Beware the WLGHs

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Watching The Handmaid’s Tale is truly messing with my brain.

Over the last few days, I realised I was doing something. I didn’t realise I was doing it at first, but once I did, I got addicted. Behold my new game: the silent categorisation of the people around you into two groups, ‘would let Gilead happen’ and ‘safe’.

Maybe the ‘let’ part of ‘would let Gilead happen’ is a bit mean, but I include people who I think might try to explain (or mansplain, as a lot of people in the WLGH category are male) why it wouldn’t be that bad really. This distinction makes little difference in my categorisation process. And it is of no comfort.

For WLGHs are all around us.

One was a taxi driver who ranted about women drivers. He’d probably be quite pleased if women were banned from driving. So would the aggressive male drivers who seem to think that driving like a douchebag is a sign of male superiority. One of those tailgated me for a while today. He wanted me to overtake a bit faster, and then got annoyed as I tried to pull in because he had just decided to undertake me. He roared off, about 20mph over the speed limit, trying to prove a point. The point he proved is that he belongs in my WLGH group.

Another taxi driver bemoaned the lack of jobs for working class men. Surely the employment crisis would be solved in a heartbeat, if women were no longer allowed to work.

I overheard snippets of conversations between shoppers in the supermarket; one husband barking orders at his wife about what to make him for dinner, while pushing his trolley in an aggressive manner. Another customer was talking about how a woman she knew needed to just focus on running her home rather than trying to ‘have it all’. WLGHs, both.

The people you hear talking about how feminism has gone too far because women want to be better than men now- WLGH. The people who get upset when women’s issues are discussed because ‘what about the men?’- WLGH. The politicians who use the word ‘traditional’ when they mean ‘get thee in thy place, upstart’- WLGH.

The companies that ask for a woman’s marital status even though it’s totally unnecessary and irrelevant- WLGH. The workmen who assume that my not being able to fix something is somehow a result of my XX chromosomes, rather than just a gap in knowledge and skills- WLGH.

The small child on my street, who can’t be more than 5, and was playing in my parking spot outside my house. When I stopped the car to wait for him to move, rather than flatten him, he assumed I wanted to be guided in. It’s pretty infuriating, being patronised by a literal child. He nearly got yelled at. Fortunately, I was able to suppress the urge to swear, but it was a close call. There’s still hope for this kid, what with him being about 5 and all. But that assumption? Clear sign of a WLGH.

Anyone who says, ‘calm down, dear’- WLGH.

These are just the everyday WLGHs. Read the news, and you see far more of them wielding political power, making decisions about the direction of the nation. These WLGHs are far more dangerous. That form that rape survivors need to fill in if they have borne a child? This proves a woman’s word is not reliable enough, clearly. This isn’t a legal accusation; it’s a form for child support. The people who came up with this- WLGH.

Is it telling that I named the other group ‘safe’? There is a definite threat posed by WLGHs. En masse, they have voting power. Recent political shifts have made previously unspeakable ideas crawl out from their hiding places under the rocks. There is a backlash in progress, and that could lead us down a dark path. We might dodge it; we might not be so lucky. So for now, those who I deem ‘safe’ are my allies in the coming war.

I hope and pray that the Safes outnumber the WLGHs in the end. Otherwise, we are perilously close to Gilead. And the people who are most likely to sneer at that idea, rolling their eyes and saying ‘of course that will never happen’ are usually the most WLGH of all.

Please don’t let it happen.

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