For this assignment I have to attempt to describe the relevance of “Shakespeare’s Sugar Spun Sister”. So forgive me, here comes the English Lit bullshit that tears the joy of literature apart.
I first came across ‘Shakespeare’s Sister’ as a natural and devout Smiths fan. The song describes a troubled young girl who is tempted and idealised to the disastrous fate of suicide as the rocks call out to her. She is disillusioned by suicide, giddily fantasising that she will meet ‘the one I love’ and be free at long last, in a perfect peaceful world. Shakespeare’s sister is stuck, dancing in between the psychological hold of her mother as well as the contemplation of suicide. Her desire for peace is clear when she is again disillusioned by the acoustic guitar. Previously, the guitar signified the importance of protest singing but, as she grows older in this world, she is swept over with a cold and bitter realisation that not all guitar players pray for peace. Thus, concluding that ‘Shakespeare’s Sister’ is a universal metaphor for many conflicted teenagers that are balancing on the cusp of growing up and trying to decipher what the meaning of life is. When harsh reality hits home, we’re left with bitter disappointment, desolation, and despair. This awful cruel world, you!
I then came across Shakespeare’s Sister in Virginia Woolf’s essay “A Room of One’s Own”. Woolf’s essay is mostly a feminist exploration in that, had Shakespeare had a sister, would she of lived and followed the footsteps of her brother, given the oppressive context towards women of that time? Answer: probably not. In this case, Shakespeare’s Sister is apart of all female writers. She should fill our lungs with defiance and dominance, ordering the ‘what ifs’ had Shakespeare been a woman. Only this begs the question, had he been a woman, would the world be tipped off its axis, or would literature have died out without his/her heavy influence?
Taking both these into account, I like to think that Shakespeare’s sister is a real, subordinate and overlooked woman. Girl, even. I like to fantasise combining both the accounts. She is a manic-depressive soul, searching a reason to live amid a world of oppression and hate. Her hopes and despairs mimic those of our lives. Her emotional instability haunts the bathrooms and hearts of women. She’s the reason women have fridge magnets that joke about the replacement of men with wine. She’s the reason women hold their tongues in lovers spats. She is silent because she needs to be overlooked, or find a valid reason to come back fighting ten times harder. She carries the heavy burden of being a woman, a writer and a conflicted human being. She suffers the hardship of life so that we no longer have to. She highlighted her social injustice cast upon her like a curse – the cruel curse of sexuality. Feminists now shout and stamp their feet, Shakespeare’s sister did not go silenced in vain! She will be heard. She is real. She did exist. In many ways, she is the Jesus of the female literature world. And with that, Amen. Our liberation is all thanks to you, Sister.
The other half is a little easier to describe. Quite simply, the song “(Song For My) Sugar Spun Sister” by The Stone Roses, which again is another one of my favourite bands, holds influence here. The song throughout has many sexual connotations or at least illusions over things being done that are not openly spoken about. It’s still quite ambiguous and could alternatively describe a modern relationship of love that neither expected. I picture two lovers who suddenly wake up one morning, shocked to their realisation of their dependence upon one another. Nevertheless, I think of the Sugar Spun sister as a “candy floss girl”, stood next to the “sticky fingered boy” as an over sexualised girl. Even if the boy does love her, he only realises after having sex with her, thinking “what have I done.” Thus, the sister is an object of desire.
I then think of the world around me and the way girls my age are treated, and even older women too. Men and boys objectify, abuse and demean women from their sexuality. Girls don’t help this either I must admit, but what happened to the days when boys preferred girls for their intelligence? Or was there never such a day and I dreamt the whole thing up?
I heard a poem (or rather watched a short enactment of one on YouTube) that says so otherwise – the odd gem in the dirt DOES like a woman with intelligence (see below.) Whereas some women beg to differ in articles such as these.
Nevertheless, I dream of days when boys prefer girls for their intelligence in this modern day and age. This modern day and age where women are objects, over sexualised and exploited in pornography, photoshop, magazines, supermodel runways… I hope for a revolution in dating. In women and men. In their interactions, relationships and friendships. IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT SEX. How do you expect to have a real relationship if you can’t even talk and debate?
For this reason, I decided to combine Shakespeare’s sister – the conflicted intellectual, born to free women’s rights, with the Sugar Spun sister – placed upon earth for men’s pleasure and use only. By combining them, I hope that it sparks the thought of a woman, strong and beautiful, modern and empowering, can have sex without being branded a “slut” and can read a book without being branded a “frigid loner.” She is the perfect woman, balanced evenly. She is idealised and adored by many and lives her independent life. She is the reason boys will love girls who read again.
All in one easy, overlooked blog title. (Hello, irony!)