Friday, 21 January 2011

Those Magdalene Sisters - Again! (On My 'Tele, Too!)

As you know I said last time that I was going to paste up a short extract from the new book, and I will do - but next time.

There are good reasons (I think). (1) The piece I have been working on is still not ready in a form I would feel happy about sharing with you yet.

And (2): I became a little distracted. Partly this was due to a sojourn to the art exhibition currently running at the London Design Centre, Islington, yesterday (where they had, amongst other works on show and for sale, no less than four by LS Lowry, the asking price for one of which was an incredible £800,000 - just a little outside my league, Ha,ha!). But mostly, at least in as far as today has so far been concerned, it is to due to the showing last night on television of the wonderful, if depraved (but not for my taste), film ‘The Magdalene Sisters’– I almost had a coronary!! Of course I felt I had to mention it here, and of course I felt obliged to source a couple of suitable stills to go with the mention.

I have of course talked about this movie before. As you know it is based around the church-run homes that once existed in Ireland (up until not so long ago apparently) that were set up to house and control so-called ‘unruly’ girls - See the blog entry I posted on Tuesday, 23rd September 2008, entitled Corselletes, Corset Discipline & Institutional Hair and Fingernail Cutting (just click the title or use the blog archive search facility over in the right-hand sidebar).

Anyway, one thing led to another and while searching for a few stills from said film I stumbled across The Encyclopedia of Women in Prison Films’(see right-hand sidebar under the heading ‘Useful Resources’ for a link to the homepage or click the site name). This site, which describes itself as “a work in progress attempting to catalogue and review every WIP film ever made”, does indeed host a clip from the aforementioned film. One of the best sections my opinion; the part where the inmates, having been made to strip naked, are humiliated by the Mother Superior who amongst other things has them compare breast sizes and ‘hairiness down below’ and so on - reducing one completely to tears. (See pictured top left). Unfortunately the clip on this particular site is in French, which is a bit of a pain for me personally be a typically ignorant Brit when it comes to languages, but I'm sure it'll be fine for many visitors to this blog to get a flavour of the movie.

Another clip I came across on the same site that I found worth viewing - though it has nothing to do with The Magdalene Sisters and appears to be silent for some reason - was called ‘Stuck’ (click on the film name and look on the bottom right-hand of the page when you arrive - or see clip embedded here). This one is a lovely clip of young women - one delightfully bashful - stripping out of their prison uniforms - which appears to consist of a button-through nylon overall or dress (perfect as a basis for a prison uniform) - under the stern watchful eye of wardress in what appears to be a prison block shower room. To view clip click on the 'play symbol' below.

Going back to the Magdalene sisters again for a moment, and that scene mentioned above in particular I think they miss out on a trick or two if this sort of treatment only occurs once in a girl's experience. In the type of institution I envisage, that form of belittling and humiliating treatment would be repeated on multiple occasions. On subsequent occasions - which I picture as being in a more formal, structured frame, almost along the lines of the series of ‘group therapy’ sessions and perhaps lead by a woman trained in psychology, and perhaps one specialising in the psychology of shame - I imagine it could have been taken a step further, with the girls no longer allowed to just stand passively while comments are fired at them but rather obliged to participate, discussing and describing their own breasts in relation to those others around them. Any sign of pride, a girl perhaps misguidedly flaunting her attributes under the misconception that she is somehow better than the rest, would be dealt with by a suitably scathing and confidence-undermining comment from the psychologist, pointing out her shortcomings in no uncertain terms. Similarly, after the various comments issued regarding the relative level of ‘hairiness down below’ displayed by the various girls while in line - with the Mother Superior saying at one point, as I recall “you've got more there down below then you have on your head, a girl, but I think so-and-so wins out in that department” (or words to that effect, I can't remember the name of the girl) - the next step would be an appointment with the institution's nurse or matron and the very carefully carried out and closely scrutinised close razor-shaving of their more intimate charms. On subsequent occasions, then, those comments could be made far more focused and even more intimate, perhaps with girls lined up with hands-on head over a mirrored floor or seated in a circle on steel-framed plastic chairs and a hand mirror then passed around. I'm sure you get the idea.


Anonymous said...

I appreciate the link to INDUSTRIAL SCHOOL DAYS. I believe the author reads this blog, so I have to ask him, does he have any other stories? On the other forum he hinted he was thinking of some other story lines...could he share his inspiration with the other authors on this forum.

Thank you so much for the wonderful story!

Toyntanen said...

Thanks for that, 'Anonymous'. It was one of those stories that, when I stumbled across it, re-ignited my interest - just when it was all getting to much and my enthusiasm was flagging. The author is another one of those I would love to collaborate with one day - or even right now, as the present book is getting a little out of hand and proving a touch difficult to bring to culmination.

Anonymous said...

What made INDUSTRIAL SCHOOL DAYS work for me was the female police officer’s eagerness to intentionally misclassifying the wealthy and successful Claire as a street urchin. Officer McMullen was almost giddy at the of poor Claire standing naked in the communal showers as the nuns use the coarse scrub brush and the harsh carbolic soap (necessary for disinfecting and delousing the filthy little beast!) while her clothes are confiscated, bagged, and ultimately, discarded.

I love her Officer McMullen’s unbridled delight in the injustice of it all, and her eagerness to grease the skids and move Claire as quickly as possible thru an unjust sentence and into her new role of a reformatory delinquent. She even goes to watch as Claire is marched thru her perfunctory hearing, and sentenced to another week in the workhouse.

Why another week, if you’re reading this, Mr. Stanton? Surely there’s no need to review this delinquent’s case on a weekly basis. I would think next year would be quite sufficient….

Love to see a sequel to this one!

Toyntanen said...

Hi Anonymous. As you might have guessed I too would welcome a sequel to, or continuation of, that wondrous little tale: ‘Industrial School Days’. I have always wondered where the story would go next and what the girl's ultimate fate should be.

Of course some sort of perfunctory search for her parents would have to be made, though this might in reality largely exist mainly on paper. Then again it is likely that a missing persons report would after a time be filed. But what with the economic situation hitting the level of bureaucratic staff and the resulting muddle of paperwork and misplaced records (and with perhaps a gentle push from those with certain ulterior motives or concerns over departmental cost savings) it is likely that the correlation with the nameless waif recently placed in the hands of the nuns would never be made.

I quite agree with you that a review frequency of once were year would be quite adequate. The tale mentions the period of twenty-one days and I don't doubt that the opportunity for the girl to put her case would be brief at best and what with the image she would present and her likely distraught emotional state she would be unlikely to be able to put over the best account of herself. But, how much simpler it would be for all concerned if such a review were to be reduced to a simple ‘rubberstamped’ report and a routine extension of detention without all the costs and complications of an inquiry, transport arrangements for the girl and the judge’s time etc. Now, consider: twenty-one days under the care of the Church industrial School, perhaps perfunctorily extended for a further period without any opportunity for her to object or explain herself, and one might expect her to be in something of an emotional turmoil if not feel to brimming with all sorts of seemingly unlikely conspiracy accusations - especially if ‘somehow’ stumbling upon the knowledge of that rubber stamping of her first review. Surely such an institution would include some level of in-house medical care, perhaps even the facilities for psychiatric evaluation? Now if the mental health act were then to be invoked?… Hmm?

Incidentally; Industrial School Days was written by someone called ‘Harry Standing’ and not Mr. Stanton (as far as I know) and was originally presented on the cutting/head shaving stories and forums site the address of which (for the originally posted story) is below - for those of you yet to have read it. It is the only story I can find on that site by that author and no email address is available. I've done a quick search on the Internet and was unable to find any further work by ‘Harry Standing’ but I did note that someone signing himself as ‘Harry Standing’ left a comment on this very blog on Tuesday, 18 August 2009. Actually, given the quality of the writing I was rather amazed that on that hair cutting fiction site the readership only deigned to award it only four stars out of five - sacrilege surely?

Madmonkey said...

I believe the reason "Industrial School Days" didn't score higher with some readers over at is because it is a haircut story site and the haircutting scene in that story was both very short and extraneous to the plot of the story. And so although great, it was more of a Humiliation/Revenge story than it was a haircutting story, and therefore not some of that site's reader's cup of tea.

imreadonly2 said...

I certainly agree that in the more routine cases of female delinquency, there is no need for a formal hearing, and a routine review by a clerk is more than adequate.

However in some cases a routine review by a Judge, or even a board convened for such a purpose, can, if conducted with alacrity, provide an efficient mechanism for establishing a young woman’s delinquency with a minimum of fuss.

For example, in my Natalie story the young women are required to prepare detailed “Pleas for Clemency” which can be reviewed on “Mercy Night.” The large number of cases to be reviewed, and the Board of Governor’s eagerness to dispense with them so they adjourn to their private room at the pub, guarantees the speedy dispensation of justice!

On Mercy Night itself, the young women, in uniform, are forced to wait outside in the hallway as their cases are reviewed. The cases are processed briskly, often in less than minute. There is no need for defense attorney or the noisy clashing of legal swords. What better friend could the girl have then the Reformatory Governor’s, who have dedicated their lives to the correction of troubled women?

The girls can spend months preparing lengthy and carefully researched pleas. But for convenience sake, as the image of the nervous young woman waiting in the hall is flashed on the huge video screen for the Board of Governor’s Consideration, the girl’s carefully worded plea is reduced to a brief sentence or two.

“Helen Jinx, 35, a Judge visiting from America,” the clerk stated flatly. “She works in their juvenile justice system.”

“35, eh?” Judge Hardcase sniffed, eying the monitor suspiciously. “She doesn’t look like a Judge!”

“Yes,” Lord Snowton agreed. “She looks like just another delinquent to me!”

Indeed she did not look like a Judge, for Helen Jinx was not wearing a black robe, or her normal carefully tailored business suit. Instead, she was wearing the standard issued reformatory uniform: blazer with the school logo on the pocket, tie, and a very short skirt which even now she was trying to tug on to make longer. Sans makeup and jewelry, and with her hair in a ponytail, the nervous young woman looked like a naughty 18 year old!

“We’ve verified her age, my lord, and her identity,” the clerk explained. “She’s committed no crime. Spotless record.”

“Why on blazes is she here, then?” Lord Snowton snorted.

“She took a years sabbatical from the bench, and decided to visit England to study our system for handling delinquents. She was in the courthouse talking to a constable who was guarding a group of young women waiting for transport to the Reformatory.”

“The young woman seemed quite surprised to discover that all of the delinquents were over 18. Questioned the Constable quite a bit about it, and I guess he got a bit annoyed. He suggested that if she really wanted to understand how the whole bloody system worked, she should ride out to the Reformatory with the other girls and watch them get processed in. Much to his surprise, she thought it was a wonderful idea.”

“Did she now?” Lord Snowton chuckled. “What happened next?”

When the driver came the constable started talking to him about the match on Saturday, and apparently he forgot to mention the Judge Jinx was a special case. The next thing she knew she was cuffed and shackled in the back of the transport van!”

“Sound like a bit of a muddle,” Judge Snowton said, leaning forward to hear more. “What happened when she arrived here?”

imreadonly2 said...

“Her name wasn’t on the sheet, sir,” the clerk explained, slightly abashed. “She explained who she was, but the Matron decided to process her in anyway, until her identity could be verified.”

There was some laughter and knowing smiles as each of the assembled board members envisioned the blushing Judge Jinx surrendering her clothes, placing her feet in the stirrups for the “contraband check,” washing herself in the large communal shower with the burning carbolic soap, submitting to her delousing, and standing naked for her “posture photos.”

“One has to expect the occasional bungle,” Judge Harcase said, dismissing the mistake as he would any other minor trifle.

There was a brief pause as several of the Judge’s considered Miss Jinx’s case folder. The Governors, wise and experienced in such matters, quickly turned past Judge Jinx’s carefully worded explanation of the mistake, past the documents verifying her identity, and past the booking shot that showed Miss Jinx in her elegant charcoal suit, with her diamond earrings and pearls.

Instead the men turned to the posture photos: 4 shots, one front, one back, two side, where the blushing young victim of mistaken identity stands quite naked in front of a backdrop that revealed her height, in bare feet, of course, to be 183 centimeters.

“A tall girl!” Judge Bean noted.

“And a natural blonde,” Justice Chase noted.

“Modest too. Her face is pinker than her nipples.”

“She has nice long legs,” Justice Tawney noted. “I could use a blonde for my pony girl stables.”

“She ran track in college, and won several medals,” the clerk said. “She placed in a marathon last year.”

Justice Tawney smiled. The blonde amazon liked to run, did she? Well, she’d run her heart out, harnessed to his pony cart! The bridle in her mouth would silence any protests. And the whip would ensure an exemplary performance.

“She certainly has a tight, spankable bum!” Judge Hardcase enthused. “Has she been whipped yet?”

Toyntanen said...

Hi 'Imreadonly2'! (Weird name - but so much better than 'anonymous')

I love the idea of the girls spending "months preparing lengthy and carefully researched pleas". Actually I supose if truth be known the 'carefully researched' part of that quote worries me a little. It could so easily imply far too much freedom and contact with the outside world.

By the way: did you ever finish the tale you were working on that was along similar lines? The one featuring the 'starlet'. If so where did you finally post it?

imreadonly2 said...

“No, sir,” the clerk said. “She only arrived yesterday. We were going to release her, but she asked to be bound over for Mercy Night, so she could have the full experience of being processed thru the system. Plus she wished to make sure that her record was fully expunged.”

“I see. And did the Headmaster explain to her that we would be duty bound to review her record in it’s entirety, and that we would be free to adjudicate the matter as we saw fit?”

“Yes, sir, it was explained. “It made her a bit nervous at first, but then she said it would be quite exciting. She told the Headmaster she ‘wished to submit herself to the Governor’s mercy, just like any other girl.’ She told the Headmaster she wanted to wear a uniform, and stand in the hallway on Mercy Night and have her case mixed in with all the rest, with no special consideration. Said it’d a ‘thrill,’ and a would make a capital story when she got back to the States.”

The Judges looked up at the screen and considered the live video feed of Helen Jinx in the hallway, nervously shifting her weight from foot-to-foot and chewing on her nails as she anxiously awaited the judgment of her betters. It was clear that however “thrilling” Mercy Night might have seemed to be when she was standing in the safety of the Headmaster’s office, the reality was far different.

Several of the board members chuckled softly as they read the nervous schoolgirl’s thoughts. “Oh, dear, I hope they’ve done the right thing! There are so many girls, and so little time to review all these cases! They have to release me, don’t they? I haven’t done anything wrong. I’m not like the others…surely they’ll see! Oh, I wish I had a lawyer, or some way to defend myself!”

The clerk looked around the room, surveying the reaction Governors. No one was reviewing her plea. Some of the Governor’s were looking at the guilty looking girl on the monitor, while others were examining the photograph of her tight, athletic bottom.

The clerk smiled. Helen Jinx’s case was not going well. Her wish had come true. Dressed in her school uniform, and forced to wait nervously in the hallway as her case was discussed, Helen felt – and more importantly, looked – like a naughty schoolgirl anxious to escape punishment. And the Judges knew precisely how to deal with girls of her ilk!

Helen Jinx was not a delinquent, of course…at least not yet. That would require a formal charge, and the filing of a special form…

“So she demanded that we expunge her record, did she?” Judge Tawney asked rhetorically, searching for a legal straw to grasp. “Rather cheeky of her, don’t you think?”

“I agree!” Lord Snowton said. “One might almost say contemptuous.”

Sensing the Governor’s mood, the clerk, who had Helen Jinx’s release forms ready for signature, set those forms inside. Instead, he took a pre-numbered form from the large stack in front of him and wrote HELEN JINX in large block letters on the dreaded and feared CERTFICATE OF DELINQUENCY, the brief but powerful sentencing form used to strip young women of their legal rights and confine them to the reformatory system.

The clerk looked up at the lovely blonde girl on the screen, nervously wringing her hands. From the anxious look on her worried brow it was clear that she regretted her decision, and was getting far more of a thrill than she had bargained for. But it was too late now…

The clerk’s member stiffened as he signed his own name in the lower left hand corner of the officious document, thrilled to know that it was his humble hand that was, in part, stripping the proud Judge of everything she had, and sentencing her naked arse to the lash!

He poised the very tip of his writing instrument over the form, and waited for the axe to fall…

imreadonly2 said...

Despite the unusual nature of the case, it took Judge Hardcase only a moment to decide. “Contempt of Court. Let’s give her a year of strict Reformatory discipline, with a dozen flicks from the pony whip on Justice Night, to get her ready for her new life in the stables. That should answer all her questions about how her Majesty administers justice!”

“Here, here!” Judge Tawney said, as the other Governor’s nodded sagely.

It took mere seconds for the grinning clerk to complete Helen’s form. He handed the form to the Judge, and looked up at Helen Jinx’s picture for the final time, smiling as he imagined her straddling the whipping horse with her bare cheeks raised high for discipline.

Then the clerk deftly moved the camera to focus on the next delinquent. The matter was settled. Helen Jinx was no longer a respected Judge. From this moment on, she was simply another reformatory delinquent.

But by the time Judge Hardcase scribbled a hasty bump in the signature block, he was already “considering” the next case, a lovely redhead who had the temerity to protest her Majesty’s government decision to increase her graduate school tuition.

Helen Jinx’s form was taken to the courthouse the next day, and embossed with the Queen’s seal. And so her delinquency became a matter of settled law, and the young Judge was stripped of her right to counsel, her right to appeal, and her right to do anything, save run her fastest, and turn her owner a tidy profit…

The half complete form ordering Helen’s release was discarded into the wastebasket. Later that day, the janitor would incinerate it, along with Helen’s “Petition for Clemency” and the other useless debris from the Governor’s night of service.

And so you see how a judicial review, if conducted swiftly and properly, can be quite profitable for all concerned.

Yes, Garth, FALLEN STAR was posted at the spanking library. You are welcome to republish any portion of it here.

As for the careful research, no harm in giving the girls some dusty, unused legal books to pour thru, and some yellow legal pads to scribble on, especially now that all such books are for show, and the firms have gone electronic. It might be amusing to watch them sweat it out as they realize how the system has dealt with other girls of their sort, and let them strain to beat back centuries of arguments that effectively assume their guilt.

Thanks for giving me a chance to post. It is GREATLY appreciated!

imreadonly2 said...

Garth writes, "I love the idea of the girls spending "months preparing lengthy and carefully researched pleas"."

Yes, the key notion here is to let the girls think that please are the key to their freedom. Remember, the girls will have no computers. If a page has a spelling error, or the handwriting is less than perfect, it must be destroyed and rewritten.

Imagine the nervous anxiety of Penny Wilson, admitted for "observation" as she tries desperately to prove that she is not insane. If she objects too strongly, it will be proof of her paranoia. If she doesn't object strongly enough the charges will be accepted without contest. Her weak response might even be considered proof of severe depression. Penny labors late into the night, obsessing on every sentence, knowing that a single word can consign her a lifetime of diapers, straightjackets, freezing ice water baths, and electroshock therapy.

Or imagine the case of Kelly Q, furiously attempting to prove that her upcoming strapping is somehow cruel and unusual punishment, when confronted with a massive library of volumes dedicated to describing the salutatory effect of corporal punishment. Imagine her bottom cheeks clenching in panic as she reads about the fearsome punishments of Justice Night! See her pretty face contort into a worried grimace as she reads about how exposed the young women are when they straddle their punishment horses, and imagine her flushing beet red as she imagines herself in their place!

Yes, Garth the mental anguish will be unbearable...and most wonderful!

Other comments/suggestions welcome...

sixofthebest said...

After seeing the movie "Those Magadalene Sisters", I'm a firm believer that those nuns, including the Mother Superior, who run those Industrial School's, should have been held accountable for their misbehavior, by the courts. Justice would have been done, if each and every one of these erring nuns, had been ordered to raise their habits, and bloomers lowered to half mast, and walloped severely on their naked rear ends, with a pliable swishy cane.

Harry Standing said...

Oh, those pesky nuns!?!

Whilst the Magdalene Sisters Shower Scene is certainly a classic, there are a few shortcomings with the film.

Firstly, whilst the opening scenes dwell on the circumstances of their incarceration, there is no 'intake' or 'processing'. The girls move from their specific circumstances (disappearing from the childrens home, getting dragged off in a car)...and next they're being led along the corridor with their clothes and belongings in boxes.

A slight improvement (complete with haircut) can be found in the BBC's 2002 'Sinners', also featuring Anne Marie Duff: -

The second shortcoming relates to the girls themselves (and this applies to 'Sinners' as well). Admittedly the treatment in Magdalene Sisters is so severe even *those* girls are humiliated. However, despite the references to vanity, these girls are of course not particularly vain - a function of the poverty of Ireland in those times.

In my story, Claire is not 'rich and successful' as Anonymous states. But she is intended to be 'rich and spoilt' - the idea being that as an Americanised student in the mid-60s she might be one of the few enjoying something akin to modernity i.e. a night out with her boyfriend, slightly tarty-yet-expensive clothes, shoes, makeup, jewellery etc.

To answer the question about timescales and hearings, I have to admit to being sad enough to have done some research. s.20 of the Childrens Acts really said what I referred to in the story - that the Gardai had some sort of arbitrary power to take minors to an Industrial School, that the District Judge could issue an order for another 21 days with the briefest of hearings etc. Hence why she first has to be 'mistaken' for being much younger. (It's called due process!!)

I have subsequently discovered – courtesy of Smith's “Ireland's Magdalene Laundries and the Nation's Architecture of Containment” (2008) - that although there was nothing formal in law, the Magdalene Laundries were used for remand purposes for older teenagers/twenty somethings. At an initial hearing, a judge might simply give a girl a choice: Mountjoy Prison or 'voluntary' commitment to the laundries...

Harry Standing said...

...I am pleased Anonymous appreciated Guarda McMullen's readiness to see Claire taken into care. In fact, the Police Officer is there partly as a litery device to explore alternate scenarios and dwell on possibilities not actually then occurring e.g. the nun scalding her as she unstraps the sandals and spies her red toenails or as she first pulls down her knickers. And partly of course, she is intended to share and stir the reader's fantasy.

There are of course * so * many potential permutations on the story line. I could write it 100 times. Is she first taken from the police station by the police or the nuns? Does she leave still dressed like that, or do the nuns humiliate her there and then: leaving the Station with her hair in a ponytail and no makeup, her pedicured feet already confined to orphanage issued flipflops?

Or does she even get to visit the police station whilst 'made up' at all? Perhaps instead she is caught by the nuns in some drunken incident outside the convent, perhaps an argument with the escaping boyfriend that leads to a broken window as he speeds off in his MG? Or perhaps she escapes his car because of his drunkenness, only to find herself in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night, knocking at a door where she sees a light on...and instead her humiliation comes from a slow drip that she fails to perceive at first on account of her tiredness and alcohol intake: a kindly old nun chatting to her whilst she drank a welcome mug of cocoa, slowly prizing out the circumstances of her parents absence, watching her having to dial the phone with a pencil - the call to no avail...Then the questioning building in its intensity as they discuss what she was doing out with her boyfriend, why she was out so late, the revealing clothes, whether she always wore makeup, how she managed with those long nails (“They might be pretty child, but they're certainly not practical, are they now?) until...

“Well child, now you're here I think you'd better give me any makeup and vanity items. And you can take off all that jewellery for me”
“M-my jewellery? W-why?”
“Because I don't let girls wear it. Now take it off!”
“B-but I was just going to drink this and go...”
“You won't be going anywhere Child! I'll let the Guards know we caught you out on your own, and until they find your parents you'll have to stay in care.”
“Yes child, care. I'm not letting you back out there. We'll have to find you a bed in St Marys”
[Claire's sharp intake of breath]
“Now take off that jewelery while I call Sister Margaret to come over to collect you. And if any of that muck's still on your face when she gets here...”

[And so forth]

Compared to the Magdalene Sister scenarios, even the initial stages of her confinement would be a shock. And waking up in care the next morning, for her first shower with * her * bare breasts and privileged pussy on display for the Good Sisters and the delinquents, would surely be as degrading as those long-standing grundgy inmates, dancing before the nuns in the Laundry showers?

imreadonly2 said...

AWESOME to hear from you, Harry!

I agree that movies that skipp an intake or processing scene is missing a major opportunity. I felt cheated in Gothika when the psychiatrist Miranda (portrayed by the scrumptious Hallie Berry) simply wakes up in the asylum already in asylum issued jammies.

How much better it would have been if Marie, the vengeful nurse who had been at her the imperious Dr. Miranda Grey’s beck and call when she had been running the asylum, had been their to greet her in “Reception” and take her thru every step of her humiliating processing: her mugshot and fingerprints, the surrender and boxing of her clothes, the squat and cough, the cavity search, her first gang shower, her delousing, and finally the issuing of her drab and worn institutional uniform.

Each and every step would be a shock, and would emphasize that poor little Miranda was no longer in charge, no longer in control, and no longer to be respected. She was just another nutcase, to be scrubbed down and disinfected with the rest of them. Take your meds, Miranda…the electroshock therapy table is right this way.

I think a fall from power is the key to this dynamic – Charlie’s Angels strip search, shower, and delousing was sexy in part because it was in charge, kick-ass, former police officers who were opening their towels at the behest of the butch matron.

My favorite scene in ASYLUM is when the wife of the director, who, dressed in her smartly tailored suits, once lorded it over everyone, is given her butt naked scrub down by the reception nurse. “Your just another patient now, dearie. Turn around, arms in the air…”

In addition to helping us imagine what Claire must endure, Gurda McMullen also fulfills the story’s ironic sense of justice. Claire is rich and spoiled, and looks down on Gurda as a social inferior and a mere civil servant. How sweet it is then when McMullen greases the skids and speeds Claire to her doom. Her anticipation is the readers; will her plan succeed, and will she have her revenge on the haughty aristocrat that humiliated her so? We hope along with her, and delight as Claire’s rights disappear one-by-one.

In one sense, the story is unfair, since Claire is clearly not a delinquent. But in the eyes of Garcia McMullen (or Marie, Hallie Berry’s matron, or the nurse scrubbing down the asylum directors wife) it is entirely just, since Claire is being “disinfected” more of her haughty attitude than she is of crabs and lice.

I agree with Garth that it would have been better if the review period had been a bit more definite, to give Gurda McMullen the satisfaction of knowing that Claire will be tucked away safe and sound for at least a year or two.

I’ve written a number of reformatory stories over at the spanking library, Harry, that follow these themes, that you might enjoy. Do let us know when you decide to pen something else, or even if you have any ideas for stories you’d like to share!

Harry Standing said...

imreadonly2 - Is that the Natasha Richardson film you're referring to?

Sadly, it's brief - but, yes, superb technique by the the nurse there that I think I'll have to remember. Something of a hose-down.

To some degree, I share your disappointment with Gothika. But the sort of procedure you and I have in mind simply wouldn't have worked with the plot.

There *is* something wonderful about her waking up like that...and the shower scene had the potential to be a delight, had it not been for the slicing action, and had we not had to use our imagination: the thought of her brown bum, breasts and pampered pussy on display for the various misshaped and deranged inmates she was looking down on a few days before, watched by a nurse previously her subordinate...

Toyntanen said...

Hi Imreadonly2 and Harry!

“...only to find herself in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night, knocking at a door where she sees a light on...” I so love that sort of scenario and the idea of a kind of unofficial route into some sort of officially sanctioned – or semi-sanctioned; think private prisons and private sector-run asylums – institution. But within that class of opening gambit I think it interesting to consider the possibilities inherent even within a more... domesticated environment.

Also from something Harry wrote: “...her humiliation comes from a slow drip that she fails to perceive at first...”. This statement seems particularly applicable to the domestic – or what I would describe as the semi or pseudo-domestic – environment rather than a institutional setting in which the sheer weight of authority can be relied upon to overcome the girl's recalcitrance. I remember reading a story many, many moons ago that revolved around a pair of teenagers, a young lad and his sister coming under the domination of an 'aunt' figure and the comment coming about that neither quite understands how they have come to be in such a humiliating browbeaten and tamed state. The received impression was that their domination had all come about in such a gradual and subtle fashion that neither had been aware of their freedom being slowly eroded. I can't remember exactly which magazine this tale came from but I think it might well have been a very old copy of 'Janus'.

By the way, Harry, going back to your earlier comment; I definitely don't think it “sad” to do a little research around the framework of a tale – it all adds to the realism. The lack of plausibility is one of the issues I have with so much of the writing in the genre. The other thing I have found – especially where one writes as a hobby – is the added interest it all brings. A little research around one subject quickly leads to a new topic to explore. It is one of the joys of the internet and a little like angling I often think – one never knows what one is going to catch. And the area of experimental psychology has proved a particularly fertile fishing ground!

Thanks for the link to the BBC TV series, also. Good Ol' Auntie Beeb; who'd have thought! Actually, talking of dodgy psychology experiments and TV: I have heard tell that a series is to be screened in the UK (and possibly elsewhere) based on exactly that – the, often unethical behavioral psychology experiments carried out in the 1930s and 1950s. (God only knows what they got up to in the intervening war years!). What with the laundries and that psychology lot running around – and now privately run (for profit) prisons, asylums and other institutions - plausibility really shouldn't be a problem with a little thought. There isn't much one can realistically come up with that either isn't already out there in some form or other or has existed in the fairly recent past.

imreadonly2 said...

ASYLUM has the same sort of dynamic as INDUSTRIAL SCHOOL DAYS. When the film opens Natashia is the frosty, ice queen wife of the asylum director, untouchable and beautiful, and lusted after by doctor and patient alike. Of course that aloofness – along with everything else – is stripped away when she becomes a patient, and is placed in the charge of one of the doctor’s who fancied her.

In GOTHIKA Dr. Miranda Grey was the psychiatrist of many of the women she’s now forced to shower with, which leads to a rather interesting dynamic. One can almost imagine Nurse Marie taunting her former boss as she leads her to the showers:

“Okay, Miranda it’s time for your scrub-down! I have to warn you it’s not going to be as nice as that nice private shower you used to use by the pool. Of course, you were a Doctor then, and now you’re just another patient. From now on you’re going to be taking your showers right out in the open where everyone can watch. No need to be embarrassed…you’re a mental patient now, so you’re going to have to get used to the idea of being naked in front of other people.”

“The other nurses and guards and I are going to watch real close, to make sure you scrub that disinfecting soap under your arms and between your legs and kill all the cooties! No telling what a filthy little girl like you picked up who-knows-where. Half the girls in here would spread their legs for a candy bar. Of course you’re not that way…at least not yet.”

“I imagine other girls will be happy to see you! Some of the were quite sweet on you, back when you were their doctor. I imagine girls do form those sort of unnatural relationships when she’s locked away. Plus you have transference – a lot of patients fall in love with their psychiatrists. But not all of them get to see them stark naked, now do they? Yes, I imagine the girls will be very glad to see you.”

“Of course I imagine it’s easier on you, being black. Not that long ago, really, all you saveges were running thru the jungle without a stitch on! Even when we brought you to our plantations, you’d only wear the clothes your master gave you. Even if he gave you a little rag to hide your cootchie with, I’d imagine those big brown jugs of yours would be bouncing around for everyone to see.”

“And of course when the put you on the auction block you wouldn’t be wearing anything either. You’d have to bend and spread and touch yourself, with all those beady eyes watching. Why don’t you pretend the shower’s the auction block, and we’re the buyers? After all, we need to get that soap everywhere, even if it does burn and stink.”

I also think they missed an opportunity AFTER the shower, when Doctor Peter (who had unsuccessfully hit on Miranda back when she was his boss) remarks, “She cut herself with a razor – God knows where she hid it!”

Hmm…where did she hide it, Doctor Pete? And don’t you think you and Marie should take a little lookey-loo there, now and on a regular basis, to make sure Miranda Mental-Case isn’t hiding anything she shouldn’t be?

Speaking of which, they also blew an opportunity when they Kate Beckinsdale (playing a reporter who wouldn’t reveal her sources) was thrown into the clink…minus a processing scene.

Kate proves processing isn’t just-for-inmates-anymore. In DEATH WARRANT Cynthia Gibb gets strip searched by 2 male guards when she freaking VISITS the prison. AFFINITY has a number of nice scenes where the nervous and very prim female social reformer visiting the prison is subtly and not so subtly threatened with incarceration if she crosses the line. Nice shower scene, too.

And of course Tyra Bank’s “fascination with prison” (her words, from her blog) was apparently cured when she visited an institution for her show and went thru a full strip search. Nice video on Youtube.

imreadonly2 said...

Also, Interesting idea on the gradual incarceration, Garth. I remember a movie (COMMITMENT) from a few year’s back where Jennifer O’Neil agrees to live on the premises as a psychiatric nurse, and signs a lengthy “employment document” since the doctor in charge requires everyone there to be “committed.” She is surprised to find out that she’s not a patient, but an inmate. Oops!

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