That is why Napoleon and Mussolini both insist so emphatically upon the inferiority of women, for if they were not inferior, they would cease to enlarge. That serves to explain in part the necessity that women so often are to men. And it serves to explain how restless they are under her criticism; how impossible it is for her to say to them this book is bad, this picture is feeble, or whatever it may be, without giving far more pain and rousing far more anger than a man would do who gave the same criticism. For if she begins to tell the truth, the figure in the looking-glass shrinks; his fitness for life is diminished. How is he to go on giving judgement, civilising natives, making laws, writing books, dressing up and speechifying at banquets, unless he can see himself at breakfast and at dinner at least twice the size he really is?. . . they say to themselves as they go into the room, I am the superior of half the people here, and it is thus that they speak with that self-confidence, that self-assurance, which have such profound consequences in public life and lead to such curious notes in the margin of the private mind.
Does it explain my astonishment the other day when Z, most humane, most modest of men, taking up some book by Rebecca West and reading a passage in it, exclaimed, 'The arrant feminist! She says that men are snobs!' The exclamation, to me so surprising - for why was Miss West an arrant feminist for making a possibly true if uncomplimentary statement about the other sex? - was not merely the cry of wounded vanity; it was a protest against some infringement of his power to believe in himself. Women have served all these centuries as looking glasses possessing the magic and delicious power of reflecting the figure of man at twice its natural size.
Life for both sexes - and I looked at them, shouldering their way along the pavement - is arduous, difficult, a perpetual struggle. It calls for gigantic courage and strength. More than anything, perhaps, creatures of illusion, it calls for confidence in oneself. Without self-confidence we are as babes in the cradle. And how can we generate this imponderable quality, which is yet so invaluable, most quickly? By thinking that other people are inferior to oneself. By feeling that one has some innate superiority - it may be wealth, or rank, a straight nose, or the portrait of a grandfather by Romney - for there is no end to the pathetic devices of the human imagination - over other people.
What are you so angry about?" my mother had asked me the last time I had gone home to visit.Why aren't you more angry, I had wanted to ask her. But I couldn't talk to my mother that way. She understood that I did not want to live her life, to work as a waitress, until my toes curled in and my feet hurt all the time, to marry a man who would beat my children and treat me as if I had no right to object to object to anything he chose to do. She didn't want that life for me either. She wanted me happy and successful, to live unafraid among people who loved me, and to do things she had never been able to do and tell her all about them.So I told her, about the shelter, the magazine, readings and discussion groups. I told her about trying to write stories, though I hesitated to send send her all that I wrote. And there were far too many times when I would sit down to write my mama and stare at the paper unable to puzzle out how to explain how urgent and unimportant it was to change how women's lives were shaped. Not only that we should be paid equal money for equally difficult work, but that we should genuinely begin to think about what word we might choose to undertake, how we might live our daily lives. Why should I have to marry at all? Or explain myself if I chose to love a woman? Why could I not spend my hours writing stories instead of raising children or keeping house or working some deadly boring job just to cover the rent of an apartments where I was not safe anyway.