Something my breakout room group talked about the very first day when discussed the definition of feminine is how we were trying to define the term in using it’s comparison to men or masculinity in itself and something that struck me as I was reading was Woolf’s remarks on fictional women being defined in relation to the male characters in their stories and how much more interesting it would be if women could have complex, dynamic relationships all on their own. It also struck me that she expounded upon this after openly talking about the idea of “[s]ometimes women do like women” (Woolf 81). I was wondering if anybody else had any thoughts about this. Why order it this way? Or even any other thoughts on how we as a society define woman by defining man?

Defining Women through Men

One thought on “Defining Women through Men

  • September 4, 2020 at 11:03 am

    I think that women are often defined by defining men by forcing us to be a submissive counterpart to the Man (the toxic man more specifically). If a man wants to feel brave and strong we must beg for help and swoon when he does the bare minimum. So women must validate themselves based on the approval of men, and must define themselves based on the male gaze. I think that women are also often pitted against each other. Since even before Elinor Dashwood and Lucy Steele’s rivalry, women have competed with each other for an adventurous marriage, and even now you still see girls tearing each other down because they are interested in the same boy. Because of this, I think that Woolf prefaced her point about women being defined by defining men with “[s]ometimes women do like women” (Woolf 81), because she wants to acknowledge the complex nature of feminine relationships.

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