Women Who Defied Gender Roles Were Once Imprisoned in Asylums
Are you a woman who cares about following her dreams, not toeing the line? Do you speak your mind? Do you not feel particularly inclined to obey your husband or father in every little matter, agree with all of their ideas about religion or educating your kids, look meek, and behave “properly” at all times? Society always throws up a lot of roadblocks for women who want to break from oppressive gender norms — but women in the 19th century who spoke up and pushed back against sexist oppression faced a distinctly awful possibility: being locked away in mental institutions, which at the time were generally known as “asylums.”
No, sadly, I’m not kidding; a unique and awful combination of misogynistic ideas about women’s minds, concern about “moral contagion,” and a lack of real knowledge about mental health led to thousands of women being imprisoned in asylums (with many famous ones among them, including Lincoln’s widow, Mary Todd Lincoln) — for reasons that these days would barely raise an eyebrow.
I suggest watching the movie: The Changling