Representing Female Narratives with Things That Go Bump In the Night

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Art via Pinterest

For women to tell their stories, it has often been a hard and critical journey. Whether through poetry, the short story form or screenplays, women have always had to pussyfoot around core issues of hegemony and patriarchal suffocation. I’ve been exploring African female writers recently, and their contribution to empowering women’s voices. Each woman is an ocean of tales. She will let you sit on her island and bring forth the waves with torrential rains or gentle drizzle. Do not attempt to impose your prejudice or your ignorance on her. She will smile sweetly for a while, until she loses her patience with your inability to truly see life or those around you.

When I came across the trailer for The Mummy 2017 – yes I’m one of those weirdos that spends an awful lot of time enjoying movie trailers…

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…I was delighted at the portrayal of a strong, unapologetic female antagonist. I’m not a fan of evil in the real world (depending on what time of month you catch me) but I am a big fan of women who look their injustices in the eyes and unleash unimaginable terror when it’s called for. Perhaps I’m just a big fan of Karma. I’m tired of the various forms of masculinity I come across that are incapable of seeing the ways in which they reenact gendered stereotypes. The ones you really have to watch out for are the ones that insist that they love women and that they respect them. Those are the ones that love an idea of a submissive woman, domesticated and sweet that never question their thoughts or actions. They’re the ones that outwardly oppose silly displays of male testosterone but make up for it by mentally playing with females, and ultimately destroying each one that enters their lives. They’re also the ones that have a savior complex and can only feel relevance if they’re ‘saving’ women or ‘mentoring’ them. And the more the merrier. Sad. Often unaware of their treatment of females as mere ‘things’. But true. And ever pervasive. So when I see that a horror movie is allowing an oppressed female the chance to get her revenge on types like these that fill the pockets of society- I’m going to silently chuckle.Or loudly cackle. Karma karma karma. Movie narratives are starting to explore the female psyche in deeply provocative and terrifying ways- and I’m ok with that. Of course these are exaggerated extensions of the darker aspects of most human beings, but sometimes stories need to be told from these places of pain and fright. The Gothic in narratives can be a mobilizing force. It can offer a way for the light to intrude and heal those aspects of oneself or society that can often go unnoticed.

Whilst the movie is only set for release in June (I think) the trailer sparks interesting conversations on female roles, the dangers of ambition and greed… and that topic no one quite likes to go near – revenge.

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Revenge is frowned upon. If there are any young readers reading my blog, never turn to the dark side. Unless you like wearing full black and were pushed.

Truth be told, I maaaaaay (that’s a yes) be rooting for the Princess when I finally get to watch the movie. Patriarchy could do with a good dose of the heebie-jeebies sometimes. Enjoy the trailer below! I’m off for the Easter vacation to explore the ocean, exquisite coffee and search for some magic…maybe in a stranger’s eyes (who won’t awaken centuries of suppression). Or maybe I’ll just let the creepy-crawly shadows reveal my inner voice…bump…bump…bump. Your thoughts and comments are as welcome as ever. Conversation and differing opinions are how we learn in life 😉 Ciao ciao!

Via KinoCheck International on YouTube

Reflections on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

Artwork by gattadonna on DeviantArt (above) and Luis Prado cover art below.

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The Gothic novel was created for a specific purpose: to enchant and horrify through its mysteries and monsters. Anyone who has ever read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus (1818) can insist it bears all the elements of terror and astonishment the Gothic novelist aimed to unleash. Yet, one cannot ignore the plaguing sense of despair upon completion of the novel. The dejection of humankind and their lack of compassion to embrace Victor Frankenstein’s ‘monster’calls on all sorts of modern day cases of victimization and alienation felt by the ‘other’ in society. Anyone who sits in the pocket of opposition (whether due to gender, race or personal preference) becomes this ‘other’: becomes the ‘monster’ that wearily trudges through Shelley’s pages. Was this ‘monster’ not a victim of a population so ensnared upon physical beauty, that they would instantaneously bare their fangs at an initially innocent, distorted creature? This nameless being, after all, did not ask to be born into a world which denies him loves and acceptance. A world void of kindness that persecutes him at the first chance they get, for his apparent differences. He was spurred into existence by a man consumed by ambition and greed, hungry for knowledge and power yet proving in the end to be clueless and powerless. Victor Frankenstein shuns his creation, his ‘baby’ if you will, and looks on him with shame that would turn any child cold. Discarded and disregarded, forever condemned to live a life drowned in misery and loneliness. The torture that ensues to destroy Victor Frankenstein’s life is a pity, but my sympathies lie nestled in the cold hands of the monster. He craved what we all crave: affection and tenderness. Anyone made to live a life of brutal rejection and attacked for their differences would retaliate in much the same manner, unless you’re a deeply enlightened or unaffected sort. But how do you make sense of indifference and enlightenment when you are the only one of your kind? Mankind has millions to comfort him and yet still feel the isolation that comes with questioning one’s existence. This ‘monster’, alone and condemned, had no chance of being a hero. Shelley chose to challenge the tropes of Romanticism which influenced her, bringing out a complexity and rawness that could only be nudged along by Gothic fiction.

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So consider…

If you were to wake, to an exquisite new world filled with curiosities, to find your own mother curse you from birth with mad, murderous Lady Macbeth eyes…would you not learn to hate? Would you not see the futility of happiness if you were always on the outside looking in on it? So, when you reach the last page of Mary Shelley’s beautifully written novel, ask yourself who is the real monster? And most surely  you will find it is to be found in the mirrors of every home on earth.

The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins (2015)

” Carolyn rose and stood alone in the dark, both in that moment and ever after.”

I stumbled upon this book quite by chance. My book mate ( that’s my term for someone special in your life that loves reading as much as you do) and I decided that despite living on completely separate continents, we would proceed to bridge the gap by reading something together. Our tastes are often different so when it fell on me to find our next read, I was a little apprehensive. We’d made mistakes before (looking at you American Pastoral-ugh). So I did what every techie nerd does, I googled. Then I did what every techie nerd with a superpower desire does, I let my intuition guide me to the correct choice. So that’s how I came across Scott Hawkin’s The Library at Mount Char, known as a science fiction horror novel or contemporary fantasy. A lot of people seemed to use the word bizarre in their comments about the book, so my interest was piqued quite naturally.

It has elements of bizarre for sure, and gruesomeness that reminds you of real world brutality yet doesn’t ever feel like it’s trying too hard to make you squirm in your skin. The writing keeps you captivated and isn’t that what we all hope for when we pick up a book? The characters are rather dark, with psychological wounds that continuously fester. Sometimes you’re left wondering if peace and compassion even exist in the writer’s world. And yet…something stirs in the recesses of your animalistic side. Makes you wonder whether humans or animals are actually more humane. Makes you consider the paths people take after pain or trauma ensues. Makes you relinquish that the mind and heart can both open and close in order to survive.

Read it. It’ll leave an imprint on you either way.