Wednesday nights required perfect silence and perfect darkness. Each week, my roommates and I sat still for the one-hour mind-fuck that is FX’s horror television program American Horror Story. The suspense, the character development, the flashbacks all allowed for a scary, unique viewer experience. One of the most intriguing characters was Moira, the maid who always had something poignant and sobering to say. She proved herself as a tough, strong woman who will never let a man take control of her… again. In fact, she has learned to control them herself.
In the eight episode of the season, “Rubber Man”, Moira explains to Vivien that men have always tried to control women. This monologue BLEW ME AWAY. Talk about feminism at its finest, if not a bit bitter. (Who could blame her? She was raped by her boss in his home. During the rape, she was killed by the cheating jerk’s wife.) Anyway, the monologue is as follows:
Haven’t you read “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman? Her husband—a doctor—locks her away in the upstairs bedroom to recuperate from a slight hysterical tendency. Staring at the yellow wallpaper day after day, she begins to hallucinate that there are women trapped in the pattern. Half mad she scrapes off the wallpaper to set the women free. When her husband finally unlocks the door, he finds her circling the room, touching the wallpaper, whispering “I finally got out of here.” Since the beginning of time, men find excuses to lock women away. They make up diseases, like hysteria. Do you know where that word comes from? The Greek word for “uterus.” The only possible cure was hysterical paroxysm. Orgasms. Doctors would masturbate women in their office and call it medicine.”
OH. MY. GOODNESS. I cannot love this any more than I do. The tone of her voice, mixed with a quick history of female oppression, equals a very happy feminist. Women’s rights have come a LONG way, but there are still inequalities and some men trying to control women in any way they can.
If you have all not been exposed to the Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” (1899), I highly suggest it. The full text can be found here! It speaks volumes about how mental illnesses were treated, and in turn, how it affected women.
Also, if you haven’t watched American Horror Story, I would recommend watching it, legally, of course.