Dedication of the Cook
If any ask why there’s no great She-Poet,
Let him come live with me, and he will know it:
If I’d indite an ode or mend a sonnet,
I must go choose a dish or tie a bonnet,
For she who serves in forced virginity
Since I am wedded will not leave me free;
And those new flowers my garden is so rich in
Must die for clammy odors of my kitchen.
We all know that one good impact of the second wave of women’s movement in 1960s is the “awakening” of women writers. Many literary works written by women writers in the previous decades and centuries have been dug out again and republished so that they can be read again by the following generation of readers. Some names ‘resurrected’ by this women’s movement, for example, are Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Kate Chopin, Anna Wickham, etc. Those names, then, accompanied some other women writers who have been long acknowledged before, such as Jane Austen, George Eliot, Emily Dickinson, etc.
As one proof that women critics are serious to boost women’s works is the publication of The Norton Anthology of Literature by Women by Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar as the company of The Norton Anthology of American Literature, The Norton Anthology of English Literature, and some other anthologies published by W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
It is indeed undeniable that the impact of women’s movement is more and more women have career outside home, not just become the angel of the house, or the doll of the house. More and more women are economically independent. They can choose any profession they are attracted to do, and not just be a homemaker, doing household chores, ranging from cooking, sewing, cleaning the house, doing the laundry, until serving the husband. They have more time to do anything they like.
If this is related to the first stanza of Wickham’s poem above, it is understandable why in the past women couldn’t become a great poet, such as William Wordsworth from England, or Walt Whitman from America; couldn’t become a great dramatist such as William Shakespeare. In the past, most women were busy doing the “burden” given to their shoulder, such taking care of their children to prepare them as the good following generation to lead the country, cooking the best food coz the children needed good nutrition, taking care of their husband who were busy doing their business outside home. How could they have time to write good poems or plays or novels? We know that great women writers such as George Eliot, the Bronte’s sisters, and Emily Dickinson were never married during their lifetime.
In this twenty first century, where writing is no longer exclusively “occupied” by men, I am pretty sure that there will be more and more women writers born. In her A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf stated that “Books continue each other.” There will be no more “mainstream” literature defined by men only. No more women need to use male pseudonym (just like George Eliot or the Bronte’s sisters) only to make their writings accepted by society.
For myself, thanks to blog technology that has made me a writer. :)
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