Sleep Fictions: A Digital Companion


In “When I Was a Witch,” Gilman categorizes horses as a contributor to the social good, dogs as a source of misdirected human energy (their owners spend their days fretting over them), and cats, who never stop begging and mewing, as a mere drain on humanity’s collective energy. This typology also applies to human groups, as Gilman observes in her essay "Studies in Social Pathology"*: “One of the simplest processes of social replenishment is that which goes on unconsciously between individuals. We all know the difference between people who tire us, people who rest us, and people who strengthen and exhilarate us." She argues that women should not allow domestic ideals to shut them off from a stratified society. Instead, they must restrict their communal ties to relationships from which they can draw strength and social autonomy. Just a few pages later, the article entitled “The Sanctity of Human Life”** goes a step further by highlighting the dangers of allowing “hideous degeneracy” to go unchecked: "Human life is sacred, far too sacred to be allowed to fall into hideous degeneracy. If we had a proper regard for human life we should take instant measures to check the supply of feeble-minded and defective persons, and further measures to prevent the reproduction of such unfortunates."


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