What is literature? If I had to define it, I would say nothing more or less than an examination and exploration of the human condition. Maybe that’s why I’m obsessed with reading story after story, digging through character’s psyches and contexts, trying to figure out life like everyone else. But, for me, stories aren’t always safely contained in books. There are real stories about real people out there too. The way we think about real human stories, the way we pass them on, the way we try to fit them into our own world views, those stories have real effects whether they are fiction, history or current events.
Ruminations on Gender and Subjugation in Ashputtle, or The Mother’s Ghost by Angela Carter- Jarad Johnson
Jarad reflects on this posthumously published story by Angela Carter
Gender and the ideologies surrounding are integral parts of our everyday lives. We see it in the way we dress ourselves, the different shampoos for men and women, what jobs are stereotypically done by men and women, and so on and so forth. The outward expression of gender, and thus the ideology of gender itself, is bombarding us every single minute of every day. It follows then, that if this gender ideology ingratiates itself in our lives, it’s also in our books, and appears everywhere in them. We use it to draw the line on what is male and what is female, leaving no room in between those two categories. However, once someone begins to study the concept of gender, then those categories become somewhat meaningless, and our understanding of gender is then challenged. But what then is the exact definition of gender? The answer is somewhat vague, as gender’s meaning and interpretation has become very ambiguous and multilayered, as such a complicated topic should be. However, it can be said without a doubt that gender and sex are not synonymous with each other, as many people often falsely conflate them together. Sex is usually used to refer to the biological aspects of a person, such as their reproductive organs. Gender occurs in the mind, and in the society.
I’m going to discuss a topic that at first glance might seem to be a poor fit for a blog where we discuss stories. But bear with me, I think it has more resonance with our narrative obsession than might be readily apparent.