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On Virginia Woolf's "Profession for Women"

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On Virginia Woolf's "Profession for Women"

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  • April 12, 2009
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I've read some numbers of feminism related essays and articles in my years as a student in the English department. A lot of times I felt like a minority in most scenarios since most of my classmates are female. I understand of course that it is not that simple issue of good and bad. But every time during discussions on the matter, I always feel a bit sorry for being "the evil men." These discussions are endlessly repetitive with most students condemning and criticizing men for being the biased and women being the sympathized. It wasn't long before I develop a sense of dread towards feminism. It's not because I disagree with the points or observations raised in these writings. They had interested and persuaded me in all ways possible. But my experience seems to be repeating themselves over and over as different feminists continues to attack and complain without giving any substantial resolutions.

Virginia Woolf is different. I didn't have much expectation before reading this article. Maybe in a way, I was blinded by my own phantom. Yet I find this reading experience much more intriguing. This is a writer that isn't afraid to admit her lacking of answers and limits of knowledge. She asks good questions instead of perpetual complaints. The essay is really a chance to understand her streams of thought on the matter. The logic of this essay is fairly straightforward and easy to follow. It isn't blinded by pure sentimentality that often is quite biased itself.

I find this essay significantly inspiring even by today's standards. It's timeless in its main idea, that of "the phantom." Maybe to women at that time, the phantom speaks to women only as "the Angel in the House." But I think to define it only as that is limiting its ideological potential. The phantom can be anything. Everyone, regardless of race, class, sex is haunted by their own phantoms. It represents an obstacle of the mind. It's something we as individuals have to learn to break in order to improve...