Throughout The History Of The Women’S Rights Initiative,

Decent Essays
Throughout the history of the women’s rights initiative, activists have continually struggled to endorse their cause in a inoffensive, non-derogative style. With audiences acclimated to sexist societal norms, these pioneers had to advocate their ideas with tact and caution. If they were too enthusiastic, they were received as radical. Too meak, and none would listen. Finding a balance was imperative to the success of their message. This equilibrium is excellently exemplified in Virginia Woolf’s speech, “Professions for Women,” which was delivered to the Women’s Service League in 1931. In her oration, Woolf describes her inner struggles with the patriarchy in the context of her writing career. She tries to encourage other women to…show more content…
Why would Woolf use the analogy of a fisherman to represent defying the patriarchy? Why not use a more poignant metaphor which explicitly relates to those repressed, taboo elements of femininity? The answer lies in balance. Even though Woolf is speaking to the Women’s Service League about employment, a highly progressive topic, she is still speaking in 1931. Even the most liberal thinkers of the time often held misogynistic propensities. By comparing deep thought to a male profession, Woolf indirectly portrays deeper intellect as a male trait, appealing to those misogynistic inclinations. Yes, her main point is for women to break the barriers of stereotypical feminine thought, however she still indirectly accommodates patriarchal opinions. Woolf’s adaptation to prejudice thought patterns moderates her opinion and allows her to target audience members who would otherwise be dissuaded by overt, radical feminism. She disguises a controversial assertion in rhetoric that appeals to the 1930’s sexist zeitgeist, maneuvering around prejudice to effectively assert women must break through the barriers of misogyny within their own mind. This strategy of acknowledging the converse misogynistic opinion within metaphor is repeated within Woolf’s closing paragraph when she compares the progress made by women to that of a house. Woolf describes how working women “have won rooms of [their] own in the house
Get Access