A Room of One’s Own [Ripa]

In Virginia Woolf’s extended essay, A Room of One’s Own, the author contends that writing is contingent on two major conditions: £500, and a room of one’s own. This assertion traces the intersectionality of institutionalized socioeconomic and gender subordination: £500 did not entitle someone to a life of particular opulence, but it was enough for a foundation of financial independence. A room of one’s own (with a lock and key), however, was both a physical and figurative requirement. This requirement was informed by gender politics of the time, in which women had limited access to an education, and the possibility of having a room of one’s own was often inconceivable. Woolf argues that if these two conditions are met, surely, women will produce better writing.

While I applaud the inherently feminist nature of this text, and its inclusion of overlapping issues such as social stratification, economic opportunity (or lack thereof), and even sexual identity, I think neither of her “requirements” are particularly necessary, at least not anymore. Certainly, there have been brilliant female writers who have met neither of these conditions, though most of these women who I can think shared a struggle that is not addressed in A Room of One’s Own: the plight of people of color. I am thinking of women like Maya Angelou, Alice Walker, or even Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

The conclusion that I draw is the following: to write, a woman (or anyone, on any part of the spectrum for that matter) does not need £500 and a room of one’s own (though it may help). What they need, rather, is a story to tell. This can be born out of personal struggle, or knowledge of someone else’s. It can stem from just about anything, but I like to think the best authors are often those who were either not privileged, or tremendously aware of their privilege.

One thought on “A Room of One’s Own [Ripa]

  1. I think your analysis of Virginia Woolf’s message was very affective and it helped me understand aspects of the book on a deeper level. I also think the language you used was really good. Each paragraph flowed well and followed a logical order that made sense.