In one of my English courses a group of students were asked to analyze Jamaica Kincaid’s flash-fiction story “Girl” from a feminist perspective and then to present their interpretation. This particular piece of flash-fiction can be found in pretty much every introductory literary studies anthology on the planet because it speaks to such a wide demographic—young people, African-Americans, and women.
Any number of themes could have been discussed when the group presented their interpretation. Anything from British colonialism and its affects on young African women, to the very general; the problematic gender expectations and sexist double standards that instill confusion in young women.
But, instead, the group decided to talk about sluts.
“Girl” is written to mimic a mother advising her daughter to become the ‘right’ kind of woman. One motif in this fictional mother’s dialogue is: “On Sundays try to walk like a lady and not like the slut…
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