“To do something very common, in my own way” :
The Growth of a Woman’s Consciousness
The history of human civilization has taken centuries to form and it continues to evolve every instant. There has never been talk of a ‘man’s civilization’ or a ‘woman’s civilization’ which is evidence of the fact of both man and woman starting from the same platform. The difference, nevertheless, has been in the trajectory of the evolution of these sub-species. What, however, could have caused this distinction?
The divide between the public and the private spheres has much to do with the formation of the categories of ‘man’ and ‘woman’. It is these spheres that have long determined the status of both and ...view middle of the document...
And so we need more women like Adrianne Rich and Anais Nin who, in the words of Evelyn Hinz, “are proud to be women and are concerned with articulating what womanhood means- for themselves, for other women, and for men” (xii).
There are 2 ways for liberation from traditional gender patterns, Nin suggests. One is the political way- changing laws and fighting for equality. The other is the psychological way- “the removal of obstacles so that you can create your own freedom and you don’t have to ask for it. You don’t have to wait for it to be given to you” (51).
“[T]he great changes in the world will come from a great change in our consciousness” (Nin 2). “Today we have questioned everything, but we have also entered into some negative rebellion- against rather than for” (Nin 2). The problem is simply this- women have come to realize what they’re against, but they do not know how to build a different world for themselves. Nin points this out in one of her lectures- “[a]nd this is what I want woman so much to do- start building a different kind of woman, a different world, without spending too much time on extremes” (34). This is, also, a trap that various strands of feminism have fallen into- the trap of becoming so ‘anti’-establishment that the real cause of women’s upliftment is diluted. The thrust must, therefore, be ‘for’ the development of a women’s subculture rather than ‘against’ that of men.
An important question at this stage would be- what should be the starting point for women to attain this? Women must turn inwards to themselves, to their “creative will” that needs to be awakened from repressive slumber. However, they seem to be entrapped between the fear of asserting themselves and that of not realizing their potential. The first fear entails disappointing dear ones and the second, disappointing themselves. But, “[w]e need to be liberated, to think individually” (Nin 53).
Anais Nin makes another very pertinent point about growth saying that our growth inspires and enriches those around us; it doesn’t inhibit others. In the same strain she continues to say:
Women forgot that, and they think that perhaps whatever they achieve is at the expense of their personal world and will somehow destroy their personal world. They never thought that whatever they became was in turn poured back into the personal world and enriched it, that they were enriching their children, […] their husband, […] their neighbors. […] for woman it was worse because she was not expected to produce in the first place. She was not expected to create. Culture […] didn’t demand anything of her except the fulfillment of her personal duties. So this was not an incentive for woman to develop whatever gift she had. (37- 38)
This impetus of culture, thus, led to a loss of impetus towards creation (creation in the sense of- ‘to create’ anything) in the case of women. It led, also, to what may be called “the split” (Rich 194) in women- the split between who they were...