"To swallow and follow, whether old doctrine or new propaganda, is a weakness still dominating the human mind."
May is Short Story Month and today's author is Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Born in 1860 in Hartford, Connecticut, Gilman became a sociologist, reformer, lecturer and writer of short stories, poetry and nonfiction. She was a "Utopian feminist" in a time when a good deal of women's realities, biological, societal and otherwise, were considered by a rigidly-patriarchal society to be septic. Defined as "other," women in the nineteenth century were told that their status was dictated by biology and, furthermore, that that biology was diseased and any attempt to struggle against the ties that bind got you branded as hysterical (check out the etymology of "hysterical" and you'll see what I mean.)
|What an ass|
Today's story is "The Yellow Wallpaper," published in 1892 after a severe episode of postpartum depressive psychosis. It has acquired archetypal status in scholarship regarding the evolution of women's rights and status in the United States, and its attendant art. The overarching theme here is this, and it's very simple: autonomy is essential for women's mental, emotional and physical health. Gilman sent a copy of this story to the doctor that assigned her the aforementioned rest cure. You go girl...