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The Other Women's LibGender and Body in Japanese Women's Fiction$
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Julia C. Bullock

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780824833879

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824833879.001.0001

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Odd Bodies

Odd Bodies

(p.97) Chapter 4 Odd Bodies
The Other Women's Lib

Julia C. Bullock

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter examines the trope of the “odd body,” which defies classification as either masculine or feminine, male or female, and is frequently used to critique binary models of gender. The “odd body” refers to a protagonist whose physiology fails to conform to gendered expectations of “normalcy.” It serves as a subversive challenge to the logic of “sexual indifference” that would confine women to the realm of the inferior so that men may envision themselves as superior. The chapter analyzes three examples of women's fiction in which bodies are perversely reproductive (or nonreproductive), deformed, or androgynous, covertly or overtly defying prescribed patterns of difference between masculine and feminine norms: Kōno Taeko's “Toddler-Hunting”; Takahashi Takako's “Secret” (Hi, 1973); and Kurahashi Yumiko's “Snake” (Hebi, 1960). These texts highlight the three women writers' attempt to problematize the binary logic that underlies the strict policing of gender norms.

Keywords:   odd body, gender, sexual indifference, women, women's fiction, Kōno Taeko, Takahashi Takako, Kurahashi Yumiko, women writers, gender norms

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