I’ll be honest, this one confused me a little as I was reading it. It is the only work of Virginia Woolf’s that I have read and I love her point. I understand what was revolutionary about it and I couldn’t agree more about her assessment on the need for a room of my own in the sense that she means it.
Really, this is about having the breathing room to think up your own ideas and to keep a little piece of yourself that isn’t absorbed by titles like wife and mother. These days this same piece of identity is just as likely to be absorbed by a work title, too, so watch out for that. We need the space to be ourselves, unglued from our labels. We need to look at the world with our own eyes and see what we see. It is our very perspective that is proven in board rooms and homes to be valuable for as long as we see with it and express the opinions it creates.
The style is what gets a little confusing sometimes, but not so much as to be a turn-off for me. In this, Woolf writes like she is having a conversation with the reader. The points are well laid out but tend to stretch into long tangents and then come back around to it’s origin. The idea of Shakespeare’s sister is great. The concept is still used when people talk about the potential of women and how it can be wasted by the social constructs that still affect us.
It is this same idea of a room to breathe and do what interests YOU that comes back around later in The Feminine Mystique. It isn’t laid out in quite the same way and “a room” is more metaphorical, but I make the correlation this way: Do not allow your responsibilities or care work for those around you to be absorbed by them and erase your identity as a separate individual, complete and unique in your own right.
I know men have their own issues with this concept in later life. It is described well by Lonely at the Top, a book focused on the way that men can be so absorbed by their careers that they feel like they lost their identity when they retire.
Unfortunately, even these problems have solutions reserved for those who can afford it, who can create the time that is necessary to avoid these pitfalls, who aren’t mired in debt and hardship. Still, it is a goal, to have a room of my own, to find that space and time to think, to contemplate the world, to find my own opinions, to be just me in all my glory and not the picture of me that someone else expects or needs of me.