freaks

colleenaryanne's picture

The Outsiders' Society and Freaks

 Virginia Woolf calls every woman to join a society that is separate from the society in which men operate – the Outsiders’ Society.  She says that we cannot operate within the society of men, because there is “something in the conglomeration of people into societies that releases what is most selfish and violent, least rational and humane in the individuals…” (124). The Outsiders’ Society, Woolf states, is “the kind of society which the daughters of educated men might found and join outside your society but in co-operation with its ends” (126).  She indicates that there is power in being outside of the insiders’ society: “the power to change and the power to grow… can only be preserved by obscurity…” (135).  Existing and working in this Outsiders’ Society will give women power by obscuring them and separating them from the “limelight which paralyzes the free action of the human faculties and inhibits the human power to change and create…” (135).  Virginia Woolf believes that being outside of men’s society will “shroud” women “in darkness.” 

Last semester I took a course entitled “Reading Popular Culture: Freaks” with Suzanne Schneider, in which we discussed at length what it means to me marginal and why people in the so-called “Outsiders’ Society” are put there in the first place.  The idea of existing outside of society according to what we discussed in Freaks is very different from what Virginia Woolf seems to think about being an “outsider.”

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