Introduction: Breathing in Airless Spaces
The introduction begins with Shulamith Firestone’s Airless Spaces (1998) and a brief history of the conditions that enabled Firestone to write it. As a radical feminist leader and organizer, Firestone published her manifesto The Dialectic of Sex (1970) when she was only 25. But Firestone’s emerging mental health problems made her almost disappear. Diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, she spent time in and out of psychiatric hospitals on involuntary committals. However, in the early 1990s, a makeshift network of women organically emerged to help Firestone survive. Encouraged by their support, Firestone wrote Airless Spaces, a series of vignettes about her life in and out of hospitals and about the community of disabled people who were her friends and acquaintances. This collection is divided into three sections inspired by Firestone’s life: Mad Community, Mad History, and Mad Survival. The introduction also includes descriptions of each of the book’s twelve chapters.