Sexism In The Yellow Wallpaper, By Charlotte Perkins Gilman

1163 Words 5 Pages
When discussing gender roles or feminism in literary works, several would tend to gravitate to the idea of gender focusing solely on the plight of women. However, feminism and the restrictive power of gender roles heavily affect men as well. The dynamic of people believing sexism to only influence women is intriguingly played out in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story “The Yellow Wallpaper.” Many of the analyses I’ve read explain how Gilman’s story shows societal pressures affecting women during that time and how they still have an impact on us today. While this popular theory is evident to be true, even by Gilman’s own admission, I would challenge this idea and push to say that while, yes, “The Yellow Wallpaper” does enlighten us to the …show more content…
In “The Yellow Wallpaper,” John seems not far from a “crummy guy” in this scenario. If readers were to point a finger at who contributed to the narrator’s mental down-spiral, John would be the convicted party. However, John is also held back by societal standards and gender roles. Throughout the story, we espy the narrator being coddled and babied by John. What kind of marriage is this? Surely this can’t be pleasing for John, needing to feel as though he is always taking care of his wife as if he were taking care of a child. “And dear John gathered me up in his arms, and just carried me upstairs and laid me on the bed, and sat by me and read to me till it tired my head.” (Gilman 785M). This is something a parent would do for a child. John neglects to view this marriage as a partnership, but as a babysitting job. How can this be romantically pleasing in any way? By pressuring women to stay under the thumb of men (so to say) men are being pressured to try and control women. How tiring it must have been needing to always be in control, for your masculinity to constantly be threatened. During the time of “The Yellow Wallpaper” and today, men are constantly being called derogatory names that equate them with women. “Be a man,” “Man up,” “You fight like a girl,” and, my personal favorite, “You’re such a pussy!” John is simply trying to hold onto …show more content…
I contend, though, that John doesn 't wish to watch his wife grow ill, but that as a prominent physician and person who also lives under societal pressures, John suffered as his wife suffered. John also might have truly believed that his wife was suffering and needed bed rest, as was custom. Even if he did not believe in the rest cure, innumerable people would doubt John as a man and doctor if he was to deny a cure that was so scientifically backed at the time. Although I grant that the narrator certainly has the worst deal in this story, I still maintain that John undergoes intense pressure

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