Thursday, June 05, 2003

We Have Brains

In response to the following:

A Room of Your Own
June 3, 2003 08:49 AM

...what is the female equal to a garage? The house is a shared family place, yet, in our culture, the garage is primarily a male bolt-hole. Where do females go when they need a place?

Why is it that this exists? Does this inequality in 'rooms of one's own' exist in your life? Or do you and each member of your family - past and present - have their own space as well as a common space for all to come together? How do you define this space? Do you feel that this is a necessary space for you? Do you feel that females are more willing to compromise their space to nurture a space for others? And, if you could have your ideal room - space - that was all yours, how would it look?

I have always been one who needed her own space. Whether that be space to breathe (personal space), space to think and reflect (my blog and my many journals), or space to be alone with myself (my bedroom).

That is what it means to have "A Room of One's Own." When Virginia Woolf gave the lectures that would later become A Room of One's Own, she--I'd wager--didn't mean that a woman needed to have a literal architectural space to herself. She just needed to have space.

Most female spaces in Woolf's times were compromised. A woman's personal space was limited by the law--a law that, in Canada, did not recognize women's personhood until years after they were granted the right to vote. A woman had to fight for the right to hold her own possessions and the right to claim inheritance. She could not have control over personal space, then, if she was not even a person!

She certainly couldn't have much time to reflect either. Motherhood (really the oldest profession--sorry, Rahab) is a full-time job. By the time a mother gets a moment to herself, she's too exhausted to write much, if anything. The sparse journals my own mother kept when my siblings and I were younger are a testament to this. Half-pages of broken sentences detailing the days activities read more like shopping lists than dreams for herself or for her children. Though she may have owned a physical space in which could reflect, my mother did not have a temporal one. This is precisely why I think Woolf's "room" to be an abstract one.

A woman--or a man, for that matter--may have a personal or a physical space in which to breathe, to think, to create; however, nothing will ever become of that space unless she has the time to use it. A temporal geography must then take precedence over a physical one.

Though it is important for me to have my own room within a home--whether it be my own apartment, or my parents' house--it is more important that I have the time to inhabit that space. I need a frame of time--a temporal room, if you'll pardon the heavy-handedness of that statement--of my own. I need time in which I can quietly meditate upon whatever comes to mind.

I can take a blanket or book of mine into a room and--so long as I have time to myself--I am in my own room. Yet, I can still feel at home with less. If I have that quiet time, that Natalie Time, those moments where I can retreat into my head--that space where truly no one else may enter--I have a room of my own. Because, really, when all is said and done, one can never be at home in any room if one's not first at home within oneself.

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