Wouldn't it be great to have the opportunity to thank all the female figures from history who fought for the rights you have today? That's the question SNL explored last night in a sketch in which five women invoke the ghost of Susan B. Anthony, after a tour of her historical home. And as it turns out, it's only fun until she's super annoying about it.
When McKinnon's Susan B. Anthony first appears, via a Bloody Mary style invocation (but less spooky), the five millennial women are super excited to be able to interact with the ghost of the women who helped win them the right to vote. "It's kind of a hard time right now, but you give us hope," one of them says. It's an accurate reflection of the ways in which our culture has propped ourselves up after Clinton lost the election, by championing feminist icons and buying lots of "The Future Is Female" shirts.
"I paved the way for you, and now you must pave the way for women 100 years from now. You are the future my dears," Susan says to them, inspiring them to keep working for gender equality. They all thank her and shower her with hugs, and then the moment passes as the women turn back to their immediate lives and realize they need to quickly call a cab if they're going to make the last train out of Rochester. The sketch does a great job of demonstrating the push and pull that many of us have felt post-election between wanting to work toward lofty ideals, but being pulled back into the humdrum of our day-to-day lives. Arguing over whether to order one or two cabs seems petty after spending the afternoon getting inspired by an iconic feminist icon, but that's what life is: dreaming big, but living quite small most of the time.
In the age of social media, the habit of preaching about human rights and social issues on Facebook, but being petty in your regular life is even more exacerbated. It's easy to present a version of yourself in which you are compassionate, "woke," and a champion for social progress online, but often that doesn't have much of an affect on the mechanics of your daily behavior. But, because Susan B. Anthony is actually pretty annoying in the sketch—she keeps trying to show them different artifacts and spout of more inspirational quotes—the sketch doesn't necessarily make a point of throwing these types of people under the bus, but more pokes fun at how society at large seems to care about political issues only when it's convenient.
At the very end of the sketch, right before the women leave, Susan offers one last shocking thought, "abortion is murder." It's totally unexpected and hilarious, and a poignant take on the ways in which our culture puts certain influential women on pedestals as feminist icons and refuses to see them as three-dimensional people. They're either "yas queen slaying" the world with their badass female power, or they're anti-feminists who have discredited themselves by saying something opposing the current wave of pop-feminism. Of course, it makes sense that Susan B. Anthony would be opposed to abortion; she died in 1906, well before the sexual revolution.
Watch the sketch here to see just how annoying Susan B. Anthony is and how our feminists react: