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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A Room of One's Own

A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN (1929) is one title of a popular book written by Virginia Woolf, a feminist writer from Britain. A talented woman will be as creative as man to produce literary work as long as she has her own room, her own privacy to expose her talent.

Room here can mean a real physical place, can be a bedroom or study room that exclusively belongs to a woman. In it, she can satisfy her greed to create or produce anything. No other person is allowed to enter it when the owner of the room, a woman, is busy doing something.

However, room here can also mean an abstract thing, such as special time where she can enjoy herself, either to write, to paint, or to do any other creative things. She can do it anywhere as long as nobody disturbs her, perhaps a park, a garden, a kitchen, the living room, or any other place. The most important thing is that she is respected by everybody to be herself.

Virginia Woolf who was born into a very communicative, literate, letter writing, visiting, articulate, late-nineteenth-century world was quite lucky. She could dig out her potential to her heart’s content so that she could produce many masterpieces, such as her novels, Mrs Dalloway, To The Lighthouse, until A Room of One’s Own. Charlotte Perkins Gilman had to undergo nervous breakdown to pursue her work as a writer because her first husband, Charles Walter Stetson did not support her effort to “get a name by her own name” and not as a Mrs. Charles Walter Stetson. Alice James—the sister of Henry James, and Edith Wharton were two other examples of women writers who were diagnosed as to suffer from nervous breakdown. Was it because they did not have their own room? Their own privacy to do what they want to do to express themselves?

Anna Wickham in her poem “Dedication of the Cook” criticized the condition a woman had to face when she wanted to do.

If any ask why there’s no great She-Poet,
Let him come live with me, and he will know it:
If I’d indite an ode or mend a sonnet,
I must go choose a dish or a bonnet.
For she who serves in forced virginity
Since I am wedded will not have me free;
And those new flowers my garden is so rich in
Must die for clammy odors of my kitchen.

One century will have passed since Virginia Woolf wrote A Room of One’s Own. In my country, Indonesia, lotsa women still do not enjoy their own private room, their own privacy, moreover after they get married. A married woman is still obliged to give the first priority to her husband, and then children, and themselves as the least important.

PT56 13.45 150507

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