Did people really believe women were more sinful and evil than men, or were they afraid of women taking over? In the 1600’s, Witch Trials took place in Salem, Massachusetts. Many of the accused witches were in fact female. Witch accusations were mainly aimed at women due to the Puritan ideas that women were more vulnerable and evil than men, their sexuality was more obvious and sinful, and the fear of women gaining power and authority. Women have always been seen as being the weaker gender, especially during Puritan times.
This disorder is believed to mess with not only a woman’s hormones, but with her mind as well. Paracelsus theorized that “disorders of the uterus could result in hysterical fits that take away all reason and sensibility”(96). This explains why women lack reason and therefore are inferior to man, as we’ve seen throughout the course. Walter Johnson, in his Morbid Emotions of Women, implies- “Woman’s nature, her supposedly greater role in reproduction, makes her more vulnerable to insanity”(100). Although there’s some speculation on page 98 that hysteria could also be found in men, the idea was rejected and it was concluded that hysteria was of female essence.
Love madness was seen both in the literature of the nineteenth century and in reality. At the time, the definition of insanity and how it should be treated was going under dramatic changes. Love madness was seen as a primarily female disease. Insanity in general was seen to occur more often in females due to their natural weakness. Being female was almost a form of insanity because of what is seen as their biological inferiority.
The scientific community put forth and supported the premise that women were weaker then men. The reasons presented for this idea were menstruation, conception and the physical demands of pregnancy. In Victorian times there was very limited knowledge about menstruation. The scientific observation that the menstrual cycle and the chemical changes in a woman's body during that time can affect behavior is accurate. However to claim that, "the monthlies were to blame" (p. 44), for any change in behavior wasn't true then and isn't true now.
For, Freud and his band of followers promoted the notion that women were inferior, envious of men, and defined by their physical beings. If they failed to experience vaginal orgasm, as "normal" women should, then there was something psychologically wrong with them. Freud ignored the heaps of evidence that disproved his reasoning, solely basing beliefs about "frigidity" on his skewed assumptions. His widespread support left women to be sexually exploited, consumed by self-hatred, and fearful that they were inadequately female. Above all, I was shocked to discover that many supported the clitoridectomy because it not only "feminized" women, but also prevented them from straying to other partners (either male or female) in pursuit of sexual satisfaction.
It is debatable that the influence men had on societal views had impacted the boundaries on the views between madness and sanity. Importance on being portrayed as the “perfect” women or housewife could have also been a factor. The late nineteenth century the author, Kate Chopin, brought to the surface truth underneath women with the use of her stories. Many considered this to be madness, because of the content in her writings. As Aristotle once said ‘“No great mind has ever existed without a touch of madness.” (Goodreads) Madness is behavior or thinking that is very foolish or dangerous.
Barstow moves on to point out through the text that these Women were victims of Misogyny due to the definition of Witchcraft being so broad and actually fitting the descriptions of the lives of many women. The patriarchal society of Europe at the time also bound women to lives of a lesser class if they were not living under the protection of men. Women were also seen as sex objects, and were seen as a threat to men who viewed women as untrustworthy and whorish. The findings of her research and views led Barstow to find that women were more likely to be accused and put to death for Witchcraft than men, as they were seen as minors before the courts and could not hold high positions but, they could be accused before the court for the heinous act of Witchery. Women were blamed for every malfunction of their reproductive systems, including stillbirth and were also blamed for preventing conception.
Though hysteria became a focal point of study by physicians throughout the world. Symptoms included fainting, vomiting, choking, sobbing, paralysis, and temperamental fits. Reflecting the belief that women were prone to hysteria because they were less rational and stable than men. Dr. Edward Tilt, in a typical Victorian textbook definition, wrote: “mutability is a characteristic of hysteria, because it is characteristic of women” (Showalter, p. 129). As more studies were conducted, however, some doctors began to link hysteria with restricted activity and sexual ... ... middle of paper ... ...ut you.” Her response is “I don’t weigh a bit more.” She proves him wrong and he avoids the response by saying “But now let’s improve the shining hours by going to sleep, and talk in the morning.” She overlooks his true intentions and focuses back on the wallpaper.
I think that men often played off of women's fears and that women backed these ideas because they were afraid of the alternative. For example the idea that educating women would cause them too much mental excursion and could cause them to become sterile seems almost laughable today. However it was something that was believed by both sexes during the Victorian period. Along with mental strain causing sterilization in women it was also believed that too much learning would unsex a woman. This idea was widespread, fanned by Social Darwinists concerned about "the decline of the species" and by doctors convinced that time spent studying would drain maternal energy.
105) The biggest complaint most women have about menopause is not only all the bad symptoms and side effects but also the damage it does to a relationship because of the lack of sex. The symptoms and side effects of menopause make it difficult for woman to continue having sex the way they once did which becomes and issue for any partner that used to sexual intercourse. The lack of sex isn’t caused by the person’s age but because of what comes with