Socially Acceptable Subversion: Thoughts on the New Woman

In today’s class, Sabrina and Shubhneet presented on New Women in The Yellow Book. What captured my attention was a common denominator from both presentations. That being, the concept of the New Woman being delivered in a socially acceptable packages.

For example, Ella Darcey presented the New Woman through male desire in “Twickenham.” On the surface level, the female figures in the story represent the ideal Victorian woman because they are domestically obedient and shallow. In writing the main characters in this way, the story is digestable by the general public as it seemingly adheres to social norms. However, Darcey cleverly subverts the Victorian ideal by using male desire as a vehicle to normalize and commodify the New Woman.

Similarly, Evelyn Sharp’s “The Restless River” features New Woman representation through the socially accepted vehicle of a fairytale. Since her short story is classified as fantastical fiction, the outlandish appearance of women with agency is deemed as such. Therefore, Victorian ideals remain seemingly unthreatened in society. However, as mentioned in class, the fairytale can function as an educational tool for both young children and women.

Darcey and Sharp both used the resources accessible to them as tools for feminist representation, but disguised them in cultural norms. In doing this, they have created a socially acceptable subversion, while those who protest remain none the wiser. Representation for the New Woman is there for anyone who looks beyond the surface level of these texts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.