The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Journey through the nine levels of Feminist Hell using this handy map

We have been hearing a lot lately about special places in hell for women who are insufficiently supportive of other women. I was wondering what else Feminist Hell contains, when, at the midpoint of my life, I found myself lost in a wood so dark that the path ahead was blotted out. I felt a terrible fear, heard immense wailing and there was a big sign overhead about Abandoning Hope Of Having It All, Ye Who Enter Here.

Fortunately, Feminist Virgil was nice enough to give me a tour. (This was regular Virgil but he had fixed the Dido parts.) He led me down through the Vestibule and into Limbo and over the river of Man-Tears and the forest of armpit hair, sown by our Amazon forebears, explaining to me what each thing was and who the souls were being tormented. I have also drawn a crude map, which follows.

Vestibule: Women Who Lived In An Era Before Feminism Really Took Off And Were Feminist In Some Ways But In Other Ways Were Problematic.

Punishment: They are doomed to spend eternity watching Meryl Streep become increasingly tone-deaf about intersectional issues while unable to stop her.  She won’t stop being Meryl Streep, you just wish she were a little better on these things, you know?

First Circle: Women Who Don’t Identify As Feminists Because They Think People Should Just Be Equal. They must spend eternity listening to a man explain a subject they understand much better than he does, having written an entire book on it whereas he has only read the review. Whenever they try to interrupt him, he raises a finger to indicate that he is not yet done talking.

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Second Circle: Women Who Didn’t Buy “Bad Feminist.” They must spend eternity making sandwiches.

Third Circle: Women Who Don’t Appreciate Beyonce. They must spend eternity running for office and being told that they are not sufficiently inspiring, yell too much, are the wrong age and that what they are wearing is wrong. (Hillary Clinton is there now.)

Fourth Circle: Women Who Laughed At A Joke That Punched Down. Must spend eternity being forced to argue about whether women are funny.

Fifth Circle: “Cool Girls.” Must spend eternity being Chicks Who Can Hang: eating giant hunks of meat while boasting about not having female friends because they can’t take that drama, laughing loudly at sexist jokes and never getting to go Gone-Girl on anyone. This may seem fun at first, but not if you can never step into a room by yourself and scream.

Sixth Circle: Slut-Shamers. Must spend eternity walking down a long sidewalk while people tell them to “smile,” catcall and ask what their problem is.

Seventh Circle: Women Who Used Too Many Exclamation Points In An Email: Every time they open their mouth, words fall out, but those words are said incorrectly, either with too much vocal fry or too little or with a rising inflection or even a single ‘just.’

The Abyss. Nothing to see here except body-shamers and floating limbs from bad Photoshop jobs.

Eighth Circle: Bad Feminists.

  • Women Who Enjoyed “Blurred Lines.” Doomed to stand next to their boyfriends who work in the same field, while he gets asked substantive questions about his work and then the same person turns and asks how their dogs are doing.
  • Women Who Let A Man Hold A Door For Them, Even Once. They must spend eternity standing behind a man while he takes credit for their accomplishments.
  • Women Who Spoke Critically Of A Movie Star’s Appearance. Must spend eternity trapped in a commercial, wiping down counters using a single piece of hyper-absorbent paper towel, then smiling with glee, or putting on a cream that will hide those fine lines.
  • Women Who Did Not Pursue STEM Careers. Doomed to spend eternity apologizing, then apologizing for having apologized, then apologizing for having apologized for having…
  • Women Who Have Said That They Miss “When Men Were Men.” Doomed to spend eternity actually putting Cosmopolitan’s sex tips into practice.
  • Women Who Didn’t Help Other Women. Special Place. Forced to walk down a long pink aisle filled with gendered toys forever.
  • Women Who Judged Other Women For Not Working/Working/Having Kids/Not Having Kids. Doomed to spend eternity laughing alone with salad.

Ninth Circle: Voted For A Candidate Just Because Of Gender. Must spend eternity listening to a gaggle of male state legislators attempt to describe how the female body works.

Friend Zone: This is where MRAs are trapped and left keening for all eternity.

Women Who Leaned In, But Not Far Enough. Punishment: Have it, but only SOME of it, not ALL of it.