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Women's Roles During Times of War and Virginia Woolf's Three Guineas Essay

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Women's Roles During Times of War and Virginia Woolf's Three Guineas


With the prevalence of war goddesses in most traditions from China to Greece to Ireland, women have been separated from the front lines of war for centuries. The goddesses, the divine representations of women in the ideal, are torn between dual roles: that of Minerva, the goddess of wisdom and just war, and that of Vesta, goddess of hearth and home. These two roles, warrior and mother, are not necessarily as very different as they might appear at first glance. Western tradition claims that women are not made for war, but for household work: sewing, cleaning, cooking, and looking after children. Society told women to carry brooms in lieu of swords; to collect firewood instead of ammunition, and to keep house rather than protect a nation. Yet, for centuries, women have fought their peoples' wars, even if they never lifted a sword or fired a rifle.

Yet, in Virginia Woolf's book, Three Guineas, she claims that women do not actively participate in war. She tells the reader, "To fight has always been the man's habit, not the woman's" (Virginia Woolf, 6). She proceeds to explain that women have been set in a world apart from men. According to Woolf, men and women exist in separate worlds, coexisting, but not interacting. Women live outside of the masculine spectrum of official schooling, professions, and, of course, war making. I beg to differ. Women have always interacted with men and live in the same world as their masculine counterparts even when it comes to schooling and professions, but especially when it comes to war. Women have always joined their brothers in the trade of war making and to deny their efforts and victories is to deny a great portion of his...


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...ese troubles side by side and together rather than as two separate peoples who happen to exist near to one another. It is as Benjamin Franklin said of the American Revolution: Better that we all hang together for we will surely hang alone.

Works Cited:

"AAS Online Exhibitions: A Woman's Work is Never Done." © 2004. Cited 22 November 2004.

"Boston Tea Party: ...drinking to independence." © 1996. Cited 22 November 2004.

"Female Spies for the Union." Cited 22 November 2004.

"Hearts at Home: Spies." © 1997. Cited 22 November 2004.

"Molly Pitcher (Valley Forge Frequently Asked Questions)." © 1998 – 2004. Cited 22 November 2004.

"Rose O'Neal Greenhow Papers." © May 1996. Cited 22 November 2004.

Woolf, Virginia. Three Guineas. ©1938, 1966. Harcourt, Inc. Orlando, Florida.

Zarro, Alexis. "Women of the American Revolution." Cited 22 November 2004.


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