Keeping someone isolated from another is a harsh and mentally debilitating form of punishment. This idea is conveyed in the third account of “The Matter of Seggri” which is written by a native woman. When she disobeys the customs of her society, she is punished with isolation in a cellar where she is completely alone. After this experience she says that she, “felt different…like something had closed up inside” (40). This reminds me of how isolation has been, and is, used for rehabilitation and punishment of women throughout history. What is ironic about this SF account is that even in a society run by women, women are still punished by isolation.
This reminds me of a couple of fictional examples like “Jane Eyre” and “The Yellow Wallpaper.” In both of these accounts, isolation is used to rehabilitate and change the mental state of women. This method is depressingly and negatively effective as neither woman recovers, but instead sinks into a deeper mire of mental illness. This treatment of women as punishment when their feelings don’t align with what society tells them they should be and feel is inhumane.
When she is punished with isolation, the girl in Seggri, begins to lose her own freedom of mind. When her brother calls upon her to help him she refuses because she fears being isolated again. She has been coerced to give up her relationship with him by society. Because of this innate fear of isolation, she has lost her loyalty to her brother and instead becomes a drone of her society. He realizes that he has lost her. Both brother and sister suffer when society tells them the type of relationship that they must have with one another.
Isolation as a punishment and as a form of rehabilitating women is still used today. However, it is below the radar of the mass public and is viewed as acceptable. This happens when women still feel the need to stay at home and be a mom to their children and when people make snide comments about mom’s who like to go out and be social. Our society, in its own way, still punishes men and women by isolation and exclusion. If someone does not conform to and meet certain societal criteria, whether it is body shape, sexual orientation, vocation, etc., they are excluded from social activities. Exclusion and isolation remains a mentally debilitating treatment that needs to be acknowledged and validated as wrong.
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