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Tuesday, March 04, 2008
A Room of One's Own - Week 1
This month for our book discussion we are going to do something a little different. In the past we have focused on books of a mainly religious nature, but this month we are turning to a classic in the world gender issues - Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own. First published nearly 80 years ago, Woolf's book has defined for generations of women the struggles women often face in the academic and intellectual world.

I first read this book early in college in a Women Writer's class (an elective of course). At the time I was a good little conservative complementarian who thought any argument for women's rights was feminist and therefore evil. The irony of the fact that I was a woman getting an education and therefore benefiting from the rights people like Woolf fought for completely eluded me. I was more than willing to accept the gifts of the early feminists (the right to vote, have a job, own property, have a bank account, get an education) while condemning the very philosophy that granted me those rights. I read the book with very different eyes a decade later. I understood Woolf arguments and frustrations better, and I marveled at how her dreams and predictions for the future have played out.

But before we delve into the content of the book, I would like to hear about your experiences with early feminist writers. Have you encountered Woolf before? In what contexts and mindsets? Have you ever studied the lives of the women who fought for basic rights for women? Have such stories been encouraged in your life or hidden?

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posted by Julie at 2:35 PM ¤ Permalink ¤


  • At 3/04/2008 09:05:00 PM, Blogger wilsford

    ooohhh, i remember when i read that book. it was awesome and took me a long time because i'd read a few paragraphs and then put the book down and let the contents roll around in my brain for a few days.

    the book was like opening a window onto a world inside my own head only to find that others were there, waiting for me.

    awesome book. i will pick through my library and re-read.

  • At 3/05/2008 10:42:00 AM, Anonymous Tina Lips

    I am a counselor/teacher who draws from an existential/feminist theory thus the majority of my reading in feminism has been in textbooks and academia. I am looking forward to reading from Woolf to get a perspective from a different time in our history. I actually started this book a few weeks ago and am looking forward to the interactions here. Thanks for picking it!

  • At 3/05/2008 01:14:00 PM, Blogger cclarksr

    In recognition of womens history month you might want to read the novel, "Return to Dos Encinos", a story with the setting in the late 1800s during the suffragist movement in Texas. The lead character, Sarah Cisneros, is faced with the decision of whether to be content as the matron of the giant Dos Encinos ranch or to pursue her passion as a women' rightist.



  • At 3/05/2008 05:46:00 PM, Blogger Julie

    On the topic of women's rights, I just recently watch Mary Poppins for the first time in years and noticed the jabs they take at the women's movement. The whole movie Mrs. Banks is always running off to her "votes for women" club (all the while letting her husband boss her around). At the end of the movie when Mary Poppins fixes everything, Mr. Banks realizes that work isn't everything and takes his kids to go fly a kite. Mrs. Banks joining in on this family is most important ending takes her votes for women sash and uses it as the kite tail. The message I got was that to love one's family one cannot be distracted by such things. But maybe that was just me. That topic btw is our focus in a couple a weeks in this discussion...

  • At 3/06/2008 07:48:00 AM, Blogger Lydia

    The majority of my experiences with early (or any, really) feminist writers came from the short stories and books that I've devoured over the years.

    Theory and debate doesn't interest me , but a compelling story will quickly draw me into almost any issue. This is one of the reasons why I'm such an avid science-fiction/fantasy reader - when they're well-written, these genres can turn dry arguments into living, breathing narratives that become embedded into one's mind.

    Charlotte Perkins Gilman's short story "The Yellow Wall Paper" was the first example to pop into my mind.

  • At 3/06/2008 11:33:00 AM, Blogger Lydia

    Mary Poppins

    It's not just Mary Poppins - many older movies, tv shows, etc that were made for children have some rather sexist (and in some cases, racist) undertones.

    If Walt Disney had written books instead of made movies, I'd suggest that we deconstruct one of them in a future book club post. ;)


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