The Privatization of Litchfield and LGBTQ+ Activisim in 304: “Finger in the Dyke”

Joe Caputo successfully sets up a walk-through with the MCC in attempts to save Litchfield from closing. We finally learn about Carrie “Big Boo” Black’s upbringing, as well as her inability to bow to others’ gender expectations, even for the sake of some extra cash in her commissary account. Meanwhile, Red and Morello struggle with the loss of their beloved daughter and friend to maximum security and Daya wrestles with the possibility that C.O. Bennett has walked out on her and their child for good.

Activism and Attention: The LGBTQ+ Conundrum

Upon coming out to my own mother and starting to accept myself, I was met with stubborn resistance. She said, “it’s fine if you’re that way, but you don’t have to always throw it in my face.” Though I am not “butch,” Carrie “Big Boo” Black would agree with me that coming into my own and accepting myself for who I truly am is in no way an attempt to throw it in other peoples’ faces. It is merely a sign that I have fought for my rights, and I am not ashamed to be myself. Too many times are members of the LGBTQ+ community accused of and chastised for being themselves because others are simply uncomfortable or unused to the variety of possibilities for gender expression and sexual orientation. This episode, as defined by Big Boo’s backstory, speaks to the conundrum of butch lesbian sector of this diverse community.

Big Boo: [to Pennsatucky] “Some bitch insulted you, so you shot her. Now, to me, that makes a hell of a lot more sense than shooting a complete stranger that you’ve demonized for your own agenda. Being too militant about anything, it never ends well.”

The Evangelists are one of several Christian groups that are firmly set against what they call the “homosexual agenda,” which makes Boo’s meeting with an Evangelist pastor in contact with Pennsatucky just that much more difficult for her. Though she may be attempting to scam him for donations, she ultimately decides against taking money from such a hateful group of people. What gets her so riled up is the pastor’s ignorant and hateful diatribe against the “thieving dyke” and his assertion that her “BUTCH” tattoo would have to be covered up for the photo of her that would be circulated around the church to spread her story of reformation.

Big Boo Back Story

As we discover from further flashbacks, Boo reacts the way she does because of her own parents’ refusal to accept her “costume.” It’s one thing for a hypocritical cleric to be against a stranger, but for Boo’s own parents, especially her mother, to refuse to accept her for who she is for all forty-two-plus years of her life? Unimaginable for any heterosexual, cisgender person. Her mother accused her of purposely acting like a “salmon,” always swimming up stream, and for wanting the “bad attention” and “making things so difficult for [herself];” however, it doesn’t seem as though she wants to do it solely to upset her parents. Had this been the case, she would have “outgrown” the behavior after her teenage years. Rather, Boo is most authentically herself when dressed in androgynous or men’s clothing.

“You can’t blame a stupid kid when you’re the poster child for all things butch.”

What is perhaps even more troubling is the fact that one of Boo’s dates trashes her for standing up for herself against the homophobic kid that confronts them on the street. Whether this woman was turned off by Boo’s proclivity for confrontation or if she is the “prissy,  homophobic, self-hating bitch” Boo accuses her of being, this particular interaction brings up a startling trend within the LGBTQ+ community, inner warfare, most recently brought up in conversations involving bisexuality (which is yet another topic Orange has yet to address). Why fight against your own people when you already have a hard time with all the other negative voices on the outside? This form of self-hatred is most dangerous, for when you are resolved to be who you are, but are also committed to flying under the radar and taking any unfair blows dealt by the ignorant world, your life might not be worth living. For Carrie, she will always “keep on fighting the world” and will never give into complacency because that means she is compromising her truest self for the convenience of the rest of the world.

Evaluating the Prison System

Another group that refuses to give each other a break, despite the flack they receive from the outside, is women. Though it may be difficult to live in such tight quarters with hundreds of strange women, society on the other side of those barbed wire partitions is no walk in the park.

Caputo Pearson

For those of you wondering what the prison industrial complex (PIC) actually is, Critical Resistance defines it as:

“[A] term we use to describe the overlapping interests of government and industry that use surveillance, policing, and imprisonment as solutions to economic, social and political problems . . . [Power over inmates] is also maintained by earning huge profits for private companies that deal with prisons and police forces; helping earn political gains for ‘tough on crime’ politicians; increasing the influence of prison guard and police unions; and eliminating social and political dissent by oppressed communities that make demands for self-determination and reorganization of power in the US.” (qtd. in Aviram 415, author’s edits)

In no way should public prisons be condoned, but private prisons are even more dismal in terms of human rights, not to mention that the corporate assholes figureheads who run them are misogynistic (or at least in Orange they are – they are the manifestations of our country’s misogynistic figureheads).

Prison is not only a nightmare from the inside, as we (used to) see in Litchfield, but from an economic and managerial standpoint as well. C.O. Ford testifies that “these poochies be difficult,” reminding us of the incessant dehumanization of inmates, but this is the least of the prison industrial complex’s problem. As of the end of last year, over 2.2 million Americans are currently incarcerated (Aviram 412), and the privatization of prisons is making it difficult for government-run prisons to keep up with their trim and cost-effective budgets. This is the exact problem Litchfield is facing, hence why Joe Caputo has called up the Management & Corrections Corporation (MCC) to review Litchfield for its potential to become privatized. Though one of the most pointed criticisms I’ve heard (and agreed with) thus far regarding season 3 is its “summer camp” feel. Perhaps we can begin to justify Jenji Kohan’s choice with the fact that a public prison will seem like day camp compared to next season’s privatized one.

We see this issue come to light when Caputo believes his $5.37 a day per inmate is rather effective, but learns that the national average is $1.58 per day (and we learn why once they start bringing in bagged sludge in place of what appears to be their fine cuisine). One of the board members from the MCC asks Caputo if they are on the codified national meal schedule, which is available here. Though it can look rather tasty at times, we know from the women’s experience with these “meals” that the names are merely a suggestion of the slop they are being served.

Gross Food

Last year, I reported on the increasing costs of senior healthcare in the U.S. prison system. A similar concern is brought to our attention when the MCC board members discuss the disadvantages of women’s healthcare costs, including medical attention, pregnancy and birth, and other related examination costs. As if this “turn off” were not insulting enough, one of the men doubts Piper Chapman’s ability to fix the fuse on the broken microwave, asking: “you can fix that by yourself, honey?”, to which she retorts sassily: “Well, I sure can [southern] if I concentrate extra hard with my lady brain.”

Although we believe that Joe Caputo’s ability to save Litchfield from going under is a victory (for it saves our favorite female-centered prison drama from dissipating), we quickly come to understand that his victory is in fact one of the worst things to happen to Litchfield. Not only are the prison guards’ hours cut, but the inmates’ standard of living is drastically decreased as more of Litchfield’s money is being funneled into corporate and governmental interests.

Litchfield: A Comedy

Big Boo: [rehearsing with Sister Ingalls] “‘If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth’ – Really, ‘lieth?’ You can’t say that without a lisp. Who are you people kidding? God was the original fag … Leviticus 24601.”
Ingalls: “23:13:20. Not Jean Valjeans prison number. Thou shalt not make musical references!”
Boo: “Why not?”
Pennsatucky: “Because that’s like the gayest thing on earth, and even I know that.”

Boo: “Well, a big hetero hello to all of you. [Pause] You buying this? Anybody? Yes? No?”

Hetero Hello

Boo: “Well, I prayed a lot. Then Jesus came in me. Sorry, Jesus came to me… with so much love.”

Boo: “Jesus was a fag. He said, ‘This is my body. Eat me.’”

Work Cited

Aviram, Hadar. “Are Private Prisons to Blame for Mass Incarceration and Its Evils? Prison Conditions, Neoliberalism, and Public Choice.” Fordham Urban Law Journal 42.2 (2014): 411-49. Academic Search Complete. Web. 29 July 2015.

Federal Bureau of Prisons. “Federal Bureau of Prisons – National Menu FY 2014.” Federal Bureau of Prisons. National Institute of Corrections, 2014. Web. 29 July 2015.

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