The New Woman

The New Woman was the term used at the end of the nineteenth century to describe women who were pushing against the limits which society imposed on women. Today she might be called a liberated woman or feminist. Gail Finney gives a concise description of her:
The New Woman typically values self-fulfillment and independence rather than the stereotypically feminine ideal of self-sacrifice; believes in legal and sexual equality; often remains single because of the difficulty of combining such equality with marriage; is more open about her sexuality than the 'Old Woman'; is well-educated and reads a great deal; has a job; is athletic or otherwise physically vigorous and, accordingly, prefers comfortable clothes (sometimes male attire) to traditional female garb.
Ibsen supported greater freedom for women and expressed his belief in his plays. In his notes for A Doll's House, he asserted, "A woman cannot be herself in contemporary society, it is an exclusively male society with laws drafted by men, and with counsel and judges who judge feminine conduct from the male point of view." Ibsen's contemporaries associated him with the New Woman and women's rights. In 1898, the Norwegian Women's Rights League gave a banquet to honor him for his support of women's rights. How identified he was with this issue is suggested by Max Beerbohm's exaggerated, if witty statement, "The New Woman sprang fully armed from Ibsen's brain."
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