“The history of men’s opposition to women’s emancipation is more interesting perhaps than the story of that emancipation itself,” wrote Virginia Woolf in her extended essay A Room of One’s Own and it is according to me the best way to put the illogical indifference of some men towards feminism. While I am guilty of avoiding to read the book assuming it to be a dense read, the book is two of Woolf’s lectures combined into one, I must admit that I wasn’t the same after reading it.
There is always a sweet flavour of truth in Woolf’s writing and in A Room of One’s Own, she was able to put down her thoughts in a way that simple-minded people like me can read and cherish it for life. I am not a literary expert to comment on her writing but I will say that Woolf was a goddess and a true feminist. She gave us her precious thoughts in writing. Thoughts so moving that one can read it every time they want to ground themselves in reality. Amazing thing is that even her works of fiction are not really far from the truth.
In A Room of One’s Own, Woolf proudly acknowledged her privilege. She wrote that if it wasn’t for the money she inherited from her aunt, she like many women would not have been able to write. How inspiring it is to see accomplished people speaking the truth behind their success. The truth they could easily hide. Woolf is one such person who will always be remembered and worshipped for her words.
Even though I had read about how women in the early days used to have pen names because otherwise, nobody would read a book written by a woman. But I only got to know about the depth of this reality after reading A Room of One’s Own. Her take on female writers of the century is enlightening and in simple words, she is able to put forth such complex ideas.
Her rage towards men keeping women out of important places is conveyed through lines, “Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.” Woolf gives me the determination to never let a man stop me. Women can achieve whatever they want and they can break as many glass ceilings it takes if they decide to be free in their minds.
Another very interesting point Woolf raised in the book is that us women are like mirrors in which men see themselves to feel great about their achievements.
And she could not be more accurate, this explains why men want to keep us from being more successful from them. Afterall our place at the back assures them a place at the front, right?
The book is a text one can refer all their life and still find it relevant at every reading. Though it is impossible to list out every word of Virginia Woolf that shaped my being growing up, there is one very important thing she made me realise. One always needs a room of one’s own where they can think and grow. Privacy is not a luxury, it is a necessity. But sadly not all of us can have that privilege. Especially women who barely find time alone. We all need to carve our own space to grow in life. I am grateful to have a room of my own with Virginia Woolf’s picture on its wall.