Handwritten Pages #8

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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.

  1. “I” (indeterminate)
  2. Couple (male/female)
  3. Female (2 sisters)
  4. Female 
  5. “I” (indeterminate)
  6. He
  7. Male (2 brothers)
  8. Female

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.

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2 responses to “Handwritten Pages #8

  1. interesting thoughts on gendering. Thanks also for the word ‘skerrick’ a word I hadn’t come across before but which I read is Antipodean in origin

    • Hadn’t thought of ‘skerrick’ as particularly Antipodean but on reflection it’s a word frequently used.

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