Taboos in Writing

Recently, fellow blogger, Brittany Boyce (https://aliceandeve.wordpress.com/) posted eloquently on why menstruation should not be considered a taboo subject. As I manage the symptoms accompanying my move towards menopause – anaemia, painful and heavy bleeds, headaches – I have begun to wonder about the literary depiction of this stage in a woman’s life. Indeed, I struggle to think of one which feels authentic and honest.

I have been lucky that up ’til this point my reproductive system has caused me few problems. Now that it is edging too centre stage (as far as I am concerned) my impulse is to write about the experience. Yet I am shy and cautious about doing this. It feels more taboo than any of the other subjects I have committed to paper.

In my crime novel, The Art of the Imperfect (http://goo.gl/z7HFgz), one of my main characters has post natal depression with psychosis. In that novel and its sequel, The Art of Survival (http://goo.gl/C6U2Jj) launched this week, I attempt to address the stigma surrounding vulnerability and mental health. I have drawn on my own experience of depression several times in order to challenge stereotypes and prejudices.

This hasn’t been easy, though most of the time I have been greeted with understanding and my disclosure has helped others to tell their own stories. It feels as difficult to write about being a pre-menopausal woman. And yet, it must be more common amongst the population than depression.

Do you have taboos in your writing? Do you think it is important to tackle taboos through writing?

The Art of Survival – available on Kindle & in paperback on 21st November
The Art of Survival asks: What will fear push ordinary people to do?  What happens when littleArt of Survival Coverfront onlyfinal girls get lost? DS Theo Akande is investigating the disappearance of eight year old Victoria Everidge. Her mother, Yvonne, is a desperate woman. What is she capable of? Eminent journalist and newspaperman, Stan Poole, dies leaving a filing cabinet full of secrets. As these leak out, his daughter, Hannah, begins to question her own girlhood. She is losing her way. Her best friend, Lawrence, newly an item with Theo, finds it hard to remain supportive. Instead Hannah clings to her work as a trainee counsellor and to her client Julia. Julia is apparently no little girl lost, but appearances can be deceptive. Then a body is found.

 

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4 thoughts on “Taboos in Writing

  1. Helen BirminghamHelen Birmingham

    Oh Kate, this is indeed a tricky area. I have been rewriting and extending my performance piece about the objectification of women, and want to introduce some elements of talking about menopause and the state of the ‘crone’. Its a hard thing to do without trivialising or making comedic, or ostracising large parts of your audience I think. X i believe that much of my depressive state over the majority of my life has been hormone related, and I am hoping that now, post menopausal, may be my time to shine creatively and intellectually. We are lucky to be alive in a time when pst menopausal status can bring freedom and clarity, rather than just the slow, interminable drag towards death! Oh that was jolly! Let’s drink to the crone! X x

    Reply
    1. Kate Evans Post author

      Thanks for your thoughts, Helen, and I agree, for all the terrible things going on in the world, I am lucky to be a Western European woman at this time, rather than in the majority of the past times we know about. Good luck with your performance piece!

      Reply
  2. Annecdotist

    Great idea for a post, Kate. I’m now racking my brains for novels I’ve read which have featured menopausal symptoms. It does happen, but maybe not as much as it should reach, particularly when postmenopausal women probably make up the biggest reading demographic. One novel is The Making of Her, which I discussed with the author on my website here:

    http://annegoodwin.weebly.com/susie-nott-bower.html

    I think depression is less of a taboo than it used to be, which is great, but still lots of misunderstanding around it.

    Another taboo that amuses me quite a bit is going to the toilet – amazing it’s something we hardly read about when it’s something that we ALL do, but with World Toilet Day yesterday just so happens to be the subject of my latest blog post

    http://annegoodwin.weebly.com/1/post/2015/11/is-it-time-for-gender-neutral-toilets.html

    Looking forward to hosting you on Monday as part of your new release blog tour.

    Reply

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