Virginia Woolf presents the ‘Different Tradition’ of Women’s Lives and Women’s Writing in “Three Guineas”
Three Guineas is actually Woolf’s speech that she held it in 1931 for Women’s Services. She mostly talks for Outsider’s Society and the duties of its members providing some statements and facts about who should belong to that society and what they will be doing. Woolf also compares how it used to be in the past and how it should improve in the future. “But the description thus loosely and imperfectly given is enough to show you, Sir, that the Society of Outsiders has the same ends as your society- freedom, equality, peace; but that it seeks to achieve them by the means that a different sex, a different tradition, a different education, and the different values which result from those differences have placed within our reach.” (p.270)
Examples that supports each of the points stated in this quote, further below. The way that Woolf presents the different tradition is that she explains how would be if the daughters of educated man will be accepted at universities and how would it be if women were paid for staying at home and that women should work the same positions as man and even create a new ones. That will bring a new tradition different than the one that was practiced so far. With other words, women as different sex seek to achieve success in their life the same as men. As for the quote that is in the introduction, could be said that Woolf’s perception is logical and for any issue she does provide a lots of facts.
The word Sir refers to men and that both woman and man live in the same society and she makes a notion that Outsiders (daughters of the educated man) are also humans and they have the rights that all humans should have. Freedom, equality and peace are also the goals that the woman wants to achieve. When referring to freedom Woolf states: “Throughout the greater part of its history has treated me as a slave; it has denied me education or any share in its possession.” (p.266) The word me refers to Wolf as she had experienced that in her life. When she says ‘or any share of its possession’ she might be referring to the knowledge and women’s writings and that they were denied to share their writing with the rest of the society. That is an answer for the question how does Wolf present different tradition in women writings.
In addition to that women writings were not accepted and praised as the man writings. Why? It might be suggested that a reason for that is the hardness to compete with all men writings that were praised and that also the women writings would be different than men’s. Who is going to read those writings? Of course, women but it was not stated whether women knew to read or whether they could afford to read books. Slave could also suggest that women obey to the laws that were brought by men. “That her sex and class has very little to thank England for in the past; not much to thank England for in the present.” (p.266) What might be concluded is that also in the present, things still have not been changed for the position of women. The word different refers to another view and another path for women. It refers to the changes and those changes will be different from what it used to be.
Equality between genders is another goal of the different tradition or with other words of women. “She will inform herself of the amount of land, land and property in the possession of her own sex and class in the present- how much of England in fact belonged to her.” (p.266) It is obvious that women did not have any land and property or possessed anything. That is the point where that different tradition will take place. All that was quoted above will change with the new tradition. As was discussed that both men and women have same goals what makes them different is how they will achieve them and the answer is by the means of the different sex, tradition, education and values.
“They would bind themselves to obtain full knowledge of professional practice, and reveal any instances of tyranny or abuse in their professions.” (p.269) This is a proof how the different education will be for women. They will be even protected from the abuse in their profession. They will be earning their own living and master the work. As for the tradition an interesting example will be given which relates to the bearing of children. It suggested that the women should be paid for staying at home and raises their children. “But above all must press for a wage to be paid by the State legally to the mothers of educated men.” (p.268) Then she goes providing a reason that birth rate is important in working class and also in middle class.
“Further they would inform themselves of the practice of that religion by attending Church services, by analyzing the spiritual and intellectual values of sermons; by criticizing the opinion of any other body of man whose profession is religion as freely as they would criticize the opinions of any other body of men.”(p.270) In this quote what is said is connected with the different values and that might even form a new religion. When women will be educated and they will inform themselves what actually the religion means. By analyzing the other people values they will strengthen and build they own. They will be able to criticize which with other words means freedom of speech. Those different values will be spiritual and intellectual. Spiritual in the sense to find themselves in the religion and intellectual to study and learn how to practice criticize and protect what is theirs.
To summarize, a different sex; a different tradition; a different education and different value are the means to succeed while achieving the “different tradition.” The word different tradition is mentioned twice for a reason. The reason is that different tradition in home and child bearing together with different education and values will bring that under one umbrella which is called different traditions or different practice in general. If separating the values and education from tradition what will be left will be nothing. All those things are connected and they go together.
Woolf presents the different tradition in women’s lives and women’s writing with logical and reasonable statement about the past and what is happening now and how should be in future. When stating that the daughter of the educated man should to that different tradition also might be raised a question why daughters of educated men not all daughters? The answer on that question lies in the word different. People from different classes have different values and different tradition. They belong to a higher class and the others belong to the workers class. The changes should start from the higher class.