The women of Litchfield Prison in Orange Is The New Black were robbed of their power long before they got there. Piper, with her courtyard pulpit plea for self-respect in Season 3 of OITNB, is the new inspirational speaker on women’s empowerment. Granted, she’s got a lot to gain monetarily from convincing her fellow inmates to go along with her stinky panty plot.
Yet, Piper’s (Taylor Schilling) pretty high on the idea of putting one over on the patriarchy. And, everyone else who has ever made her feel less than good about herself. So, she has quite a lot to say about standing up against self-hate.
Self-respect is power – the power of confidence. Sure, Piper’s way of getting a little self-respect is a sneaky backhand power. That is, over the men she plans to entice with the “eau de parfum of vag sweat.” Some women have no other choice.
It’s A Hard Path To Self-Respect, Sometimes
No one ends up in prison or commits a reckless crime if they’ve had help developing some real self-respect. It’s usually quite the opposite. A life of humiliation. Which, for some, has landed them in Litchfield Prison, in Orange Is The New Black because of a desperate act.
Take the sad cases of Norma Romano (Annie Golden) and Ching Chong Chang (Lori Tan Chinn). Norma gets power in prison for her supposed hexing or healing powers. A good witch or a bad witch, no one knows for sure.
But, it’s power over her self-hate that’s important. A way of gaining a following stolen from the would-be guru who battered and tore Norma down. Until, after years of abuse, she killed him. An act full of rage that was meant to free her of the hate she had always turned against herself.
Ching Chong Chang hasn’t fared so well in prison. She has no following and no real friends. Her self-protection against any more humiliation is a gruff tough shell that makes sure no one can get near enough ever to hurt her again.
Chang was tortured by being constantly told how ugly and undesirable she was. By her parents, her brother, a man her family tried to pay to marry her. And, too many others to count. When she couldn’t take it anymore, she committed a violent act of hatred and revenge.
Shame & Desperate Acts In Orange Is The New Black
Norma and Chang are extreme examples of the various types of shame suffered by the women of Litchfield. Wouldn’t, then, Piper’s soapbox speech on defying self-hatred ring with a certain appeal?
Piper loudly and fervently declares that the men smelling their panties will smell their character: “let them smell bold, daring, and courageous. Let them say Litchfield is a place where women love their bodies …”
Who wouldn’t want to be known as a woman who loves herself? I’m not talking narcissism. I’m talking self-confidence. It’s something every woman needs and deserves. Yet, self-confidence is a feeling that, for too many women, seems almost impossible to reach.