“Among your grandmothers and great-grandmothers there were many that wept their eyes out. Florence Nightingale shrieked aloud in her agony. Moreover, it is all very well for you, who have got yourselves to college and enjoy sitting-rooms– or is it only bed-sitting rooms?– of your own to say that genius should disregard such opinions; that genius should be above caring what is said about it. Unfortunately, it is precisely the men and women of genius who mind most what is said of them.” (Woolf 72-73)
This quote really just resonates with me because I feel as if Woolf is directly addressing me. She highlights how far women have come, how they are in college and learning. But these same women should not belittle those that did not express their genius. Those circumstances were wildly different, and have even changed so much from were I sit, reading this essay now.
“For here again we come within range of that very interesting and obscure masculine influence upon the woman’s movement; that deep-seated desire, not so much that she shall be inferior as that he shall be superior, which plants him wherever one looks, not only in front of the arts, but barring the way to politics too, even when the risk to himself seems infinitesimal and the suppliant humble and devoted.”
This concept of a woman’s inferiority solely so a man can be seen as superior is nothing new. The “influence on a woman’s movement” can also be interpreted as two different scenarios: one being her movement in station or class by her own means impeded by a man; or two, being the physical act of moving itself, in order to intimidate her. The real-world and highly relevant example that comes to mind when looking at this passage is the current presidential race between Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton; while she has broken many a “glass ceiling”, her opponent has still mocked and criticized her capability to lead on the sole fact that she is a woman. During the second debate he continued to move about the stage in a predatory manner, like a shark. The only saving grace, regardless of one’s views on Hilary Clinton, no one could label her a “suppliant”.