“Girls! Girls! Girls!”, written and performed by American artist Emilie Autumn, immediately grabbed my attention as something unusual. It‚Äôs upbeat tempo and show-tune quality made it instantly likeable for me. But behind the happy melody lies a much darker tale of mental illness and womanhood in Victorian society.
“Girls! Girls! Girls!” features on Emilie‚Äôs F.L.A.G. (Fight Like a Girl) album, the latest musical instalment inspired by her novel The Asylum For Wayward Victorian Girls, taken from diary entries written whilst admitted into a psychiatric hospital. During this time Emilie created Emily‚Äìher Victorian counterpart‚Äìwhom she uses to explore mental health issues and societal stigma. The full album takes us on a journey with a variety of characters and “Girls! Girls! Girls!” is told from the perspective of a man making a show of the victims in his ‚Äúcare‚Äù, and features members of the public who share their thoughts on ‚Äúmentally-ill‚Äù women.
It‚Äôs no secret that throughout history women have been regarded as the weaker sex, and considerably more fragile both mentally and physically.
If insanity‚Äôs primarily a femininish malady, and no one‚Äôs doubting that for it‚Äôs a scientific fact‚Ä¶
It‚Äôs all to do with reproductive organs, which are naturally unstable in a dame‚Ä¶
But in the male-dominated Victorian society, women with outspoken opinions or any non-compliant behaviour could be declared as insane by their husbands or fathers, and be carted away to an asylum. It became commonplace for women to be placed in asylums if their husbands were dissatisfied with them as wives. As such, almost anything could get you placed in an asylum (as explored in the song):
This is what comes of over-educating,
too much serious conversating,
sinful un-wed copulating,
marriage without pro-creating,
girl-on-girl caught lesbiating,
she was caught while masturbating,
certainly there’s no debating,
some we just find fascinating,
women’s rights facilitating,
independent thought creating,
She may just be complicating.
Once admitted, patients were met with abhorrent conditions. In the early Victorian era, it was commonly thought that the mentally ill had been tainted by the devil, and this is reflected in their treatment.
You see, they’re really more like animals than people
Which has been proven haven’t any souls at all.
Throughout her career Emilie has found a unique way to explore womanhood and the stigma surrounding mental illness, whist simultaneously exploring these issues through a historical perspective. “Girls! Girls! Girls!” is a great song to listen to for it‚Äôs well written melody and intriguing story. I fully recommend listening to the whole album, which explores her story in greater depth, encompassing sorrow, anguish, anger, hope and pain.
You can visit Emilie’s¬†website at¬†www.emilieautumn.com.
Girl Museum Inc.