Literature Meme | 1/9 Short Stories | The Yellow Wallpaper (Charlotte Perkins Gilman)
“I sometimes fancy that in my condition, if I had less opposition and more society and stimulus—but John says the very worst thing I can do is to think about my condition, and I confess it always makes me feel bad.”
This story actually stuck with me long after I was done reading it. One reading was followed by another, and then in-depth analysis, and it was assigned reading for a course I took in university (one of those I took spurred on by Virginia Woolf). I think that at that time in my life I was wearing rose-coloured glasses where equality and feminism was concerned, and reading this really opened up my eyes to perception and subjugation in the past and present. It started me hearing things a different way, tics of language, seeing and hearing sexism that was present all along but either a) just out of my understanding, or b) ingrained in me to be accepted for what it is.
The Yellow Wallpaper is a scary, eye-opening commentary on oppression, submission, and identity. It is about denying the part of yourself you most need and appreciate because you are told it is unbecoming. Un-womanly. It is not your place nor will it be accepted by your husband or doctors because they know best about what you should want to need or what’s important for you to embrace and feel a connection to, as a woman. The fact that this is still so relatable in the modern day is actually completely terrifying. Why is society so prone to brushing off and/or accepting misogyny/sexism/rape culture as just another part of life? Men will be men, boys will be boys, sluts will be sluts? Why is society so fixated on labeling every damn thing, just so they can apply it as an excuse for their own bad, misinformed, ignorant behaviour?
How on Earth did I allow myself (perhaps especially as an only daughter to a single monther) to be so conditioned by shrugs of shoulders and bullshit that I let so much crap pass straight under my nose with indifference? Thank God I read The Hours and started myself on a literary journey that would open my eyes to prevalent injustices (and stupidity, quite frankly) in my every day life.
Charlotte Perkins Gilman once said, “To swallow and follow, whether old doctrine or new propaganda, is a weakness still dominating the human mind." The Yellow Wallpaper was published in 1892, and in 2013 should be serving as a warning not to fall back into unacceptable idiocy rather than as an encouragement to continue fighting against it.