For a while, I wanted to write about women progress in the 21stcentury, to question whether we are in a place where we can go to sleep knowing that we finally can say that things are right in the world for us and others and funny how life sometimes works, I was in a bookshop, and, I picked one of Virginia Woolf novels and something in my heart told me to take it back and buy a book about two of her famous essays A Room of One’s Own & Three guineas the first essay is about women and fiction, and the other is about women financial independence, education and how women are treated in masculine societies.
I started to read it, and, from the first chapter, I thought a woman in 1928-1938 must be so brave to have these kinds of ideas and not fearing the response. Virginia Woolf is a badass woman, a straightforward woman. She never sugarcoats the truth. She’s asked to write about women and fiction. Her analysis comes from the idea that how can a woman become a writer when she doesn’t have her own home, room, office, and space, how can women are only represented in fiction through a male point of view ?! Virginia insists in her essay that even some female writers couldn’t succeed at writing good novels because they have been suppressed and controlled by their societies, their perception about women and men are prejudice, these essays opened my mind even wider about so many other issues women are still struggling with, yes we progressed in many ways like the right to vote, represented in politics, artists, writers, thinkers, activists, teachers, philosophers, doctors and we are in a place where we have the freedom to say, wear, love and chose the profession we love. But the question that keeps knocking on the back of my head “Are we 100% free individuals” equal to men. Am I allowed to be alone without being labeled as lonely stubborn, serious, and single miserable woman or girl? Overprotected, killed, or cast out without protection as a punishment for her relentless and fearless personality.
In 1928 Virginia Woolf talks about how men are judged and labeled by their profession CEO, soldier, professor, royal, etc…, while women are judged by the men they are married to, or being the daughter of a rich man, or her dresses are handmade in Paris and not judged by their profession, did it change today, yes, and no, yes women are CEOs, athletes, students, engineers, and artists yet judged as best dressed CEO or the engineer married to a rocket scientist or first ladies serving next to the president and not even paid for their role, and the writer whose married to a billionaire, no matter where we go in life and how much we earn we are still seen as objects or wondering about the reason why she is single, she’s single because she devoted her whole life for her career, who wants to be with that kind of a woman, but when a man does the same thing he’s seen as a genius and the woman who wins his heart is a great woman, so the whole world starts checking her background describing her as powerful woman, she headlines the news and websites asking “who is the woman who stole his heart and made him settle down” and how morning talk shows make her wardrobe as their top priority, but single achieving woman is miserable, uptight, and nightmare or crazy and bossy.
The next point is when Virginia Woolf discusses women’s own home, space, room, and income because Virginia Woolf was criticized for being materialistic and not focusing on critical issues, like discussing important matters regarding her community. In response, she questions those opinions by asking educated men how can women be more productive and cleaver when they don’t have their own space to think, read, study, and having their income?
How can women be equal to men when they are portrait as incapable of doing things on their own? Did things change in the 21st century? YES and NO, yes in the western world women can live by themselves, move to a different city if they want, but still be told that they need a man to do the heavy stuff which they can hire someone to take care of it, and a man to protect them from stalkers or burglars, but when a man chose to live on his own no one tells him those things, he’s never asked about how he’s going to eat or clean the house?! Because unconsciously he knows for hundreds of years that he can hire someone to cook, clean, and take care of the house for him, instead of telling women all the time that they always need help they must tell them that we all need help when we’re living alone. In the Middle East, the idea of living alone itself is bizarre, even most progressed men refuse this idea, just like what Woolf stated how can women create music, fashion, books, study medicine, etc… when she’s forced to live with the family until she gets married. So marriage becomes her only escape from the chaos around her plus she can’t have her own library, office, living room, and garden unless she has a husband, or else doomed to live with other souls, suggesting that she need to be alone in her own space to create, think, and meditate or to have her own breathing space she is seen as a loner, rebel, ungrateful of the blessing called family gatherings, and seen as a shameful woman for wanting to live alone because living on her own is a sin.
Do you know why men feel the need for a big family, a wife, and a need to settle down and have quiet time with their children and grandchildren? Because their whole life they’ve been given the freedom to travel alone, to explore without the fear of being hurt, party, try new things without a companion around, so by their thirties, forties, fifties and sixties they are done from partying, exploring, so tired that all they want is peace of mind, quiet home with the kids and the wife, while on the other side women are kicking their ass off, working three times harder so they don’t become prisoners to the men in their lives, earning their own money and working so hard to have their financial freedom, so they don’t have to live under their men’s command.
Virginia Woolf tried to explain “how women are given income but upon condition, to agree with society or the men who run their society”, in 1938 she was talking about men supporting universities and writers, and women choosing their own profession and those women who chose to stay at home to raise their children are not supported and they are mainly dependent on their husbands or partners and they can’t ask for an income from the government because they don’t do anything for the public but their own families, what did change today, women who chose to stay at home and raising their children they don’t get enough respect and they don’t get the right treatment because according to some staying at home is an easy choice, she works 24/7 to raise the world future leaders, future professors and help to nurture them for the future, we are in the 21st century and we still don’t agree on respecting them, to this date staying at home mothers are still financially dependent on their men it and it doesn’t matter whether the amount or not.
What about supporting women’s issues, when only society and specifical men in power need women’s votes and for patriotic events such as nurses, typing reports at war times, why do we still live in a world where women become entirely important around the elections, around war times, when two male politicians campaigning against each other they use us to gain votes to defeat each other and why do they only remember us when they need our votes or support around war times, our patriotism is just needed around specific times.
Virginia Woolf pointed out at “silent voices” who support women equality movement but they do it behind closed doors, those men are worse than the ones whose fighting women equal rights, how can you express your full support in private and when your voice is needed you become invisible, what makes it even harder when some women are against gender equality and other women are scared of men’s rejection because strong women “feminists” are undesirable as if they been infected by a deadly disease. When it comes to this issue nothing has changed, the only time they care about women’s issues is when it’s the election, or for their businesses to look diverse enough to generate more income and some countries appoint women in high positions without the actual power that comes with it to convince developed countries, for example: appointing her as a CEO or as a party leader, or the speaker of the house put in mind that the board of the company, the party is controlled by the majority ( Men) they can bring her down whenever she refuses to comply to their orders and as a party leader she is appointed by the majority (Men) in the party they can/will take her down if she tries to change any policy because men will fight each other but when it comes to depose women from their position, they become allies so they can remind women that they will always be inferior, the speaker of the house is up there because people in power wants the system to look diverse enough, but looking around the company and parliaments you notice that women are the minority and the majority are men.
Women are giving the right to vote, but in some regions they are forced to vote on government legislations which forces them to become slaves to their masculine communities, how can a women vote when all the candidates are conservative, anti-feminist, against gender equality, against women civil rights, candidates who support the separation of the genders in universities, movies theaters, insisting to pass a conservative dress codes laws, which allows men to wear what they want and forbidden women from dressing up freely, candidates who believes that when a man kills his wife, sister, mother to protect the family’s honor he serve a short amount of time in jail, and candidates who forbid women from marrying a man from other religions, yes in the 21st-century women are not allowed to marry the man they love if he practice a different religion, but men are allowed to marry women from different religions, while it’s illegal for women to marry men from other religions, men are given government support and a home, while women get nothing, plus the marriage in illegal, treated like a second class citizen. candidates who believe that when a man rapes a woman it’s her fault because she is not properly dressed, how can a woman with the right to vote, would vote for candidates who live in the medieval age.
Women in conservative communities and countries are physically abused and violated, and what women hear when their fathers, brothers, husbands physically abuse them “He is your brother, your husband, your father and he carries the family’s honor” And when men file for a divorce they use women honor to win the case by questioning her honor and the way she dresses, or how she stays out late and that she has male friends from work calling her that he doesn’t want his kids raised by a woman like her, and the court guarantees him the full custody of the children, “Not to forget religious countries don’t allow women to file for a divorce”.
Bottom-line we are human beings we came to this world as equals, we are not enemies, my dad is a man and a feminist, he is the one who told me to watch Oprah Winfrey if I want to be the kind of woman I aspire to be he is such badass father, who gave me all the freedom to be myself and treats me equally to my brothers, showed me how to be one of the strongest woman out there and to be the BOSS OF MY OWN LIFE (LOVE YOU DAD) He protected me from the men in the family by setting a rule that if they ever tried to hurt me he will kick them out of the house, i have been labeled with so many bad names, looked down at, always trying to create trouble to remind me that I can’t be a strong woman around them, they talk down to me because I am a strong woman, but also the man who defends me is my DAD, he’s my miracle in this masculine society, a society that can’t handle a strong independent woman who speaks her mind, a woman who wants to be respected by everyone and to be free of all strings attached to her religiously and socially. We need to teach women and girls at schools on being strong, independent, taking their own decisions whether wanting to work or staying at home mothers and wives or wanting men to provide them with everything. We need to give girls the right books to read so they can develop their own perspectives. We live in the 21st century and some individuals won’t accept that we are both human beings equal in rights and responsibilities. Finally, I think we need more badass women like Virginia Woolf, Emily Bronte, Elif Shafak, Maya Angelo, and Oprah Winfrey to lead the upcoming generation.