03 August, 2010

a mind of one's own?

ok, so sorry for being so very slack of late but i do have a good reason. i have been staring at this post for 3 days trying to work out what it actually is and what i'm trying to say. it had the ideas, i think, to be one of my best ever but, alas, i don't think it's going to work out.

earlier this week, i began reading a book that has been sitting in my mini library forever. virginia woolfe's seminal non-fiction work, a room of one's own. in this short novel, originally 2 speeches, she outlines her views on women, fiction and the things that are required for great literary work. but, it is more than that. it is a post-world war 1 depiction of the plight of women throughout history up to that point.

so many things in this book got me thinking. perhaps most significantly, the way men saw women as far beneith them and not just intellectually but also, emotionally, spiritually and culturally insignificant. the concept of the work is that, 'a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction'. i began this adventure into early 20th century feminism expecting her to slander men, call them idiots and all female writers exceptional thinkers and people. this is far from the case and, i think, the reason why it will continue to influence not only the way i write on here but also, what it means to be a woman today. with the relative freedom to aspire to be whatever i choose.

this leads me to my second point. woolfe's main point in giving these speeches to young women who had only just begun to explore their new found access to education at a university level was to push them to understand this right (one she was not afforded) and also, their responsibility in paving the way for future female writers. she gives immense credit to the likes of jane austin, george eliot and the bronte sisters, as brilliant women who not only dared to write within their own styles but, who wrote in some cases exceptionally well. these women inspired woolfe and as a result she, i believe, inspired a generation of newly emancipated women who now influence the writers of today.

freedom? check. education? check. money? check. all requirements for the ability to choose your own fate. this got me considering how i feel about these three things, that i had never once considered to be a part of my life. but, they all are. without the ability to choose, then women today would be nothing more than wives forced into marriage and producing children in the 10s and 12s, instead of the 2s or 3s. how, although i respect women who choose this life for themselves (as mothers with the responsibilities that go with such a thing) i perhaps don't value it enough. what do i value? the power of love? not really. kindness? hardly. intelligence? oh yea!

reading this book made me look at the slightly disturbing aspect of myself that i value more than anything. and not in just me, it's what i judge you on first as well. intelligence. i've always dismissed it as fine, normal even, to do this. after all, it's better than judging someone on their appearance. but, when did i become such a snob? maybe, it's something built within my dna.... or is that just an excuse. still, after thousands of years of men telling women they are beneath them is it not completely understanding that we feel the need to push back in some way?

the short answer is, no. there was a line in the second chapter, that suggested the reason men (specifically during the 16th century and then again, when women demanded their right to vote) of these times saw the need to put down a woman's worth was to elevate his own. this is what i do. i think you are stupid, i feel smarter, i feel superior. this is not acceptable. there is always someone smarter than you are, and always someone not as intelligent at you. maybe, we should all remember this next time someone asks a 'stupid' question. i know i'll try.


janjenkins6 said...

go girl i agree, think it is prob in ur dna! may i please borrow this book from u,yes i will treasure it! and u will get it back eventually!!!!


Not a problem. Laurie has it but, when she is done it is all yours. It's only really short (about 120 pages) so I'm sure you will get through it super quick. Only took me 2 days. :)

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