With the exception of the prostitutes, who are portrayed as good, the women in One Flew Over the Cuckooâ€™s Nest are uniformly threatening and terrifying figures. Bromden and McMurphy both tend to describe the suffering of the mental patients as a matter of emasculation or castration at the hands of Nurse Ratched and the hospital supervisor, who is also a woman. The fear of women is one of the novelâ€™s most central features. The male characters seem to agree with Harding, who complains, â€œWe are victims of matriarchy here.â€.
In the novel One Flew Over the Cuckooâ€™s Nest, the author, Ken Kesey has put women into two opposite categories. They are alluded to mostly in a sexual context of either depriving the patients of their manhood or helping them assert it. Women like Nurse Ratched, the Chiefâ€™s mother, Billyâ€™s mother, and Hardingâ€™s wife are the representatives of the repressive society who cause men to suffer and lose their masculinity. The other category of women are those like Candy, whose purpose is to serve men. Candyâ€™s role in the novel is to help Billy reach manhood. .
Nurse Ratched is the perfect representative of the repressive society. The Nurse is a large, cold, unemotional woman whose â€œface is smooth, calculated, and refined,â€ (Kesey, 11). Although she has baby blue eyes, a small nose, and large breasts, she is not feminine. She carries a wicker bag, which is filled with pills, needles, forceps, and the likes. Nurse Ratched has the power to cut a man down by just looking at him. She succeeds in emasculating the men on her ward. She makes the patients suffer guilt pangs and often succeeds in turning one against the other because â€œshe has a genius for insinuation.â€ They are rabbits, and she is the wolf that controls them. She controls her patients with an iron fist and if one of them does not fear and respect her she uses shock treatment to bring him under control.