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ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK Recap: ‘I Am a Defender of Women!’

You know what I always find so amusing? The people who crow the loudest about all the work they do to help people are more often than not doing so for the wrong reasons. For them it’s not about the actual act of helping and creating a better place. It’s about getting their name up in lights and feeling all the love and glory. Prioritizing your own crusades for self-promotion over, you know, actually effective leadership. Oh Orange is The New Black, how you shed a light on these misguided ways.

We’re nearing the end of season two now: crazy, innit? To think it’s all gone so fast and yet so slow (for those of us afraid to binge lest we lose out on its goodness too soon). But by the end of episode 11, “Take a Break From Your Values,” the churning ways of superstorm Wanda weren’t the only storm a-brewin’: maybe even more than one. First, the prison newsletter is taken away, then the hunger strike struck down, family ties have been broken, some inmates are heading down south, and Taslitz (one of the Golden Girls) shanked someone she mistook for Vee. In a word: damn. Shit is really going down.

But the women who were the most fascinating to us were Sister Ingalls and Fig. “I am a defender of women!” Fig bellowed as she oh-so-ironically tried to keep the inmates from affecting helpful change to their environments — giving the bathroom a much, much, much needed fix-up at “a good price,” and seemingly unnecessary riot gear as a bit of sparkly distraction from the real issues at heart. These so-called good guys and voices for the disenfranchised are clearly cut from the identical, narcissistic cloth. Both claim to be on the side of the underdog, but really only when its an advantage for them to do so. Maybe they mean well at first — Maybe! I’m not in their heads — but selfish behaviors often find a way to weasel their way to the top of the heap. As long as there is a spectacle, in their minds, something is being accomplished. Like a concert with rape in the headline! (And don’t worry: we’ll get to the highly uplifting conversation of rape later on!)

For Fig it’s how she “takes care” of the women — her idealism rants nothing more than an excuse for her own selfish needs and cover-ups. Whereas Ingalls’ preferred pacifism (as long as it’s got a great-for-the-cameras twist) is to go battle the world’s many injustices. They believe their own hype and feel their positions and/or clout in the world — thanks to the myriad good they’ve apparently done — hold much more importance than they actually do. These women only work for self-serving purposes; when the needs of many line up with their own. Though to be fair, Fig actually does have an ounce of power to wield, whereas Sister Ingalls could never even get the lord to talk to her while she was a nun. They had the cameras on them but only for a moment, and once it was no longer useful, off they went. Turns out the women on this show are just as misguided as the men.


Like Big Boo’s misguided attempt to gain a bit of control herself by telling Vee about Red’s contraband route — effectively f–ing herself over and cutting herself off at the knee. Now Red wants her out of the family and Vee doesn’t want a snitch on her team, either. There are systems and then there are family, Boo: don’t get the two confused and f— over the wrong one just in the name of selfish anger. All of this is about way more than just you.

How could Boo do this, knowing that it will mean even more drugs coming into the prison and lord knows what else? Couldn’t she see how that could affect Nicky and the other recovering inmates? To say nothing of how it DID affect Miller last season? Sure, as Black Cindy pointed out, drugs in prison aren’t anything new. But know what that line of thought is? It’s not “just the truth,” it’s actually apathy. How it tries to play itself off as the “hard” facts of life when really it’s nothing more than an excuse for inaction. This is what has kept the prison system (and SO MANY other systems in our world) messed up. Because — as Ingalls and Fig have proven — the news, and people, prefer sensationalism over story. People want to feel, not do. (It’s stupid.)

But it’s like Aleida said: “A lot of people are stupid and live full lives!” Of course this is all a segue into everyone’s favorite topic of discussion: rape! Oh yes, the cheeriest, most non-divisive topic of the day: consensual sex and when it isn’t. Now, Daya and Bennet have done a very bad thing. And honestly it’s good that Daya felt so shitty about it: it means she has compassion and morals! The conversation that she and her mother had, I’m sure is a thing that a few women in the world — say, in situations as dire as this? — might hold to be fact. To call the rape a moment of “luck” for Daya and Bennett, while shocking to us viewers (particularly when it comes from a woman, as a woman) is just outlining what can be gained from it: money to be had, scot-free, from the government and also from Mendez child support. Is this terrible, awful, manipulative, misguided, and disgusting? Yup. But they were taught to survive, not thrive, because upward mobility is a pipe dream for people like Aleida. They have been stepped on, and born into a world that has no compassion for them and their plight, so they have to take or be taken. Get where they can or be forced into situations more dire. It’s awful but its their reality.

And when you think about it that way, it’s sort of tragic. It’s just like what Poussey said during Healy’s Safe Place meeting: “Feeling our feelings might make it impossible to survive in here.” For some of these women, the caveat of “in here” is mainly that — for them, to feel means they might not survive anywhere. But if you don’t break the cycle, everything bad perpetuates itself, folding in and churning its way through everything until suddenly? It’s a superstorm. And that shit is real.


Odds and Ends:
– We knew as soon as we saw that picture of Larry getting punched we had to include it.
– “I’m not an alcoholic. I’m Australian.” Oh Pete, that’s what they all say.
– Oh and since we buried the lede there: Larry and Polly are DOING THIS, you guys! They’re going to try and make it work.
– Best quote of the episode: “The bathrooms may be segregated but the market’s still free!”
– I’m still worried about Jimmy, you guys.
– Alex Vause is potentially in danger: Cubra walked and now that she’s free, they’re totally coming after her.
– Piper and 12 other “random” inmates are heading down to Virginia soon: WAIT WHAT?!
– Which 12?
– And why do I get the sneaking suspicion that jail in the south is much, much worse?
– I’m also seriously worried about Poussey after she called Vee “a pedophile without the sex.”
– His thoughts on electroshock therapy: “Pretty effective, actually. [My mom] made a lot of soups after.”
– OK, phew, I should end this now because my rage feels so real.
– We’re bracing for Superstorm Wanda.

If you want to check out our other recaps for the season, click here!

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