male population had been universally convicted of aggravated cisfixment.  This crime epidemic had been swiftly and efficiently quashed, with every household receiving an initial allotment of three restraint chairs with built-in cameras to ensure citizennes’ compliance with the law.  With their eyes kept forcibly open and their legs chained no more than the legal limit of two inches apart, they had no way to avoid the familiar smug, unibrowed gaze of the broadcast’s hostess.

“Welcome, ladies, gentlequeers, and privileged male swine,” announced the middle-aged woman on the screen in a loud, obnoxious voice.  Ancient peoples might have revered her form as that of a fertility goddess because of her short, round frame and sagging breasts; however, the obese woman, who wore a pink knit hat, a button with the words “She/hers,” and a t-shirt reading “This Is What a Feminist Looks Like,” resembled a figure of bovinity rather than divinity.  “I’m your host, Harpy Janesdottir, and it’s time for everyone’s favorite Council-mandated game…”

“#METOO!” responded a pre-recorded chorus of shrill voices, all in the throes of yet-unsated bloodlust.

“For the benefit of any dyslexic immigrants of color who aren’t required to read the rules on Tumblr, here goes: One lucky citizenne will be randomly selected to play the Victim, and gets to spin the Wheel of Accusation here behind me.  When it lands, we’ll know which man to blame for her problems, and go into the Accountability Round!  Meanwhile, this week’s winner gets a special prize — will it be access to his bank accounts?  Fully-funded custody of his children?  You’ll just have to watch and find out!

“Of course,” Harpy said with a cold, grating chuckle that set her chins jiggling, “our lucky lady can’t risk her safety to come on the air and spin the wheel, so in her place, we’d like you all to give a warm welcome to my co-host, known to you only as Anonna Miss!”

Canned shrieks filled the airwaves as a second, much younger woman all but skipped onto the screen, with forbidding headphones over her ears that were as big as her waist and breasts were tiny.  Her shirt, which sported the words “Don’t Look” in a location that on any other woman would have made it an excellent trap for the unwary, covered only the tip of her shoulders, prominently exposing the straps of her superfluous bra.  Stopping beside the wheel, she gave a dramatic bow before taking a long and equally over-the-top swig from a gigantic, half-empty bottle of beer.

“Anonna, would you do the honors and introduce — as it were — this week’s Victim?” said the decidedly less photogenic of the two hosts.

“Today we’ve got MacQueesha Wright from New Iriquoia,” said the fey creature who haunted the nightmares of men across the Matriarchy in a decidedly, discordantly non-manic voice loaded with vocal fry.

“Wow, it’s been a while since we’ve gotten to do a Reparations episode!” Harpy said with exaggerated excitement.

“Yeah, we’ve been really lacking in the representation department recently,” said the noticeably pale Anonna.  “The Council must’ve finally run a privilege check on the selection app.”

“Best make it a good spin, then!” her equally caucasian colleague responded after an awkward pause, with a nod to the figure of Anonna, who was momentarily obscured by a wall of text stating in English, Spanish, Chinese, and several other languages that her statement should not be read as criticism of the Matriarchs’ commitment to social justice.

The walking wall of text transformed back into a woman as it approached the looming Wheel of Accusation, its intimidating size undermined by the gaudy colors and fonts that crowded the individual pie slices.  With another swig of alcohol, she gave it a push that would have been surprising for its strength if the audience hadn’t been used to it, given her vehement and repeated refusals to take self-defense classes.

The wheel spun for what seemed to an eternity to the men in the audience who knew, or might have known, or may have been in the same five mile radius of, MacQueesha Wright, and many tried to tune out its noise while racking their brains over whether whichever woman from their pasts had instantly sprung into their minds a few seconds ago had been named MacQueesha or Mikaela or Michelle.  Finally it slowed, spending an agonizing beat on Former Employer, followed by a nerve-wracking half-second on College Boyfriend.  For a single heart-stopping moment, the sharp metallic instrument of fate that hung down not just in front of the wheel but over the futures of countless innocent men like a modern-day sword of Damocles seemed to settle on Rising Political Star.

But then, the wheel spun ever so slightly back to leave it pointing at what might have been the most exceptionally gaudy slice of the puritanical, prosecutorial, politically palatable pie: Your Fave Is Problematic.

There was an audible gasp from the nonexistent studio audience, and Anonna mouthed an “ooooh” with a visible wince.

“Yyyyyyikes!” Harpy said gleefully as her corpulent form filled the screen of every one of the nation’s loyal citizennes once again.  “Today’s revelation is especially disappointing.  Today’s abuser is none other than Broadway star and undocumented activist Ramiro Gutierrez!  Anonna, care to read us the accusation?”

Words filled the screen over a background of a dark figure on a grey background, reminiscient of the default user icons common on preherstorical social media sites, accompanied by the deadpan and increasingly slurred reading voice of the flat-chested host.  “MacQueesha graduated from Vassar College with a four-year dual degree in Post-Colonial Theater and African Dance, but despite these impressive qualifications, was stuck living in downtown Womanhattan with five roommates, subsisting on one slice of artisanal gluten-free avocado toast per day.   After months of auditions, she finally became a member of the chorus in Gutierrez’s smash hit musical Trojan Whores, a reclamatory, sex worker-positive retelling of the Trojan genocide of Greek mythology.  While MacQueesha worked there, Gutierrez repeatedly made sexual comments to her, and at one point –”

“Hold on, everybody,” Harpy barked, drowning out her cohost, “We’ve just received word from the Deputy Matriarch of Diversity that we need to revise our initial call here, in light of the fact that this is the third accusation this month made against a person of color!  If the Wheel had been properly calibrated –” she shot a pointed look at Anonna, who looked increasingly nervous after her second blunder on a single broadcast — “it would’ve shown that poor MacQueesha actually received unsolicited dick picks by her former coworker, a fellow computer programmer named Ryan White, who sent a long email full of racist, sexist slurs to the entire company when she turned him down!”

“As always, though, we still advise that you boycott Ramiro Gutierrez’s works, block him on social media, and disinvite him from all conferences and events as a precautionary measure,” Anonna added hurriedly, doing her best to stare fixedly at the camera in the most cisphobic way possible.

“Now,” Harpy went on, looking far more comfortable to be back on script, “Who’s ready for…”

“THE ACCOUNTABILITY ROUND!” screamed the chorus of unseen sirens in orgasmic unison.

“That’s right!” While the aging unibrowed host’s abrasive voice continued, her image was replaced by an even more unpleasant sight for the show’s captive male audience: a montage of screaming men being menaced by hot irons and scalpels, with each clip cut off — mercifully or tantalizingly, depending on one’s perspective — a second before their punishment was meted out.  “Join me in witnessing justice in action, with our weekly public branding and castration!  If you’re nearby in person, make sure to bring by some fresh fruit, but only to throw at the accused!”

The orgy of misandrist violence on the screen ended, replaced by live footage from a busy plaza in the Degentrified Zone formerly known as San Francisco.  Aside from Harpy herself, the only white person in sight was a thin man in his early thirties, bent over into a kneeling position with his hands and neck held in place by a wooden stand.  His frantic pleas to the effect that he was falsely accused, that he’d never even met this woman, and that his favorite movie was the remake of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with an all-black female cast, were ignored, mostly because none of the Zone’s new residents who made up the crowd of jeering onlookers spoke English.

Standing silently behind him, as always, were the feared squadron of towering, tawny transgenders tasked with this torture.  An elite unit restricted to transwomen of color and handpicked by the Matriarch of Public Safety herself, the group’s members never spoke, lest their voices remind the viewers of their biological sex.  After pumping high levels of female hormones into themselves for years, they sported impressive chests, covered only with gleaming sweat from the heat radiating from their brands.  However, it was common for them to show their reverence for the Council and its preference for gender nonconformity by forgoing full sex changes, and instead wearing full beards dyed with colors unnatural as their existence.  Completing the ensemble were their uniform of short skirts emblazoned with the words “Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain,” daring dissidents to expose themselves by assuming their genders.

The gory scene played out as it had week after week since the dawn of herstory, and the helpless, pleading Ryan White was summarily castrated and left with a scarlet “R” burned into his forehead to screams of satisfaction from the wanton mob of onlookers.  Two of the burly emasculators hauled the minimally-bandaged, still screaming White to his feet and off the screen, presumably into one of the Matriarchy’s fleet of Priuses and off to a remote work camp to assemble more of the newly mandatory Transfixion Chairs.

“Oooh, good choice, Anonna!” Harpy said in a saccharine tone, as her co-host, now swaying on her feet, completed her role in playing the Victim by successfully grasping and picking up one of nine colored squares on her third try and showing it to the crowd.  “It’s not like that deadbeat will be seeing his kids anyways where he’s going!”

“Yeah,” Anonna answered with a hiccup.  “Should be easier” — another hiccup — “to find him for child support” — and then a third — “too.  Y’know, s’long as he actually has k–”

“STAAAY tuned everybody,” Harpy cut in before she could finish that sentence, “because next up, we have the public execution of Jason Pierce, a suspected member of the terrorist group known as the Logicians convicted by Twitter trial of failure to obtain a gender neutral name, peddling in counterfeit Voltaire quotes, and teaching sexual dimorphism to a minor!”

The closing announcements continued as the citizennery was finally able to start loosening the restraints on their men.  “Are you trying to get the money to get a second degree in Gender Studies without student loans?  Always wanted a sugar daddy without having to actually put out?  Submit your name for selection for next week’s show!  And in the meantime, make sure to check out the premiere of the first new Council-approved show in a decade, Witchhunterz, starting next Thursday!”

As the now no longer restrained but still studiously transfixed male viewers felt the circulation flood painfully back into their legs, they knew that they definitely wouldn’t be missing it.