Stephen Cheng English 1A MTWTh 4:30-7:20 July 6, 2010 Gomez Essay #2 Draft Culture is defined as an individual’s knowledge to function in society. Virginia Woolf and bell hooks are products of a society where they are on an uneven playing field. Woolf grew up in the late 1800’s and into the early 20thcentury in a high status family. She saw the indifferences that the two genders have and she dedicated her work to make the differences apparent and leveled. Bell hooks is a minority writer who moves away from the usual idea of a feminist and includes the acceptance of human qualities. They both seek equality for women and have different views of achieving this goal. Woolf’s views are constructed for the early 20th century feminist and as generations pass bell hooks is enabled to freely express the modern feminist’s idea for full unification. Each writer had their obstacles to pass and hooks’ idea of a liberal feminist conflict with Woolf’s approach to feminism. Virginia Woolf was one of the few women of history to receive an education and soon she saw the oppression of her gender and wanted to act. Woolf writes her narration as an “any” woman’s point of view and shows “fictional” situations of unfair treatment of women which lead to. Her technique of writing a fictional book is to provoke the reader’s thoughts on what is actually happening in the world around them. When Woolf writes in the first person she refers herself as “Mary Beton, Mary Seton, Mary Carmichael or by any name you please- it is not a matter of any importance” (Woolf 21), she attempts to gauge the feelings of all the females out there, but in fact her arguments are one sided, but for a reason. Woolf style of the whole gender as an individual gives the audience, who are most likely the educated males, a relation to the experiences of a single person and how they may affect one’s thoughts. The targeted audience for her book was not the lower class, but the educated, and if she was to evoke some social change she would have to show events that are relatable to the readers. Her primary examples of the inequality were the different school experiences that the two genders had, she first describes the male University to be “the age of reason, still the same gold and silver went on; fellowships were founded; lectureships endowed” (Woolf 24), she also continues with the accommodations of the male’s mess halls to have “wineglasses had flushed yellow and flushed crimson; had been emptied; had been filled” (24). Woolf uses a luxurious example to show that these students from aristocrat families do not have a care in anyone else but themselves. She also goes on to writing about the female side of education experience where the campus environment is unkempt and the instructors are unnamed. With a fictional piece of work, Woolf is able to show the extremes of the two sides to make some of her readers envious and others question the reality that occurs. After the “false” descriptions of the schools Woolf continues to write with a fictional aspect with stories that do not end well for a female protagonist. One of these anecdotes, she creates an imagined twin sister of William Shakespeare who shares the same aspirations and talent. She first displays the capabilities of William when he is able to attend school to learn about “Ovid, Virgil and Horace- and the elements of grammar and logic” (33) and later pursue his interest in theatre where he would know everyone and get access to the queen. The fictional sister that Woolf creates does not have the advantages that William had, but shared the same love for literature and “perhaps she scribbled some pages up in an apple loft on the sly, but was careful to hide them or set fire to them” (33) and as she followed her interest in theatre she was laughed at because female actresses were never casted. After all the negative influences that disabled her to accomplish anything, she saw no future for herself and then committed suicide. Woolf uses the twin of Shakespeare because of his notoriety and Shakespeare’s ability to incorporate real human thoughts and feelings into his plays. Woolf’s idea to level out the two tiered system is to evoke a psychological way of thinking for gender equality. She writes about the androgynous mind and how it could be used to create equality. Woolf takes the idea of Coleridge’s idea of an androgynous mind she quotes Coleridge “a great mind is androgynous, that it is a mind that has any special sympathy with women; a mind that takes up their cause or devotes itself to their interpretation” (37) . What Woolf takes from Coleridge is the fact “that the androgynous mind is resonant and porous; that it transmits emotion without impediment; that it is naturally creative, incandescent and undivided” (37). Woolf’s interpretation is revolutionary for the early 20th century in that there is no special acceptance when a mind thinks androgynously, but it will think as an individual and be able to interpret without influence. Bell hooks’ essay on feminism diverges from the androgynous mind into a modern point of view. She writes from a post World War II era where women have won suffrage, but there is still inequality of the genders throughout classes, race, and social status. Her main point of view on feminism is that she is an advocate, but dislikes the liberal feminist ideas. Hook’s definition of a liberal feminist is a radical privileged white woman who encourage black woman to contribute life stories. For this assumption that black women are supplementary to the cause, hooks targets these bourgeois and liberal feminist for leaving out status equality along with feminism. Hooks takes the excerpt from the Huston conference of 1978 and finds the faults that the liberal feminists create, and describes the conference’s reformation as “an assumption that they eradicate systems of domination” (hooks 67). Woolf’s views collide with bell hooks’ views on feminism. Hooks does not call out on any individual, but attacks the white feminists and shows that they do not follow what they protest for because they only seem to fight for upper class equality. Hooks criticizes the reinforcement of capitalism, and materialism that the liberal feminists protest for because she sees that what they fight for is not for the liberation of women economically. All the points that the Huston conference still relies on an oppressor and do not change the mindset of the population, hooks explains that a nationalized idea will not change the psychology, but a movement not lead by people of high status. Hooks’ feminist is defined as a “prepackaged role women can now select as the search for identity”, (hooks 73). As a woman from the era of baby boomers, she saw how society had withered the connotation of feminists so she diverges into a sect that is an advocate for feminism. Hooks includes the lower class and looks down upon the bourgeois and liberal feminists who fight for “equality”. She notices from Women and the New World that feminists from the past saw the males as oppressors and she quotes from the pamphlet: “We saw all women as being our allies and men being the oppressor. We never questioned the extent to which American women accept the same materialistic and individualistic values as American men. We did not stop to think that American women are just as reluctant as American men to struggle for a new society base on new values of mutual respect, cooperation and social responsibility” (anonymous 66) What this pamphlet states is the idea that the feminist advocate follows, it is not just the leveling of the system, but an acceptance of the other and acknowledging that it is not all positive strengthening to be a male. Hooks was able to criticize because of the hypocrisy she finds from the liberal feminists, but the liberal feminists come from an earlier generation, where racial equality was hard enough to achieve and ideas from women would be tossed out without a thought. Hooks was capable of articulating the wrongs that the feminists from the past had done, but they still had the same goal of attempting to be accepted. The change of lifestyles that the 20th century exhibited has modernized the new generation’s techniques of approaching subjects of human rights. Woolf had to write in an evasive manner to produce questions from the reader to depict what was fiction or what was reality. Woolf also only included the problems of the upper class women because it was her culture and what she knew, she also knew that she was one of the few women that were educated and to be published she had to write in a seemingly sarcastic approach. Hooks reaped the benefits of being in the age of social acceptance. The goal of hooks was similar to Woolf, but she looked down upon the capitalistic elitist feminists of the past. Woolf took small steps towards gender equality because of the era she was from, and building from that, hooks was able to take a leap for both status and gender equality.