Kimmel, it is gender inequality, rather than gender differences that is the cause of gender differences in men and women. And gender inequality is caused from the earliest age on depending on the specific country and age that we live in. Kimmel is not even sure whether gender inequality, does not exist today. It is thought that it has vanished, yet in many areas, it still seems to be flourishing.
Each of the stories presented illustrate Kimmel's theme and indicate how gender inequality is a substance that has been socially created during a specific epoch and in a special place.
In the "Yellow Wallpaper" (Stetson), you have the horrific story of a woman who became senile due to the way her husband and caretakers treated her. She hated the room, hated the bondage, and hated her 'liberty'. She wanted to write; wanted different furnishings; wanted to get out; wanted to be with her child. Yet her husband -- the all-wise physician -- persisted in treating her in a certain way, calling her 'gosling' and 'little girl' and insisting that writing would be damaging to her health:
If a physician of high standing, and one's own husband, assures friends and relatives that there is really nothing the matter with one but temporary nervous depression -a slight hysterical tendency -what is one to do?
My brother is also a physician, and also of high standing, and he says the same thing. Personally, I disagree with their ideas. Personally, I believe that congenial work, with excitement and change, would do me good. But what is one to do? (648)
The woman believes that her husband knows what is right… She believes that he cares for her... There may be something wrong with her… All that she can do is fret that she cannot actualize her responsibilities:
I meant to be such a help to John, such a real rest and comfort, and here I am a comparative burden already! Nobody would believe what an effort it is to do what little I am able, -to dress and entertain, and order things. (648)
The woman, brought up in a certain way, treated in a certain way, cannot see beyond that. That is her social reality. In the end, to escape her constraining reality, she creeps into the wallpaper until the women entombed in the wallpaper come alive and she rips the paper to pieces (isn't there a metaphor here?).
The man, brought up in the same society, perceives his wife as more object than wife, possessing a superficial, 'feathery' brain and equipped to serve him. (Much of this reminds me of Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, and Freud's perception of women). His perception of women, in turn, came from a western society with a long history of gender perceptions that arguably stemmed from the Church ( MacHaffie, 2006).
There is the demarcation too between intuition and mysticism, something that society, perhaps erroneously, alleges that women possess to a greater extent than men whilst men are supposed to be 'rational'. This again could be a social construction and leads to males urging their perspective as correct and that of the female as endearing but foolish since his is rational, whilst that of the woman's is unfounded:
John is practical in the extreme. He has no patience with faith, an intense horror of superstition, and he scoffs openly at any talk of things not to be felt and seen and put down in figures. (647)
This excuse leads him -- for society tells him that he is correct in doing so -- to disbelieve the woman. In the end, the woman shows him that he is the one who has been mistaken. Not only has she been ill, but her illness could have been prevented from the very beginning had her husband treated her in a different way. Had he only perceived her and her statements in a different, more credulous manner, her slide into insanity could have as easily been prevented.
The story ends on a metaphorical note: the man faints and the woman continues here creeping behavior around the room, creeping even over her husband's body as she does so. She has now entered her own world, has found her freedom, is away from social constraints and even though lay in her path, she crept over him.
In a less malignant and far more endearing way, but, nonetheless, still filled with stereotypes, the other anecdote…