Depression vs. Impression: A Room of One’s Own

The book found clutched in Evelyn’s hand, in lieu of a suicide note, was first published in October of 1929. It was written by one of the most influential writer’s of all time, Virginia Woolf. In a “Room of One’s Own, Woolf uses a fictional narrator and narrative to do more than explore women as writer’s and as characters in fiction, but to extrapolate her theory criticizing the repression of women by the patirachal culture that defines strict gender roles, based upon anatomical sex. Simply put, during the nineteenth century, if you were born with a penis you were superior to someone born without one.  Woolf wrote essays presenting her thoughts and sound arguments advancing the position that sex and gender did not determine intelligence, or value of an individual, as she so eloquently revealed in A Room of One’s Own, ‘If Shakesphere had been a woman, would he have been less a genius?’ Over the years, feminist writers like Woolf influenced a movement that led to women getting the vote in 1919, to sit on juries, have an equal education, and be entitled to equal pay for equal work. As in all revolutions, changes came slow, and sometimes even mutated into a form not conceived by the original instigators of the sufferage  movement. In Evelyn’s case, perhaps, the pressures of trying to live in a ‘man’s world’ as conceived by men, the work place, still ruled by a partriarchal culture, albeit now yeilding to allow women to enter, and to maintain the responsibilities of being a woman (again as defined by a patriarchal culture that defines gender roles accross sexual and gender differences) may have been too difficult. Here, Evelyn who worked seventy hours a week in a job that contributed equally to the household income, if not exceeded what her husband brought home, registered success in a domain once ruled by men; and where Evelyn struggled to balance her role as mother to her children, by particiapating in their school functions and leading community groups, while wearing a perpetual smile, as an example to her daughters on how to look like and be a successful woman in today’s world, it eventually caused her to implode.  If one were to look at a possible reason why, Evelyn chose to spend her last moments on earth, reading A Room of One’s Own, could it be the failure of, or fulfillment of, a promise of a better life for women. Or is it simply, the process of evolution of changes in gender roles. The expectations by modern society, with its constant pull toward past norms, and its invariable push to establish new standards, create chaos which in turn create the identity flux of the modern woman. Does this new chaos –of reestablishing roles for the sexes, cause gender dysphoria in women and men today? (further discussion in the next blog)…in the meantime, be good to yourself and those who choose to live around you, and those who have no choice, and be well.

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