“The Unrepentant Whore” and “professions for women”

Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) was one of the most outstanding female authors, publishers and critics. Many postwar and interwar writers have been influenced by her writings. Her writings concentrated primarily on discussing the ideas of time and wealth, human emotions and consciousness.
Virginia Woolf mentions two major crises she has faced. The second fight, “Tell the truth about my own experiences as a body,” refers to her unwillingness to say how she felt as a full human (“with an angel in the house”), as a woman (Woolf, 2010). Woolf believed that she had won the first battle, against the specter of Victorian respectability; she believed, however, that no woman had ever won the second battle.

As a person, it is vital and fundamental to know who oneself. Without knowing who one is, one cannot fight for what they want. It is, therefore, vital for writers and sex workers to know who they are, to be truthful with themselves.“…for thus only can the labour be shared, the difficulties be solved” (Woolf, 2010). Wolff had not yet fully won this battle just as Hamilton, but they both had started that is why they could fight for what they believed in against all odds.

The main reason why it is difficult for these groups to be heard is because they somehow stand against a general norm. On one hand, the subservience of the female to the male gender has always existed since the beginning of time. Virginia Woolf similarly to Fanny Burney and Harriet Martineau went against this (Woolf, 2010). She even had to go as far as kill a part of herself (the Angel in the House) to be able to overcome that hurdle. Prostitution, on another hand, is against morals and ethics. Similarly to the subservience of women, sex working has always been heavily opposed. Hamilton not only fought for sex workers but he himself was a transgender making his plea much harder to be accepted.

Similarities between Woolf and Hamilton

The two main protagonists of these stories, Virginia Woolf and Hamilton are the very definition of the un-stereotypical person;they both break out from the general conventions that the society has set. The stereotypical individual will most likely follow the general trend and do things everyone else does. Woolf and Hamilton, on the other hand, do not. Woolf was so resolved for her writing that she decided to kill the ‘Angel in the House’, “It was she who bothered me and wasted my time and so tormented me that at last, I killed her” (Woolf, 2010). She even mentioned other women who did the exact same thing. Hamilton on his part was harassed and insulted by his classmates. “He was called fag, fairy, and freak by his schoolmates; physed classes…”(Harris, 2010). He was considered as a reject. Due to the peer pressure, he started to provide the services of intimate nature to other men for money which ultimately led him to become a transgender.

Both Woolf and Hamilton are mainly focused on people seeking for employment. Virginia Woolf’s goal on her part was to help women that are seeking for an employment. “…he told me that your Society is concerned with the employment of women and she suggested that I might tell you something about my own professional experiences” (Woolf, 2010). She started by saying that writing is one of the easiest jobs for women to do and explained the difficulty in writing. She was motivating women to do what she did and become more than what they already are. Hamilton was also focused on the job market. Hamilton’s focus, on the other hand, is on sex workers. He was advocating the rights of all sex workers (transgender and all the others).

Differences between Woolf and Hamilton

Despite the fact that Virginia Woolf and Hamilton are similar, they have several differences as well. First of all, they lived in two completely different times. The society at the time of Woolf was much more closed and reserved than Hamilton’s, “In those days, the last of Queen Victoria…”(Woolf, 2010). During Hamilton’s lifetime, women were much more emancipated than during Woolf’s, “One day in the deep end of winter, 1998, it rained on Vancouver‘s City Hall. … It rained on Jamie Lee Hamilton‘s good swing coat as she emerged from the car” (Harris, 2010).

Virginia Woolf and Jamie Lee Hamilton have different motivations for their fight. On one hand, the reason why Hamilton turned to sexual acts was for financial reasons. It was when he realized how he could make easy money as a sexual worker that he decided to fully become involved in it, “Easiest money I had ever made” (Harris, 2010). Woolf, on the other hand, already had some money. It was actually because she had some money that she could fully dedicate herself to what she really liked, writing. “…though the credit rightly belongs to some excellent ancestors of mine who left me a certain sum of money” (Woolf, 2010). Woolf was motivated by her love for writing, her desire to break free from the norm of “Angel in the House”.

They also have jobs of completely opposite natures. Virginia Woolf wants to become a writer, she starts out by writing the reviews of other literature. Woolf said “Writing was a reputable and harmless occupation. The family peace was not broken by the scratching of a pen” (Woolf, 2010). Writing is an honorable job. Hamilton became a transgender and a full sex worker all because of his search for money. Sex work is to the detriment of the population, “If I had a place like this in my neighborhood, I don‘t think I’d be happy about it either” (Harris, 2010).

Conclusion

Nowadays, things are not as difficult for women as they were in Woolf’s time but as she said it is still a battle that every woman must face. Men are not superior to women, they are equal, so it is necessary to continue being concerned about the acceptance of this truth in society. Jamie Lee Hamilton was just a product of his environment; he could not handle all the peer and family pressure. His plea for sex workers is only good as long as it is not for the freedom of prostitution. Prostitution is wrong and can never be right, no matter the reasons for it. It is, thus, not necessary to be concerned about it.

References

Harris, M. (2010).The unrepentant whore.In Roberts, T., Moser, M., LePan, D., Gaunce, J., & Buzzard, L. (Eds.).The Broadview Anthology of Expository Prose.Calgary, AB: Broadview Press.

Woolf, V. (2010).Professions for women.In Roberts, T., Moser, M., LePan, D., Gaunce, J., & Buzzard, L. (Eds.).The Broadview Anthology of Expository Prose. Calgary, AB: Broadview Press.

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