How might have "Girl" been different had it been written by a man?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think this is a great question.  Gender plays a vital role in how the story is constructed and how the reactions to it are generated.  In the context of a woman writing it, one sees the power of the mother- daughter dynamic.  It is shown to be reflective of life, itself.  There are moments when one can perceive the tenderness of a daughter receiving life lessons forged from a mother's experience.  There is animosity and tension, such as when the daughter is called a "slut" and interrupts her mother with an alternate conception of her future.  Whatever one feels about the dynamic, recognizing it as a girl writing about the mother/ daughter current is one in which there is a certain authenticity expressed, one that almost diminishes politics and social relevance into the realm of the universality of daughter and mother.

If a man were to have written this, I think that this current is lost.  In seeing the work as written by a man, I think that the political and social relevance becomes far more powerful.  It is difficult to overlook that a man writing about a mother telling her daughter to absorb traditional conceptions of womanhood or risk being a "slut" tends to no longer be about a mother- daughter relationship, but rather an issue of power and control.  Furthermore, the poignancy is lost when we see a male author using a mother's control to place her daughter into a box that no doubt advocates patriarchy.  This is not to say that gender defines who can write what, but I think that the story bring written by a man brings out with greater force and dulls with stronger effect the elements gained when the story is seen by a woman writing it.