Scenes from a non-coercive prison

Laurie Penny's new science fiction story "The House of Surrender" is a bittersweet little mindbomb about rape (trigger warning), coercion, prison, and what a society without locks would do with the people who hurt others.

“On whose authority am I kept here?”

I was truly confused. Where had this man come from, to ask such a thing?

“On nobody's authority,” I said. “Nobody has the authority to keep you here against your will. You chose to come here, for your own safety and others'.”

“Then why am I locked in?”

“You aren't locked in. I can't open the door because it locks from the inside. If you want to get out, you'll have to unlock it yourself.”

“You're lying.”

“There's a bolt underneath the door, and another one up top. They're a little stiff sometimes, but I promise you, you're free to leave. I must warn you, though,” said I, a little louder, “that if you try to harm me or anyone else in this building, I'm going to have to use my shock-stick on you, and I don't want to do that.”

Silence. Then the slow, resentful thunk-thunk of two bolts drawing back.

“Can I come in?” I said.

The House of Surrender
[Laurie Penny/Frietag]


(Image: Prison Door, Klearchos Kapoutsis, CC-BY)