This chapter is twelve pages long. It feels much longer.
The room's other door opens, admitting a thirty-something women with frizzy blonde hair who "wasn't very pretty but she certainly was making the most of what she had." She coos and claps her hands excitedly upon seeing Gris (who is, need I remind you, still naked and chained to the bed), thanks Miss Pinch profusely for this gift, and starts making out with the other woman.
"A lesbian and her 'wife!'" Gris dubs them. So wait, Miss Pinch is the lesbian, but Candy isn't? And why would a homosexual couple necessarily adopt traditional heterosexual gender roles, with one being "butch" and the other girlie? I'll just put this comment down to the 80's or something.
The newcomer Candy takes a closer look at him, before declaring that Gris "isn't very big, is he?" And God help us all, but this is actually a plot point. This will co... pop up... this will be addressed again later. "This" being Gris' genitals.
And then, well. It turns out these particular lesbians only get excited when a male suffers. So Gris gets those mousetraps on his fingers yanked off in the most painful way possible, then gets beaten with a truncheon, then just gets beaten with fists. And every now and then Candy and Pinch have to run off into the next room to do things that Gris just can't figure out; there's a lot of groaning and they emerge some time later half naked and covered in lipstick, so what could possibly be going on? And all of this is set to Wagner's operas or funeral dirges.
But aside from that, there's a lot of exposition in this chapter, delivered while Candy catches her breath between rounds of torture and mysterious off-screen activity involving two women.
Indulgently, Miss Pinch said "All Rockecenter's companies have classes in Psychiatric Birth Control. It's vital, you understand, to reduce the world's population. They breed like rats. And they're all riffraff. They outstrip the world's food supply which has to be reduced so food prices will stay up and Rockecenter's friends can make a profit. And, of course, that is the name of the game."
I guess "they" here is "everyone on the planet," not a specific ethnic minority or anything. And the best way to keep food prices high isn't to pad them with "transportation costs" incorporating the high price of fuel (which Rockecenter can set), or to just set the prices high and expect people to pay them because you and all the other suppliers are in cahoots, or to simply sabotage your own efforts to produce food to keep supply low, or even to encourage overpopulation so there's more demand for a limited supply of food. No, the best way to keep food prices high is to reduce demand by reducing the population.
She took a thirsty guzzle of her beer and, without bothering to wipe off the mustache, continued learnedly. "Birth control requires more than pills and besides, I.G. Barben has no monopoly on them and there are competitors. So the answer to controlling world population is homosexuality. Now if everyone were a homosexual--the men gays and the women lesbians--then there's no more population problem at all. The great work begun by the Rockecenters decades ago is just now coming into its own. Birth control training is now being introduced even into kindergartens. The competitors of Barben will go broke, as who will need the pills? There will be no mass meetings against abortion and even abortion is going out of use. The trend is overwhelmingly towards universal homosexuality."
Yes, rather than work to expand I.G. Barben's business and attain a monopoly on birth control pills, or rather than simply being happy with its market share, the most sensible thing to do is to retire birth control products altogether and turn everyone gay, an undertaking that will certainly require a monumental investment of time and money and constant maintenance to keep the program going, an investment that could very well outstrip any profits to be made from higher food prices resulting from reducing the number of customers trying to buy your produce which, as I said before, doesn't make any sense.
"The Psychiatric Birth Control classes are wonderful. They were developed by Dr. Frybrain, the head of the International Psychiatric Association, on a special Rockecenter grant. And the Rockecenters, as you know, have always controlled psychiatry and psychology. What used to be called 'normal' sex is the real sex crime. And what used to be called 'sex crimes' are now normal. So if every student becomes dedicated, as psychiatrists are, to making all the perverts and sadists and homosexuals they can, then the long-term Rockecenter goal of shrinking world population will become a fact.
And once again we run into Hubbard's greatest... one of Hubbard's great flaws as a writer: the incoherence of his setting and the lack of verisimilitude.
An energy monopoly's plan to turn the world gay, starting at kindergarten, is kind of a big deal. It would have a huge impact on society - even assuming that somehow all resistance to the program gets cowed, you'd have the shockwaves of such a sudden drastic change in the planet's sexual orientation. It would be visible, there would be new gay couples everywhere, straight couples feeling somewhat out of place, a whole shift in marketing as gender values were thrown through the blender, a media campaign to introduce and reinforce the new "gay is good" message... the world would be changing before our eyes.
Except it hasn't. This is the first we've heard of Psychiatric Birth Control, and we've been on this planet for three books! Nobody else has so much as mentioned this plan, much less a sudden surge in the gay community. Heller hasn't been ordered to attend Gay Seminar 1010 for his freshman year. Bang-Bang isn't hounded by the Rockecenter Gay Police for liking boobies. Nobody's tried to shut down the Gracious Palms for practicing sexual deviancy, i.e. heterosexual relations. Mr. Bury, Rockecenter's right-hand man, is still married to a woman. Gris hasn't had to attend Psychiatric Birth Control classes as part of his employee orientation. The closest thing to it was Mary's mention of psychiatrists turning women into prostitutes at the beginning of book two, a claim that also has not been reflected in the story since then.
In short, there is no indication that the Great Gay Conspiracy being described in this chapter is anything more than Miss Pinch and Candy's shared delusion. It does not exist outside this chapter. Its presence cannot be felt in the greater story.
Also, let me point out a fatal flaw in this crackpot plan - just because people are gay doesn't mean they don't want to have children. Lesbians find sperm donors. Gay couples adopt or get surrogate mothers. I guess Rockecenter is going to have to outlaw pregnancy period, a hugely controversial move which would probably be aided by the same birth control practices he's abandoning in favor of Psychiatric Birth Control good god this is a mobius strip of stupidity.
But there you have it. Homosexuality isn't the result of being born a certain way, or a lifestyle choice, it's something psychiatry does to you. Rockecenter is not only crazy, but stupid enough to want to wipe out all his potential customers with a badly-thought-out master plan, leaving him with no way to make more money, nothing to spend it on, and nothing to rule.
Once the hurting (Gris' hurting and the reader's, that is) stops, Miss Pinch also explains a few things about Gris' money - she didn't pay off the security chief, who is an honest drug pusher. Rather, Miss Pinch used a hidden camera and fingerprint scanner to record Gris' identity whenever he made a withdrawal, regardless of what he signed the forms with, a system her predecessor taught her and one that Rockecenter doesn't know about. She now has records of all Gris' semi-official embezzlement to report to the IRS if he speaks out, putting him completely in her power.
Pinchy showers Gris' naked, beaten body with the money she took, before stuffing it all in a safe. She gives him a hundred dollar bill to cover his taxi fare - both home tonight and back to her dungeon tomorrow night - and suggests that she might part with more of the haul later. Oh, and there's a hidden camera recording everything so he can't murder her. Guess she and Candy don't mind putting on a show.
So Miss Pinch shows Gris out, but not without some parting words.
She opened the front door and wrought-iron gate. She stood there, naked and thin-lipped in the icy blast. "The first time you came to my window, Inkswitch, I told you to beat it. I didn't think you'd last. But due to Psychiatric Birth Control, all the males around here lately have turned into gays
Reader to author: PROVE IT!
to help cut down world population. And I refuse to risk the danger of separating two dear gays. So you're better than nothing, Inkswitch. Although not much. So I will see you right here tomorrow night. It's better than three years in a Federal pen. The homos there would murder you. Don't be late."
Gris staggers home, and finally, finally the chapter ends. A chapter containing Hubbard's forays into erotica, half-baked evil schemes, insistence that things are happening that aren't supported by the rest of the story, psycho lesbians, torture, revelations that mental therapy is trying to turn us all gay, bad economics, and blackmail.
And there's more to come.
Back to Chapter Five