anyone remember Virginia Woolf’s “Angel in the House?" If you think that
all-suffering, wife-and-mother-first (me last) Angel is a Victorian Era issue,
think again. In 1931, Woolf lectured that "Killing the Angel in the House
was part of the occupation of a woman writer." But 56 years later, a 27 year old woman
wrote on the Internet: “she (Woolf) describes issues that resonate with me, in
Q. How is that
After the 19th
constitutional amendment, women’s lib,
bra burning, and equal pay for equal work (ha, ha), how is it possible that a
27 year old woman in the 21st
century could STILL feel so aligned
with Woolf’s impassioned plea for freedom of speech?
A. One reason is empathy. Mothers and wives tend to love and
feel for members of their family. Because we don’t want to expose others, we
muzzle ourselves. We don’t express: our anger, disappointments, or prowess.
(Especially not prowess.) If something bad happens, we protect our family
members from shame. If something good happens, we’re careful not to interfere
or cause embarrassment. Is this sounding like a narrow range of emotional
it’s time to go back and see who the Angel in The House was supposed to be. According
to Virginia Woolf, the Angel was “intensely sympathetic. . . . immensely charming.
. . . utterly
unselfish. She excelled in the difficult arts of family life. She
sacrificed herself daily. If there was chicken, she took the leg; if there was
a draft she sat in it—in short she was so constituted that she never had a mind
or a wish of her own, but preferred to sympathize always with the minds and
wishes of others. . . .”
While lecturing in 1931, Virginia Woolf remarked that “it is still expected that women will give
up what they have achieved, even their name, for the satisfaction of men and
children, all of whom would never exist if it were not for women.”
much has that expectation really changed? As a blogger writing about my family,
I’m always sliding down the slippery slope of protecting others’ privacy while
trying to express my perspective on my life. Guess which side wins?
as Marguerite’s editor (making a cameo appearance), I have definitely felt the
muzzle on my own mouth—usually when I’m most passionate. I’ve even consulted a
libel attorney. (If you want to find out more about my passions, go to my web
there any other women out there who feel a tad too angelic? I’d like to invite
you all to email me your stories at firstname.lastname@example.org
. I can post your sensitive snippets (anonymously), and express your feelings, even when I can’t post mine. Maybe together all our voices will be heard. After all, we’re still American women and the first amendment belongs to us too.
could be a lot worse. (See "Perspective," 5/22/15.) Instead of wearing an invisible muzzle
on this sunny, 80 degree day, I could be shrouded from head to toe in a black
burka, grateful for the eye holes.
Labels: 19th amendment, American women, blogs, burkas, family issues, feminism, internet privacy issues, Victorian Era, Virginia Woolf, women's liberation