Money Runs the World, But Who has the Money?

“But, you may say, we asked you to speak about women and fiction — what has that got to do with a room of one’s own?  I will try to explain.”  ~ Virginia Woolf.

These were the opening words to Virginia Woolf’s speech entitled A Room of One’s Own. Although Woolf delivered the speech in 1928, its theories are quite relevant to today.  Throughout her speech, Woolf stresses the point that women need 500 pounds a year for the rest of their lives and a room of their own in order to become a writer.  By this I believe that she meant that a woman must be independent to become a writer; she must have her own money to spend and her own room to write in.

Woolf says that with a “Room of One’s Own,” a writer will thrive.  It is not, however, simply a room to call your own.  I have my own bedroom, but that doesn’t keep my mom from storming in and telling me to wash the dishes or clean my room while I’m in the middle of writing a paper.  Maybe if I had a lock on my door and some Beats by Dr Dre to drown out the noise, or better yet, if I lived by myself, “a room of one’s own” would serve its purpose.

For example, when you are doing a calculation in your head and someone shouts out a random number, you lose your train of thought and sometimes you may never have that thought again.  Having a private room means being free from distractions.

The biggest distraction, Woolf describes, is family.  Women are made to be the “heroes” of the family.  One of my friends posted a quote on her Facebook, it read: “My mom carried me in her womb for [nine] months… Then she became my nurse, my chef, my maid, my chauffeur, my biggest fan, my teacher, & my best friend.”  I take for granted the things that my mom does for me, and I’m sure a lot of other people do as well.

In the chapter titled “Feminism’s Legacy,” from the book, A History Of U.S. Feminisms, it says that women wish to “liberate themselves from the demand [to] “do it all.””  Because the baby is crying, her husband can’t find his car keys, her son wants to show her his science project, and her daughter needs help doing her hair, she has no time to herself and certainly no time to write; it is impossible for any woman to take the time to write when she has children and a husband to take care of.

In A History of U.S. Feminisms, Rory Dicker says, “since girls didn’t come into the world knowing how to cook, iron, sew, do laundry, or take care of children… they could be taught different behaviors and traits and develop different aspirations.”  Women do not automatically become “heroes,” but, bell hooks says, they develop these ideas through the influence of “sexist thinking… [that has been] socialized by parents and society.”  Because sexist roles are introduced during childhood, bell hooks believes that “children’s literature is one of the most crucial sites for feminist education.”

When family isn’t a distraction, money becomes a distraction, because you can spend as much time as you want in “your room,” but you may not have the money to keep the lights on.  Which comes to Woolf’s next argument that a writer needs money.  Today, feminist bloggers receive little to no income.  Courtney E. Martin addressed in her Nation article that blogs like Feministing receive the majority of their revenue from “third-party advertising, like Google AdWords… but most often there is no money left over – after tech and hosting fees- to pay [their] eleven bloggers.”  This means that the bloggers at Feministing must have a second job in order to take care of themselves financially, this also means that they can’t put as much effort into blogging because they must first worry about paying the rent and eating.

In A History if U.S. Feminisms, Dicker tells the story of a feminist by the name of Elizabeth Cady Stanton.  Soon after Stanton started making some real strides towards sex equality, her father went bankrupt, “she was [then] forced to leave school and seek employment as a teenager, a job at which she worked for more than ten years.”  Because her father went bankrupt, she could no longer focus on her activism, now she had to worry about making a living.  As Stanton grew older, a husband and children distracted her.

Because of money, Martin says, [feminist activism] has “become the third shift.  You do your activist work, then you have a job to make money and then you blog on top of that.”

Woolf says, “The affect of tradition and of the lack of tradition upon the mind of a writer.”  Women not only had no tradition of female writers, but they had no tradition of money.  Woolf says, “if only Mrs. Seton and her mother and her mother before her had learnt Credit due to PhilanTopicthe great art of making money and had left their money … to found fellowships and lectureships and prizes and scholarships appropriated to the use of their own sex.”

Because women do not have a history of money, the campaign Women Moving Million was founded in order to pool together the money of prominent women around the world in order to benefit women around the world.

Woolf says that with money and a room of one’s own, a writer can strive.  Without money, however, it is impossible for her to have her own room, so I think what women really needed back then and today is money.  Women throughout our history haven’t typically been wealthy because we have been limited to low paying jobs, in order to become wealthy, we must step outside the boxes we have been confined to. In order for women to be good writers, they must have freedom, freedom from worrying about money and freedom to spend their time as they wish.

5 thoughts on “Money Runs the World, But Who has the Money?

  1. I love your quote from Facebook: “My mom carried me in her womb for [nine] months… Then she became my nurse, my chef, my maid, my chauffeur, my biggest fan, my teacher, & my best friend.” This is completely relevant to Room of One’s Own, because most of the time women are expected to be all of these things. This doesn’t leave a lot of room to conceive, produce and create art, yet women who end up not having children are still seen by our society in some ways as atypical, which is such a damaging and antiquated mindset.

  2. Now what about the rare women, who have money, who then have power. In what do they invest their money in. Plain stuff, such as maybe building a new stadium. This comes with the issue of forget all the trouble our ancestors went through for us, women to be where we are now.
    Referring to Elizabeth Cady Stanton, why is it that women are always the ones making compromises. It is as if our desires can just be put on hold. And maybe it is true. If no one takes a stand and revolts maybe it is true.

  3. I loved it when you said, “As American’s we like to think that we aren’t material beings, but money runs the world, and because women don’t typically have money, women don’t typically have power.” It’s so true. Our society loves to deny the fact but, honestly, money gets you everywhere in this country. Money has the power to manipulate EVERYTHING. I mean, even in the old times when the church had all the power, people could “buy” their way into heaven. This is why men have the power in our society––they have the money (based on the fact that women make about .70 to the man’s dollar). Plus, I also loved the way you added a personal element to this post.

  4. I like the comparison between the constraints society put on women in the 1920s and the (somewhat more benign) constraints put on them today by motherhood and the pressure to “have it all”. It shows why it’s so important that the personal is changed. Take couples with children: a father who is a hands-on father, who helps with the housework and child-rearing, can give his wife opportunity to write or do art or what have you. A man who is so wrapped up in antiquated parenting roles that his wife has to take on all the housework and childcare herself is also keeping her down.

  5. I found it very interesting when you quoted Dicker saying, “since girls didn’t come into the world knowing how to cook, iron, sew, do laundry, or take care of children… they could be taught different behaviors and traits and develop different aspirations.” I recently saw a video on YouTube of this woman and I typically am very inspired by this woman’s words. However, her most recent video really surprised me. She talked about women’s traditional roles. She said that she thinks women should embrace and accept these roles because they are beautiful to her. She painted an imaginary picture of the stereotypical stay-at-home mom with three kids cooking, cleaning, and caring for her children. This really angered me because she of all people should have realized that these gender roles are only limiting our abilities as women. We should be able to do what we really want to aspire to do, not what we are expected to do solely because of our sex.

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