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7 Tage – letters to my husband

Opium poppy (Papaver somniferum)
Celandine (Chelidonium majus)
Privet (Ligustrum vulgare)
Creeping buttercup (Ranunculus repens)
Holly (Ilex aquifolium)
Larkspur (Delphinium)
Thimble (Digitalis purpurea)

„You’re hysterical!“ With this sentence, Doctor Robert Dalrymple from the movie „Hysteria“ clearly shows what he and most men of the Victorian age think of the temperament and ideas of a woman like his daughter Charlotte. If women do not submissively and reservedly bear their role in society, if they are overworked, stressed or otherwise fall out of their roles they are „broken“, „sick“ and must be cured. The best way to do so is to remove the uterus. Now one could of course argue that on the one hand it is a movie and on the other hand times have changed. Which one would also be partially right. Women have the right to vote. The law prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex. I have the right to express my opinion – when and where I want. But When I get angry, I’m supposed to calm down. If I scream, I am laughed at. Emotionality that is not passive, that comes out, makes me incompetent or embarrassing in the eyes of the people around me. If I had been born and raised as a man, anger would be an expression of my personality. Unfortunately, I have two X-chromosomes. In her book „Rage becomes Her: The Power of Women’s Anger“, activist and author Soraya Chemaly describes the results of scientific experiments on the socialisation of women. For example, anger is considered „cute“ in little girls, it starts to raise concerns in puberty and in adult women it is inappropriate and triggers vicarious embarrassment. Anger and aggression in women are also often confused with self-assertion and critical thinking. Women who assert themselves in professional life are usually considered bitchy, difficult, incompetent. The same behaviour often leads to promotions among their male colleagues. Not getting angry about this is hard. But how does this female anger usually express itself? Rachel Simmons, author of the book „Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls“ published in 2002, describes female anger as being rather subtle and primarily psychological in nature. Girls tend to exclude others, they can cause great harm with subtle gestures and rumours and are usually not reprimanded for this. A rumour cannot be proved as easily as a black eye. At the same time, the fear of possible exclusion and social pressure also lead to anger not being let out. Conflicts pile up, unload themselves in unimportant discussions or lead to mental illness – mostly depression and eating disorders. 7 Tage. letters to my husband is an examination of female anger and aggression in the face of systematic oppression in the patriarchal history of Europe. It plays with stereotypes of female behaviour, female work and the patriarchal fear of education for women. The woman as a poisoner has been employing people since ancient times. Poisoning is insidious, vile, sneaky – just „typical woman“. Even today, a man who kills his wife in the heat of passion is not judged as harshly as a woman who poisons her husband. The fact that the physical difference between women and men alone prevents a woman from killing her husband so easily is ignored. In the Middle Ages, a rather radical method was used to get rid of women who were familiar with poisons: They were burned as witches. It was gladly accepted that knowledge about medicine and contraception was also lost. Thus the church gained its monopoly over medicine and education. And if you were in the process of burning disturbing things, you could of course throw a few books after them. Throughout history, books have repeatedly been the victims of large-scale destruction planned by those in power who were afraid. Afraid of critical thought. Afraid of knowledge. Afraid of mature subjects. And afraid of strong women. Because they were often the initiators of revolutions. It were hungry women who went to Versailles, demanded bread for the starving people and thus triggered the French Revolution. The suffragettes revolutionized the American right to vote. Rosa Parks triggered the black civil rights movement in 1955 with a simple refusal. 7 Tage. letters to my husband consists of 21 pages of poisonous paper, bound into a book. For every day of a week the toxicity of the chosen poisonous plants increases. While you are hallucinating on day one with opium poppy, at the latest the foxglove is lethal on day seven. There are three pages per plant, representing the three meals that a „good wife“ should prepare for her husband every day. The pages of the book remain empty – we have learned to keep our anger to ourselves, not to verbalize it. But it‘ s there. Anger. Aggression. Doom. Women who read are dangerous. Women who write are unpredictable!

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