For centuries women have been forced into a role which denied them equal education opportunities. Virginia Woolfe expresses her frustration on why women were denied privacy in her novel , A Room of Ones Own. Where she compare the traditional lifestyle tailored made for the opposite sex and the sacrafices that came with it. Wendy Gen feels,” Though women through the centuries have not always enjoyed rooms of their own, they have had recourse to mental privacy, retreating to the internal spaces of their minds for refuge or silent critique”.
She refers to Frances Burney’s Evelina and Jane Austen’s novels that privacy for women is often located in the internal spaces of silences snatched in the midst of more sociable moments or in the space that reading provides. There is no argument that women were allowed independent space, but it was taken from them and nothing could be done about it. Due to the change and revolution of the culture there wasn’t just a need, but grew into a necessary demand.
With this article Wendy Gen will first examine changes in spatial awareness and show that in the early twenith century there was an emerging consciousness of the role domestic space played in shaping lives and behaviour and an attempt refashion it for modernity. See how space is used to express domience. Then draw attention to the one space dedicated to privacy within the home that women began to challenge and appropriate the study explores Woolf’s careful elision of the study in favor of the room in A Room of One’s Own.
Women were denied educational equality because it wasn’t necessary for a formal education when your primary duties are to tend to the family. As children it wasn’t imperative to learn how to read, but sow, and paint. Stephen Kern feels that between 1880- 1919 was when the calumiatory shift for women having their own space was being redefined. As the times changed space was no longer dominant but growing into it’s own community. (69) Florence Nightingale and Virginia Woolf agree that women were being suppressed for their genius. Women of the victorian era were limited intectually as to not interfere with their domesticated duties.
Even having the same desires for activities and education as men, a womens place was not allowed in a mans world, but learning how to sow, cook, and raising children: A womens place was at home. From Nightingales, “Cassandra”, seeing how a womens education was interrupted as men could be viewed as successors. Cassandra argues about the lack of privacy (70): Women never have an half hour in all their lives( Excepting before and after anybody is up in the house) that they can call their own, without fear of offending or of hurting someone. With all the complaints Frances Nightingale made in her book, Virginia simplifies that the issue is money.
Because men are the ones who worked outside the home this allowed them control of it aswell. Because of the cultural standard of that time women remained dominant, aswell as their thoughts and solitodarity. Woolf recall her during her upbringing the social affairs she had to attend just because she was told she had to. After her and her family moved to Bloombury she describes a quiet dark house crowded with three families. As she describes the tea- table,” the heart of the family”, “the parental bedroom for sex and having babies, and the brains of the house was the study found on the top floor. The study was for Leslie Stephens.
With moving to a overcrowded house there was a lack of privacy and the one room that could provide her a silent moment belonged to a man. Even structural spaces were used to suppress women. The husband had no real use for the study but to sit in it. The drawing room was pacifically used for a wife to sow, read, and entertain quest, while the study is off limits. Men denying women their right to an education they contradicted themselves when they utilize their wives intellect in secret. Being an educated woman left to tend to the family, was also responsible for completing his work to only have him take the credit.
Even with writing books, a woman being the real author had to give the credit to a man. With so many limitation it is understandable the need for privacy. How could a woman learning affect a man’s way of life? Women couldn’t have their thoughts and ideas to themselves. Even the mind was suppressed for the advancement of men, Woolf in her book shares (35) Women have served all these centuries as looking glasses possessing the magic and delicious power for reflecting the figure of man at twice its natural size. Without that power probably the earth would still be swamp and jungle.
The fear that men had for woman made it more difficult for both to be viewed as equals. Adding insult to injury if a woman was allowed the opportunity to have a space of her own, it had to be approved. In Kathleen Woodward’s autobiography, Jipping Street, once given a room there was to be no (74) Victorian clutter, knickknacks or personal memorabilia but an extremely modern and minimal space of white walls and the barest minimum of white furniture. No funny business strictly learning. I’m sure it wasn’t a problem either way because this is what she wanted, but to still have restrictions defeated the entire purpose of having this space.
Just for a small space you had to trade in your transitions, values and forced to neglect your individuality. This era in time convinced women that this is how should be. The consequences for the manipulating falsehood of values could leave women in a coma toast stage of their minds. I find it amusing how men used materialsim to establish their dominance. In viewing this era of history it seemed that being married wasn’t about love and companionship, it was treated as a business transaction. Just as slaves were traded for labor while being mistreated. It was burdened upon women to dumb ones self down if you wanted to be considered attractive.
Submitting to a lifestyle that did more harm than good. Because the fear and misunderstanding of womens intellect resulted in being mistreated. Men assumed that women were inferior to them, but was continually contradicting themselves when ulitizing their genius in secret. Not just suppressing their intellect but the space they were given only to be monitored according to what the husband deem fit. With their blinding arrogance that woman are not equally qualified to fit in societies workforce caused motivation, ambition to be heard, and demanding that they are treated the same.