Friday, December 29, 2006

Women's Struggle

LOCKED INSIDE
By Charlotte Perkins Gilman

She beats upon her bolted door,
With faint weak hands;
Drearily walks the narrow floor;
Sullenly sits, blank walls before;
Despairing stands.

Life calls her, Duty, Pleasure, Gain–
Her dreams respond;
But the blank daylights wax and wane,
Dull peace, sharp agony, slow pain–
No hope beyond.

Till she comes a thought! She lifts her head,
The world grows wide!
A voice–as if clear words were said–
"Your door, O long imprison├ęd,
Is locked inside!"

The world has always been male-dominated since time immemorial. Therefore, feminists say that science has always been masculine sphere. Women have been domesticated so that they don’t have power and chance to join the bulk of male scientists.
The emergence of feminist movement is, of course, expected to make science no longer only masculine sphere. Women expect to distribute their way of thinking and their experience in creating new theories, etc. and there is only one way: (now that chances to women are widely open) women must open their own lock to the outside world, to join the public sphere, in all aspects of this life, just like the last two lines of Gilman’s poem above.

PT56 15.09 241206

Science

Science seems to be asexual. However, in fact, it is male, a father, and got syphilis too. (Virginia Woolf)


How many centuries has this world been dominated by men? Uncountable centuries.
Therefore, it is not a coincidence if sciences have emerged from men’s way of thinking while women have just sat on the spectators’ chairs. Men who conquer the world using their way of thinking, turn their experiences as men living in this world into many kinds of theories in many kinds of sciences without involving women’s experiences and way of thinking since their role has always been only as spectators. Unfortunately, then, men generalize that their way of thinking represent both men and women. Women who were not involved in the invention of theories (because they were domesticated) are obliged to view this life using men’s perspective.
A very simple example. Men always think that they are stronger than women because they invented the parameter of what ‘strength’ is. Men can easily lift, let’s say 100 kilograms, things easily while women cannot do that. Well, at least, not many women can do it easily.
Women’s movement started to rise in the beginning of the nineteenth century with its summit in Seneca Falls America in 1848. This summit can be considered as the starting event of the increasing of women’s movement to make themselves equal with men, to liberate themselves from domestication. The emergence of this first wave women’s movement struggled to give women rights for education and suffrage. In the long run, this movement was followed by many other actions by women.
Referring the very simple example above, women’s movement created a different parameter to define what ‘strength’ is. Why different? It is because women have different experiences to live this life from men. Why did God create women—that men considered as weaker sex—to have womb and ovum? And from this womb are the next generation. Being pregnant and delivering babies are not simple and light things to do. It must be because women’s bodies are stronger than men. Besides, more women outlive men. It means they are stronger than men.
Women with their experiences as the marginalized party in this patriarchal society start to rise and enter the so-called exclusively masculine sphere, SCIENCE. Women start to invent new theories, using their way of thinking and involving their experiences as women. This of course results in new perspectives.
In literature, for example, women’s movement has dug out literary works written by women that have been buried and forgotten for decades even centuries. Before women’s movement, mostly men’s literary works were canonized, and only a few women’s works were included in the canonized works. For instance, take a look at THE NORTON ANTHOLOGY OF AMERICAN LITERATURE. You will mostly find men’s works that perhaps will make you think that women in the past didn’t create anything, and just became the consumer of men’s works. If you find a woman’s name, well, mostly you will only find EMILY DICKINSON. While in fact, during the nineteenth century, not only Emily Dickinson wrote stories/essays/poems/novels. Why were other women’s works not canonized? It is because the critics were very male-oriented.
Women’s movement have discovered some great women writers, such as Charlotte Perkins Gilman from America, and Anna Wickham from England.
Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar have published THE NORTON ANTHOLOGY OF LITERATURE BY WOMEN. By using their perspective and experiences as women, Gilbert and Gubar believe that many works written by women deserve to be canonized too.
This example I took from literature discipline, we can make a conclusion that male-dominated society has treated women unfairly.
I started this article by quoting Virginia Woolf, and to end it, I want to quote Annie Leclerc:

“I covet a world where women learn to view and value things using their own perspectives and not through men’s way of thinking.”

PT56 14.40 271206

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Feminisme

Apa yang kamu ketahui tentang ideologi feminisme?
Feminisme tidak bisa didefinisikan hanya dalam satu kata maupun satu kalimat. Menurutku sendiri, menggunakan kata-kataku sendiri, setelah sejak tahun 2003 membentuk diri menjadi seorang feminis, pada dasarnya feminisme merupakan satu ideologi yang memberdayakan perempuan, perempuan pun bisa menjadi subjek dalam segala bidang, menggunakan pengalamannya sebagai perempuan, menggunakan perspektif perempuan yang lepas dari mainstream kultur patriarki yang selalu beranjak dari sudut pandang laki-laki.
Feminisme sendiri berkembang dan mengalami beberapa fase dan tingkatan. Maka tidak mengherankan jika feminisme pun memiliki sifat yang jamak. Kaum perempuan sedunia kemudian dapat memilah dan memilih sudut pandang feminisme yang sesuai dengan pengalamannya sebagai perempuan. Feminisme merupakan suatu ilmu yang selalu berkembang dan tidak mandeg, sehingga tidak ada yang salah dalam ilmu ini, selama suara kaum perempuan didengar sebagai titik tolak pengamatan suatu permasalahan/pengalaman.
Dalam artikel ini, aku akan memberi sedikit gambaran mengenai jenis-jenis aliran feminisme yang telah muncul.
FEMINISME LIBERAL.
Akar teori ini bertumpu pada kebebasan dan kesetaraaan rasionalitas. Perempuan adalah makhluk rasional, kemampuannya sama dengan laki-laki, sehingga harus diberi hak yang sama juga dengan laki-laki. Permasalahannya terletak pada produk kebijakan negara yang bias gender. Oleh karena itu, pada abad 18 sering muncul tuntutan agar prempuan mendapat pendidikan yang sama, di abad 19 banyak upaya memperjuangkan kesempatan hak sipil dan ekonomi bagi perempuan, dan di abad 20 organisasi-organisasi perempuan mulai dibentuk untuk menentang diskriminasi seksual di bidang politik, sosial, ekonomi, maupun personal. Dalam konteks Indonesia, reformasi hukum yang berprerspektif keadilan melalui desakan 30% kuota bagi perempuan dalam parlemen adalah kontribusi dari pengalaman feminis liberal.
FEMINISME RADIKAL
Aliran ini bertumpu pada pandangan bahwa penindasan terhadap perempuan terjadi akibat sistem patriarki. Tubuh perempuan merupakan objek utama penindasan oleh kekuasaan laki-laki. Oleh karena itu, feminisme radikal mempermasalahkan antara lain tubuh serta hak-hak reproduksi, seksualitas (termasuk lesbianisme), seksisme, relasi kuasa perempuan dan laki-laki, dan dikotomi privat-publik. “The personal is political” menjadi gagasan anyar yang mampu menjangkau permasalahan prempuan sampai ranah privat, masalah yang dianggap paling tabu untuk diangkat ke permukaan. Informasi atau pandangan buruk (black propaganda) banyak ditujukan kepada feminis radikal. Padahal, karena pengalamannya membongkar persoalan-persoalan privat inilah Indonesia saat ini memiliki Undang Undang RI no. 23 tentang Penghapusan Kekerasan Dalam Rumah Tangga (UU PKDRT).
FEMINISME MARXIS
Aliran ini memandang masalah perempuan dalam kerangka kritik kapitalisme. Asumsinya sumber penindasan perempuan berasal dari eksploitasi kelas dan cara produksi. Teori Friedrich Engels dikembangkan menjadi landasan aliran ini—status perempuan jatuh karena adanya konsep kekayaaan pribadi (private property). Kegiatan produksi yang semula bertujuan untuk memenuhi kebutuhan sendri berubah menjadi keperluan pertukaran (exchange). Laki-laki mengontrol produksi untuk exchange dan sebagai konsekuensinya mereka mendominasi hubungan sosial. Sedangkan perempuan direduksi menjadi bagian dari property. Sistem produksi yang berorientasi pada keuntungan mengakibatkan terbentuknya kelas dalam masyarakat—borjuis dan proletar. Jika kapitalisme tumbang maka struktur masyarakat dapat diperbaiki dan penindasan terhadap perempuan dihapus.
FEMINISME SOSIALIS
Feminisme sosialis muncul sebagai kritik terhadap feminisme Marxis. Aliran ini mengatakan baha patriarki sudah muncul sebelum kapitalisme dan tetap tidak akan berubah jika kapitalisme runtuh. Kritik kapitalisme harus disertai dengan kritik dominasi atas perempuan. Feminisme sosialis menggunakan analisis kelas dan gender untuk memahami penindasan perempuan. Ia sepaham dengan feminisme marxis bahwa kapitalisme merupakan sumber penindasan perempuan. Akan tetapi, aliran feminis sosialis ini juga setuju dengan feminisme radikal yang menganggap patriarkilah sumber penindasan itu. Kapitalisme dan patriarki adalah dua kekuatan yang saling mendukung. Seperti dicontohkan oleh Nancy Fraser di Amerika Serikat keluarga inti dikepalai oleh laki-laki dan ekonomi resmi dikepalai oleh negara karena peran warga negara dan pekerja adalah peran maskulin, sedangkan peran sebagai konsumen dan pengasuh anak adalah peran feminin. Agenda perjuagan untuk memeranginya adalah menghapuskan kapitalisme dan sistem patriarki. Dalam konteks Indonesia, analisis ini bermanfaat untuk melihat problem-problem kemiskinan yang menjadi beban perempuan.
FEMINISME POSKOLONIAL
Dasar pandangan ini berakar di penolakan universalitas pengalaman perempuan. Pengalaman perempuan yang hidup di negara dunia ketiga (koloni/bekas koloni) berbeda dengan prempuan berlatar belakang dunia pertama. Perempuan dunia ketiga menanggung beban penindasan lebih berat karena selain mengalami pendindasan berbasis gender, mereka juga mengalami penindasan antar bangsa, suku, ras, dan agama.
Dimensi kolonialisme menjadi fokus utama feminisme poskolonial yang pada intinya menggugat penjajahan, baik fisik, pengetahuan, nilai-nilai, cara pandang, maupun mentalitas masyarakat. Beverley Lindsay dalam bukunya Comparative Perspectives on Third World Women: The Impact of Race, Sex, and Class menyatakan, “hubungan ketergantungan yang didasarkan atas ras, jenis kelamin, dan kelas sedang dikekalkan oleh institusi-institusi ekonomi, sosial, dan pendidikan.”

Oleh teman-teman terdekatku, aku dijuluki sebagai feminis radikal. Aku setuju karena memang aku berubah secara radikal—dari Nana si konvensional menjadi Nana si feminis yang mengikuti teori posmodern banget, pengikut Jacques Derrida dengan teori dekonstruksinya, yang ingin menjungkirbalikkan segala hal yang konon sudah established, terutama yang berkenaan dengan kehidupan perempuan.
Menilik jenis-jenis feminisme yang kukemukakan di atas, memang aku bisa masuk ke jenis feminis radikal, yang percaya bahwa segala penindasan yang terjadi kepada kaum perempuan dikarenakan kultur patriarki yang telah menghegemoni sekian abad. Tubuh perempuan yang berbeda dari laki-laki—sementara cara pandang dalam segala hal di dunia ini selalu berangkat dari kacamata laki-laki—membuat perempuan menjadi sasaran empuk untuk penindasan. Misal: pemaksaan adanya RUU APP, bahwa perempuan harus dipenjarakan di balik rok panjangnya karena tubuhnya yang di mata laki-laki selalu mengundang untuk menyentuh, dan seterusnya.
Namun, aku juga bisa memasukkan diriku sebagai seorang feminis liberal yang percaya bahwa perempuan sama baiknya, sama berkualitasnya dengan laki-laki. Sayangnya hal ini belum banyak diterima oleh masyarakat, bahkan oleh kaum perempuan itu sendiri. Sehingga, untuk memberi kesempatan kaum perempuan berkiprah di bidang politik—yang selalu dipandang sebagai ranah maskulin—perempuan berhak diberi affirmative action, seperti di pertengahan abad ke-20 peremintah Amerika memberi affirmative action ini kepada kaum African American. Kalau memang cara inilah yang akan mengangkat kaum perempuan di bidang politik, why not?
Aku juga setuju dengan feminis Marxis yang memandang relasi laki-laki perempuan seperti relasi kelas si kapitalis dan si pekerja. Untuk menyamakan kedudukan perempuan dengan laki-laki, perempuan harus bekerja, karena si empunya uanglah yang memiliki hak untuk menentukan sesuatu. Betapa selama ini, kebanyakan orang selalu memandang laki-laki sebagai the decision maker dan perempuan sebagai penjalan keputusan itu; terutama dalam institusi keluarga.
Sebagai seseorang yang hidup di sebuah negara yang pernah dijajah oleh negara yang kebanyakan penduduknya berkulit putih, sehingga secara tidak sadar orang-orang berkulit warna menganggap orang yang berkulit putih memiliki kuasa lebih tinggi daripada si kulit berwarna, tentu saja aku sangat setuju dengan Feminisme Poskolonial. Bahkan setelah Indonesia merdeka selama lebih dari setengah abad, pandangan bahwa yang berkulit putih tentu lebih menarik dibanding yang berkulit berwarna masih tetap saja ada. Hal ini dikuatkan dengan adanya iklan-iklan di televisi maupun majalah/koran, bahwa cantik itu putih.
In conclusion, meskipun banyak aliran dalam feminisme, belum tentu kita bisa mengacu seorang feminis sepertiku ini hanya mengikuti satu aliran saja. Ideologi feminisme bersifat dinamis yang akan selalu bergerak dan mengikuti perkembangan zaman, demi kebangkitan kaum perempuan dalam kultus yang masih tetap saja male-dominated.
PT56 12.03 231206

Friday, December 15, 2006

Soap Operas in Indonesia

There is a quite interesting article I read in one local newspaper in my hometown. It criticized some local soap operas in Indonesia that illustrate about teenagers’ life. They sell a dream to be a modern Cinderella: a girl’s life will change to be better after a prince comes to her life, especially a pretty girl who comes from a poor family, and the boy—just like a prince—comes from a rich family, who happens to be very kind, caring, generous, and bla bla bla.
To criticize the soap operas, the writer of the article used Susan Faludi’s theory called backlash. It means the effort done by people who are pro status quo of patriarchal culture, to counter the feminism movement, to go back to the era where women were not independent, because they need men to reach their goal—living prosperously. To attract those men’s attention, girls JUST need physical beauty, no other things, such as intellect and skills, especially academic skills. The writer of the article pintpoints that the soap operas sell dreams to young female teenagers, make them forget that there is a much more important thing they need to sharpen—their academic capabilities—rather than just on the surface, fair and spotless complexion, soft skin, slim bodies, beautiful hair, etc. Furthermore, the writer of the article stated that those soap operas are indeed addressed to teenagers, who are still pure, dont get “infected” yet by feminism movement, not like their elder generations.
However, I view it from a bit different angle. Susan Faludi’s theory about backlash is not really appropriate to be used here. Why? Different from many western countries, in Indonesia there are still abundant women who still don’t realize their rights to be independent women, to have exactly equal right with men, to pursue any dream they have, to choose any career they find cool, without any bounderies, such as “I am a woman, I am not supposed to be a boxer,” or an astronout, etc. When the mother doesnt realize this right, consequently, she will teach the same principle to their daughter as what they believe as “created” by God, to view many aspects in lives using their (out-of-date) perspective.
So, instead of (mis)leading the young generation back to the time when patriarchal norms rule people’s life, those soap operas just want to keep the status quo of patriarchal culture, because the fact shows that in Indonesia, until now the feminist movement is not popularly known yet. Very few of my students know what feminism movement is, they still think that the word feminist is similar to feminine.
Until now, the television world is still held strongly by men who still think it as natural for women to dedicate their life to their family (especially husbands) only, and forget their dream to make a name for themselves. Therefore, they still accept many programs from production houses that support this perspective. Many production houses produce programs to get benefit, so that they will produce programs that attract the owner of the television stations, companies that work in the advertisement’s field. And in Indonesia, it is very seldom for us to find producers who courageously produce different/contradictory programs, such as soap operas that illustrate how girls toughly face their life, without always waiting for the prince charming to come to their life, girls who actualize their intelligence, sharpen their capabilities, and get a job using those, and not just physical performance. Fortunately, I have a friend whose part time job is as a scripwriter. She never gets order to write stories that empower women using their intelligence and skills. When she writes one, no production house is willing to buy it.
PT56 23.08 141206

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

T H I S B L O G

This blog contains writings that offer new ideas and perpectives to view aspects in our lives, especially women’s lives. Perspectives that are mostly women-friendly, that have been marginalized by men’s way of thinking that view women as the weaker sex, since time immemorial. The writings don’t mean to ruin your established belief and perhaps faith in something. Even, I mean to enrich the readers’ knowledge about new ideas and perspectives. If you find it beneficial for your life, that is a great honor to me. And that is exactly what I expect from this blog of mine. If you find my writings (negatively) provoking you, just leave this blog. I address this blog to those open-minded people who are willing to accept the more just way of life for both men and women.
Don’t expect to find writings that just follow the status quo of patriarchal society.
Anyway, thank you very much for your attention to this blog of mine. :)
PT56 12.15 141206

Monday, December 11, 2006

TRUTH versus THINKING

Referring to my post some days ago about “Polygamy” I got some comments in one blog of mine: similar comments I got some months ago—attacking me for not being well-read on Alquran; laughing at my narrow-minded way of thinking. I am of opinion that I had better not give a shit to those comments. :) My reason is simple: they don’t read my writing comprehensively; or they have been blinded by the indoctrination they got from their teachers/ulema that polygamy is for benefits of the both sides—husband and the previous wife. Therefore, they don’t want to open their mind for another way of interpreting this thing. And I will still stick to my opinion that polygamy can be interpreted as HARAM when this thing engenders bad things to, especially, people who are involved, the husband, the wives, and the children, and generally to society. Just refer to my previous writing if you want to find out why I am of opinion that polygamy can be interpreted as haram (in the teachings of Islam, if people do something considered as HARAM, they will be punished by God.)
Another comment said: “how dangerous the way of thinking of someone coz it is not always refer to the truth.”
What is TRUTH?
It is the TRUTH that in Alquran Allah stated that human beings are not created to be able to do things justly (Alquran Surah Annisa: 129). And the main requirement to practice polygamy is being just.
It is the TRUTH that Surah Annisa verse 3 was passed down to Prophet Muhammad after Muslim people were beaten in Uhud war. This means that practicing polygamy at that time was to help women whose husbands died in the war.
And people have to keep thinking so that they will survive. It is the TRUTH that many kinds of medicines have been created to cure illnesses because people THINK to save other people, or themselves. From people’s curiosity—so that they keep thinking now and again—people have invented many kinds of innovations to make their lives more comfortable than their predecessors.
And when people stop to think, they will die. This world will stop.
PT56 12.00 121206

Jenna Bayley- Burke - Cooking Up A Storm

FOUR CUPS

Ms. Jenna Bayley Burke has written an intense and steamy romance that will have you on the edge of your seat. Lauren makes you cheer her independence and holler at her stubbornness. Cameron, with his wall of indifference, cannot sustain that attitude while in Lauren’s presence and tries to bury his burgeoning attraction in work, but fails miserably. Both have been victims of the war between the sexes and are defensive in their need to protect their feelings, which is understandable. This book will draw you quickly into the melodrama of these characters' lives and the minor players provide great background. The sexual encounters, though few, are tasteful and appropriate, making this romance proceed naturally which is a nice change. I would definitely recommend this book to any reader of romance. I really enjoyed this glimpse in to Ms. Bayley-Burke’s imagination.

Kathy
Reviewer for Coffee Time Romance
Reviewer for Karen Find Out About New Books

Monday, December 4, 2006

Linda Francis Lee Interview


The Devil and the Junior League was an excellent book and now you can read an in depth interview by Connie and LFL on Once Upon a Romance.

Please go to:

http://www.onceuponaromance.net/LindaFrancisLeeInterview.htm

Lots of insight into the author and her writing!

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Polygamy

In fact, I am already bored with this topic. Some months ago I got upset and annoyed when I found a message in Perempuan (women) mailing list I join saying the plan of PW, the owner of one grilled chicken restaurant in Indonesia, to launch a tabloid named ‘Polygamy. I could directly “read” that the tabloid would be used to blind society where the majority don’t know well about Islamic teaching. I wrote some posts in my blog about this (read => polygamy) and I believe the readers of my blog could easily conclude that I was mad. (This shows I completely agree with Aquarini Priyatna in her book Kajian Budaya Feminis /Feminist Cultural Studies that she writes coz she is angry.) The readers of my blog at http://afemaleguest.blog.co.uk where the most visitors are western people supported me to damn polygamy. The readers of my blog at http://afeministblog.blogspot.com where the most visitors are people from South East Asia were divided into two, one side agreed with my disapproval of polygamy; the other side scolded me for not reading Alquran comprehensively where it stated that a man can have two, three, or four wives (Surah Annisa: 3)
After looking for some ‘cracks’ of my own posts, that haven’t been discussed by me, I come to this idea to write as follows.
The most recent shocking polygamy news was between one public figure in Islamic teachings in Indonesia popularly nicknamed as AA Gym with a widow having one child, in her middle thirties. I must say that many people in Indonesia idolize him while I myself see him only as one ulema, not different from others who had been popular before AA Gym made a name for himself. In my eyes, all (religious) people who are well-read always have chance to (mis)lead their followers by using (or abusing) the verses in their holy books. It, then, depends on their personal character.
Because I am from literary discipline, now I want to see these polygamy things from literary theories.
First, structuralism theory. This theory focuses on what is stated in one work, without involving any other aspects, such as the writer of the work (using expressive approach must be very impossible coz as a Muslim, I do believe that Alquran was passed down to Prophet Muhammad from God), the society when the verses of Alquran were passed down to Muhammad, and the readers of Alquran. One verse mostly quoted by people who approve polygamy is:
"If you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, marry women of your choice, two or three or four;”(Alquran, 4:3)
But apparently they forget to quote the continuation of this verse, that is:
“… but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with them, then only one" (4:3).
Again, in the same Surah Annisa verse 129 Alquran states:
“although you want to deal justly, you will not be able to do that.”
Forgetting the continuation of this verse must clearly show the egotism of the polygamy doers, and those ulemas who approve polygamy. Isn’t it already VERY CLEAR that men as human beings WILL NOT BE ABLE to do things justly, although only a slight, people will always have this tendency. Therefore, isn’t it possible to interpret that practicing polygamy is HARAM? And we all know that those ulemas are very sensitive with this HARAM thing? Why don’t they apply it in polygamy?
Don’t read one work (read => Alquran in this case) only part per part, and then not read them as a whole.
Second theory is sociohistorical theory. We relate one work with the social and historical event when the work is written. In this case, when this particular verse was passed down to Prophet Muhammad. The verse was passed down after Muslim troops were beaten by their enemies. Uhud war killed many Muslim men so that many women suddenly became widows. Remembering that at that time women didn’t have access in public spheres, not having rights for their own properties either, to save these, this verse was passed down, to give green light to Prophet Muhammad, and some other Muslim men in that era to save those women to take care of their own properties left by their husbands. Prophet Muhammad and some other Muslim men then took care of the survival of those women and their children using their own heritage. If they hadn’t got married, it was worried that their heritage would be given to some other people—such as uncles—who then would just rob those unfortunate women.
Viewing polygamy using this context, we can clearly see that in this era, practicing polygamy is no longer acceptable coz now women already have access in public spheres, in Indonesia (especially) women can become the owner of the properties their husbands left and take care of their own life.
What else, then, is this polygamy for done in this era? Only to celebrate libido, stated M. Hilaly Basya the chief of Youth Islamic Study Club Al-Azhar (Jurnal Perempuan number 31 “Menimbang Polygamy” published in September 2003.)
To end this article, well, AA Gym is just a human being. I must say that it is not his full mistake when many people in Indonesia idolize him (as if they forget that AA Gym is JUST A HUMAN BEING. Prophet Muhammad, the most chosen person in this world for Muslim people couldn’t avoid making his wife jealous with his polygamy, moreover some other people.) It just shows that AA Gym has been beaten by his egotism, and his libido.
PT56 10.19 041206

ABBY GREEN - NEW PRESENTS AUTHOR



Abby is a new Mills and Boon and Harlequin Presents author. Her CHOSEN AS THE FRENCHMAN'S BRIDE will debut in January in the UK and April in the US. It's a wonderful story. You can read my review on The Pink Heart Society or on my other blog

Abby resides in Ireland and has worked in the film industry. For more detail, please see Kate Walker's post on her blog www.katewalker.com. Kate has been with Abby every step of the way. Bravo Abby and Kate and another supportive new author, Annie West!

LUCY MONROE'S DECEMBER NEWS


Lucy Monroe December News

The long awaited North American release of Lucy's Harlequin Presents, PREGNANCY OF PASSION is finally here. The book which received 4 Stars from Romantic times and was called "emotionally heartwarming and very sexy" by one reader has spent multiple weeks on the Borders group best sellers list, debuting at #1.

Lucy has a second December release as well. Her first paranormal novella "Come Moonrise" is in the trade paperback anthology UNLEASHED, by Rebecca York, et. al. Advanced reader, Judy said, "This is a new type of story for Lucy Monroe and she excels. It has her trademark wit and passion but now has a compelling other specie element." For more information on Lucy's Children of the Moon and the world they inhabit, visit lucymonroecotm.com.


Sunday, November 26, 2006

Chapter Two ...

The following is the second chapter of my thesis that has a title : A REFLECTION OF PATRIARCHAL SOCIETY IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY AMERICA: A CASE STUDY OF CHARLOTTE PERKINS GILMAN’S “THE YELLOW WALLPAPER”. I just want to illustrate about Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s background in a nutshell. If you are really interested in knowing more, you can do the research more thoroughly yourself.

CHAPTER II
THE BIOGRAPHY AND INTELLECTUAL BACKGROUND OF
CHARLOTTE PERKINS GILMAN
2.1 The Biography of Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Charlotte Perkins Gilman was born in Hartford Connecticut. She was the youngest child and only daughter of the marriage of Mary Ann Fitch Wescott (1829-1893) and Frederick Beecher Perkins (1828-1899). They got married in 1857, had three children in three years: the first child, Thomas, died within one month; another son, named Thomas too, 1859-1938; and Gilman was born on July 3, 1860. Gilman’s mother conceived another girl, who lived only eight months in 1866. Frederick deserted the family in 1869, but visited them occasionally. They got divorced in 1873. (Ceplair, ed. 1991:9).
The wrecked marriage of her parents made Gilman and her brother and mother move nineteen times in eighteen years, from one relative’s house to another, from one city to another. Her mother’s financial dependency forced them to do that. Her mother didn’t have any skills that enabled her to support her children. Besides, as a woman coming from middle-class society, Mary believed that she was not supposed to work. It made Gilman think since she was very young that if a woman were dependent on a man (her husband), she would live in suffering when her husband deserted her. It evoked Charlotte’s strict character that a woman needed to be economically independent. It could be seen in her later years through her writings and lectures.
Gilman remembered her father as a frustrated man. He left his wife after knowing that his wife would not be able to have another baby. He attended Yale College but never graduated, and studied law but never practiced. He was a genteel reformer, believing in the restoration of the pre-industrial family. He believed women should have interests outside the home before they married but when married should “find perfect gratification in their own homes, in their families.” He spent the rest of his life as an editor, librarian, and a writer, but did not earn a sufficient income to support his family. (Ceplair, 1991:10)
Gilman described her mother as the most domestic type of a housewife. After her idolized youth, she was left neglected. After her flood of lovers, she became a deserted wife. Since she was not financially independent, she had to live under her relatives’ pity. Gilman, her brother Thomas, and the mother lived with Gilman’s grandparents from Frederick, with her grandparents from Mary, with Frederick’s aunts, and other relatives again.
In such a situation, Mary surely could not express tenderness toward her children, Thomas and Gilman. Gilman remembered her mother as someone who denied the children all expression of affection as far as possible, so that the children should not be used to it or long for it. (Ceplair, ed. 1991:11).
In that kind of unhappy childhood Gilman grew up. A bad image of Frederick as her father gave her a bad image of a man to be a husband. Therefore in her teenaged years, Gilman didn’t have any idea to be close to men. In fact, when she was 19 years old, she experienced her first intense emotional connection with a female friend, Martha Luther. Gilman illustrated her relationship with Martha as “a compact of mutual understanding” and her “first deep personal happiness”. Therefore, Martha’s engagement with Charles A. Lane in 1882 made Gilman broken-hearted. To reflect the beautiful moments she spent together with Martha, Gilman wrote in her autobiography,
With Martha I knew perfect happiness. … Four years of satisfying happiness with Martha, then she married and moved away. … And I had no one else.” (via Ceplair, 1991: 14)
Apparently Gilman was disappointed by her expectation to live together with Martha. She was also traumatic because of the failure of her parents’ marriage. These two things made her decide not to get involved with a love relationship. She buried her pain in work.
However, not long after that, Gilman met Charles Walter Stetson, her first husband. Charles—a talented artist—who fell in love with her asked her to marry him. Gilman’s bitter past made her decline Charles’ proposal though she felt a strong physical attraction to him. The question of marriage threatened the divide she had established between work and love. She wrote in her autobiography:
On the one hand I knew it was normal and right in general, and held that a woman should be able to have marriage and motherhood, and do her work in the world also. On the other, I felt strongly that for me it was not right, that the nature of the life before me forbade it, that I ought to forego the more intimate personal happiness for complete devotion to my work. (via Ceplair, 1991:15)
Though doubtful about marriage life, Gilman married Charles on May 2, 1884, two years after they met. Gilman’s doubt turned out to be right because not long after delivering her daughter, Katharine, in April 1885, Gilman underwent nervous exhaustion. Her husband’s conventional opinion about a wife’s role made her condition worse. Though in the beginning of their relationship Charles seemed to admire her independence and nonconformity of spirit, Gilman’s worldly ambition hurt his ego as a man. He wrote in his diary:
She had one of those spasms of wanting to make a name for herself in the world by doing good work: wanting to have people know her as Charlotte Perkins, not as the wife of me. … It may be … from ill-digested reading of philosophical works mixed with her imagination and the tradition of what she ought to inherit from her parents. (via Ceplair, 1991:16)
Her nervous breakdown made Gilman go to Philadelphia to be treated by Dr. S. Weir Mitchell, the greatest nerve specialist at that time. Apparently Gilman was suffering from post-natal depression. In the nineteenth century, motherhood was believed to be one cause that led women to mental breakdown. In that era, women’s madness was labeled hysteria (Goodman, 1996:117). Identifying Gilman’s disease as hysteria, Mitchell prescribed “rest cure” while she was in Philadelphia, and a life of enforced passivity when she returned home. Gilman wrote in her autobiography that Mitchell advised her to
Live as domestic life as possible. Have your child with you all the time. Lie down an hour after each meal. Have but two hours’ intellectual life a day. And never touch pen, brush or pencil as long as you live. (via Ceplair, 1991:20)
Hysteria was considered a “fashionable” disease for women in the nineteenth century America (Golden, 1999:110). Women who were judged to suffer from hysteria were women who were “unfeminine—in other words, sexually aggressive, intellectually ambitious, and defective in proper womanly submission and selflessness.” (Golden, 1992:111). In Gilman’s case, she was detected to undergo that disease because of her intellectual ambition, especially, and later also her defectiveness in her role as a wife and mother.
To live passively was absolutely a problematic situation for a woman who was as intelligent, imaginative, and ambitious as Gilman. Therefore, Gilman thought that Mitchell’s prescribed cure and advice just led her to the edge of insanity. After three months, she found out that the cure didn’t work well on her, it even made her nervous breakdown worse, Gilman decided to get back to her “normal” life—working. She was cured by removing herself physically from her home, husband, and finally her child, and by engaging in and writing about the social movements of the day. http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/ejournal/ old-WILLA/fall95/De Simone.html
She resumed writing and lecturing to all over America. “The Yellow Wallpaper” was the result of her experience under Mitchell’s medication. She wrote that short story, especially, to criticize Mitchell’s rest cure that in fact didn’t really cure people suffering from nervous breakdown. Such a cure even proved to be on the way around, to lead people to insanity. “It was not intended to drive people crazy, but to save people from being driven crazy, and it worked”, Gilman wrote in “Why I Wrote The Yellow Wallpaper” (via Bauer, 1998:349).
Realizing that her marriage life spurred her to suffer from nervous breakdown, Gilman, with Charles’s knowing, filed divorce in 1892 and it was granted in April 1894. In June that same year, Charles married Grace Ellery Channing, and Gilman sent her daughter, Katharine, to live together with them.
In June 1900, Charlotte married her cousin, George Houghton Gilman in Detroit. Katharine came to live with them at the end of July. Different from Charles whose ideals about women’s roles in a marriage were conventional, George was supportive of her intense involvement in social reform. http://www.gale.com/free_resources/whm/bio/ gilman_c.htm This second marriage lasted until George died in May 1934. Before that, in 1932, doctors found an inoperable cancer growing in her breast. She had always believed that human beings should not have to suffer from chronic pain, torment, and misery. Therefore, she committed suicide on August 17, 1935. In her suicide note, she wrote,
Human life consists in mutual service. No grief, pain, misfortune or “broken heart” is excuse for cutting off one’s life while any power of service remains.
But when all usefulness is over, when one is assured of an unavoidable and imminent death, it is the simplest of human rights to choose a quick and easy death in place of a slow and horrible one. (via Ceplair, 1991:275)
Several days before her suicide, Charlotte Perkins Gilman—a “Deist with no concern for an afterlife” (http://oasis.harvard.edu/html/ sch00019.html)—wrote that people not only had right to live, they had right to die as well.

2.2 Intellectual Background of Charlotte Perkins Gilman
L.A. Lowe said that Charlotte Perkins Gilman was sociology’s first radical feminist theorist whose critical social theory and thematic methodology continue to reverberate in the musings and writings of today’s critical social and feminist theorists. http://employment. education.uiowa.edu/lalowe/034_201_ePortfolio/ GILMAN_PAPER.htm Despite her nervous breakdown that she suffered during her lifetime, Gilman was a prolific writer. She wrote a lot of articles, short stories, poems, books, plays, and novels with various topics. For her, writing is more than a form of work, it is also a means of expressing identity. (Goodman, 2001:110) Besides writing, she also lectured throughout the United States and Europe. She believed that in communicating, both in writing and lecturing, people must do that with a real purpose in their mind. (Bauer, 1998:351). In her case, especially, her purpose in writing and lecturing was to educate women and give them the means to change their role in a male-dominated society; she stressed equality both socially and economically.
Her writings were spread in many kinds of magazines, newspapers, and journals. Her highest success in her writing career was acknowledged when she published her own journal, the Forerunner from 1909 until 1916. In this monthly journal, she wrote and edited all the articles there herself, which she claimed could fill 28 long books. The Forerunner was regarded as Gilman’s “vehicle for advancing social awareness.” http://www.gale.com/free_resources/whm/bio/gilman_c. htm In fact, the central theme of this journal was that social and human development were hampered by sexual dysfunctions that could only be removed when women were perceived and treated as human beings and human beings were recognized as integral parts of the social organism. (Ceplair, 1991:189)
Among her hundreds short stories published in various magazines, “The Yellow Wallpaper” is the most anthologized one nowadays. In this novella, she wrote her own experience when she suffered from postpartum depression. She criticized the male doctor who prescribed the sick narrator rest cure that apparently by the end of the story led the narrator to the edge of insanity. In another short story entitled “Dr. Clair’s Place”, Gilman expressed her idea about the similar situation in “The Yellow Wallpaper”, only in “Dr. Clair’s Place” it had a female doctor who believed that people who suffered from nervous breakdown would recover soon by making them busy, doing things they liked, such as listening to music, working, etc. This is to attack the male doctor’s bed-rest medication for people who suffer from nervous breakdown.
Forty-three of Gilman’s 186 short stories have been compiled in at least two major collections, "The Yellow Wall-Paper" and Other Stories, edited by Robert Shulman and The Charlotte Perkins Gilman Reader, edited by Ann J. Lane. These short stories originally appeared in such varied popular magazines as Saturday Evening Post and Harpers' Bazaar. http://www.womenwriters.net/domesticgoddess/CPGguide. html.
Besides short stories, Gilman wrote approximately 490 poems, some of which were collected in In This Our World in 1893 and in Suffrage Songs and Verses in 1911. http://www.womenwriters.net/ domesticgoddess/CPG guide.html.
Some novels Gilman wrote had utopian theme, such as Moving the Mountain (1911), Herland (1915), and With Her in Ourland (1916). In those three utopian novels, Gilman described societies in which attitudes toward women and their abilities have radically changed. Critics said that in Herland, Gilman used satire very well. The novel challenged accepted images of women by describing the reactions of three American males who entered Herland, an all-female society that reproduced through parthenogenesis, reproduction by the development of an unfertilized ovum, as in certain insects and algae. All inhabitants in Herland were described capable in doing anything, not dependent on men at all. http://www.gale.com/free_resources/ whm/bio/gilman_c.htm
Besides writing short stories, poems, and novels, Gilman also wrote a thousand works of non-fiction. These appeared in such magazines as Woman's Journal, Housekeeper's Weekly, Impress, Cosmopolitan, New Nation, The New York Times, and The Saturday Evening Post, to name only a fraction, and their topics reflect Charlotte’s interest in everything from chewing gum in public to socialism. Some of her non-fiction work has been collected in Charlotte Perkins Gilman: A Non-Fiction Reader (1991) and Her Progress Towards Utopia: With Selected Writings (1994). http://www.Womenwriters.net/domesticgoddess/CPGguide.html. Since her main concern was to make a change in women’s lives, many of her articles urged women to break out of the restrictions society enforces upon them in order to advance social evolution as a mechanism for change. She demanded that women work in "crafts, trades, arts and sciences," fields from which they had historically been barred, and not in the home, their traditional "separate sphere." Indeed, the home is resoundingly absent from her list of occupations, for it, too, needs restructuring in evolutionary advancement.
In “Parasitism and Civilized Vice” Gilman employs her anti-Freudian diatribe against sex-expression and all forms of egocentric excess in the cause of advancing her social philosophy of race development. This essay—published in a collection of other socialist pieces entitled Woman’s Coming of Age (1931)—details Gilman’s argument against women’s growing dependence on men in capitalist America. Gilman argued that like harem women, who were fed and protected for sex service, American women were becoming “sex parasites”. Sex has become a process of economic exchange instead of race betterment, leading to greater temptation for men (Bauer, 1998:25). In another article entitled “Think Husbands Aren’t Mainstays” appearing in New York Times in 1909, Gilman declared that wives were “unpaid servants, merely a comfort and a luxury agreeable to have if a man can afford it” (Bauer, 1998:23).
Gilman also wrote some non-fiction books. In Women and Economics (1898)—her most well-known book which has been translated into several language since its first publication—Gilman argued that the home, considered as both a social and an economic entity, represented the single greatest obstacle to a realization of humanity’s collective interests, since it fosters an elaborate devotion to individuals and their personal needs. Following John Stuart Mill’s and Harriet Taylor’s line in The Subjection of Women (1869) and Friedrich Engels’s analogy between slavery and marriage in The Origin of the Family, Gilman drew the comparison between marriage and prostitution. In an era when purity campaigns and female reform societies were at the height of their influence, Gilman characterized prostitution as, at least in one sense, a lesser evil than marriage. In both cases, “the female gets her food from the male by virtue of her sex-relationship”, but in marriage the “evil” is compounded by a “perfect acceptance of the situation”. (Bauer, 1998:23)
In The Home: Its Work and Influence (1903), Gilman argued that the exclusion which characterized the domestic sphere had rendered women inferior. The Home began with the premise that “whosoever, man or woman, lived always in a small dark place, was always guarded, protected, directed, and restrained, will become inevitably narrowed and weakened by it”. Gilman argued that it was not that the values of the home need to reach into industry but that principles of industry need to be applied to the home, thereby professionalizing women’s work. Adamantly rejecting the claims certain of her contemporaries known as “female feminists” made for the innately different but superior contributions represented by women’s influence in the home, Gilman concluded that exclusion was always and only oppressive (Bauer, 1998:23-24).
In The Man-Made World or, Our Androcentric Culture (1911), Gilman criticized “androcentric culture”, cataloging the ills that have accumulated as a result of what she sees as an unhealthy move from earlier matriarchal communities to patriarchal society. First, beauty and health have been retarded and both men and women have become weak, inefficient, and ill, not to mention victims of fashion. What is considered beautiful in women is only sex ornament. Second, the sexual double standard has weakened the race by resulting in the transmission of sexual diseases. Third, women’s “civilized art sense” has been aborted since they have not learned “applied art”—in creativity—but only fashion and fad; finally literature “has not only given any true picture of woman’s life, very little of human life, and a disproportioned section of man’s life” (Bauer, 1998:24)
In Concerning Children (1900) Gilman advocated professional child-care. She delivered her most extensive critique of traditional forms of raising children, by discipline and obedience, and called for the creation of process and environment that encouraged them to think. Gilman argued that race improvement must be made between the years fifteen and twenty-five—“the most important decade of a lifetime,” since those were the years when a person could acquire “a keen new consciousness of personal responsibility” and then transmit that characteristic to his or her children. (Ceplair, 1991:91)
Despite the fact that she wrote a lot of articles to educate women about their equal position to men in the patriarchal society, Gilman did not label herself as a feminist, not because she lacked sympathy for feminism but because she found ‘its objectives too limited for her own more radical views on the need for social change’ (Goodman, 2001:140). In her era, the sole goal of women’s movement was to get right to vote in general election to show that they were equal to men. For Gilman, to be politically equal was not as important as economically independent. Work was the most important aspect for women to be equal. When a woman was economically independent, she could do anything in her life, to make herself in the same rank as a man. As a writer and an activist, Charlotte Perkins Gilman offered a great many ideas to the public of her time. She allowed women to dream of a life of equality, and men of a world where women helped out in the workforce. Through her writing and speaking engagements she helped push women's roles in society further than they had ever been. A visionary of her time, she showed people that a world where women were prevalent in the working class was possible with some effort. Through thoughts of economic, political and social independence, she put a picture to equality. http:// bizntech.rutgers.edu/worknlit/gilman2_bib.html
Furthermore, in her Afterword of “The Yellow Wallpaper” Feminist Press Edition (1973), Elaine Hedges stated that Gilman’s basic tenet in her writings and lectures was that work must be respected. Women must be admitted into the human work world on equal terms with men. The domestic work they do must be respected, and they must be free to do other kinds of work as well. Gilman believed in continuing human progress (she wrote a utopian novel, Moving the Mountain, in which women had achieved true equality with men), and she saw the situation of women in the nineteenth century as thwarting this progress as well as thwarting their own development. For some human beings to be classified as horses, or cows, or sexual objects, was to impoverish not only themselves but human society as a whole. (via Golden, 1992:134)
In her lecturing career, Gilman gave lectures to middle— to upper-middle class women’s clubs, labor unions, women’s suffrage groups, church congregations, and Nationalist clubs http://employment.education.uiowa.edu/lalowe/034_201_e Portfolio/ GILMAN_PAPER.htm She spent the rest of 1890s traveling and lecturing: attending a suffrage convention in Washington in 1896; going to England in July 1896 to the Internationalist Socialist and Labor Congress; and again to the International Women’s Congress in London in 1899. She attended the International Congress of Women in Berlin in 1904 and the International Woman Suffrage Congress in Budapest in 1913, and made a lecture tour of England, Holland, Germany, Australia, and Hungary in 1905. http://oasis.harvard.edu/html/ sch00019.html Gilman did all those travels and lectures to express her idea in order to evoke about gender (in)equality and encourage women to struggle for a better and equal life in patriarchal society.

I assume that before we condemn someone to do things you consider heartless—especially in this case a woman who seems not to follow feminine roles CONSTRUCTED BY MEN IN PATRIARCHAL SOCIETY: a loving mother, a loyal and submissive wife, a caring friend, a feminine creature, make sure that you find out the background of her to be like that. If you dont want to bother yourself to do such a ‘research’, just shut your mouth up.
PT56 08.14 171106

THE YELLOW WALLPAPER ~ A Mirror of Middle Class Women

“THE YELLOW WALLPAPER” – A MIRROR OF UPPER-MIDDLE CLASS WOMEN’S CONDITION IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY AMERICA

Abstract 

This study is intended to examine Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s rebellious minds against social and patriarchal authorities as reflected in her novella entitled “The Yellow Wallpaper”. This study is conducted under a library research and concentrates on reference source related to the topic discussed. It is based on an interpretation of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s rebellious minds, as a radical feminist among her contemporary nineteenth century social thinkers. 

Tremaine McDowell’s American Studies theory is used here; that is the reconciliation of tenses (past, present, future), and the reconciliation of academic disciplines that are sociohistorical approach, cultural approach, historical contexts of the writer, and literary approaches—feminist literary criticism and genetic structuralism.
The result of the study finds out that male dominated society that tends to oppress women’s lives under its norm called the Cult of True Womanhood caused another cult—the Cult of Female Invalidism. These two kinds of cult engendered woman’s madness phenomenon.

Keywords: the Cult of True Womanhood, women’s oppression, woman’s madness

INTRODUCTION

That patriarchal culture has existed for ages and always given privileges toward men is already well-known. Many articles have discussed this topic too. However, that this patriarchal culture then also decides who is sane who is insane has not been popularly discussed yet. In her book, Women and Madness (1972), Phyllis Chesler, proposes an idea that because the mental health system is patriarchal, women are often falsely labeled as being ‘mad’ if they do not conform to stereotypical feminine roles.

Having the dominant position in society, men decide the feminine roles women are supposed to have. In the nineteenth century America, society created an ideological prison for women that were called the Cult of True Womanhood. To strengthen this norm, many books, magazines, or journal that are popularly known as Conduct Literature were abundantly published. When women did not conform to the norms of this Cult of True Womanhood, they would be easily deemed mad.

The objective of this study is to find out that this norm created by patriarchal society oppresses women’s lives. To some extent, it increased the number of women who were labeled mad because they chose to deviate the norm. As mental evidence, the novella entitled “The Yellow Wallpaper” written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is chosen.

This study is carried out under the American Studies theory proposed by Tremaine McDowell—the reconciliation of tenses (past, present, and future), and the reconciliation of academic disciplines that is interdisciplinary approach (82). This interdisciplinary approach comprises sociohistorical approach, cultural approach, historical contexts of the writer and literary approaches, namely genetic structuralism and feminist literary criticism.

The method applied in this study is library research. It means, it concentrates on reference source related to the topic discussed. Besides the novella itself, Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s other books are utilized. Some other books and online references closely linked to the study are of big help to conduct the research.

ANALYSIS

“The Yellow Wallpaper” is a short story telling about a young woman who is eventually driven mad by the society. The narrator is apparently confused with the norm defining “true” and “good” woman constructed by society dominated by man.

Upper and middle-class women in that era mostly had a role as their husband’s ornament, the angel of the house. With the emergence of middle-class society due to the Industrial Revolution, many new rich men wanted to show off their valuable “treasure”; a wife that is passive, obedient, beautiful, submissive, pious, and pure. This beautiful-to-be-looked role of a wife is similar to that of wallpaper.

Gilman herself as the writer said in “Why I wrote The Yellow Wallpaper?” that “The Yellow Wallpaper” was written to attack the wrong rest cure proposed by Dr. S. W. Mitchell for women who were considered to suffer from mental illness. At the same time, the story also turns out to be one way of Gilman to criticize her male-dominated society’s way to oppress women during her era. Imposing “true” and “good” woman norm to all women obviously engendered women’s madness phenomenon in that era.

The Cult of True Womanhood

The Cult of True Womanhood consists of four attributes; namely piety, purity, submissiveness, and domesticity. (The Cult of True Womanhood). In “The Yellow Wallpaper”, two attributes—submissiveness and domesticity—were clearly seen.

In the beginning of the story, the narrator was taken to a solitary mansion to undergo treatment. The narrator’s husband named John who happened to be a high standing physician diagnosed her to suffer from temporary nervous depression. To cure that kind of depression, a woman had to undergo an isolated rest cure.
In that isolated place, the narrator was not allowed to go anywhere, but stayed in her yellow-wallpapered room. She was somewhat imprisoned there. She had to be domesticated while her husband could go out of the house to do his job to his heart’s content, even sometimes he was away for days. It showed dichotomy of public sphere and domestic sphere for men and women. He enjoyed mobility where he could gain his identity to enhance his position in society, while at the same time he showed his authority toward his wife, the mentally disturbed wife. As someone who had the most professional profession in that era—physician—the husband showed that whatever he said is right, his prescription to cure his wife—to isolate her in a solitary place—was the best for her. This was undebatable.

To convince the narrator, the husband said they went to that isolated place only on her account so that she could get perfect rest. The loving nicks her husband used in calling her—my dear, darling, blessed little goose—gave the narrator feeling that her husband loved and cared for her much. The imposing of the true womanhood norm on upper and middle-class women, the loving feeling her husband tried to evoke in her using loving nicks and the condition that the narrator was suffering from temporary depression made her not able to debate her husband.

Referring to the third characteristic of the Cult of True Womanhood—submissiveness—where true feminine genius was supposed to be timid, doubtful, clingingly dependent, and a perpetual childhood, the narrator was treated as a child. She was ‘imprisoned’ in a room where the windows were barred for about three months. It showed that she was legally a child; socially and economically she must be led by an adult—her husband. Therefore, the nursery was an appropriate place to house her.

In a patriarchal society, relationship between a husband and a wife was similar to a relationship between a parent and a child. A parent had a right to say things and a child had an obligation to listen and to do what the parent said. A child was not supposed to disagree. The child must submit him or herself to the parent. It made the child dependent on the parent.

It can be seen clearly that the husband treated his wife as a child. He called her his “blessed little goose” (Bauer, 1998:44), and “little girl” (Bauer, 1998:50). When the narrator tried to tell him what she thought was good for her, but not appropriate to the husband’s opinion, the husband used sweet words to force his idea toward the wife.

“My darling,” said he, “I beg of you, for my sake and for our child’s sake, as well as for your own, that you will never for one instant let that idea enter your mind! … Can you not trust me as a physician when I tell you so?” (Bauer, 1998:51)

As socially dependent on her husband, the narrator let her husband take care of things for her, for example, to choose to stay in such a solitary place where she did not need to socialize with neighbors because John thought that the narrator needed a full rest and she did not need to get along with people. Since the narrator suffered from a mental disturbance, John, asked his sister, Jennie, to take care of the rented house so that the narrator did not need to do anything. She only needed to take care of herself.

When John thought that the narrator was in a mentally good condition that enabled her to need company, he chose some certain people to come to visit them. That illustration shows how John controlled the narrator’s social life. He decided where they stayed when he thought that his wife needed time to cure her mental depression. He decided with whom the narrator got along, who could stay there with them, what she had better do during their three-month stay—only to take care of herself.

As economically dependent on her husband, the narrator did not need to work either. Moreover, in her mentally depressed situation, John forbade her to “work” until she was well again. While she herself thought that congenial work, with excitement and change would do her good. The narrator instinctively felt that only her work could transport her out of the world of childhood. Surely, her craving to write—meaning to work here—endangered her husband’s position as an authority. He would not have control any longer toward the narrator—his wife.

Living in an era where people worshipped the Cult of True Womanhood, Gilman wrote that novella to criticize the situation, the husband was the authoritarian, and the wife was the submissive. It is clearly seen when she illustrated the situation where the husband forbade the narrator to write and the narrator had to do it in secret. By questioning, “What is one to do?” Gilman wanted to expose the weak position of the narrator. She could just follow what her husband said to her, believe in things he thought, and not what she thought. Since she was considered as a child, not mature yet, she did not have any choice but to agree with whatever her husband asked her to do.

Another important thing in the Cult of True Womanhood is novel reading prohibition. The word ‘novel’ in Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary means ‘new and not resembling something formerly known or used’ (2003:849). It is known that novel is a new kind of literary work, compared to poetry. Industrial revolution of the nineteenth century America produced middle-class society. Novel was mostly produced by this middle-class society.

Industrial Revolution produced new rich people that then were considered the middle class society. These new rich people absolutely had different taste from old rich people. When old rich people loved reading poetry—an established literary genre at that time, the new rich people could not do the same thing due to the different taste. Poetry was considered too high for them. They could not enjoy reading it because they could not understand it. However, they needed to read something. Novel was the best solution because novel did not use ‘high’ and complicated (connotative) words.

One of novel’s characteristics is being critical toward government and society’s norm. As Literary World observed in 1850, “The novel is now almost recognized with the newspaper and the pamphlet as a legitimate mode of influencing public opinion” because of its “strong, emotional, political, and cultural agendas for change” (via Herndl, 1993:45) Society (read  men) were worried if reading novel would make women critical about their so-called destined role as a domestic creature. When women became critical, men suspected that those women would question their ‘natural’ characteristics as mentioned in the Cult of True Womanhood. It would endanger their position as the only owner of the public sphere. When women wanted to get involved in public affairs too, they would compete with men. Besides, if both men and women were busy in public sphere, who would worship God? As a pious country with its Puritanism before the nineteenth century, American men put their forebear’s religious values on women’s shoulder. Therefore they created the Cult of True Womanhood norm to confine women.

If novel reading is prohibited, it is understandable, then, if writing is much more condemned. Because the narrator was still undergoing treatment for her mental disturbance, she was not allowed to do anything but rest herself, rest her body as well as rest her mind. The narrator had to write her journal secretly, when nobody was around her. She herself thought that she needed to write. “Personally I believe that congenial work, with excitement and change, would do me good” (Bauer, 1998:42) and “I think sometimes that if I were only well enough to write a little it would relieve the press of ideas and rest me.” (Bauer, 1998:46) However she was not free to do that. The narrator wrote in her journal what her husband said about her eagerness to write
… with my imaginative power and habit of story making, a nervous weakness like mine is sure to lead all manner of excited fancies, and that I ought to use my will and good sense to check the tendency. (Bauer, 1998:46)

Every time she wrote in her journal, she had to stop herself when her husband arrived, “There comes John, and I must put this away, --he hates to have me write a word.” (Bauer, 1998:44) or when she saw Jennie coming to her. “There comes John’s sister. Such a dear girl as she is, and so careful of me! I must not let her find me writing.” (Bauer, 1998:47) It can be understood then if that kind of life tired her. She really wanted to do one thing she likes—writing, and she perceived that by writing she could express herself well and it even could help her cure herself. However, she could not do that freely, because her rest-cure treatment prohibited her to do that. And as a true woman, she had to obey what her husband said to her.

The narrator’s deteriorating mental breakdown was understandable. She could not be the woman she was because of the standards set by society at that time. Her husband did not appreciate her creativity and thought. She was not entrusted to do anything or make any decision for herself. While the narrator herself was illustrated as a woman who wanted to conform society’s norm; belittling her own ideas and respecting her husband’s.

Social expectations in the decade of the first half of the nineteenth century encouraged a kind of selflessness that could have resulted in a woman’s thinking of herself as nothing, or less than nothing. This is what can be seen in “The Yellow Wallpaper”.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s personal background in writing “The Yellow Wallpaper”

“The Yellow Wallpaper” is often considered as Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s semi-autobiographical short story since she mentioned Mitchell’s name in it to acknowledge the autobiographical roots. Besides mentioning that noted neurologist’s name, “John says if I don’t pick up faster he shall send me to Weir Mitchell in the fall.” (Bauer, 1998:47) the story also contains an obvious similarity between the narrator’s problem and Gilman’s. As stated before, this novella tells about a woman who suffers from a postpartum depression. Gilman herself also experienced that in her first marriage with Charles Walter Stetson.

During her childhood, Charlotte had a loveless relationship with her mother who never showed her care and love toward her children, Charlotte and her brother Thomas. It happened after her husband left her, because the doctor forbade her to get pregnant again. Charlotte wrote in her autobiography about her mother, “After her idolized youth, she was left neglected. After her flood of lovers, she became a deserted wife” (via Golden, 1992:212).

She saw her mother—a woman whom she described as someone who had passionate feeling for being a domestic wife—live in suffering. Her mother’s suffering made her also live unhappily due to lack of parental love. In Charlotte’s eyes, her mother became a victim as well as a victimizer. This bitter experience made her doubtful to get married because after getting married, a couple would have sex that would probably result in pregnancy. Having a baby was something unpleasant for Charlotte because she was afraid if she could not love her baby well, just like her own experience with her mother. In Concerning Children, Charlotte wrote that the act of childbirth evoked the fear of mutilation, motherhood was the ultimate human sacrifice. Once a woman became a mother, she had to sacrifice all her life for the child, for the family, and she could not have her own life (via Golden, 1992:218). Therefore, the emotions Charlotte felt when she gave birth were appropriate for a funeral. Instead of welcoming the baby happily, she went into a period of mourning.
Not wanting to do her mother’s mistake that causes three of them (Charlotte, her mother, and her brother) to live in suffering—to get married and to have children—but thinking that a woman was supposed to get married following the nineteenth century’s society’s norm, Charlotte was in a big dilemma when Charles proposed her. She was afraid if marriage and motherhood might incapacitate her for her work in the world. After considering Charles’ repeated proposal for some time, Charlotte married him.

Her fears for marriage and motherhood soon made her suffer from postpartum depression after delivering her baby one year after that. She could no longer do her intellectual activity, such as writing and painting due to the breakdown. Wanting to be cured to continue doing her intellectual work, Charlotte visited the most noted neurologist at that time, S. Weir Mitchell.

Mitchell was well known for his rest cure treatment when he handled mentally breakdown patients, both men and women. He also prescribed the same treatment toward Charlotte. He suggested Charlotte to avoid doing her intellectual life. She was supposed to lead a passive life instead because Mitchell believed that her intellectual work was the cause of Charlotte’s depression. Mitchell—as other physicians at that time—believed that women’s reproductive organs in their bodies hindered them from doing things intellectually. The capacity of women’s brain was not as good as men’s to get knowledge. (Golden, 1992: 97-100) Therefore, women were not supposed to have intellectual ambition in their life. When a woman forced to have it, she was condemned to suffer from mental illness.

Charlotte wrote this personal experience in her novella entitled “The Yellow Wallpaper”. The narrator suffered from postpartum depression after delivering a baby. It was clearly seen that she was not ready to be a mother. Only because she was married and consequently had sex with her husband did she become pregnant and then become a mother. Here, Charlotte illustrated her idea that childbirth meant the death of the mother.

The novella tells that the narrator was not ready to have motherly and wifely chores. To cure her mental depression, her husband took her to a summer vacation house for rest therapy. As Mitchell, John—the narrator’s husband—also asked her not to involve herself with intellectual activity—writing. To substitute her to do motherly and wifely chores, John invited a woman named Mary to be the nanny of their baby, and his own sister, Jennie, to be the housekeeper.

The narrator was asked to stay home all day long while her husband was free to pursue his career to be high standing physician. The narrator followed her husband’s suggestion and tried to make herself busy in that rented house. She let her husband go away and busy with his own job that sometimes made him away for some nights.

On the contrary, in Charlotte’s real life, after marrying Charles, she still continued her career by writing and painting. She still used her maiden name as Charlotte Anna Perkins, and not as Mrs. Charles Walter Stetson. It hurt Charles’s pride. Living in a male-dominated society, a married woman was not supposed to have her own identity. She had to bear her husband’s family name.

In handling her mental disturbance, Charlotte realized that Mitchell’s rest cure prescription did not do her any good. In The Home: Its Work and Influence (1903), Charlotte proposed her idea that mother’s world symbolized death and martyrdom, while father’s world promised work, achievement, and power (via Ceplair, 1991:124-144). Mitchell’s paternalistic therapy locked her into the mother’s role, and at the same time, it deprived her of the opportunity to pursue her father’s achievements and thus blocked her life. Therefore, she stopped it. She resumed her intellectual life instead. She started writing again, while at the same time also traveling around America to give lectures about women’s rights. She was successful to cure herself by working, and not by having a passive life.

In this case, Charlotte wrote different thing from her own experience, because, as she wrote in “Why I wrote The Yellow Wallpaper?” she wanted to criticize Mitchell’s rest cure prescription and also to attack the Cult of True Womanhood.

To show Mitchell that he gave a wrong prescription for women who suffered from hysteria, Charlotte finished her story by leading the narrator to insanity. The message was clear, mentally ill women needed to work to cure themselves, and not on the way around. In “Why I Wrote The Yellow Wallpaper?” Charlotte wrote that she sent a copy to the physician who so nearly drove me mad.

But the best result is this. Many years later I was told that the great specialist had admitted to friends of his that he had altered his treatment of neurasthenia since reading The Yellow Wallpaper. (via Bauer, 1998:349)
She also showed society that this depressed narrator became insane because she was forced to be domestic and submissive toward her husband. Not all women shared the same idea to enjoy being domestic and submissive. For intellectual and ambitious women, just like Charlotte and her heroine in “The Yellow Wallpaper” it was a very difficult thing to conform to the tenets of the Cult of True Womanhood.
Although Charlotte refused to be called feminist during her lifetime, the twentieth and twenty first century critics crown her as radical feminist theorist. She saw that what feminists struggled to get—right to vote—to be equal to men was not enough. Right to vote only was not enough to make women’s position equal to men. Based on her personal life, Charlotte had her genuine ideas about marriage and motherhood. The inequality between men and women in a marriage was caused by women’s finance dependence on their husbands, like what she wrote in her most famous book entitled Women and Economics

Her living, all that she gets—food, clothing, ornaments, amusements, luxuries—these bear no relation to her power to produce wealth, to her services in the house, or t her motherhood. These things bear relation only to the man she marries, the man she depends on—to how much he has and how much he is willing to give her. (via Bauer, 1998:325)

It is clearly seen in “The Yellow Wallpaper”, the unequal relationship between the narrator and her husband was caused by economics, John worked as “high standing” physician while the narrator was “imprisoned” in her room. Charlotte’s intentional choice of physician as the narrator’s husband’s profession had some reasons to show the sharp inequality between the narrator and the husband. First, the husband earned much money because physician was the most professional profession in that era. When it was compared to his idle wife, it showed high financial dependence on the part of the wife. Second, physician as the most respected and scientific profession dictated people to always believe in what a physician said. In the middle of the cult of science of the enlightenment in the eighteenth century, doctors really had a say to shape people’s way of thinking among “rational” society.

The financial dependence of the wife on the husband was similar to a child’s dependence on his or her parents. In Concerning Children, Charlotte criticized parents-children relationship that obliged children to obey their parents.

…obedience has a bad effect on the growing mind. A child is human creature. He should be reared with a view to his development and behavior as an adult, not solely with a view to his behavior as a child. … The work of “parenthood” is not only to guard and nourish the young, but to develop the qualities needed in the mature. (via Ceplair, 1991:117)

In the story, Charlotte illustrated the relationship between the narrator and John, her husband, was similar to that between a parent and a kid, e.g. the way John called his wife, “little girl”. A child was considered not knowing what was good or bad for him or herself. A child always needed parents’ guidance. Sometimes more extremely, parents dictated what the child had to do, and the kid just listened and did what the parents said. Every time the narrator tried to express her ideas to the husband, he always belittled her.

The difference between husband-wife relationship and parents-children relationship with the financial dependence as a result was that the wife served the husband in bed and did the household chores, while a child had to pay back the parent’s financial support by obeying whatever the parents said and asked the child to do. In “The Yellow Wallpaper”, the narrator paid her husband back both by serving him in bed and obeying whatever John said. Her inability to do household chores was understandable because she suffered from mental disturbance. The presence of Mary and Jennie represented the narrator’s domestic side.

Woman’s Madness in “The Yellow Wallpaper”

As stated in the introduction that that feminist critics propose an idea that woman’s madness is spurred by patriarchal society, this sub chapter will show how John—the narrator’s husband in “The Yellow Wallpaper”—as the representative of patriarchal society leads his wife into insanity.
When the first time the narrator and her husband arrived in the solitary summer mansion, the narrator sensed something peculiar about the house. She wrote in her journal

A colonial mansion, a hereditary estate, I would say a haunted house, and reach the height of romantic felicity—but that would be asking too much of fate!

Still I would proudly declare that there is something queer about it. (Bauer, 1998:41)

However, when she told her husband about what she perceived—that the house was haunted—her husband laughed at her idea. This laughter shows that he underestimated his wife. Her suspicion was caused by her curiosity how such a big building like that was untenanted for so long and rented to them very cheaply. This physician-husband was described as someone who “has no patience with faith, an intense horror of superstition, and he scoffs openly at any talk of things not to be felt and seen and put down in figures” (Bauer, 1998:41). As someone who had the most “scientific” profession in the nineteenth century, obviously he believed only in logical things, and he considered his wife’s superstition as something illogical.

It definitely discouraged the narrator. She even suspected that because of the fact that her husband was a physician, who imposed his prescription to his patient, and did not pay attention to what the patient said and thought, she did not get well faster. “John is a physician, and perhaps—(I would not say it to a living soul, of course, but this is dead paper and a great relief to my mind)—perhaps that is one reason I do not get well faster.” (Bauer, 1998:41)

When using what Luce Irigaray stated in Speculum of the Other Woman that a woman is defined as mad because her self expression is different from what men define for her, one can conclude that the narrator had her own way of thinking about herself which was different from her husband’s. This different way to see things between the husband and the wife urged madness phenomenon on the woman’s side.

Her sentence in her journal stating “You see he does not believe I’m sick!” (Bauer, 1998:41) shows that she thought she was sick, while her husband did not think that way. He just thought that there was really nothing the matter and the narrator only had “temporary nervous depression, a slight hysterical tendency” (Bauer, 1998:42).

Since the most famous treatment for women suspected to suffer from hysteria at that time was rest cure with its solitary confinement and avoiding intellectual stimulation, the husband brought his wife to that isolated place. He prohibited his wife to socialize with other people without his knowing, and he did not let her write in her journal. While on the contrary, the narrator believed in something contradictory, “Personally I believe that congenial work, with excitement and change would do me good.” (Bauer, 1998:42) The husband, with his authoritarian position and sanity decided that his wife’s writing in her journal would make her depression worse so that he asked her to stop writing and stop having “illusion” about the house. In the husband’s eyes, that the house was haunted was only his wife’s illusion. On the other hand, for her, it was a fact. In her journal, she wrote the reasons why she thought that way—the house was untenanted for so long and rented cheaply.

Furthermore, she wrote:
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. (Bauer, 1998:42)

The above quotation showed the contradictory ways of thinking between John and the narrator. She opined that probably she would be recovered soon if she socialized more with people and got stimulus. However, her husband eliminates that idea by telling her to stop thinking about her condition—to be confined in a solitary place, to perceive that the house was haunted, and his prohibition to write in her journal.

John said that they came to that house merely on the narrator’s account so that she would get better soon. However, he ignored what his wife wanted. He denied her request a room on the first floor with access to the air outside, and confined her in the attic instead. When the narrator felt troubled with the wallpaper and asked her husband to change it, he said that he would even whitewash the cellar if the narrator asked him to do it. However, he did not do anything about it. He went on forcing his wife not to give fancy toward the wallpaper and the house.

The husband encouraged her to exercise “self-control” and avoid expressing negative thoughts and fears about her illness; she is also urged to keep her fancies and superstitions in check. In other words, it can be said that the husband defined what was sanity to his wife, and what his wife felt and thought as insanity. Sanity for a woman was that she had to believe in and agree with what her husband said; she had to be quiet, selfless, and submissive. On the other hand, when a woman had her own feeling and thought that opposed to her husband’s, it was insanity.

The husband kept telling her that all he did was for her benefit, because he loved her. Troubled with the idea of “true woman” and believing in what her husband said to her, the writer wrote in her journal “He is very careful and loving” (Bauer, 1998:43) and “He loves me very dearly, and hates to have me sick.” (Bauer, 1998:49). However, it is obviously seen that what he did toward his wife did not show his loving character. It even showed his egotism and arrogance. He was not empathetic. He never listened to what his wife said and wanted. His imposing his wife to believe in what he said to her and asked her to do what he thought the best for his wife even made his wife’s depression worsened quickly.

The explanation above shows Luce Irigaray’s theory about the cause of woman’s madness is right. Woman’s madness’ phenomenon is triggered by the different way to view problems or things in this life between man and woman. Since this is a male-dominated world, men decide that their views are right and sane while they consider women’s views as wrong and insane.

Referring to Helene Cioux’s theory about woman’s madness— society sees a mad woman as a courageous figure refusing to accept masculine norms, it can be proven in the way the narrator’s courageous critical idea that housekeeper is the best profession for women. In her journal, commenting on Jennie, her sister-in-law, the narrator wrote, “She is a perfect and enthusiastic housekeeper, and hopes for no better profession” (Bauer, 1998:47). She compared it to her writing journal that she considered as her work. She realized that the best profession for women in that era was homemaker, according to the Cult of True Womanhood. But still, she criticized it. Besides that, she also knew that she opposed the society norm that condemned novel writing. She kept on writing her journal. She wrote, “I verily believe she (Jennie) thinks it is the writing which made me sick!” (Bauer, 1998:47) Apparently she did not believe that the writing made her sick. She even thought of on the way around, writing could help her release her stress. She did not really pay attention to any norm confining women to be “true” and “good”. She did what she believed good for her. She continued writing, kept perceiving that there was something wrong with the house. She did not try her best to conform to the society’s norm to be a “good” mother for the baby she just delivered, and she did not have any idea either to be a “good” wife. She also kept thinking that she was sick despite her husband’s saying that she was not.
As a result of her courage to refuse the norm was that people around her labeled her mad.

A little bit different from the theories proposed by Luce Irigaray and Helene Cioux, Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar argue that the nineteenth century norms for women’s behavior—selflessness and submissiveness—were the causes of women’s mental illness. Charlotte Perkins Gilman apparently illustrated her nameless narrator as an intelligent and energetic woman who would feel restless if she had to live a boring life, without intellectual challenges as a housewife.

Since the beginning of the story, John always tried to make his wife as a submissive and selfless wife. He designed a treatment to pressure the narrator into concluding that something was wrong with her, not with her husband nor the people around her nor the values people adhered at that time. When she tried to be assertive, to express her feelings and thought toward her husband, he cruelly asked her to control herself. “… so I take pains to control myself—before him, at least, and that makes me very tired.” (Bauer, 1998:43) By “proper self-control”, John meant to control the possibility that the narrator had her own version about her sickness and decide her own treatment to cure herself. By controlling her, John forced her to do what he told her instead.

In her book Women and Madness, Phyllis Chesler proposes the similar theories. As stated in Chapter three, Chesler’s first theory is that women who exhibit traditionally “male” traits are often diagnosed as mentally ill. The narrator’s traits—such as self-assertiveness—emphasized this. She did what she thought right and good for her. Telling her husband that the house had something peculiar and keeping thinking of it though her husband asked her to forget that idea is one example. The event when her husband forced her to stay in the room upstairs and she asked him to move downstairs because she did not feel comfortable in that room shows that she tried to be assertive, to have her own way of thinking. Being self-assertive was considered as men’s traits because women in that era were supposed to be selfless and obedient.

Chesler’s second theory is that mentally ill women are less likely to get understanding and support from family, friends, or employers and co-workers. None of the people around the narrator—especially John and Jennie—showed their understanding and support to her. John did not pay attention to what she said. He did not do what his wife asked him to do. The narrator’s statement in her journal “It is so discouraging not to have any advice and companionship about my work” (Bauer, 1998:46) shows her complaint. In that era, men did not consider their wives as companion—meaning having equal position with them. Women were just the “second sex”. Wives were just the angels of the house, the ornament for their husbands. Wives were just breeders and cooks. Charlotte criticized this situation by writing in her autobiography that women in that era were just “The ‘charmer’ before marriage and the cook afterward” (via Bauer, 1998:337).

John did not show sympathy toward his wife. The narrator had to write her journal—something that gave her comfort and relief—behind his back because she was worried if her husband would take away her freedom to write. She did not find anyone to share this enjoyment. No one understood her.

Jennie who thought that housekeeper was the best profession for women often looked at the narrator oddly. Jennie did not understand why the narrator did not conform to the society’s norms. If John represented the oppressive males in society, Jennie represented all the women who were ignorant of society’s oppression toward women. Jennie believed that women were created to be inferior and men superior.

Chesler’s idea that social change is needed to eliminate mental illness caused by oppressive patriarchy is supported by Gilman’s writing “The Yellow Wallpaper”. She wrote it to indirectly tell S. W. Mitchell that his rest-cure prescription was wrong. Recent feminist critics see it as Gilman’s struggle to criticize that patriarchal society with its idea about “good” and “true” woman oppresses women’s life. Forcing all women to be “true” and “good” women without giving any space to women who do not share the same idea to be such persons is not a wise thing. It even leads women to insanity.

CONCLUSION

Based on the analysis in the previous chapter, it can be said that there is a very strong relationship between what is going on in society and a theme of literary work. The Cult of True Womanhood strongly affects women’s lives in the nineteenth century. Charlotte Perkins Gilman portrays it in her novella entitled “The Yellow Wallpaper” (1892).

The analysis shows that women are divided into two categories. The first, woman who believes that she is born as a weaker sex or as the second sex. It is represented by Jennie; the sister-in-law of the nameless narrator. This kind of woman supports the status quo of patriarchal society. The second category is woman who becomes the victim of such culture. The imposing practice of patriarchal culture with its true womanhood norm on all women is obviously harmful to intelligent and creative women. This second category of woman is represented by the narrator.

As a victim of such culture, Gilman writes “The Yellow Wallpaper” to attack the practice of the Cult of True Womanhood. Such culture really oppresses intelligent and ambitious women like Gilman herself. The forced practice of that culture then triggers woman’s madness phenomenon.

REFERENCES
Bauer, Dale M, ed. The Yellow Wallpaper, New York: Bedford Books, 1998
Benstock, Shari, Feminist Issues in Literary Scholarship, Indianapolis, Indiana University Press, 1987
Bressler, Charles E., Literary Criticism, 2nd edition, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall Inc, 1999
Ceplair, Larry, ed. Charlotte Perkins Gilman A Nonfiction Reader, New York: Columbia University Press, 1991
Chesler, Phyllis, Women and Madness, New York, Avon Books, 1972
Fetterley, Judith, The Resisting Reader: A Feminist Approach to American Fiction, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, `978
Gilbert, Sandra & Susan Gubar, The Madwoman in the Attic, New haven, Yale University Press, 2000
Golden, Catherine, ed., The Captive Imagination, A Casebook on The Yellow Wallpaper, New York: The Feminist Press, 1992
Goodman, Lizbeth, Literature and Gender, London: Routledge, 2001
Herndl, Diane Price, Invalid Women, Figuring Illness in American Fiction and Culture, 1840-1940, North Carolina, The University of North Carolina Press, 1993
Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th edition, 2003
McDowell, Tremaine, American Studies, Minnesota: University of Minnesota, 1948
Schibanoff, Susan,” Taking the Gold Out of Egypt: The Art of Reading as a Woman”, Gender and Reading, eds. Elizabeth A. Flynn and Patrocinio P. Schweickart, 83-106, Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, 1986
Ussher, Jane, Women’s Madness, Misogyny or Mental Illness? Amherst: the University of Massachusetts Press, 1991
De Simone, Deborah, “Charlotte Perkins Gilman and the Feminization of Education” http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/ejournal/old-WILLA/fall95/DeSimone.html July 12, 2004
Frick, Katie L. “Women’s Issues Then and Now, A Feminist Overview of the Past Two Centuries” (http://www.cwrl.utexas.edu/~ulrich/femhist/ madness. shtml September 22, 2003)
Welter, Barbara, “The Cult of True Womanhood: 1820-1860” http:// www.pinzler. com/ushistory/cultwo.html June 18, 2005
_____, “Phyllis Chesler A Pioneer for Woman’s Mental Health” http://www.womenshealthnetwork.org/nnartic.les/chesler.htm September 22, 2003)