3 Guineas (Blog 5 of 8)

Virginia Woolf makes the case that she agrees with the sentiments of her countrymen on the desire not to be at war. 

“And we echo your words. War is an abomination; a barbarity; war must be stopped.” (14) 

However, she also does some leading by the hand as it is impossible to help in the effort for women: 

“We have no weapon with which to enforce our will.” (16) 

As women are valued less in society at that time, so too will their voice and opinion also be less valued. Empowerment is important because without it women have no leverage with which to how society will act. Virginia Woolf goes on to compare being a woman to slavery, having no rights in important decision making, and the ill effects that can have. It's hard to imagine a woman at this time period, especially Virginia Woolf, comparing herself to a slave. Is this overdramatic? They do have some things in common, and could be treated terribly, but the stigma is very different.  

I also wonder if the timing of this book was really the best on the eve of the war. While the comparisons are apt, war is such a massive abyss that everyone was sucked in, and women’s rights were kind of swept to the side until the fight was picked up afterwards. Was she judged harshly for writing this? Would it have been better for the suffragette movement if she timed the book after the war instead? 

I’m also interested in the idea of treating people like currency, guineas versus a sixpence. One has more value and weight than the other. So often this happens in real life, even now. We’re judged by how much money we make or our success rather than if we are good people or contribute to the community.


I found one of the points she made early on to be quite illuminating on the role of some women in midst of war. She mentions the various roles women took on in WWI, like nursing injured soldiers and working in factories, adding that some were "still attended by their maids" (71). She claims that these efforts stemmed, at least in part, from their disatisfaction with their domestic lives, writing "so profound was her unconscious loathing for the education of the private house with its cruelty, its poverty, is hypocrisy, its immorality, its inanity that she would undertake any task however menial, exercise any fascination however fatal that enabled her to escape." She goes on to say that in this way, they both consciously and unconsciously desired the war. To your point regarding the comparsion to enslavement, I find myself unconvinced about this claim I've mentioned as well. Of course, women and thier desires/intentions/etc. cannot fit under one umbrella, because of the multitude of intersections that exist across that demographic. Many women would never have had a maid in the first place, let alone one that could follow them to the frontlines. I realize the book is speaking on education, and so therefore women with higher education, and status, would be part of the primary audience. Still, I felt this portion only applied to a select few.