Friday, June 8

A Room of One's Own

One of my favorite texts by my beloved Virginia Woolf. In this book, the exceptional author talks about creative women and how they are denied a place under the sun. Woolf poses the question of why we don't have a female counterpart for Shakespeare. She then imagines a fictional character, Shakespeare's sister, and explains through her the numerous obstacles which face a woman who wants to write. While this sister cooks and cleans, her brother is allowed a peaceful solitude in a room of his own, where he can explore his creativity and experiment with it. He has access to theatres and producers. He is allowed the freedom to express himself and exercise his talent. She may be more talented than him, but her life forces her to stay in the shadow and prevents her from showing this talent.

Woolf then talks about the idea of independence. In this sense, a room of one's one, becomes a space. A space where a woman can have her privacy.. where she can work and think. She also needs financial independence in order to secure this space for herself. A Room of One's Own is a brilliant text, with very solid arguments and interesting ideas.

Yet, this is not my subject. I owe the idea of this post to Egypt Rose. Thanks to her sweet compliment, she compared my writing style to that of great writers, and urged me to consider professional writing. Sometimes my mind runs through so many things as a result of a random stream of consciousness where one thought leads to another. When I read what she said I went like: "Why haven't I tried even for once to publish what I write?" "Why don't we have popular female novelists in Egypt nowadays?" There are many great female novelists like Ahdaf Souif, Nawal ElSaadawi, and others. But they aren't as popular as the male authors. They don't have a bestselling novel. I then remembered Woolf's words. How is a woman expected to be creative and have a writing career with all the loads and pressures she is subjected to in our society.

I then remembered how I used to keep a diary when I was in elementary school. I remembered how my mom used to sneak behind my back to get access to them and read them without caring to ask if it was ok with me or not. The way she denied me a room of my own, a space of privacy, a breath of air, has caused me to quit writing my memoirs altogether. It took me a long time to start realizing that I should fight for my existence and my rights. Writing is an act that needs privacy but aims to reach the public. My pains will only have value when shared. Instead of burying the pain in one's chest until it destroys her, pain can be expressed and spread out for relief as well as for education. Education itself is painful. You have to go along the passage of thorns in order to gather the roses. But I learned that lesson late in life and I wish I had learned it earlier.
My admiration for Virginia Woolf made many friends predict that I will meet the fate she had; by that they meant going mad and commiting suicide. I would answer back saying that I truely wish I would follow her footsteps, but I meant her literary and intellectual achievements, her talent, her fruitful life, and having a wonderful man by her side (Leonard Woolf). People always have different readings of anything. It is only if you have a room of your own that you come up with your own reading, find your own voice and discover your own self.


Eyad Harfoush said...

I agree to her view about Shakspear sister, regarding the space of creation available for woman by this era, lately I think there are almost equal space. e.g. Nawal Sadawi three major books (Female the Origin, Man & Sex, Woman and Psychological Disturbances) were best selling one day in 70s. Yet, from my own obersvation, women are more prominent in creation from materialized elements (e.g. Painting & handcrafts) and men are more into creation from non-materialized elements (poetry & music) and this is sort of diversity not superiority of one gender

Egypt Rose said...

My Sweet Fantasia,
Thank you very much for your words about me, but it is true about you.

I have a very personal experience in this, I am a good writer as all say, as all writers some times words come from no where and if I do not have a pen and paper (laptop now) I will lose the words, one of my friends used to have a website and asked me if I would like to publish what I’m writing, it sounds good in fact, but when it comes to publishing it was very DISAPPOINTED , I wrote a short long novel about two lesbian partners, and that one of them born lesbian not like every body say about them “ they become lesbians because of old bad experience with males” it is half true story I know from a very closed friend of mine and both are more than happy in their relation.

This is not the point, every body read this novel and she/he does not know me said the writer sure is lesbian!!! I am a very happy married female and a mother for beloved 5 years son!! So what every woman writes every body will say she is exactly as she wrote??? What a nice society we are in.

So I changed my writing to become some how as reports, studies, and articles, I have to read more and more to increase professional style, as well I still writing short novels but I send it to me very close friends only. Maybe in the coming future I may publish something and I will thank you in the introduction!!

اجندا حمرا said...

dear fantasia
another impressive post from u dear,thank u for it.
as virginia wolf wrote in this novel,sometimes a girl can be more creative than her brother for example but her parents doesnt support her or encourage her to make use of such creativity ,they always get her down by always reminding her she is a girl and she should behave a certain way.through this her talent can be killed :(

the issue of independancy is very very important to women,cause through this they can set themselves free,cause from what i heard lots of women cant ask about their rights because they r not independant finanially for example and u know money is very important ,it gives power to the giver and makes him gain control over women so first step in my opinion for being free is to be independant

actually i do agree with what egypt rose said to u fantasia ,u r so talented and your way of writing resembles great names ,what i like about the way u write is that it is always to the point and with simple words and very powerful

i think u should try publishing what u write
u have your own interesting style and im sure it will attracts lots of fans;)

i loved what u said(writing is an act need privacy but aims to reach the public)u r right dear,when u have an interesting way of writing and u r beliving strongly in something,u shouldnt keep it within yourself cause the chance that with what u r writing someone's else life can be changed to the better is present

when we feel the pain like u said and we keep it within ourselves it eats us out but there r lots of way to express our pain and i think creative writings come fom the most unexpected ways

i loved what u wrote at the end of the passage
finding our own place in this world can help us reach our goals and eventually discovering our true selves
thank u fantasia for the wonderful post and i hope someday im gonna go to a library and ask for something u published im sure it's gonna be a smash hit u know why?because u r writing from your heart
best regards to you dear:-)

اجندا حمرا said...

egypt rose
i was reading your comment to fantasia and i stopped at what u wrote about that story u were writing about those two girls as a couple
i would love to read it if u dont mind

it sounded so interesting to me
u r right sometimes even in movies when the hero is playing the role of a villain people get out of the movie hating that actor to guts when he is only doin his job nothing more nothing less
people and society in general tend to see things through one dimention
they dont tire themselves through thinking
they take things at face value and in a personal way
im sure that story u were tellin fantasia about is very interesting and i would love to read it i hope u will give me this previlege
best regards to you too and i wish u good luck in your writing career and your life in general

Miss Egyptiana "Trapped Soul" said...

First of all I disagree with eyad on his diversity theory, creation doesn’t look at gender, For ex: the most famous painters all over the world are men, while some of the most important writers in the human history are women ….It is about finding the ones own passion.

It is true that we are denied the bless of creativity, overloaded with responsibilities since our earlier age, a girl will find time to serve her family or write!!! Moreover, the jealousy of the father on his girl, and the brother from his sister, and the husband from his wife, tend to increase the seals over women minds… how a man will face his community if they knew that a woman of any relation to him is more brilliant and smart!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And finally…
I decided to do exactly as u said dear fantasia… hold my pen and papers and write… there is no point in keeping my sadness inside … there is no use of holding my thoughts inside… writing is my way out… and I will race to it.

Thanks for the inspiring post and waiting for more of you…

Fantasia said...

the space is never equal. As we did disagree before and then you discovered that we don't all suffer the same, I believe this time you will come out with the same results, maybe later.
Published female authors are only a fraction and they don't sell as good as their male counterparts. Their works are not welcomed with the same enthusiasm, but with criticism, never objective, but for the sake of criticising female writing. And as egypt rose said, they always tend to see a woman's writing as a personal autobiography, as if a woman can't be creative enough to write about the product of her imagination. The space is never equal, believe me.

Fantasia said...

egypt rose:
Thanks for inspiring this post as well as providing more topics for discussion.
As I said in the previous comment, it is always the same when women write. Thier writings are not taken seriously, and their literature is not treated as a work of art, but rather as a let out of personal experience. It is so sad, but we can't let this turn us down. You own your pen and having absolute control over your pen is the first step towards gaining control of your life. Move on, take a breath and unleash the dragon, then you can fly. Don't put a wish list, start now. Don't say maybe, let it be. Wanna to read my name in your introduction so soon.

Fantasia said...

What a sweet person you are! Thank you dear for all this support. You charged me with lots of energy and motivation.
Independency is the key issue here. You are absolutely right. If you are independent, you can make it. As long as we spend our lives in waiting for others our achievements will be zero. We have to believe in ourselves enough and to think of ourselves as adults, not babies. Only babies are dependent, and their dependency is respected because it has a cause. For a woman to be dependent is humiliating. I wish all women can see this truth.
Thanks also for your response to egypt rose's comment. It is wonderful spirit. Let's encourage each other as much as possible.

Fantasia said...

I agree with what you said about creativity. We all have the same mental skills, the difference lies in who gets the chance to show them.
You've also touched on the issue of jealousy and how a woman must sacrifice her being in order to make men feel better. This is exactly stated in Virginia Woolf's book when she says that women act as mirrors for men where they can see themselves double their actual size. Which means that if women don't show they are smart, men take this to mean that they are smarter than women, and so on.
I am sooooo happy that this post inspired you enough to hold your pen. This is your weapon, don't ever throw it back. Love to read everything you write. Best of luck.

Eyad Harfoush said...

Wondering why the production of the "angry feminist" slowed down lately? Miss your posts Fantasia

Rodrigo said...

Oi, achei teu blog pelo google tá bem interessante gostei desse post. Quando der dá uma passada pelo meu blog, é sobre camisetas personalizadas, mostra passo a passo como criar uma camiseta personalizada bem maneira. Até mais.

اجندا حمرا said...


im glad u r charged with lots of energy and motivation u need to keep writing dear
we all miss u here where r u?

im glad u agreed with me on the independance issue
i remember when mom started suspecting im reading in different religions her attitude was like a shock to me when she said if u will convert or have converted u r no longer welcome here (knowing i cant afford to go and live on my own)
see the independance is very important in situations like this when they start threatening us by kicking us out of the house for thinking just thinking

u r absolutely right dear we should start thinking by ourselves
waiting for others to give us this previlege will make us wait like forever cause to be honest with u there is nobody who will want to see another one 100 percent successful without envying him or her
it is in our nature
so we should work towards being successful and stop looking for approval from others

we should encourage each other as much as we can specially if we have same or similar goals everybody needs to hear some words of encouragement to keep goin but the main spirit should come from within us
u r always most welcome dear wee yalla ba2a come back soon wa7shtina awi:-)

Egypt Rose said...

Where are you lady? I do miss your writing, hope things are fine with you.

د /إياد حرفوش said...

Dear Fantasia,
I wish the energetic fighting feminist is fine... it has been too long?

Egypt Rose said...

هم اغتالوكي ولا ايه .. رحتي فين .. حد زعلك اضربهولك .. ولا الافكار طارت من دماغك .. ولا في الشغل مغلسين عليكي على النت .. اكتبي حتى ولو صباح الخير يا مصر علشان محبيكي ومحبي مصر .. حبيتي مصر النهاردة

Fantasia said...

Dear friends,
Really miss you all. Sorry for not writing for such a long time. I'm busy like hell and I'm travelling inside and outside Egypt. I'm grateful I could have those few minutes to read your comments. I'm so touched, thanks a lot for your concern. Will be back soon. I'm alive and kicking ;)

اجندا حمرا said...

dear fantasia
el 7amdolelah u r fine
yalla ba2a get back soon
we all miss u here
allow me to wish u good luck wherever u r my dear and to come back besalama inshaallah more motivated more energized and more beautiful as usual with your posts
we all miss u here so very much bgad

Fantasia said...


Thanks for caring about my absence. I'm back and will try to heat up the tempo on this blog.

Fantasia said...

Couldn't understand a word, but thanks for stopping by.

Fantasia said...

Thanks a lot for your concern. I am back and will be blogging more frequently in the coming days.
What you said about your mom's reaction when you read different religions is almost a cut and paste from what happened between me and my own mom. I believe she was horrified. It took her so long to see that I had a brain that is not so easy to sway.
Wanna read more of your comments.

Fantasia said...

egypt rose:
Most beautiful rose, thanks for your concern. I explained the reasons for my long absence. Still got a few days ahead to settle down after all those trips. Will be active soon. But now I know who to go to when anybody annoys me :) Thanks dear.

اجندا حمرا said...

dear fantasia
seems we r on the same ground here regarding our own's mothers reactions towards the religion part
well i agree with u maybe the horrifying part in addition to getting astonished that the young innocent cute girl who never argues started to go her own way and thinking in a different way from the way she usd to see
but it was really a turning point for me and it made me realize how important to be independant cause simply even the most closest people to us can give up on us anytime
thak u my dear and me too looking forward to more of your impressive interesting writings:-)

"When I dare to be powerful - to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid" - Audre Lorde