Rhetorically Speaking

For a while I've been chugging along through Virginia Woolf's "A Room of One's Own," an essay that she wrote in 1925 about women and fiction writing. I'll admit that I'm not yet done reading it, but this won't keep me from offering commentary.

It's a good deal of fun, well it's a bit hard to get into, but now that I'm into it I'm very glad to be reading it. It's one of those books that, I know, I'll have to reread a few times because there has to be a ton of stuff that I'm missing, but that's all a pleasure.

I really like Virginia Woolf for two reasons. One, stylistically she's a gem, and the words and craft are just amazing even if you don't feel like you understand what she's saying or the point she's ultimately trying to make (which is where I am right now. Two, I really like the ideas and theories she presents about women, men, their relationships and society. She approaches feminism from a balanced position, and doesn't (or couldn't have, more properly) take any political baggage.

Additionally, she completely avoids category theory, because men were men, women were women, and your "label" was accepted. And there's a measure of rhetorical elegance to that. Category stuff is really important, and ultimately I think it helps larger gender theories to have some measure of proficiency with category theory, but too much and you get drowned in meta-talk.

Having said all of that, I don't think that Virginia Woolf was much of a theorist in the first place. She was just a thinking person with a good deal of insight that was able to communicate the injustices that she saw. In one sense, that's all a 'movement' needs, people talking and thinking, the truth and a little bit of momentum. Fancy language and talk of theory is really secondary. So if you present feminism, or any argument for social justice in the right way with the right kind of power, you can't help but succeed. Good rhetorical ability is invaluable, but after a certain point, rhetoric alone serves no end.

I'll leave you with that. Happy Solstice Holiday(s), to you all, and I'm sorry for our vacation. We have stuff in the works and more posts coming soon, I promise.

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