Today, the New York Times published the article, “Young Women Say No to Thongs.” But a millennium ago, The Olde Yorkshire Times published the article below, which Flavorwire dug up from its extensive archives of the little-known medieval publication. The similarities were striking:
Young Women Declare an End to the Iron Maiden; This Is the “Summer of The Rack!”
Here at the turn of the 1000s, millennial women are finding comfort in the most unlikely of places: The Rack!
“When I walk into a torture chamber, it’s like, OK, do I want to be confined, or do I want something roomy? And do I also want that something roomy to make my whole body just a little roomier? Show me to The Rack, honey!” Wench Phrowenia of Barforth wasn’t speaking of Nordstrom’s plebeian emporium of on-sale back stock at which one shops for in-laws, bosses, blasphemers, and lepers. She told The Olde Yorkshire Times Suffering section that her fondness for ample room between her joints (an effect of dislocation) was what led her to start her own line of feminist torture devices to subvert confining traditional torture techniques. Notably, each of her products bears the word, “Feminist!”
One major selling point is that the word is written calligraphically with ink from the bile of an adulteress, atop the roller that rests above the victim’s (or victor’s — thanks to Phrowenia!) buttock and ultimately separates their vertebrae. Her line of Racks — titled Nice Rack (both a reappropriation the oft-objectifying term used to describe the bosom and a literal assertion that Phrowenia of Barforth’s line of racks is objectively nicer than others) — bridged the gap between the more literary alt-torturing scene and the torturing mainstream when it added a segment of a speech by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie to its newly-minted product, the ***Flawless Rack. This spicy new device’s approach to pain induction is so intense as to lead its users to become disoriented, pass out, and notably, on coming to, wonder, “I woke up like this?” and enter a series of impeccably choreographed spasms.
“The Iron Maiden’s moment is so over,” said Elanor, Queen of Castile, a queen who also does marketing for the world’s hot torture chambers (some of which, for torturing’s sake, are actually kept quite cold), who just moved to LA’s Silverlake from the Fenlands “because there’s just less stress and more juice,” who “goes cuckoo” for shishito peppers, and who generally just “loves trends.”
“We are tired of being stored in a spiked anthropomorphic cabinet. And we are tired of being confined to bodies with bones and ligaments that ‘connect’ — but really constrict — us. It’s time to stretch the fuck out,” she said with gusto, accidentally swatting her coworker, Bill, with her long, limp, jointless tentacle of an arm.
“Sisters are really doing it for themselves,” said Bill halfheartedly, wiping the residue of lymphatic pus from his arm. “Well, technically it’s the torturers who’re doing it. But even just the word ‘Feminist’ is really good progress. Though I must say,” he added, “Not all men are bad. You know, it’s funny, when you think about it. Shouldn’t it just be, ‘Personist?'” To which Elanor, Queen of Castile thwacked him again, this time intentionally, with her non-arm.
Statistics from a real statistic place back up claims that this — as some are beginning to foresee — will be the “Summer of The Rack.” Impalements by the Iron Maiden have decreased by 7% — and it’s only a matter of time before ironsmiths have to sell them straight to Marshalls. Lord Taylor, for one, is clearing his racks to make way for The Rack (he’s also retrofitting his fitting rooms to be more serviceable for newly lengthy customers). “Lord Taylor no longer wants to be seen as rooted in old-fashioned notions of femininity. The Rack is like a Birkenstock: sure, it’s not going to hug your form and show off your curves before eventually prodding them like the Iron Maiden does, and sure, it’s just a flat, strappy plank, but, as the label reads, it’s ‘Feminist.’ Lord Taylor wants to appeal to the world’s Bridget Joneses of Arc,” said Lord Taylor’s press representative (prophetically, as Joan wouldn’t be born for another four centuries), while gruelingly bubble-taping an Iron Maiden to send off to the Salvation Army. “The problem is,” he noted, dejectedly, “These damn spikes keep popping the bubbles!”
And, inevitably, this whole thing is blowing up on Instagram, with the influx of what the kids are calling a “Brelfie” — a selfie taken from behind while atop The Rack (aided, of course, by a complex apparatus made from selfie sticks, as one’s extremities are obviously compromised), by enthusiasts jonesing to show off how good their butts look in the granny panties they just so happen to be wearing while on The Rack.
“Most torture is made to make men feel powerful,” said Phrowenia of Barforth. “But by making a feminist rack by putting the word ‘Feminist’ on The Rack, we’re taking The Rack back. And anyway, it’s a major misconception that men are just into sarcophagi styled after religious icons whose innards will poke your eyes out. They’re also into a plank hooked up to a pulley system that makes your body sound like a series of fireworks as everything pops out of place and that also has the word ‘Feminist’ on it.”
She concludes, diplomatically, “There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be traditionally tortured with the Iron Maiden. That doesn’t mean you’re not a feminist. But Nice Rack is a step in a more inclusive direction. As the expression goes, ‘You can have your rack and eat it too.’ I’ve never understood idioms.”