Last month Rachel Cusk had a brilliant article in the Guardian on women’s writing. She made several good points that illustrate the conundrum many of us find ourselves in. Importantly, she asked whether women’s writing should seek equivalence or distinction from its male counterpart. She’s inclined to agree with Simone de Beauvoir and Virginia Woolf and think the latter. Just as we need a room of our own, we should rightly have a literature of our own. Not simply writing by women, but writing that ‘arises out of, and is shaped by, a set of specifically female conditions’.
She also acknowledged people were sure to question: Why does it have to be politicised? Why can’t we just get on with it?
I’ve managed to misplace the article, so I can’t give proper attribution, but I clipped a quote which might just sum it up. In any case, it gives pause for thought – which is something I plan on doing a lot when my teeth stop hurting.
‘This is an important book,’ the critic assumes, ‘because it deals with war.’
‘This is an insignificant book because it deals with the feelings of women in a drawing-room.’
Eighty years after A Room of One’s Own was first published – and 50 years after The Second Sex – the same value system prevails.