Virginia Woolf spends much of her time straddling the issues in ?A Room of One?s Own.? She carefully manipulates the reader by burying her points in flowery language and assumes the identity of another person so she does not have to take responsibility for what she says. She is very careful not to come off as too forceful or angry because she knows that her ideas will be disregarded if she does. Woolf is terrified of having her words labeled as ?feminist? and of attracting the stigma that the label is surrounded by. She fully understands that ?women?s issues? ignite a deep-seated resentment in the hearts of men and is conscious of the fact that at her particular time in history this resentment is running high due to the war and the women?s suffrage movement. In her essay she tries extremely hard to avoid being ridiculed by men while at the same time sparking ideas in the minds of women. Woolf desires women to have money and a room of their own so that their so-called ?potential literary genius? has the opportunity to mature and develop. She believes that working towards getting women to question their socialization is bringing them closer to this eventual goal. Her work, however, is selfish and one sided at times, but understandably so.
The preceding statement is by no means a personal attack on Virginia Woolf, nor is an attempt to discredit the work of the feminist movement. Woolf wrote in the subjective present and was surrounded by the issues of her writing. She conveyed, as best her situation afforded her, an important issue that becomes more illuminated with the partially objective hindsight of history. Woolf?s motives are pure and there can be nothing but praise for the tact of her style. Furthermore, it is nearly impossible to deny women their natural yearning for basic rights unless you choose to live under a shadow of ignorance. It is only meant by saying, ?the work of feminism is selfish and one sided at times,? that feminism is only one side of a coin. The point is simply this; women living in privilege are acting selfishly by challenging roles that are functional for the survival of the masses and that by seeing women as victims of an unfair society without also acknowledging men is only covering one side of an issue.
There is no such thing as sexism if sexism is to be defined as oppression of one sex by another. There are, however, sex roles and both men and women suffer and benefit from them. Woolf wrote during a unique period in time when sex roles that had been functional at one point were beginning to be an impediment for members of the female sex. Women that were well provided for were in the unusual position of being able to challenge tradition and redefine their part in society. For thousands of years most marriages focused on survival. Survival dictated that there be a division of labor in which women raised the children and men provided for the children. Children were obligatory and both sexes...