MAYA WILSON AUTZEN considers what the unconventional women in Virginia Woolf’s novels and essays can teach us about contemporary issues of gender and sexuality.  Reading and rereading Woolf simultaneously invigorates and confuses me. I find an affirmation of humanity’s open and accepting nature in Woolf’s blasé attitude towards sexuality and gender, and yet I find it bewildering that more than a century later, this attitude remains a controversial and frequent subject of debate. Woolf’s novel Orlando begins with the protagonist as a young man and ends with Orlando as a middle-aged woman. Orlando’s transition from male to female is effortless and understated; Woolf’s tone is almost indifferent. She highlights to her readers how exaggerated the significance of gender is in 20th century Britain, with its impacts being determined entirely by societal prejudices. In fact, in Orlando, gender has little to do with identity: We may take advantage of this pause…Continue Reading

Woolf’s Women