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

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (2015).

“Sometimes I catch myself trying to remember the last time I had meaningful physical contact with another person, just a hug or a heartfelt squeeze of my hand, and my heart twitches.” Rachel, The Girl on the Train.

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Art from Kazuya Akimoto Art Museum

I don’t usually jump on the bandwagon (or in this case train) when it comes to reading books that are currently popular through cinema. I usually wait, out of snobbish stubbornness so that I can enjoy the text at a later date, without the cool kids telling me it was a hit or  miss. But for some reason I couldn’t do that with this novel. I had gone to the cinema (on a delightful girls night out with my sisters) and we let ourselves be swallowed by the twists and turns of The Girl on the Train, a clever psychological thriller directed by Tate Taylor. I’m a big fan of Emily Blunt’s acting and I felt she portrayed the unstable, unraveling woman of society perfectly. Some of us, know what it’s like to have silent eyes judging you as you try to find your way in life. We know how it feels to have people look away or pity the shadowed versions of ourselves. The ones that crack easily. That had something. Then lost something. A part of themselves perhaps. Or maybe all of it.

So…intrigued by the movie, I decided to give this bestselling novel (by Paula Hawkins) a chance to thrill me. I was eager to see what the movie left out, how it interpreted and portrayed those interesting characters that flitted across the movie screen. I wanted my imagination to be seduced and exposed. As the novel began to set the scene and led us into the head of each character, I felt anxious. It wasn’t just the nervousness or despair of the characters, it was the slow build up…the details…that gnawing feeling you get when things are overwhelming in the face of normality.It was that feeling of how you can be drowning on dry air and no one has a clue.

Despite knowing the plot and the outcome I was sucked back into the story, and I wonder if I’m ever going to leave that place. Those of you who read Of Tales & Dreams know that I never indulge too much in plots. I despise spilling the contents of the books I review. I just give you my impressions and wait for you to share your own personal thoughts. I definitely recommend this intense piece of work. It may feel like the words are choking you, sometimes spreading you across dead leaves and sharp twigs…it may feel indulgent or lacking in reason and control. To some, it may even seem unbelievably melodramatic and unnecessary. Hell, there were points were I wanted to bring Wonder Woman running into the story to slap some sense and strength into each female character.  But that’s when you have to think. Strength is an evolutionary process. It is made from all the broken and failed bits of ourselves. The book makes you think. Not only of yourself, but of the people you see every day. The ones with stories carved by blades. People are books walking around. Some narratives get lost in queues as people make their way to work. Some get beaten out of you. Some find sunlight and the spiders scatter away from fear.

                       What

                                   is

                                          your

                                                          story?

If you were to open a journal right now and write, what moments from your life would surface? Which characters from your memory would suddenly be pumped with life and find themselves playing in your movie? Writing your story, whether your life has been tumultuous or relatively sane, is important. It can help you make peace with the holes in your past or it can give you tiny clues to alter your present and future. If reading the Girl on the Train teaches you anything, it will make you aware that change is waiting around every bend; in the morning when you’re taking that first sip of coffee, or at night when you turn to your lover, child or friend.

Pick up your pen. Open your laptop. Play with that change rushing through your body and let your words spill out.

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