A Room of One’s Own

May 19, 2009

I was recently listening to an interview with Ayelet Waldman on Fresh Air and she said something that got me thinking.  She was talking about being a stay-at-home mom and how important it is to have something that is all your own, something that has nothing to do with your kids.  At first I thought, what a great concept! And then I realized… she ripped it off from Virginia Woolf!

Virginia Woolf wrote a whole book about how important it is for each individual woman to carve out a space for herself that is just hers.  While she was not  a stay-at-home mom, she was living during a time when women were expected to sacrifice everything for their families (some might argue that very little has changed, I guess). She wrote about the importance of that space, as both personal and political statements.  Waldman wasn’t even being as bad ass as Woolf, she had no political implication in her comments, she just meant that for your own sanity it is important to have something that is all your own.

One of the dangers, I think, of not having an accessible historical summary of the women’s movement (and if I am wrong and there is one out there, someone please share it with me!) is that in our struggles to define ourselves as feminists, as mothers, as activists, as professionals, we lose sight of the essential experiences and amazing lessons of bad-ass women who have come before us.  And once we forget (or don’t know) the lessons of the past, we run the risk of wasting time and energy reinventing the feminist wheel.

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