Feminism and Virginia Woolf

Feminism and Virginia Woolf

In the race of feminism, one of the great feminist writer was Virginia Woolf. She is the pioneer of the literature reflecting the women troubleanities, inequalities, gender and identities differences, femininity (ies) and masculinity (ies) with true pen. Earlier the women was represented by the male writer in literature, that is why we find “Pamela” and Shakespearean women in ‘king Lear’ and ‘Hamlet’ as subordinate class. Even Donne’s women are not optimist in poetry. The patriarchal discourses was firstly was challenged by Virginia Woolf in  “A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN”.

Feminism piece of literature that forces the female by its tremendous discourse to revolt against patriarchy and seeks equality and rebel to male dominance.

She was a “touch stone” for contemporaries and predecessors. Woolf believes that women are socially and economically disable. Men have prejudice and economic selfishness(1992: 14). She also uses the stream of consciousness by representing the feelings and emotions suppressed by men by physical torture and linguistic choices in  discourses. She expresses her feeling as

                       “A room which a women may call her own and which she can be inhabit with same freedom as her brother”(Woolf, 1992: 191).

The male dominance and female subjugation is strictly criticized by realistic pen. She argues that fluidity comes if women have same freedom of expression like men. She argues further that women will not contribute in literature due to less access and material resources available to men. She strictly follows the capitalism and Marxism by saying that poverty has bitterly affected the literature.

Woolf, Language and Power

Spender (1980) states in hi most famous book “Men Made Language” that language in origin and implication men made. Male has strict control over language as power and claim to be master and women are subordinate to men in all patriarchal societies. She tells that men construct femininity (ies) through language. Spender is mile stone in feminism. Amebella Moorey & Sutori Soden (2010) argues in “Language, Society and Power (an introduction), that society, culture, ethnicity, class and gender has strong grip at thought. It is determiner of class and status. Language construct identities and femininity (ies). It is complex phenomenon of social construct.

         Jenifer Coates, 2004 (women, men and language) justify that how male form dominance by language and talk differently and using  language as power and prejudice. They are actually all the followers of Woolf.


Feminism: Portrait of Virginia Woolf
Portrait of Virginia Woolf (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Feminism & Britton’s Concept of “WE”

Feminism & Britton’s Concept of “WE”


         In feminism, Britton believes in regard to femininity (ies) and identities in what are those that “make the world” and what are the basis to create distinctions behind.


                        “the subjects and events of the world do not present themselves to us ready classified . the categories into which they are divided are the categories into which we divided them” (1975: 23).

Spender 1975 also considers that powerful determination is language. Men has made world to imprison women, culturally and domestically. Dominance is of men. Britton argues that women are inhabited and passive in role in men made world. The power value and authorities reflects in reality. The value of men is anti to women. No doubt that patriarchal society represent women in comparison to men as ‘OTHER” and “I” is always in subjective position to men in ideologies and discourse(Belsey: 1985, Mullinex: 1996, Orgell: 1997).


       In the first wave of feminism women are less independent as in Victorian society of Ibsen that is actually the start of gender equalization in form of feminist movements like Suffrage ,comparatively the dramas novels  of Victorian society of late 18th and 19th century of autobiographical by women writers on the other hand male writes depicts the society  as art for art sake while female writers use pseudo name to hide their identity under the supremacy  of man in patriarchal society.


  If we talk about the modern literature the “WE” referred by Britton, the division and organization is based on which principles?, Who make the world? Spender argues that Britton actually refers to male. So male is a superior group producing culture, language… contradicting values of man are against to the values of women. So that why women  writers are always at wish to reshape the set of norms and values to produce objectivity instead of subjectivity. Women of classical literature is quite different from women of post modern literature. Feminist movements has changed the ideologies of female writers from autobiography to realism, feminism and other social draw backs .modern women writer it self dependant than Victorian. Trend has been set by Virginia Woolf. Women is now writing for women is challenge to early and female writers that use pseudonym to explore the realities discursive constructed by men.

Feminism: One of the symbols of German Women's ...
Feminism: One of the symbols of German Women’s movement (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Henrik Ibsen, Feminism & Drama

A Short History of Drama & Henrik Ibsen

Henrik Ibsen was a great modern Dramatist. Drama means to perform. In ancient times it was performed at stage or called and later on in public places theaters and auditoriums. Drama has long history that starts from Greeks. We find mimetic dramas based upon public feasts and inform of rituals. These forms are considered as the origination of drama. It was started from BC 525 and onward. The ancient dramas that are actually tragedies or heroic in nature. We find Oedipus Rex and ant gone by Sophocles. These are pure ancient classics. There language, plots, themes all are unique and appreciated by the literary critics. Drama has two main kinds: comedy and tragedy. Both are parallel to each other. Comedy got started by Oltandish Buffoonery in 350 BC. Roman empire and puritans age is considered one of the dark land stagnant period in the history of drama. Elizabethan age is flourishing age in which Shakespeare wrote comedy and tragedies. Each is has its particular theory of drama as classical neo-classical, realism and Marxism, capitalism, theater of absurd, existentialism and post modern drama. As for as the matter of female writer is concerned in regard to feminism , we see that the mid of 16th century female writers started to contribute but with pseudonymous.  Romanticism flourished in the 18th century that  old to classical and neo-classical thoughts. Each writer has own philosophy of writing and themes. Prose and novel also came to existence to the beginning o the 19th century but we see the drama having the femininity, ideologies and identities were introduced by Ibsen. He introduced realism to support the suffrage movement for female rights. He contributed with magical pen that become the corner stone for predecessors and women writers to participate in the feminist movements for equality and challenging the man made operation on patriarchal society.

History of English literature & Henrik Ibsen

History of English literature is started from 325 BC. The oldest genre of literature  is poetry. Though there is no pet however historically we divide history in four categories as old English, middle English, renaissance, modern literature, post modern literature. We have one of the old piece of literature as “ BEOWULF”. King Alfred and Aelfric are the pioneer of literature. Middle English literature is is also res round poetry, the key figure is Chaucer with his famous work “The Canterbury Tales”. William Langland is also contemporary to Chaucer. once we travel to 16th century we find the majestic features of English literature, Christopher Marlow, Sydney, Spencer and Shakespeare, they contributed a lot not only in poetry but also revolution of drama was brought about in the field of literature. History, tragedy, comedy plays were written. The King Lear  are the great dramas of the age. Poetry also introduced romantic, classical, natural, metaphysical and super natural in subject; epics are also originated by Dryden and Pope also got popularity in 18th century. Jane Austen and Walter Scot are the prominent figures. Nineteen century brought slight changes. Now women got entered in the writers family. Emily Bronte and Charlotte Bronte also earned the fame. G.B. Shaw and E.M Foster participated in the field of essay writing. Though puritan age is one of the dark age in English history but after the restoration English literature got flourished, female writers left the tradition of pseudonym and the 20th century is bulky with female writers. The realism, romanticism, classical writings, noe-classical literature and after the world wars the term of existentialism got popularity. As far as the matter of female writers concern we find that after Henrik Ibsen, Virginia Woolf developed the term feminism to get liberty and equal rights as men had. Male dominance was challenged. The women were always portrayed by male writers as domestic inhabit but after the three waves of feminism the male line society was changed to equality of gender. Now the femininity (ies) and masculinity (ies) are challenged. Henrik Ibsen is pioneer in this regard to feminism.

English: Norwegian writer Henrik Ibsen photo p...
English: Norwegian writer Henrik Ibsen photo portrait later in his career (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Femininity, Masculinity and Gender


Femininity and Masculinity deals with the ideologies constructed socially with in a society on its ethnic,cultural and norms base. Following is the further elaboration of the both terms.


It is a set of ideologies that develops socially and  forms womanly personality. This development remains continue from childhood to adulthood. It is an abstract quality which particular attributes are linked to women. Femininity is always constructed by society and that is why in patriarchal society women are considered to hug subordination to man. All and centric societies bear language of binary opposition. It may be rational or irrational, aggressiveness and politeness and dictate or subordinate. Even achievements of human are expressed in male perspective of language. Women are considered as soft, sympathetic, gentle and soft spoken.

“it is actually a social construct . It is womenness of women created discursively by language and culture. Skaggs believes that it occur with little ethnically, social, poetical worth”(Skaggs-1997-10).


It is  associated to the behavior of male constructed by society in terms of au do not bear this then authorities and power. Male is considered as brave, strong, aggressive, dominating, egoistic and independent. If he do not bear this then he is foppish and sissy. Glover and Kaplan (2000-p.60-61) views

“The differences between men and women has to be sharply emphasized and feminine traits has to be kept their proper place in men. They were a sign of weakness”.



Sexuality and gender both terms have dependence upon each other. The analysis of sexuality involves Gender as a whole. The whole since is reflective in vice versa.  Sexually men is considered more aggressive than women. Heterosexuality makes a men a real men a women true (Cameron& Kellick 2003,p 6-7).

Sexual impulses are developing right from childhood but society in itself force these impulses and mold the role of sex as per to gender. Sterling views (1995.p132)

“Genetics and hormones countless in making a man more a women.than does a socialization…..child born a male but raised a female becomes a heterosexual female”.

Oakley (1985) says “sex is a word that refers to the biological differences between male and female .the visible in genitalia  the related differences in procreative function. “Gender” however is a matter of culture. It refers to a social classification into a Masculine and Feminine”(cited in Colebrook,2004). So gender is in fact masculinity and femininity constructed by society while sex is chromosomal and biological attribute that is in shape of female or male.


It is a complex and debatable terminology. The issue of identity has its importance in the ideological world. It may be related to a particular place, location, or society indeed. But unfortunately, the matter is not yet resolved. It has state of flux. (Stroller,1968) worked a lot and developed the term “identity” and believes that identity develops from the conscious or unconscious knowledge and is a flux and complicated process.


Stoller 1968—Kapline & Glover, 2000 initially introduced and developed the term “Gender Identity” and “Gender Role”. It means development of child’s knowledge bearing one sex .it distinguishes one sex to the others or feminine from masculine. This awareness builds the identity.

           “Gender identity starts with the knowledge and awareness, whether conscious or unconscious, that one belongs to one sex not to others. Though as one develops, gender identity become much complicated so that, such as one may sense himself as a male but a masculine man or an effeminate men or even as men who fantasies being a women”


It has been got popular and introduced by psycho-linguists to describe the “Behavioral patterns”, appropriate to each sex. It may be describe through relations, clothing, and attitudes. This role is predetermined by sex. But Och, 1995 is opposite in thoughts and believes in construction and enactment via discourses. So as to interactionists approach roles are not fixed to Gender. It is vary to one country, culture, ethnicity and race.

Femininity Sexuality confusion
Sexuality confusion (Photo credit: Wikipedia)




According to oxford dictionary the term feminism means

“The advocacy of women rights on the grounds of political social and economic equality to men”(oxford dictionary)

John Johnson Lewis points out that feminism movement is contradictive and unequal stasis to women in patriarchal society on the base of social, ideological, racial, ethnical and cultural belief. It is corner stone for women. There have been different movements rum by modern and post modern feminists to make the identities and femininities desirable



The term “Feminism “ got popularity since 19th century this was considerable movement for equal status of women that has lost in all aspects since creation of men. English language is manmade and also remained conservative cultural inspect over society in gender, identity and femininity perspective. Aristotle said “female is a female by virtue of a certain lake of qualities “. But later authors, writers recognized the fact and started to deconstructed the lost identity of women that is not a nut shell or miraculous and of male dominance in language and society it is dependent upon historically divided  three waves and to be continue yet.

Though feminism got route in 18th century from America and Britton. A movement “A vindication of rights of women” was started by Wellstone craft. Later on mill also sported. Suffrage movement was first pace at large level. Maggie Humn discussed about different psychoanalytical linguistic theories in construction of femininities by women movement. Virginia Woolf played a vital role by creating conscious to women and wrote “A Rome of one’s own “.

Second wave of feminism developed in 1960. Simone de Beauvoir published 1960. New feminist news paper, Enouvelles feminism and a journal “questions feminists, Marxism, capitalism, civil right movement started.”The second sex is a master piece that is panacea to seek the binary cultural construction and male supremacy. Friedan’s talk for Heterosexuality and molded the women.

Third wave feminism is based on strucuctural and post structural and Maxilion theories that identify the gender and sexual differences. Elaine Showaltr argueswomen representation in literature is dominated by male discourse.  Dale spender (1980) suggested that women are under oppression of men constructed by his language to.  She consider it a social construction and complex in nature.  Lackoff, women language is inferior by male dominance in patriarchal society. The idea of motherless and fatherless discourse was influenced by post structuralism. we find a clear interruptions in famine text based on subjectivity after influence of third wave of feminism. This is the great achievement of feminist movements that genders is both male and female a social construct based on biological differences the sex and gender and masculinity and femininity are more elaborated and influenced throughout cultures. It also explore the language role on sex, identity ideology and political grounds.

Woman-power symbol (Photo credit: Wikipedia)