She watched the rain fall in light sheets, imagining a giant cloth wiping away the crumbs of a broken day.
Yet in the morning when the rain had ceased and the dampness dissipated a thin film of dirt remained. The skerricks of an eraser left after rubbing out the pencil marks on a sheet of paper. To make the new day fresh required more work than she expected.
SIDE NOTE: When I was writing this, transcribing it from my notebook where I first scribbled the idea, I asked myself why I ascribed the feminine pronoun to the character of the narrative. It was arbitrary, without conscious assignation.
I then reread the paragraph replacing ‘she’ with ‘he’ and saw a different reading. As a personal reflection, I think I tend to write more from a female perspective than a male one. For purely unscientific research I did a gender breakdown on the Handwritten Pages.
- “I” (indeterminate)
- Couple (male/female)
- Female (2 sisters)
- “I” (indeterminate)
- Male (2 brothers)
In examining the content of each piece, the seemingly arbitrary allocation of gender pronouns was determined by its focus. The third Handwritten Page was inspired by a friend’s recollection of her childhood with her sisters so it was a natural response to use the feminine.
In last week’s Handwritten Page I ascribed masculine pronouns, except to the “I” persona. In reality it could easily be the sibling rivalry between a brother and sister yet in my head it was between brothers; we tend to pair brothers with brothers and sisters with sisters in terms of sibling rivalry and not a brother/sister combination.
It also made me think about how the content of a narrative influences the reader’s understanding of gender. Does it affirm or subvert paradigms? Why or why not? Just asking.
But the distinction of female or male POV in a narrative made me think about how I read gender in a story (being male) and how others would read the piece above (male or female). I know men and women will read the paragraph differently based on their own gender, and their reading of gender.
Try reading today’s piece replacing ‘she’ with ‘he’. Does it make a difference in your reading? What nuances or differences are borne out of a different reading? Does it matter? I’m interested in your ideas.