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60(ish) Seconds: Real Women Have Bodies

CapU instructor Dara Greaves discusses why she loves teaching Carmen Mario Machado’s dystopian short story, “Real Women Have Bodies”.

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I love teaching Carmen Maria Machado’s short story “Real Women Have Bodies”, about an inexplicable epidemic where women and girls are becoming invisible, literally — not dead, but disembodied. And as females fade, the media actually blames millennials.

This invites a feminist analysis of the precarity produced by neoliberal capitalism. The story is set during a recession, where jobs are disappearing alongside women. Much how COVID-19 has especially harmed vulnerable populations, the story’s economic downturn disproportionately impacts women, people of colour and younger generations, who graduate university to work in minimum wage clothing stores and condiment factories.

This sheds light on how austerity suspends conventional coming-of-age trajectories because it’s so hard for young people to gain a foothold in our contemporary economy.

Machado’s story reworks the “coming of age” literary form for an age of austerity that thwarts traditional notions of growing up. My students connect this to their own lives. Together we interrogate these problems and imagine new narratives for young adulthood.