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.
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