EXT: UNIVERSITY OF REGINA, CANADA, DAY
A male student sprints through a parking lot only to come upon dozens of classmates and faculty standing in a line.
STUDENT: D-mn. I knew I should have come earlier.
STUDENT 2: Shhh. Show some respect. And cool it with the violent language.
The student center hasn’t seen a line like this since season tickets went on sale for the U of R Cougars men’s hockey team. Each man—and they all are men—affixes a countenance of agony, the same look that season ticket-holders no doubt feel after the Cougars opened the 2017 season 3-26-3.
Their hands are folded piously, and no one makes eye contact, preferring to stare at shuffling feet. We go through the parking lot line, camera starting overhead before descending as it crosses the entrance of LAB BUILDING, zooming past dozens of pairs of identical Toms shoes.
INT: LAB BUILDING DAY
Camera comes to a stop on three pairs of feet: a pair of Redwings work boots and two pairs of Toms. The first pair of feet steps off-screen. Camera pans up to show a man entering an impromptu wooden booth affixed with a sign reading: “MASCULINITY CONFESSIONAL” in Gothic letters.
INT: THE CONFESSIONAL BOOTH DAY
The owner of the Toms is DERECK, who is kneeling now in front of a curtain shaped like a labia bearing the inscription “Read My Lips, No More Toxic Masculinity.” The silhouette of a head stands hidden behind the screen. This is MOTHER MORAL SUPERIOR.
Dereck glances down at an instructional card, takes a here-goes-nothing deep breath.
DERECK: Bless me, mother, for I have sinned. It has been 21 years since I obtained my privilege.
MOTHER MORAL SUPERIOR: May Gaia be in your heart to confess your sins with true sorrow.
DERECK: Where to begin? I guess we could start with yesterday. I was walking into my chemistry lab and I held the door open for my female classmate and had lustful thoughts when I caught a glimpse of her yoga pants as she passed by.
MMS: Ah, the gateway drug to sexual violence.
DERECK: I know, Mother. But I have lustful thoughts constantly. It barely takes anything to get me going these days.
MMS: Lustful thoughts? We’re sex-positive here, my son, provided there’s consent. Holding the door, however, is verrry problematic. Do you know why men began holding doors open for women? It started in the caveman days. Men and women used to be equally strong, but men began holding doors open and after several generations our arm muscles atrophied, allowing men to become stronger and thus sexually dominant. How many times have you done this?
DERECK: Oh, Mother Moral Superior. Too many times to count. My father made me start doing it at five. Seventeen years! If only I had known! Can Gaia forgive me this trespass?
MMS: Gaia can forgive, but only with true contrition. For penance say 4,005 Hail Margarets.
DERECK: You mean Hail Marys?
MMS: Don’t mansplain penance to me. That’s another 200.
DERECK: Have mercy on me, Mother. My privilege must have clouded my perception. Please explain the Hail Margaret.
MMS: Say it with me now: Hail Margaret, full of grace, Moloch is with thee. (Dereck begins repeating.) Blessed art thou amongst cis-women. And blessed is the fruit of thy suctioned-out womb. Holy Sanger, Mother of Eugenics, pray for us sinners, now and at the shouting of our abortion, Amen.
MMS: (Alone) Gaia the Mather of mercies, through the death of millions of unborn children, you have reconciled the world to yourself and sent Gloria Steinem among us for the forgiveness of toxic masculinity. Through the ministry of the Human Rights Commission, may Gaia grant you pardon and peace. And I absolve you of your sins, in the name of the Mother, and of the Daughter, and of Betty Friedan. Amen.
DERECK: (tearfully) Thank you, Mother Moral Superior.
INT: LAB BUILDING DAY
Dereck exits the booth, wiping tears from his eyes. JORDAN, the next man in line, gives him a hearty hug as the two cross paths.
JORDAN: Bro, way to express yourself. Every tear you shed is a drop of toxic masculinity that’s no longer pent up in your body.
INT: CONFESSION BOOTH DAY
JORDAN: Bless me, Mother, for I have sinned. It has been 19 years since I obtained my privilege.
MMS: May Gaia be in your heart to confess your sins with true sorrow.
JORDAN: I have offended Gaia many times, Mother Superior. At least four times I have given women compliments in my chem class that I would not have given to cis-men classmates. I mispronounced Simone de Beauvoir’s name on four occasions. I have…
MMS: These are venial transgressions at best, my son. Any compliment that promotes women in STEM is a virtue and no one can pronounce Simone de B…umm her name. It feels as though you are dancing around a far more serious sin.
JORDAN: Oh, Mother, I should have known you would be so perceptive. Yes, yes I am.
MMS: Go on, my son. This is a safe space.
JORDAN: I have sinned against my girlfriend—see, even now. I am putting labels on what we are without her permission. We have been seeing each other exclusively for three months, though. I take her to hockey games instead of asking what she would like to do. I body-shamed her in my heart for not ordering a salad during our second date. And while I obtained consent for sex, I forgot to ask when began kissing. I…
MMS: MALE ALLIES, SEIZE HIM!
JORDAN: Wait, what?
The door to the confessional is ripped open and three brawny men wearing “This is What a Feminist Looks Like” T-shirts reach in and haul Jordan off the kneeler.
JORDAN: Have mercy, Mother Superior. I obtained consent. I thought you said this was a safe space?
MMS: Not for rapists. Male allies, bring him before the Harassment, Discrimination Prevention and Conflict Resolution Services.
INT: LAB BUILDING DAY
The three brawny men drag away a wailing Jordan.
JORDAN: But I gave Amy Schumer a five-star rating. Five Staaaaaars.
MMS: No more battery,
No more rape,
No more woman hate!
The entire crowd joins in the chant, drowning out Jordan’s protests. The camera is zoomed in on Jordan in the arms of the male allies as he is dragged past the front of the line. A wad of dip spit lands on his face, presumably from the owner of the Redwings work boots, who is also wearing cut-off flannel shirt and jeans. REDWINGS approaches the booth.
INT: CONFESSIONAL BOOTH DAY
REDWINGS: (In a surprisingly high pitched voice) Bless me, Mother, for I have sinned. It has been six months since I obtained my privilege.
MMS: (a bit confused): Six…errr…May Gaia be in your heart to confess your sins with true sorrow.
REDWINGS: Mother, I have relished in the toxicness of masculinity my entire life. I pick fights and drive a pick-up without any consideration for Blessed Gaia’s planet. I watch the UFC whenever I get the chance. I police my partner Karen’s outfits whenever we go out…
MMS: Karen? Wait a second, Samantha is that you?
REDWINGS: Excuse me?
MMS pulls back the curtain for the first time. She is a harmless-looking young woman in large-framed glasses. REDWINGS sports a GI Jane haircut, but aside from that looks like a woman.
MMS: Samantha! I haven’t seen you since sophomore year. How’s Karen doing?
REDWINGS: That is not my name.
MMS: What are you doing here? This is only for people looking to confess toxic masculinity. It’s not for us.
REDWINGS: Us? CIS-ALLIES, SEIZE HER.
MMS: Wait what? No, I’m an ally. There’s been a mistake.
The door to the confessional is ripped open. Three sets of hands, black “This Is What a Trans-Ally Looks Like” T-shirts.
REDWINGS: Take her to Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Services
MMS: But I love “Orange is the New…”
REDWINGS: (taking MMS’ seat behind the curtain) When trans youth are under attack
What do you do?
Stand up fight back.
The crowd drowns out MMS’ protests as she is dragged away.