In this episode, Charlotte and Lucy talk to writer and lecturer Tiffani Angus. They discussed the estrangement of women’s bodies in apocalyptic fiction and the trends Tiffani discovered in her research on the subject.
While there is a lot of genre fiction written about the apocalypse, many would fail a ‘realism’ test when it comes to basic bodily functions. Women menstruate. They go through menopause. They suffer from endometriosis. Both men and women urinate, suffer from diseases, age. But apocalyptic fiction would have us think humans do none of the above. It is these practicalities of living through an apocalypse that are hopelessly neglected in our current fiction.
It is rather amusing that the needs of women’s bodies are completely overlooked in most apocalyptic fiction and yet so much of the focus in these same stories is on pregnancy and the need to repopulate the world. For the most part, all the actual childbirth happens off-screen. An interesting point to note from Tiffani’s research was that when childbirth did feature on the page, it was male writers who did so.
What about bodily functions in general? How realistic can apocalyptic fiction really be if these natural, normal functions are never mentioned? Wouldn’t it actually be more interesting to talk about the micro-level of stress that happens to people when they no longer have access to medicine? After all, it is fascinating to look at how bodies begin to break down and how you deal with living in a rough environment through pain and disease.
Tiffani Angus holds a PhD in Creative Writing. She is a Senior Lecturer in Publishing and the Course Leader for the MA Creative Writing at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge UK. Tiffani is a writer of fantasy, horror, historical fiction, erotica, and a bit of SF, and a creative who sews, draws, and makes things with her hands.
Texts mentioned in this episode include:
- Brother in the Land by Robert Swindells
- Children of the Dust by Louise Lawrence
- Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
- The Fireman by Joe Hill
- The Stand by Stephen King
- Sleeping Beauties by Stephen and Owen King
- Bird Box by Josh Malerman
- One Second After by William R. Forstchen
- The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
- The Walking Dead
- The Shape of Water
- Gavin and Stacey
- I Have Waited, and You Have Come by Martine McDonagh
- Pitch Black
- Mountain Man Series by Keith C Blackmore