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In Our Country

Jessie Seigel is an associate editor at the Potomac Review and writes book reviews for the Washington Independent Review of Books. Her fictions, speculative and otherwise, have been published in Ontario Review, Gargoyle, the anthology Electric Grace, and Peacock Journal, amongst others. "In Our Country," published here for the first time, was the recipient of an Honorable Mention in the 44th New Millenium Writing Awards. Seigel has twice received a fellowship from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities and was a finalist for a 2017 grant from the Speculative Literature Foundation. Seigel lives and writes in Washington, DC. More on her and her work can be found at The Adventurous Writer.

In our country, when a boy reaches the age of puberty, he is blindfolded so that he will not be tempted by the sight of women. This law is neither unreasonable nor unduly onerous. Boys and men are permitted to go without eye-covering amongst family members within the confines of the family house and its courtyard--so long as the walls surrounding the family enclosure stand at a regulation ten feet, sufficiently elevated to prevent the sight of any female passing in the street beyond the enclosure.
It follows logically from this requirement that boys and men may not leave the confines of the home unless accompanied by a mother, a sister, or a wife. Any rational person should see the sense of this, for if a male left home blindfolded, who knows what ill might befall him? Surely, he would walk into a brick wall or a lamppost and injure himself. Or, God forbid, he might step into the street and be struck by some unsuspecting motorist. If he should survive these dangers, boy or man, he would still be vulnerable to robbers, or find himself irretrievably lost in our cities' maze-like streets, unable to do other than cry out for help--thus advertising his vulnerable position to the world. Therefore, for the blindfolded male's safety, he must be accompanied in public by someone who is sighted.
To eliminate the blindfold requirement is, of course, out of the question. As we all know, men have urges they cannot control. It is their biological nature. The sight of a woman with a low neckline or a short skirt can send them into sexual frenzy. If a male were permitted to drive an automobile with eyes open, a glimpse of stocking could so distract him as to cause a crash. (Naturally, since no one can safely drive with eyes covered, men cannot be permitted to drive.)
Our laws are not, however, illiberal. Men are permitted to work outside the home and some do. Their women deliver them to the work place. There, they may remove their blindfolds, replacing them with blinkers like those worn by horses so that they can better focus on whatever task is before them.
Penalties for disobeying these laws are firm but fair. Upon the first violation, our sight police give the violator a blindfold and require him to cover his eyes while they watch to ensure compliance. If there is a second violation, the police place a secure hood over the violator's head, locked with a key that is then given to his wife or, if he is unmarried, to the miscreant's mother, in order to keep his vision safe.
Upon a third violation, the violator's eyelids are sewn shut, ensuring absolute future compliance. This penalty may sound harsh to a foreigner, but I assure you that the matter, completed in a hospital with appropriate hygiene and anesthesia, is far more humane than a thousand lashes with a whip, or a public stoning.
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, August 22nd, 2018

Author Comments

I have always been puzzled by the myth that men cannot control themselves, as well as the societally accepted notion that women should therefore constrict their own freedoms (e.g., avoid short skirts, be careful where one walks and at what time of day or night, etc.) in order not to "tempt" the men. The absurdity of this norm was the kernel for "In Our Country," which satirically posits a society that puts the onus on the potential perpetrator rather than the potential victim.

- Jessie Seigel
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