The Women Of ‘SNL’ Show Men How Sexual Harassment Is Its Own Kind Of Hell
But the sketch still has a major white feminism problem
Poor men. It's just so hard in this post-Weinstein world to do anything anymore. Just about anything you do to a woman can be construed as sexual harassment nowadays, amirite? It's just so exhausting. What a... shame.
This week, the women of SNL stand with the poor, sad boys everywhere in solidarity that life these days is hell. But, as host Saoirse Ronan and Cecily Strong gently remind the boys, there's a little secret that every girl knows: Oh, this been the damn world.
"Welcome to Hell" is a slow-burner. The whole video looks like a peek into some dude's banal fantasy thought bubble, where women dance around in skimpy outfits on some nightmarish Candyland set. Except Ronan, Strong, Kate McKinnon, Aidy Bryant take control of the situation and, instead of belting out some vapid pop song, they use the opportunity to send a gentle reminder that nearly every aspect of a woman's life has been tainted by the threat of sexual assault and male predatory behavior since the literal beginning of time. The beginning of the piece is a little flat and surface-level, but things really start to pick up at around 1:50 when they start introducing historical ways women have been hurt and demeaned, including but not limited to being burned at the stake. The use of creepy, "sexy" baby talk ("I guess it begs the question 'Whoa, why didn't you say something baby girl?' Well dang, devil daddy! We definitely did. For hundreds of years.") is also a fantastic and subtle dig at the male fantasy and the demeaning, infantilizing way women tend to be looked at by men.
However, there is one major problem with the skit: how it deals with the complicated reality of white feminism. Toward the end of the sketch, Leslie Jones makes an entrance, reminding the four white women on stage and the audience that, "You do know that it’s like a million times worse for a woman of color, right?" Although Jones remains for the rest of the piece, she never gets her own verse. This unfortunate oversight in itself is pretty ironic and sadly doesn't seem intentional: the one woman of color gets to be a backup singer, but never gets her chance to share her crucial perspective.
The best and most damning line of the whole song comes at the end, with Ronan tearing into a typical male talking point about what kinds of things are now ruined for men and compares it to the things women lose every day. It also might just be our new rallying cry: "Now House of Cards is ruined, and that really sucks. But here's a list of stuff that's ruined for us: parking and walking and uber and ponytails, bathrobes and night time, and drinking and hotels and vans. Nothing good happens in a van.”
"Welcome to Hell" is super catchy, and it sheds light on problems that all women face, but it still centers stories of harassment around the experiences of white women, which is an unfortunate—if accurate—reflection of how this issue is often talked about in real life.
See for yourself in the clip, below.