Viola’s Bookshelf is a new project blog dedicated to publishing altered out of copyright, or creative commons licensed fiction, where the character’s genders have been reversed. The idea behind this is to help provide an understanding of gender construction in fiction and to an extent in everyday life.
The first story is a gender reversal of “Scroogled”, by Cory Doctorow. It begins:
Alex landed at San Francisco International Airport at 8 p.m., but by the time she’d made it to the front of the customs line, it was after midnight. She’d emerged from first class, brown as a nut, unshaven, and loose-limbed after a month on the beach in Cabo (scuba diving three days a week, seducing French college boys the rest of the time).
Sajbrfem writes about her experience of writing the gender reversal:
I want to be clear that I have not chosen this story because I feel it is sexist, or in any way needs to be re-written, quite the contrary, on my initial reading it appeared to be quite balanced in terms of gender representation. The lead character is a young/middle-aged, professional, white male and the main supporting character is a female of the same social and professional standing. My aim is not to point out any error in the writing, but rather to use it as a platform to examine the (often hidden) assumptions that we hold for characters (and by extension real life people) of any particular gender.
By exchanging the gender of all the characters in the story small exnominalizations (things left unsaid because they are considered the norm) begin to show themselves in the story’s background, female security guards and corporate heavies fill the scenery in a way that is unusual to regular pop culture texts. Exchanging the gender of characters helps to magnify things that are taken for granted.
Read the rest of the background story here at Fifty Two Acts.