The Story Girl is a short story written by Jamaica Kincaid in 1978. It is an unorthodox text that gives an overview of the relationship between the girl and her mother also shows a list of rules that the mother gives to her daughter to obey to be accepted in society. Jamaica Kincaid shows us too many things in that very short story. When I read this story for the first time I read it as a counter reader, having a little knowledge about her culture. I did not know anything about that rules list. I did know that at some point it has a link to women and how women must portray themselves to the outside world.
The mother and her daughter are two different characters. We can see that the mother is the main speaker in the story. She always giving her daughter the strongest advices about how to run a house and live respectably. Most of the mother advices are particularly focused on sex, because she fears her daughter will shame her by becoming a loose woman. While the daughter is very silent, listen to her mother’s talk. She speak a little, only to defend herself against her mother allegations that she will someday become a “slut.”
When I read this story I tentatively construed it as an outline of how women are seen in society and how it is easy for some people to portray them as a slut. I can see that from my own culture the Arabic culture. Where people judge women based on what they wear, the way they talk, and who are saw with, they consider it like a slut. Through the story I can easily see that the mother is controlling her daughter’s life by telling her what she can do and what not to do, what kind of food to cook, what to do in the house, and how to act outside the house.
She gives her a lot of positive and negative information. Sometimes parents can be arrogant on their children. We can see that clearly in the story, which makes us see that she is present a little perspective of her thoughts as a girl. Moreover, the mother don’t ask the girl what she thinks about. The mother does not seem to think about the social aspect of her daughter’s life concerning her interactions with other children. In this regard, the mother is grievance her daughter.
Society forces stereotypes on children. This is apparent in Kincaid’s Girl. The ideas and direction that the mother gives to her daughter are discriminatory of women in society. For example, the mother says that a daughter should not play marble like a boy and that the girl should do housework. These statements show that the mother believes that there are some things that females should not do. Also, toward the end, she is even told: “don’t squat down to play marbles—you are not a boy, you know” (Kincaid 325).
This shows that until now in some cultures traditional gender roles is still exist. These stereotypes establish the gender gap. The mother agreed with the thought that women should be only limited to home and the man can do whatever he wants without getting restriction. That gives the reader an idea of how stereotypes can lead to a gap between the two genders and how its dangers being overbearing on the children.
I relate to the story at some point from the Middle East culture. Women’s rights in the Middle East have always been an issue. The rights of women have changed over the years, they have never really been equal to the rights of a man. I never went through that but I can see and feel for other women. It bothers me when people still have that think that boys have the right more than girls. A long time ago the only function of women in the Middle East is being home to take care of children, clean, and cook. However the situation has improved nowadays, because of some of the women in the Middle- East who stand up and still standing up, to try to fight for their rights. Also gender autonomy is common for some countries in our society now, there is not that risk of being judged by counterparts as a result of desiring freedom.
But most of the women in the Middle-East, especially those who live in conservative countries, still accept their status and the role that they play in society, not because they want to, it’s because they don’t have someone who protect and stand next to them if they raise their voice and speak. That’s when our role as a women come to help them.
I think this was interesting for me to read about because of its portrayal of how culture can bind people to certain beliefs. By publishing the story “Girl” Jamaica Kincaid show the experience and felling of being a young “girl” in a different culture society and that attracted me to write my response about it because it speaks about the woman being oppressed. Teaching young girls that’s okay to bow down to patriarchy by scheming her into following these rules of hypocrisy is pure insanity.
This is why we need to teach girls to love themselves and not fall victim to the oppression. On my own, I saw that we have to speak and express ourselves and help at least by expressing our voice and must impose our strength, so we can help the women who still suffer injustice and discrimination.