Interesting piece by Rachel Cusk in the Guardian review yesterday, musing on the theme of A Room Of One’s Own, prompted in part by new editions of both Woolf and De Beauvoir, in which she suggests that women who make fiction out of the reality of most womens experience, that is, of the ‘repetitions’ of domestic life and the cycles of the body, rather than the outer world clashes of war or politics, tend not to win the same literary respect or prizes as those who tackle the so called bigger, more public themes: or I would add, garner the same interest accorded to women writers who describe other cultures, confirming modern fiction’s role as a form of reportage, personalised bulletins from far away places, including not just geography but the territory of youth,class and history.
More broadly, Cusk argues, women today are in many ways as defined by their relations to property as they were in Austen’s age, and the degree of their dependence on powerful men. We live in a post feminist period, that began in many ways circa the late seventies, in which we have not only obliterated our debt to feminism and the profound changes it has made in womens’ lives but that prohibits a shared public conversation about the truth of much female experience.
So are we ripe is for the return of a more public feminist politics, an end to surface reasonableness, conformity, the release of long pent up wholly legitimate resentments? Given the political ‘repetitions’ of some form of feminist movement from the mid 19th century onwards, I would argue that, yes, it’s about time for another cultural revolution, in every sense of the word.