Michel Foucault's "Panopticism" is based on the architectural concept of the panopticon. Foucault extended this concept to create a new sort of authority and disciplinary principle. His idea was that of the anonymous watchers hold in and has the power to influence the ones being watched. This concept is two fold – it is subject to the person being watched not being able to know when they are being watched and to the rules of society places on individuals on how they should act in a given situation. This idea can be applied to every day life, like how we set up testing rooms for students or when reading literary works such as Dracula by Bram Stoker. In Dracula, there are power differentials caused by a character or characters "seeing" what others do not and caused by societal constructions.
In Bram Stoker's Dracula , Mina is intrigued by the idea of the "New Woman". This "New Woman" is not subject to men and the rules of society in Victorian England. This notion of the "new woman" is that she is more independent and isn't subject to the man but is instead an equal. Mina says "... I suppose the 'New Woman' won't condescend in future to accept. She will do the proposing herself." By this, she envisions women will forego tradition and take over some of the roles previously done only by men.
During the late 1800's, when this novel takes place, the woman's Suffrage movement was gaining momentum in Europe. It is said that Mina read about these new ideas and seemed to wonder how events in her own life would be seen by the New Woman. Including whether they would think she may eat to heartily for a woman. Although she is interested in the concepts, she does not see herself as living this way. Any new skills she learns are for the benefit of the men in her life.
One example of the Suffrage movement ideas was presented in a speech given in 1851 by Sojourner Truth entitled "Ain't I a Woman?" Sojourner expresses the frustration she feels in having gone through many of the same struggles any man would go through (or more) with strength and fortitude. But because she was a women, and a Negro at that, she was being treated as less than capable and weak.
Sojourner uses the example that a woman was strong enough to bring Christ into the world to counter the man's view that "women can't have as much rights as men, cause Christ wasn't a women!" The arguments used by the men in the time period centered on the fact that men ruled the world. Whereas, women were finally asserting that men should not take all the privileges but share half.
In the case of the "New Woman" and the Woman's Suffrage movement the patriarchy takes the role of the watchers in the panopticon. The patriarchy mandates and controls the role of women in Victorian society. The Woman's Suffrage movement is the women's assertion of self and this will later create a shift of power within the panopticon because men are no longer able to hold all the power. Foucault's theory really...