January Prompt: Week of 01/07

Theme: Genderless narrator

The concept of a genderless narrator has grown in popularity over the past decade, which I, among many others, attribute to the fruitful conversations around gender and its social significance currently occurring in public discourse.

As a community, we seem to have become increasingly aware of the fact that, rather than biologically built, gender is socially, historically and culturally constructed.

Throughout history, writers – Sand, Perkins Gilman, Woolf, to name a few - have attempted to challenge the identity assigned to them at birth, through the use of narrators of the opposite sex or even ones who display a seamless fluidity between the subjectivity of both male and female characters.

I believe the first step towards a genderless narrator is what Virginia Woolf referred to as “becoming other”, in this case placing oneself in the shoes of the opposite sex.

For this purpose I suggest the following exercise:

Think back on your first date. Write down every detail, from the moment the prospect of a date appeared and the time and place were set.

Tell the story in as much detail as possible including how you felt at the time, what you might have been thinking as you were getting ready, what happened on the date and how you felt after.

Now go over the sequence of events and re-tell the story, this time from the point of view of your date (for the purpose of this exercise I’m referring to a heterosexual couple).

Reflect on how each stage of the narration differs? Who’s job is it to propose the date, set the time and place, how does the “getting ready” ritual differ, who pays, what ending must the date reach in order to be considered a successful one?

This prompt was brought to you by:


Alina Martin of @inbetweenthecovers

Romanian born, Italian raised Londoner, Alina is pursuing a Comparative Literature and French BA at UCL (University College London). She is a regular contributor to student publications, writing on a variety of topics from literature and culture to current affairs as well as short fiction and poetry. In addition to her academic work, she participates in charity initiatives and is currently part of a volunteer programme aimed at facilitating access to higher education for high schoolers from underrepresented socio-economic groups.

She enjoys making and listening to music, looking at art and then discussing it with friends (preferably over coffee and cake) country walks and a good debate.