by Megan Johns
Gender stereotyping has long been a personal bugbear. It can have a negative influence on so many aspects of a woman’s life, both in the workplace and at home. The inspiration for my two short stories in the anthology Writers on the Wrong Side of the Road was born out of this frustration.
By stereotyping, we are saying that particular characteristics apply to all members of a group. Yet are all blondes dumb or all women bad drivers? Of course not! Worse are the bucket loads of stereotypes tipped over a woman’s head the minute she becomes a mother. This type of generalisation can be a great disservice and result in prejudice.
We are told that stereotypes help us to simplify a complex world. In my opinion, however, they often do more harm than good. They can lead to simplistic assessments, which are fundamentally flawed.
In my first story,‘The Journey’, a wife and mother tries to break into a spontaneous conversation in a train carriage. The stereotyped perceptions of the group of young singletons leads to her exclusion. Dismissed as irrelevant by them, she starts to assess her own life and measure it against theirs. The results lead to some surprises...
‘Melody shrank back in her seat, instantly deflated. It was as if her own experiences had been devalued without uttering a word. She peered across the short dividing gap. It might as well be a hundred miles, she was so far removed from their world, and she knew her presence didn’t even register on their collective radar. Had time and life really made her appear so banal, she wondered?’
Manic Readers review: 4 stars While Stay-at-Home-Mom listens to the conversation of Thighs, Nerd Guy, and Strappy she seethes, justifying her choice to herself and experiences a gamut of emotions from indignant to smug. The end comes completely out of left field, but instead of wondering “what the frill?” I read with wicked delight. Well done.
My second story ‘A New Leaf’ features a recently divorced woman trying to move on with her life. The only thing holding her back is her family. Surely she will never manage on her own? Or will she?
‘I watched the progress of her red Fiat from the bay window of the sitting room until it disappeared down the hill. A grating of gears confirmed her right-hand turn at the junction. Poor Sarah. She tried so hard. All the family did. That was the trouble. If only they could see that they tried too much.’
Manic Readers review: 4 stars Can you really find new life, after a divorce, via a rural cottage garden? I loved this little golden nugget about moving on, in spite of those around us. The narrator is my kinda woman.
To read the reviews on the other stories in the anthology go to http://bit.ly/JK76iL Better still, buy a copy of Writers On the Wrong Side of the Road and read the stories for yourself.
BUY links: Publisher Chase Enterprises or Amazon Available in paperback and Kindle
Megan Johns Website Blog
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