The Changeling

I rarely post twice in one day, but sometimes the urge strikes.

We just finished watching the movie, The Changeling, (a true story) with Angelina Jolie. Jolie plays Christine Collins, a woman who refused to accept what she was told to accept and refused to say what she was told to say in the nineteen-twenties. As a result, she wound up in a psychiatric hospital, declared unstable as punishment for her non-compliance to men in authority. While in the hospital, she discovered other women who had been declared insane for refusing to comply with the status quo and for standing up to powerful men. It reminded me of this quote:

"Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity."

I watched this movie because, while discussing my book with a friend last Sunday, he asked if I had seen it and suggested I should rent it. I knew very little about the movie and was curious as to why he brought it up in connection to my book. But since he did, I was curious enough to rent and watch it.

As John and I watched this film, the aspect of the story that resonated with me most was the way the male authorities tried to silence the woman (who was telling the truth) by suggesting instability. I have experienced something personally that is so similar, yet I don't remember mentioning it specifically to this friend. During that part of the movie, I looked at John and said, "I didn't even tell Chuck about what has been said about me, did I?" He said he didn't think so.

Without going into the details, suffice it to say that it has been suggested to people -- by someone wanting to discredit me -- that I am and always have been emotionally unstable. By my own admission, I am an emotional and a sensitive person. But I am not, nor have I ever been, emotionally unstable.

I sincerely wondered: Does this person really think that because I am emotional in the way I express myself that I'm truly unstable or was this just a manipulative, underhanded way of controlling other people's minds and influencing them to dismiss me?

I actually let this bother me for several days until one morning I woke up and realized, either way, it doesn't matter. This is one of those things I don't have the power to change and every bit of emotion I expend "contemplating" it is a waste of precious time. And then I made a conscious decision to put this issue to bed for good. I did not intend to blog about it. And then I watched The Changeling...

After watching this true story, I realize that as a woman with a mind of my own -- and the little bit of courage God has given me -- I'm in good company. And I wouldn't have it any other way. I would so much rather be called emotionally unstable by someone attempting to protect a male-dominated status quo than be a good little compliant woman who keeps her mouth shut about injustice in order to have favor. I am so glad I watched this movie. And I highly recommend it if you haven't seen it.

Here is what Wikipedia says about the theme of The Changeling...

Disempowerment of women
Changeling begins with an abduction, but largely avoids framing the story as a family drama to concentrate on a portrait of a woman whose desire for independence is seen as a threat to male-dominated society. The film depicts 1920s Los Angeles as a city in which the judgment of men takes precedence; women are labeled "hysterical and unreliable" if they dare to question it . . . Collins defies male-generated cultural expectations. . . . Like many other women of the period who were deemed disruptive, Collins is forced into the secret custody of a mental institution. The film shows that psychiatry became a tool in the gender politics of the era, only a few years after women's suffrage in the United States was guaranteed by the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment. As women ceased to be second-class citizens and began to assert their independence, the male establishment used mental institutions in an effort to disempower them; in common with other unmanageable women, Collins is subjected to medical treatment designed to break her spirit and compel obedience. The film quotes the testimony of the psychiatrist who treated Collins. Eastwood said the testimony evidenced how women were prejudged, and that the behavior of the police reflected how women were seen at the time. He quoted the words of the officer who sent Collins to the mental facility: "'Something is wrong with you. You're an independent woman.'" Eastwood said, "The period could not accept [it]".


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