It was thus that I found myself walking with extreme rapidity across a grass plot. Instantly a man’s figure rose to intercept me. Nor did I at first understand that the gesticulations of a curious-looking object, in a cut-away coat and evening shirt, were aimed at me. His face expressed horror and indignation. Instinct rather than reason came to my help, he was a Beadle; I was a woman. This was the turf; there was the path. Only the Fellows and Scholars are allowed here; the gravel is the place for me …. That a famous library has been cursed by a woman is a matter of complete indifference to a famous library. Venerable and calm, with all its treasures safe locked within its breast, it sleeps complacently and will, so far as I am concerned, so sleep for ever. Never will I wake those echoes, never will I ask for that hospitality again, I vowed as I descended the steps in anger.
“A Room of One’s Own,” by Virginia Woolf
This book was written at the beginning of the Twentieth Century. Virginia Woolf denounced the insecure men who kept women under strict control. A female Shakespeare or Cervantes had not existed because it had never been allowed. Just envision a genius like Virginia Woolf at the scene that she describes: “His face expressed horror and indignation … He was a beadle; I was a woman. This was his turf … the gravel is the place for me.”
We are reading in today’s newspapers about sexual harassment. Another crucial battle for equality rages. Again, insecure men in power have asserted their insecurity by abusing women. It takes courageous people like Virginia Woolf to fight them and write about it.