Proud2Bme | 3 Important Takeaways from Saturday Night Live’s “Welcome To Hell”

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3 Important Takeaways from Saturday Night Live’s “Welcome To Hell”

By Traci Ayub--For many, the news from the past few months has been a shocker with multiple powerful actors and politicians being accused of sexual misconduct. For the rest of us, it’s no shock. In a catchy bubblegum pop parody, the women of Saturday Night Live gleefully sing about the recent events in the song titled “Welcome to Hell.” The piece outlines the struggle of living as a woman with the fear of sexual violence, ranging from assault to harassment, and how the societal acceptance of sexual violence impacts their every move; most importantly, the piece emphasizes that none of this is new to 2017.

The recent harassment scandals have sparked many conversations including how the sexual objectification in media and lack of representation of women’s issues can normalize violence and impact how a woman feels about her body and self. But as the song points out, none of this is new. Killing Us Softly talked about the issue in 1979, releasing three more updates since. Most of us who advocate for healthy body image talk about objectification and media literacy all of the time with the intersection of body image and violence against women being brought up again and again. But with the release of this skit, here are just three of many lessons about the oppression of women and bodies that “Welcome To Hell” summarizes perfectly.

1. “Welcome to hell, this isn’t news, our situation's been a deuce since we got boobs.”

Girls younger and younger have been objectified and sexualized in media; just last month, W Magazine stated that Millie Bobby Brown, the talented 13-year old actress from Stranger Things, is making television “sexier than ever.” These types of comments aren’t new, with Mara Wilson writing a piece about her similar experience while filming the 1996 Matilda, but this trend is seen across Hollywood, in the modeling industry, and in the sexist dress codes that we enforce on middle school girls.

2. “Oh, this ain’t a girl group, we just travel in a pack for safety.”

If you ask a group of young men how they avoid getting sexually assaulted, many will tell you “Don’t go to prison.” If you ask a group of young women, they’ll be able to rattle off a list of safety tips that we’ve been drilled on since elementary school from how to wear our hair to when we’re allowed to walk the streets. While 1 in 6 men do experience sexual abuse in their lifetime, prison sexual assault is a serious issue, and many of the survivors who have recently come forward are men, historically women have been given the burden of “gatekeeper” in the prevention of sexual assault. This has lead to a laundry list of victim blaming attitudes around who's responsible for preventing a sexual assault that ultimately harms the survivors. The only person responsible for a sexual assault is the perpetrator-period. It does not matter what you’re wearing, what time you’re walking home, or if you were drinking; sexual assault is never the victim’s fault.

3. “It's like a million times worse for a woman of color.”

When it comes to body oppression, intersectionality is key. If being a woman isn’t hard enough, the more marginalized identities you carry, the more you experience oppression. The risks of sexual violence of all types increase for women of color, LGBTQ+ women, fat women, women with disabilities, low-income women, etc. Therefore, it’s important to understand your own privileges in the conversation and make space for marginalized voices to speak about these important issues.

While these issues are neither new nor a laughing manner, Saturday Night Live made light of a serious issue in an educational way. While a three minute satirical sketch can’t solve the issue of sexual violence or body oppression, hopefully it opens the CONTINUED conversation that we’ve been having for years.

If you or someone you care about has been the victim of sexual assault, please act now to ensure that you get the help you need and deserve. Call RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE.

For recovery resources and treatment options, call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 800-931-2237. In crisis situations, text "NEDA" to 741741 to be connected with a trained volunteer from Crisis Text Line.

Note: people of all genders experience sexual violence. This piece is a response to SNL’s “Welcome to Hell” skit.

Images via SNL/YouTube

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