While reading “Welcome to the Monkey House”, I started to wonder about the different takes on birth control and rape in today’s society. In this short story, all of the residents in this society are either virgins or if they aren’t virgins, then they have sex but are unable to experience physical pain or pleasure associated with sex because of the special birth control pills they are ingesting. These negative side effects are meant to limit population growth and they are meant to shield people from exhibiting emotion. While reading this short story, I began to connect it to many major events in today’s society.
Once the idea of population control was brought up, the first idea that came to my mind was China. China’s population has been growing very fast and there aren’t enough resources to keep up with its growing population. As a result, many families don’t have enough food to sustain themselves. China came out with the “One Child Policy”, which says that each family can only have one child, unless each of the parents are only children. If each of the parents are only children, then the family can have two children. Population control is a concept that exists in real life. However, this idea is satirized in this short story and it is manipulated with in a very sadistic way. By taking away a simple bodily pleasurable experience, people aren’t only dehumanized. People like to immerse themselves in hobbies that give them pleasure. By taking this away, these people don’t even have a reason to continue having sex because they don’t get any satisfaction or happiness from it. Population control is a normal idea, however, the way it is handled with in this short story is sickening. By taking away innate bodily pleasures from the citizens in this society, a dystopian world is inevitably created. With population control in today’s society, people’s freedoms are limited, however, they know the pleasures of sex.
On the other hand, I also thought of religious families and how population control isn’t a factor for them to follow. For example, Orthodox Jewish families will continue having children until they have both a girl and a boy in the family. It is normal to see as many as eight children per family. While this is tradition and considered normal in religious families, this is considered slightly strange in not so religious families. That is why birth control has been very important for families throughout history. Birth control really came into the public eye during the 1950s when the standard of living was very high. Children born during this time period were known as the “baby boomers”. Before this time period, women tried different forms of birth control. They weren’t very successful, but birth control was commonly used. Birth control is a normal idea. The way this idea is manipulated with in society in this short story is what is sickening.
In modern day society, there are many different forms of birth control. Birth control is necessary in today’s families because they know that having children is expensive and they know the number of children they are able to financially support as a result of their salaries. This modern day take on birth control is synonymous with the ideas the society in “Welcome to the Monkey House” addresses. In this short story, birth control is necessary for population growth, however there is a catch. This birth control numbs the women, making them unable to enjoy sex. This absence of pleasure is a way of dehumanizing the inhabitants of this society.
The rape scene in this short story was described very ironically. Billy the Poet was trying to help Nancy by raping her in the hopes of showing her what she had been missing her whole life and to show her how society has made her ignorant. This reminds me of something I learned in psychology. The number one method used by psychologists to help people face their fears is called exposure therapy. There are two different kinds of exposure therapy. They are systematic desensitization, which is graduated exposure therapy, and then there is another exposure therapy, which isn’t graduated. For example, if a person is scared of dogs, by systematic desensitization, they will go through certain steps until they finally have contact with the dog. One day they will imagine themselves playing with a dog. The next day they will stand 100 feet from the dog. The next day they will stand 50 feet from the dog and so on and so forth. The next exposure therapy involves immediately putting the person next to the dog, instead of testing the waters little by little like we saw in the systematic desensitization.
Billy the Poet utilized the latter exposure therapy. This rape scene is very controversial. Billy the Poet was trying to help Nancy but this seemed very immoral, especially since she has never been exposed to sex. Although this is an immoral society, Billy the Poet does represent a sense of morality. By him raping Nancy, he shows the immorality in the society in this short story. This was very sadistic. This scene made me understand why this story is known as a dystopian short story.