A few months ago, I talked about one of my very first books of 2022: Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own. It wasn’t a review, for how can I review a book of that stature? As it stands tall and stands up for women through time and space? As it calls out the misogyny and sexism that we have come to take as ‘normal’? As it shows us why Virginia Woolf is a much-loved figure in English literature? How could I have done all that? No, never in a thousand lives! I merely took my favorite quotes from the book and wrote a piece about why Woolf is so relevant. A book discussion/thoughts of sorts. That was part 1.
Earlier this year, I had the extremely transformative experience of reading Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own. I didn’t think it would affect me the way it did, especially since Woolf’s To the Lighthouse was a disappointing one for me. But as I progressed with A Room of One’s Own, I was consumed by it. I read in awe as Woolf detailed the sexism that women writers face in a time when women didn’t have the freedom to do as they wanted. So many scathing points written sometimes with detached politeness, other times with undisguised annoyance, and at yet others narrated stoically – they sit with you for all of eternity, like they’ve settled down in my mind.
And what a way to condense the book into one sentence:
A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.
I’m exhausted, because I’m a woman, and irrespective of where a woman is in terms of privilege, there will always be certain conditions placed on her acceptance. Sure, unconditional acceptance comes, many-a-times, but it seems begrudging. In a ‘what can I do if she desires this?’ manner. If acceptance is begrudging, is it unconditional? And is expecting unconditional acceptance even realistic? But then again, in a world as chaotic as this, is it really a bad thing to want a safe space where you are accepted for who you are and not for what you can offer? Is it really a bad thing to want to do what I want to do instead of fitting myself into a role that society has created for my gender? Who gave society that right anyway? Oh, wait… But let’s not get into that right now because I might combust.