Throughout history upper class women have demonstrated their status through self mutilation- either physical or mental as a means of demonstrating their superior status. This is always most marked in societies where a sizable minority were able to live without doing any sort of productive work. Self crippling 'works' as a status symbol because it demonstrates that the women who engages upon it is one of the few in her society who can make it through life in this crippled state because no work will ever be required of her.
One of the best known examples of this is the binding of women's feet in China. This was only found among upper class women and was a way of telling the world that she would never have to do any work.
In present day African tribal societies we see women who are unable to walk due to forced feeding. We also see plate lipped women and women with stretched necks that can no longer hold their heads upright without artificial support. This extreme form of body modification seems to be associated with static societies with fixed class systems. We see less extreme versions in our own culture but the class content remains the same. The higher we go within our own society the more women modify their bodies. Nevertheless the daughter of a dot com millionaire could never indulge herself to the same extent as an European aristocrat (some of whom had ribs removed - without anaesthetic! This is because her family has probably come from nothing and may return there at any time.
It is interesting that when Mao outlawed the binding of feet it was part of a campaign to outlaw class privilege and not to defend women from the evil Patriarchs as is commonly believed.
In Europe we saw the rise of a hereditary aristocracy and with it a new wave of self crippling. No privileged lady would ever leave the home unless there was a gentleman on hand with his smelling salts. She would hide from the sun to preserve her pale skin (which carried status because it proved she did not work in the fields like the majority of women in this period). From time to time she would pass out and a gentleman would revive her.
By the late Victorian period there was a great medical debate about the supposed super fragility of women. One school of thought believed that the womb moved about of its own accord. Another believed that the cause was a psychological disturbance also coming from the womb (the origin of the word Hysteria). Strangely, neither group seemed to notice that only women of a particular class were affected. It was common for working class women to work in mines during this period without fainting fits or the 'vapors' as they were sometimes called. Mining was more demanding work in 1850 than it is today- and yet women are now banned from mining as it is too demanding. Are we to assume that women have become more fragile in the last century and a half- or have women realised that fragility pays?
As society has developed, self crippling has taken different forms- and has gradually worked its way down the social scale with increasing prosperity. In 1800 self crippling was limited to a tiny minority or aristocrats. By 1900 we had fainting daughters of industrialists. By 1920 the self crippling craze had reached the upper middle class. This was the age of Psychoanalysis which allowed anyone with money it to spend years in introspection and recovery. We see from Freud's casebooks that the majority of his cases were wealthy young women with too little to do. One male patient was sent to Vienna train station to carry bags for passengers there. This helped his mental state greatly as it took him outside of himself and made him realise that life was bigger than himself. Unfortunately female patients did not get the same excellent advice. Perhaps Freud believed that it was more normal for women to obsess upon themselves than it is for men.
From the 1920's to now we see the relentless rise of therapy and pop psychology- particularly for women. Where women were previously physically self crippled they now engage in a form of psychological self crippling. These women are always in recovery from something- and yet they never leave it entirely behind.
Therapy has a degree of status among women. Nearly all women in our culture aspire to it. Those on low income will read about themselves in women's magazines with names such as 'Self' and 'Woman'. Those who can afford a therapist will do so.
We would expect the mental health of the nation to increase with all the attention placed upon it but the opposite is happening. All the indicators of unhappiness are increasing. Suicide, clinical depression and irrational killing sprees are all increasing more or less in line with our interest in ourselves.
It seems that self crippling has finally reached working class women. In 1800, only an aristocrats wife could be fragile and neurotic. By 1920, middle class housewives could discuss and compare their neurosis with one another at dinner parties. Now everyone is in recovery.
Women have become so desperate for something to recover from that they have taken to inventing them. About one in twenty believe they have been abducted and sexually molested by aliens. We have also seen a revival of the medieval myth of the Incubus- a nocturnal rape demon. Another big growth area is the Illuminati who are believed to be breeding brainwashed sex slaves.
Belief in any of these things confer all of the benefits of self crippling upon the believer. They absolve her of personal responsibility and they also demonstrate her status to other women. Only a wealthy women can pay for a hypnotist to recover these supposed memories and therefore childhood trauma has become a sort of status symbol.
Self crippling can be expressed through clothing as well as artificially created mental limitations. Much of women's fashion seems designed to limit her mobility. Some high heeled shoes are nearly as effective in making it painful to walk as foot binding. Extended fingernails also make it impossible to operate a computer or carry out many other everyday tasks. Fashionable female clothing is generally restrictive of movement and has no pockets. This makes it impossible for her to carry money on a date and ensures she will not have to!
Nevertheless, women in Western culture have generally chosen to cripple themselves mentally rather than physically. The greatest of all these artificial disabilities is feminism.
Feminism offers victim hood to the masses. A hundred years ago, only the wealthy could be oppressed by their childhood trauma. Now every women can be oppressed! We have already seen that every woman will cripple herself if she can afford to do so!!
This form of self crippling has status because it is seen as middle class thing- and makes the women practically unemployable. This may seem to be a disadvantage until we remember the bound foot women of China. They demonstrated status through their inability to work. The modern feminist does the same by taking a degree in Women's studies that reduces her value to an employer. The woman from an unprivileged background therefore cannot be a feminist because she is forced to learn something useful out of necessity. In this way feminism has come to signify high status and privilege despite its destructive nature. A present day woman comes to feminism in exactly the same way that a Chinese woman once decided to bind her feet. She is exchanging utility for status. Feminism is a sort of binding of the brain.