Today, in 2019, as a woman writer, I feel like a more appropriate title should be “A Living/Kitchen/Laundry/Play/Hallway/Bed Room of One’s Own” because I write in all of these rooms. I write on the couch, I write in between diaper changes, I write between answering emails and phone calls, I write in the car…
And perhaps, for all of those reasons, the 2019 version of Woolf’s essay should be called “A Phone of One’s Own” because I write mostly in the “Notes” feature of my phone. How amazing is that?! Technology has provided me the ability to write almost in any location and almost at any time – at dawn, during the afternoon, in the midnight hours – and then, at the park, at the doctor’s office, during an insanely long committee meeting. When it comes to a room of my own, the possibilities are endless. And, that’s a good thing, right?
If I stop and reflect though, is this really the progress that Woolf was referring to?
As a woman in the year 2019, I don’t need a room of my own. Instead rather, I desperately need a TIME of my own. If we are being honest with one another (and why bother if not), the truth is, I don’t struggle with space, I struggle with time. I struggle with having a time of my own. There are days I consider my ten minute shower the only time of my own I have – with the baby bouncer on the floor on the outside of the glass screen, of course. In all seriousness, I want us to consider that maybe the fight for women today is to claim our own time. I wonder how many other women struggle with a “Time of Their Own”?
Now that space is at my fingertips, how do I claim a time of my own?
As a professional, a mom, an advocate, a wife, and as all of the other roles I tie myself to in order to create this beautiful life of mine, I wonder about the possibility of claiming a time of my own. I argue that our new struggle as women is not finding the space to express our intellect, but the time to express our intellect. We need “thinking time” of our own to reflect, to ponder, to dream, to write, and to grow. How often do we set aside time for ourselves as women? If like me, my time comes at the end of the day which some days doesn’t come. It isn’t as though I don’t have a supportive family, that’s not the case at all. The truth is that as a society, we have placed time to ourselves on the back burner. I think this is especially true for women.
Some days I feel like a worker bee, hastily moving from task to task without ceasing. Claiming a time of one’s own seems to have gone away with candlelit desks and quill pens. But maybe, this needs to be an initiative, an intentional quest to claim this elusive construct called time. I am afraid that the failure to claim time for ourselves as women may create struggles within our society and the difference in making this a priority versus not, may be the difference in the existence of the thinking woman versus the non-thinking woman. Don’t get me wrong – I am a big fan of Ralph Waldo Emerson and The American Scholar. I believe we should fill our lives with much more action than sitting around thinking or rather studying the ways of other thinkers. I would argue, however, that thinking and action are not completely in opposition. I would argue that the action of thinking has gotten away from women because for many of us, a time of our own must be intentionally scheduled, borrowed, stolen, begged for, and even secretly hidden. For women, when did time become so difficult to claim? How do we get it back?
Jennifer Boyle was born and raised in the foothills of North Carolina. She now lives in Lexington, NC and is a lover of rhetoric, western style liver-mush, education, BBQ, and fully embracing her mountain mama self to two little boys and one spirited husband.