I began reading One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest last week and reading the first part of the forward got me thinking about how the mental health perspective, as a way of analysis, is ignored.
The forward is written by the author Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club, Choke) and in the first sentence he states that some people he loves, hate this book. He explains that people find it racist and sexist because Ken Kesey (the author of Cuckoo’s Nest) portrays women as “frigid monsters” or “whores” and blacks as “sadistic sodomites”. What is Kesey trying to say about women and blacks in this book by portraying them so negatively? He must be a racist and sexist asshole! Palahniuk says that we need to put race and gender aside (the blatant negative depiction of Nurse Ratched and the Aides is to surface of an analysis for me) and see Cuckoo’s Nest as showing the paradox of living in a modern democracy of only two political parties.
“How can you live within a democracy that expects you to vote and participate, to hold an opinion and vote thereby control and be responsible for your society-but at the same time, you must surrender and follow the will of others if even the slimmest majority disagrees with you?” -Chuck Palahniuk, Forward, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
Palahniuk is on to something there! I completely agree with him but I still feel a very important perspective is missing and it should really be the most obvious: the mental health perspective.
Is it just me or is not trying to understand a story that takes place in a psychiatric hospital from a mental health perspective a little weird? I think it further shows how society forgets people with mental health issues and feels that their experience is not valid and I guess not intelligent enough to deserve an analysis of its own.
My 18 year old sister encountered this in one of her university English classes last year. She was writing an essay on The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. My sister wrote about having neurosis and how it is stopping Gilman from fulfilling her duties as a mother, wife and the woman she wants to be. Her professor commented that no student had ever written this essay using a mental health analysis. Up until my sister, students had been handing in essays that talk about how women’s oppression caused Gilman to descend into madness, the pressure to be a wife and a mother were too much to take. The students neglected to look at the most obvious perspective, mental health but this could most likely be because it is a perspective that is just not talked about in academia.
I do agree that mental health can be linked to feminism. I do not think that it is a coincidence that women are more likely to be diagnosed with depressive mood disorders (passive) and men are more likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia and ADD (aggressive/active). I have said on this blog and in my life that I believe part of the reason I have been diagnosed borderline is because I am an angry woman. But to ignore the actual mental health component is unjust.
We need to look at Cuckoo’s Nest through a mental health lens. Analyze the power imbalance between patient and staff, sane vs. insane, what does being insane mean, how are men viewed in mental health, patient rebellion and attitudes toward alternative treatment. Knowing this can help further our understanding of the mental health experience and how we can improve policy, treatment and social campaigns.
On January 22, 1973 the American Supreme Court decided that abortion would become legal, thanks to Roe v. Wade. Canada has had unrestricted abortion access since 1989.
We still have a long way to go in terms to better access and eliminating the stigma around abortion but I am confident we will get there!
Today I celebrate my right to reproductive health and my right to choose!
I’ve had this conversation before but never did it turn out like this.
There’s this guy. We have a past. We occasionally talk on Facebook and he appears to be very hung up on appearances (I haven’t seen him in years so he has asked me if I’ve gotten fat). He has now enriched my life by showing me how I am not a girl.
Sometime last night this guy asked me if I wore TNA pants. TNA is super overpriced and not my style at all. I told him no, that I wear jeans, leggings and dresses. He responded with “lol you’re not a really a girl lol”. I stared at that statement for a bit and replied, “maybe not by your sexist and stereotypical standards I guess.” He then said, “Not like that.” It was then time for me to sign off.
So real women were yoga pants. Alright. I’m glad I know this. I hope all your lives have been positively effected as mine have by this amazing insight.
The kicker to all of this is he likes these yoga pants because of how they make a woman’s butt look! It’s all completely sexualized! Therefore a real woman wears clothing that makes her look in a way that men find sexually appealing. That is more than enough to make me NEVER buy yoga pants!
Alright, I’m going to settle down with some cake, my partner and watch The Daily Show!
One more from Outdated: Why Dating is Ruining Your Love Life by Samhita Mukhopadhyay for today! I swear!
Chapter 5 discusses single women. I personally have never been a single woman which is something I have had to analyze because my strong need to be in a relationship is closely linked to why the idea “settling” is so horrible.
Outdated, in a section called “Single Women Are Too Picky”, looks at how stupid self help books are telling women that settling is better than being single. The book specifically referenced is called Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough by Lori Gottlieb. From the brief summary of Gottlieb’s book by Outdated I gather that this book tells women to get out of their own way. lower their standards and accept a guy as is. I know that at times we can all have unrealistic expectations on our partners (media is not helping us with this) but to settle is a horrible thing to do.
If I had settled, for fear of being single, here are a types of guys I would have found myself with:
- Being with a partner who had horrible drug and alcohol habits.
- Being with a partner who controlled essentially all aspects of my live.
- Being with a partner who was emotionally and psychology abusive.
- Being with a partner who was seeing other women.
- Being with a partner who could not support me with my mental health.
- Being with a partner who did not have life aspirations that where similar to my own.
Many of my partner’s told me that I was all they’ll ever get, that they’ll never find anyone who treats me better, that I’m good for nothing. But guess what? I found someone who gives me everything I need plus things I didn’t know I needed.
We should never settle for less! Settling for a person could be extremely dangerous and it would be much better to be alone then to have to listen to someone who says they love you call you names or physically hurt you.
DO NOT SETTLE!
I’m on a section in Outdated: Why Dating is Ruining your Love Life that is talking about chivalry and how it should be dead. Chivalry is the nice expectation that men should do things for women (ie: pay for a meal, hold open a door etc). There is of course nothing wrong with men paying for a meal or holding open doors but it’s the expectation that is damaging to both men and women because it is rooted in sexism.
The author, Samhita Mukhopadhyay, is saying that romance is alive and well in the queer community (which does not surprised me) but that the gender expectations are not there. When a person in the LGBT community acts out a normally gendered stereotype, such as various acts of chivalry, they can do so with a freedom that straight couples do not get too.
I’m very curious. My LGBT followers and readers, are there no gender expectations in your relationships or how does this all play out?
I know in my relationship (straight) we’ll both old open doors for each other, both will pay for meals or pay for our own but I do know that there are times when he takes pride in being able to provide for me and where I enjoy it. This of course isn’t bad but rooted in gender stereotypes of men being the provider and women sitting there looking pretty.
A friend of mine lent me her copy of Outdated: Why Dating is Ruining your Love Life by Samhhita Mukhopadhyay. I’m only on the first chapter and already I have more insight into my past and current dating experiences than I ever.
Outdated first speaks about how it appears impossible for feminist women to be able to navigate romantic relationships because there is not model for how feminism would work in said relationship. Feminism is currently being used incorrectly and being blamed for ruining relationships but that is not actually true. Many believe that feminism is encouraging women to not date or marry, that’s it’s all about the “independent women”. True but nothing is ever that simple. Feminists want love and relationships too. Outdated blames the gender roles that are pushed on men and women, followed by the romance industry and government legislation are the culprits for romantic relationships of any kind being difficult.
Gender Roles: It is was dictates everything. Gender roles in relationships tell us what men and women are supposed to be doing in order to be happy (it’s all lies by the way). For example: men should be the breadwinners and women the homemakers. Not following what your gender role tells you to do is believed to lead to chaos and the ultimate break up of your relationship. For some, stereotypical male and female gender roles may work but Outdated (and myself) would argue that majority of us end up suffering, staying in poor relationships longer than we should because we are trying to be someone we are not in order to find love.
Romance Industry: This industry enforces gender roles. What motivated the author of Outdated to write the book was because she found all women’s “self help” love books to be focused on what is wrong with us, women, and how we can fix ourselves to become a “man whisperer”. This is where “that girl” comes in. No woman wants to be “that girl”. Outdated uses The Needy Girl and The Bitch as examples of “types” of women these “self help” books say women should avoid being (ie: telling us to ignore that our partner doesn’t keep us posted on events in their life or else we’ll seem needy and controlling). These books, that claim to be able to help people find love, want us to repress what we personally want from relationships (ie: attention from our partner).
Government Legislation: There is nothing better than legalized sexism (sarcasm). It is in government legislation that we can really see not only gender but heternormativity (which in this case means straight, monogamous and married). Straight, monogamous, married couples are granted privileges that are denied cohabiting partners whether they be opposite or same sex (the details of this legislation depends on your country of residence). Privileges such as marriage, insurance coverage, ownership, separation etc are not given to most couples unless they are legally married. The government is dictating what types of relationships we can have which in turn can make us pursue relationships we do not want or not pursue relationships at all.
I can see how all of this played out in my life. Mostly when I was younger, and knew nothing of relationships, I put myself through a lot of pain because I wanted to be the perfect girlfriend. This usually meant that I ignored what I wanted and did what I thought would make the guy happy. I let a lot of things go, for example, not saying I felt ignored or that the relationship was unfair. I believe the perfect girlfriend let the guy decide things. Now I’m wondering what is my purpose in a relationship if I’m not an active participant in how it works? That’s not the relationship I want.
I was always worried about being labeled as “needy”, “crazy” or a “bitch”. No matter how hard I tried though I would end up being those things and it was probably because I was denying myself what would make me happy in a relationship.
How can we use feminism in our relationships? I think the first way of having feminism in your relationship is by not allowing gender roles to decide how your relationship works. I can’t speak for everyone but this is how I feel it’s playing out in mine.
I am with someone who has similar goals, values, morals and beliefs.
We support each other in our professional and creative endeavors.
We do not expect either of us to do certain things because of our identified gender.
We communicate about our needs and work through how to achieve them.
We accept each other as we are.
Still, Outdated is right, there is no framework for feminism and dating. There should be one but the most important thing is that you are in a relationship that is working for you. Only you and your partner(s) can decide how everything is going to work and that will actually change as your relationship changes.
I have a feeling this book is going to produce some great posts and hopefully great comments from all of you
Recently, actress Cameron Diaz (Charlie’s Angels, Shrek, There’s Something About Mary) stated:
“I think every woman does want to be objectified.”
Research has shown that objectification is extremely harmful to women. Type of “women objectification” into Google Scholar and you will find no shortage of studies that address the issue from a variety of angles.
After reading Diaz’s explanation I feel that she just used the wrong world to describe something I can stand behind.
No one wants to be an object but everyone wants to be appreciated. This obviously does not only include women but men as well. Objectification comes with disrespect whereas appreciation does include respect.
Currently, girls and women’s advocates are placing emphasis on intelligence, athletics, personality etc. instead of physical appearance. Rightly so! A problem with objectification is its sole dependence on one part of a woman and as we have seen that one part can be their physical appearance. But I think there is nothing wrong with wanting to be physically attractive.
Objectification is the wrong word. Objectification is dehumanizing.
Appreciation, for example, is what everyone should not only strive to achieve from others but also strive to give to others. I want to be attractive. I want to walk down the street and have people think I look good. This may be wearing jeans and a t-shirt or a tight fitting dress. I want my physical appearance to be appreciated.
In my 4th year of university I took a sociology course called Images of Inequality in the Media. during the class where we were looking at how women (in particular racialized women) are portrayed in film my professor asked the women in the class, “Raise your hand if you wear make up for yourself.” Many of my female classmates raised their hand. I did not. I knew what he was getting at and I agreed with him. The professor proceeded to tell my classmates that they were lying to themselves. One female classmate tried to fight him on this, saying that makeup makes her feel good and that she would wear make up even if she wasn’t going out that day (therefore she does it for herself). The professor told her that makeup advertisements tell women that buying and wearing their product will make them feel good, make them feel “more like women” and empower us.
I personally acknowledge I used to wear makeup to be attractive to men. I am wearing less make up the past few months because I feel more confident in my appearance. Men don’t usually wear make up on the same scale as women so why should I?
Back to my point though, there is really nothing wrong with make up, with revealing clothing and wanting to be physically attractive. What is wrong is what we believe all of that means. It is that idea the needs to change. We are a society of band aids solutions. It is easier to blame external things such as tight clothing than it is to blame the internal oppressive discourse that is everywhere in our society (I in no way think that both of these things exist independently of each other, they very much help each other along).
Objectification is oppressive and damages women and men. Appreciate someone’s intelligence, athleticism, personality and appearance. We are whole people and we have many great things to offer.
At first she tried to tell me that the boy was mine. We both knew I was sterile. “God has cured you,” she said through tears. I just stared at her. She tried again. “Our prayers have been answered!” “I haven’t been praying.” I replied, my voice cold. She sighed, wiped away her tears and explained what happened. The boy is not my child.
When the girl came she at least didn’t pretend. “This is how it is supposed to be.” I didn’t believe her but I nodded anyway. The girl is not my child.
Every year she begs me to take these pictures to celebrate another year of school beginning. A proud father; I play the role well. They are not even my children. Damn my Catholic faith! Damn it to hell! I should have divorced her for her adultery but the priest babbled on about a man’s duty as a husband and a Catholic. They are not even my children.
I am a believer that men and women can be friends with no sex involved.
This was an issue that I fought with in majority of my relationships. My partners did not think it was possible for me to be just friends with the guys I knew. When I say fought I mean fought! There would be screaming matches, threats, coercion, and eventual breakups.
While I will always believe that it is possible for men and women to be only friends I’m becoming more and more disappointed as the years go on to see that my guy friends appear to be incapable of doing so.
I hate that I seem to be able to look at a guy and say, “He is my friend.” but that guy is saying, “She is my friend and I want to have sex with her.”
So I can be just friends but no guy can?
This isn’t fair.