Before long? How long?

I’m reading E.M. Forster’s Two Cheers for Democracy and was struck by this passage written in 1941 criticizing Virginia Woolf for persisting in her feminism:

In my judgment there is something old-fashioned about this extreme feminism; it dates back to her suffragette youth of the 1910′s, when men kissed girls to distract them from wanting the vote, and very properly provoked her wrath. By the 1930′s she had much less to complain of, and seems to keep on grumbling from habit. She complained, and rightly, that though women today have won admission into the professions and trades they usually encounter a male conspiracy when they try to get to the top. But she did not appreciate that the conspiracy is weakening yearly, and that before long women will be quite as powerful for good or evil as men. She was sensible about the past; about the present she was sometimes unreasonable. However, I speak as a man here, and as an elderly one. The best judges of her feminism are neither elderly men nor even elderly women, but young women. If they, if the students of Fernham, think that it expresses an existent grievance, they are right.

Seventy years later it’s still an existent grievance. Forster had more hope for speedy change than I have.

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  1. Trackback: Two Cheers for Democracy « Xingu, Volume 2

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