Dustin’s Blog #1

I was intrigued by Virginia Woolf’s essay from A Room of One’s Own regarding artists and the necessity of “androgyny” within the psyche to fully encapsulate the “human condition.” The notion is compelling in that it seems a great author would be able to tap into this notion of separate sexual, or gender based, consciousness in order to craft a fully “balanced” piece of writing that would neither be too masculine or too feminine. I feel that Junot Diaz may have been able to master this in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, especially the sections that pertained specifically to the female characters. One glaring error of my approval of Diaz’s portrayal of the “female condition”-as well as the Dominican- is that my notions of what femininity, or Dominican femininity, consists of are being viewed through a white male’s perspective. So whereas I judge Diaz as being fairly accurate in this balance and portrayal of the female gender, I am only judging this through my own gender specific lens. In essence the problematic nature of Woolf’s viewpoint on androgyny is that the reader, or critic, determining which author is androgynous and which isn’t may always be crafted or viewed through a very gender specific lens. Whereas I am attempted to judge Diaz’s androgyny as an author through a masculine lens, Woolf is judging Shakespeare and Keats through a female’s. I had qualms with her passage that pointed out specific authors she believed to contain this balanced sense of authorship: “One must turn back to Shakespeare then, for Shakespeare was androgynous, and so was Keats and Sterne and Cowper and Lamb and Coleridge” (904). Even though she was critical of Kipling for being masculine aligned, she seemed to give Shakespeare and Coleridge an easy pass, without mentioning some of Shakespeare’s poor portrayals of women, or that a vast majority of his protagonists are males. I feel conflicted in the acceptance of this theory in that it is ideally a great notion, but in practice-and in the prescription of androgyny to certain authors-is problematic due to there being an eternal bias that will exist between the reader and their own gender specific consciousness. 

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