This is going to be a kind of response post to last night’s double posting by FCM and S4!
LOVED the post! Loved the collaboration!
As I’m feeling inspired, I want to delve deeper into the subject abandoned mental asylums because I’ve just finished reading “The Female Malady: Women, Madness and English Culture 1830- 1980) by Elaine Showalter. It is excellent.
Though Elaine Showalter does butter up the patriarchy to a certain extent by pretending to be interested in the life stories of some male psychiatrists,( which I thought was an excellent, cunning ploy and a good way of going about getting the real nitty gritty stuff about women published) this is most definitely a radical feminist book. An angry radical feminist book.
In one chapter, she hurls her rage at patriarchy and lists victim after female victim; then suddenly in the next chapter she is musing about the upbringing of some psychiatrist or other, which she must know is unimportant and irrelevant. But as I say, the whole thing is cleverly done. Rarely can you access female rage in writing because that type of work doesn’t get published. FCM brought this up in a blog post once: about how radfem writers tend to omit or obscure information and it’s up to us to put the jigsaw pieces together.
Life in the P is indeed a horror show. There are so many things to blog about every day, but I don’t, generally, blog anymore. What about the recent spate of girls killing other girls in Japan, in particular the 15 year old motherless teen who beheaded her best friend in the city of Sasebo (very close to me, btw). The girl’s mother had died of cancer (apparently) a year earlier and she was living alone. Sasebo had already made headlines in 2004 when an elementary schoolgirl stabbed her classmate to death.
If you walked past the house where the girl had killed her friend, you would still get the same creepy feeling of dread and horror that you get when you look at images of abandoned mental asylums, wouldn’t you? The patriarchal tentacles had reached her.
But the evil in mental asylums is multiplied a thousandfold because the atrocities were/are strategic, planned and SOCIALLY AND LEGALLY LEGITIMIZED. And therein lies the difference, and the real horror, I think. I am NOT defending what she did (!), but who knows what kind of predators a fifteen year old living completely alone was having to deal with, and who knows what men had been doing to her. What she did was extraordinarily unnatural.
I want to touch on a point that WordWoman made in the comments at Radical Resolution because she mentioned that the internet itself is like an insane asylum. I concur. And life itself is like living in an insane asylum too.
S4 mentioned overwork and asylum inmates or patients being worked to death. Well, this is a pretty common way to die in Japan, and I’ve given up defending this place on cultural grounds by now. I had a nervous breakdown about 2 years ago and one of the contributing factors was that no matter how hard I worked, how tired I was, how much money I brought in, the people around me (husband, mother in law, father in law, in laws in general) redefined that work as… “nothing”. I kept getting told that I was doing “nothing”.
It’s one thing to be worked like a horse, and quite another to be told you’re doing nothing as you’re doing it. I’ve learned that “Karoushi”, death by overwork, is indeed a thing. It’s pretty commonplace for people to just be worked to death. For example, when a person qualifies as a chef, it is common for them to be given 23 hour shifts. Those who don’t drop dead might be one of the 30,000 people per year who commit suicide. Suicides have exceeded 30, 000 a year in Japan, every year, for thirteen years. Which is more than creepy, when you think about it. I would be interested to know if it was mainly women who were ordered to do 23 hour shifts upon qualifying in their respective skill sets. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was. Telling someone they’re not working, when they’re dropping from exhaustion is a pretty creative form of torture, don’t you think? Looking back, it was totally deliberate gas-lighting.
So some countries don’t have creepy mental asylums because the whole place is one. A siren in my city wakes everyone up at 7am, rings again at 5pm so that the housewives begin preparing dinner and the children go home from the parks, then rings one more time at 9pm so that everyone knows its bedtime. This is some seriously insane shit that I am dealing with. Is this why the scariest and creepiest horror movies all originate in Japan?
More on the feeling that you’re living in a mental asylum. Have you ever been to a restaurant or cafe run by men (which I probably shouldn’t do, but sometimes I do if it’s cheap) only for them to be polite at first, then become gradually cold towards you the more you visit, until finally they show you contempt or hostility? Capitalism takes a backseat to patriarchy– capitalists know that patriarchy is the bedrock of capitalism so they would happily lose money in order to uphold the status quo. Anyway, what does this have to do with asylums? Well, it’s the sense of unreality I get when it dawns on me that I’m getting the cold-shoulder. Here are the servers, the barristas, smiling.They pretend they’re there to serve food… but in fact that’s not what they’re doing, it seems. They’re there to watch and judge. And they REALLY don’t like serving a woman food on a regular basis because that goes against the order of things.
The idea that women can ease the impact of misogyny by spending money is one of The Biggest Lies out there. Men remind women of their place, constantly. I guess, my point is, men are insane, and they own and control places like cafes and pretend that they’re just offering the service of making your coffee for you. Of course, you could buy your way in to their cafe by turning on your sexuality, simpering and smiling at them, or wearing pink perhaps. Then you’d probably get a pass to drink and eat there for another six months. But be aware that your money alone is certainly not good enough. And sooner or later men let you know that THEY are not there to serve the likes of YOU.
I thought FCM’s point about those abandoned mental asylums being a sign of men’s lack of foresight and planning and also of their wastefulness in general was excellent. My thoughts on it are this:
Women think differently from men. Let me give an example. Men are against abortion because they envisage themselves as the foetus. As they fight to save the foetus, they feel they are saving themselves from annihilation.
Women don’t imagine themselves as foetuses, nor do they put themselves in the foetus’s shoes. Neither do they feel that they must prevent women from having abortions in order to prevent annihilation of their own kind. But this is what men think. They don’t like abortion, because women might abort a boy. That’s the entire sum of the pro-life movement…
Well… I don’t think the male stance on abortion is ENTIRELY arbitrary. I think it’s connected to the fact that men are accidents, flukes and mutants (LITERALLY mutants, as WhenWomenWereWarriors and TrustYourPerceptions eloquently point out on their blogs, using science to back this statement). Their existence is precarious in a way that women’s is not. Men’s testerical response to abortion runs deeper than the mere desire to control women. Men each feel they might be the second-to-last generation on earth.
Men are also just laughing in glee at the fact that for so long now they’ve been managing to convince women to keep reproducing the new generation, when they know their time is up, and has been for some time. I absolutely believe this is connected to the fact that men build things “for this generation only” without any long-term planning. And that they spend lots of resources on completely useless things. All of their behaviour shouts that they’re on their way out and they know it.
Well, in The Female Malady, you learn a lot about the procedures used on wayward women, and one of the most notorious ones, of course, was lobotomy. After reading that book, and being reminded of how much men hate us, it got me wondering why they don’t simply lobotomize all females and be done with it. But women have to be sentient beings for any of this to be any fun to men at all.
Although the act of lobotomizing a woman in itself is no doubt delicious fun for men, after that, she is somewhat immune to their torture. Eva Peron, who devoted her life to women’s suffrage, was lobotomized to “cure cervical cancer” even though the brain is nowhere near the cervix, and the “cure” didn’t work anyway, because it wasn’t supposed to, and she died two months after the lobotomy. Taking out the brain of a strong female political leader is but one way of destroying her. Google Evita, one of the strongest feminist leaders there has even been and you actually find photographs of her, sitting in a hospital bed, post lobotomy with her long hair flowing down her back, and a silly smile on her face. If that’s not a blatant warning to all women then I don’t know what is. That’s men’s not-so-subtle reminder to us that they don’t just kill women who do not comply, they DESTROY them first.
Images from The Female Malady
And a couple of quotes:
“When they stopped torturing and killing witches, they locked people with special capacities into lunatic asylums and told them they were freaks, and forced them into conformity by varieties of torture which included electric shocks, solitary confinement, ice baths, and forcible feeding. They used every kind of degradation, moral and physical. As the methods of society for control and manipulation became more refined, it was discovered that the extremities of physical violence were less effective than drugs, which deprived the victims of their moral stamina and ability to fight back; and more effective than the drugs were techniques of persuasion and brainwashing. By these means the members of the population with capacities above normal…were systematically destroyed, either by fear…or by classing them with the congenitally defective.”
What [Florence] Nightingale had said about fasting girls could also be applied to anorexia. When only the body was regarded as important, anorexic girls paraded physical starvation as a way of drawing attention to the starvation of the mental and moral faculties. The portrait of the anorexic painted by Darwinian psychiatry is paradoxically that of the self-sacrificing Victorian heroine. Refusing to eat, she acted out the most extreme manifestation of the feminine role, flaunting her martyrdom, literally turning herself into a “little” woman….T. Clifford Allbutt described the typical anorexic as a young woman “of ardent and self-forgetful nature” and he noted that “happily there are many such.” Despite the fact that at the limits of self-starvation her clothes were hanging on her body, her pulse was slow, her menstrual periods had stopped, her hair was “like that of a corpse dry and lustreless, her face and limbs ashy and cold, [and] her hollow eyes the only vivid thing about her,” the ardent anorexic continued her hectic round of feminine duties, attending “mother’s meetings,” sewing dresses for her little sisters, and persisting in various activities that Allbut praised as “unselfish effort.”
All of it. All of this.. is Halloween. And yet.. Perhaps what you feel when you’re frightened of a place is not the evil of the men, most of whom are still alive, but the anger of the dead women. Japanese horror stories definitely reflect a fear of women coming back to haunt society.This theme even turns up in children’s cartoons. In a popular current animation, an old woman is walking alone in the forest, a man picks her up in his car because it’s raining. It turns out she is the ghost of a woman who was forsaken by the townspeople and was turned away when begging for food for her grandchild. The child dies in her arms (a bit heavy for a kids cartoon, I thought) and then she dies. She walks the earth seeking revenge on the town.
Men are spiritually dead, this we know. So the thought of being haunted by women doesn’t bother them whatsoever and yet… aren’t they trying to exorcize their deeds in some way when they make horror stories and haunted houses and movies and animation cartoons for children based on female revenge?
To conclude this post, how about this for a Halloween story.
Two nights ago I was woken in the night by a cry. I sleep quite deeply these days, so I was surprised to find myself waking up in the night. It was a child’s voice crying, “Mummy… Mummy” quite loudly and it was coming from outside. I assumed it was my son because (don’t ask me why), the voice felt instinctively male. A small five year old boy. I wondered what on earth my boy was doing outside at this time of night. Had he got lost? I sleep next door to him, so I stumbled into his bedroom, felt his fouton.. and yet he was there sleeping soundly.
The voice persisted. My husband sleeps in the same room as my son. He woke up. I said, “Can you hear that voice? It’s so strange” My husband replied with, “It’s (our son’s name) isn’t it? Why is he outside?”
I said, “He’s not.. look he’s here in bed..”
The voice persisted, clearly and loudly. I said, “Okay, I’m going down to see if he’s allright”
Then my HUSBAND said… “No, don’t! It’s scary, don’t you think?”
And I got what he meant straight away. I had already opened the window to try and see down on the street, but as soon as my husband uttered those words, “Don’t go. It’s scary”, I knew what he meant. The whole thing was just too strange and weird. Upon my husband’s words, the voice immediately stopped.
I went back to bed in the next room but I called to my husband, saying, “Why was he shouting “Mummy”, why not “Mamma”? Why didn’t we hear his mother come and get him just before he stopped crying.”
The next morning I said to my husband, “It was strange that voice last night, wasn’t it?”
And he looked at me mockingly, sneeringly (in his usual way) and said something like, “Ha! Why? Did you think it was a ghost..?”
I found it quite revealing that my husband was the first out of the two of us to imagine that there was something supernatural there. It actually never crossed my mind until he said it, and I’ve got no idea what to think about this incident, only to say that… the thought of ghosts coming back for revenge does play on male minds.
I’m not a particularly spiritual person and I don’t believe in god, of course. But I do wonder about the spirit of women and children, and of nature. If something similar to a spiritual world does exist, and S4 touched upon this thought in her post, then men are surely in for a reckoning.
So I’ll leave you with that thought.
P.S That wasn’t such a coherent post. It was drummed up in less than an hour. But I certainly enjoyed writing it! Hope you got something out of it.