Thefight to women ‘s rights and equality Equalityis about treating everyone equally, no matter their race, religion and genderthey should have an opportunity to do anything they want. The Declaration ofIndependence is a historical document written by Thomas Jefferson to freeAmerica from Great Britain and declare our rights and freedom as Americans.”Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” and “All men are created equal,”(Jefferson) was a phrase in the Declaration of Independence that started a lotof conflict. This made Americans question if this document actually benefit allAmericans. In “The Declaration of sentiments” by Elizabeth Stanton talk aboutfrom a women’s point of view of the equality they had and freedom, which wasnot much.
We cannot have both freedom and equality simultaneously. The document “Declaration ofSentiments” by Elizabeth Cady Stanton was written for the women’s rightsconvention at Seneca Falls in 1848. This document was signed by 68 women and 32men; this was the beginning of the women’s rights movement (Hillinger). Thisdocument explains how women aren’t treated as equals like men were.
Stantonalso started her document as “We hold the truths to be self-evident that allmen and women are created equal” (Hillinger), just like Thomas Jefferson did inthe Declaration of Independence. It lists accusations towards men and how womenhad few legal rights and no career opportunities. By mimicking the Declarationof Independence, Stanton wanted to express to the men that women deserve thesame rights, including the right to own a home, a business, vote and earnwages. She shows that even though Americans are free, women were not consideredequals proving that equality and freedom can’t be put together. Women have strived to take a standagainst prejudice and embrace the values of American freedom and equalitythrough decades but the male gender always finds a way to make women think thatthey are beneath them. The Story “The Yellow Wallpaper” by CharlottePerkins Gilman is about a woman who has been confined to a room by herphysician husband who believes she suffers from depression, when she isactually suffering from postpartum depression. She becomes obsessed with theyellow wallpaper that surrounds her in the room, and engages in some crazyimaginations towards the wallpaper. Gillman talks about and explains how thewoman’s mind gets raveled up through the wallpaper and the experience she goesthrough under her husband supervision.
This story is portraying the oppressionof the women in the 19th century, and how they felt dominated bymen, as well as controlled by them (Lockwood). This story represents the waywomen were treated in society. The story shows a lot of symbolism due to thisconflict such as the house, the window, and the wallpaper.
The house is symbolizingthe way the main character is feeling trapped because the house is not her ownand she does not want to be in it. Although she acknowledges the presence ofthe house and what surrounds it, she constantly goes back to her feeling thatthere is something strange about the house. The window becomes the view thatshe despises, because she sees all that she could be and everything she canhave.
“I don’t like to look out of the windows even there are so many of thosecreeping women, and they creep so fast. I wonder if they all came out of thatwall-paper as I did?” (Gilman 802). She starts seeing women creeping on thewindow and she does not want to see them anymore, because she knows that theyare a reflection of her. The women who were creeping are actually portrayingher, but she’s making up a whole imagination in her head that she has freedthem when she tore down the wallpaper. Gillman makes us realize the connectionthat the tearing down of the yellow wallpaper is an escape from the insanesociety women were living in (Quawas). The Yellow Wallpaper plays the roles inher life, one being able to trap her literally but the other sets her free. Stripping the wallwas a first step toward redecoration, the women wanted toreplace the yellow paper with another pattern, which will allowher to work (Kunin). Since back then woman weren’t able to work like men,Gillman’s character in the story is showing that by her redecorating is givingher joy, and growth just like a normal human being (Kunin).
By day the YellowWallpaper plays a site of movement in her life through out the story, hergrowth, success and distraction. By night it becomes some type of bars, likeimprisonment. (Kunin) Gilman’s story goes back to how marriage was portrayedback in that time. Women would have to rely on their husbands for everything. Herhusband John would treat her like a child, and would never call her by her namesaying things like “my little girl”, “blessed little goose” and “bless herlittle heart… she shall be as sick as she pleases! But now let’s improve theshining hours by going to sleep, and talk about it in the morning!” (Gilman798). This childlike treatment of her, and her misdiagnosis, is the cause ofher insanity. Her husband was a representation of masculinity during the 19thcentury and how women were devoted to their husbands (Quawas). By the husbandnot calling her by her name, was a way of her not having an identity forherself, the husband was the one who would label her however he wanted whichgave him a power over her.
Gillman’s story focused more on women’s struggle ofindividuality and independence. In the passage “Why I wrote the YellowWallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, she talks about how important “TheYellow Wallpaper” is to her and how she can relate to it from different angles.Gilman suffered from a severe and continuous nervous breakdown tending tomelancholia for many years (Gilman 804).
She was married but from the beginningshe knew something wasn’t right. (Charlotte) Her illness became worst after shegave birth. During the third year she went to see a specialist in nervousdiseases named Silas Weir Mitchell. He recommended her to go on ‘rest cure’,which was a treatment where you’re isolated from your family and friends forsix to eight weeks, have a specific diet, and massage your muscles (Blackie). Afterdoing everything the doctor told her, her condition just got worst and italmost drove her into borderline of utter mental ruin. (Gilaman 804) Shestopped everything and went back to living her normal life which she meant’working’. Work is a source of freedom for women; it’s like a privilege, sinceback in time that was one of the big things women couldn’t do at one point. Nowin time women who go on maternity leave, they leave work for about a few monthsor just a couple of weeks and then go right back to work.
Gillman showed us thenarrator’s insanity as a form of rebellion against the medical practices andthe political policies that have kept women out of the professions, denied themtheir political rights, and kept them under male control in the family and thestate (Quawas). Gilman wanted to change the mindset of anyone who was readingher story, from family roles to even medicine. Gilman wrote “The YellowWallpaper” mostly pointed towards her specialist and how she felt that peopleneeded to know her story, also for her readers to change their lives and tolook closely at martial inequality (Quawas). Even though we have freedom, equality issomething that will never work with it.
They contradict each other in too manyoccasions. The Declaration of Independence created many arguments in regard howpeople were affected. Stanton showed her view in her document and how women arejust as human as the white man and should have a right to freedom and equality.In the article, “Freedom or Equality? You can’t have Both!” in the Escapist byXanthious says “if America is truly a free nation, there will certainly beinequality…Freedom allows us to have the opportunity to improve ourselves andas a result become ‘better,’ making us no longer equal with other” (Xanthious).What Xanthious is trying to say that depending on your social class is howyou’re going to get treated. For example a homeless person is not going to gettreated the same way as a rich person. Or a Woman who wants to play baseballwon’t be treated equally. Although we are all different, we should all have theopportunity to pursue our own lives.
To this day equality and freedom can’tco-exist with each other, because there is still so much discrimination in thisworld. The meaning for equality will continue to change throughout the years.Hopefully one day we can have both freedom and equality. Work CitedBlackie,Michael. “Reading the Rest Cure.” TheArizona Quarterly 60.2(2004): 57-85.
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