Nicola Barker’s short story “G-string” relates the troubles of a middle-aged woman with her self-confidence, how she fails to achieve the respect and admiration she seeks from her boyfriend Mr. Kip, as well as how she struggles to attain a certain idea of herself as a modern woman by wearing a G-string.
With a humorous tone and use of the G-string as a symbol, Barker allows us to follow her protagonist, Gillian, in her dilemma between wearing fashionable undergarments to resemble the picture she has of a voguish woman, or rejecting the unpleasant G-string and accommodating who she is, with her flaws and imperfections. Barker lets us grasp that putting an end to our constant struggle to fit into society’s mould is the first step on the road to self-assurance. By letting us witness the amendment in the attitude of Gillian’s partner Mr. Kip, when our protagonist finally cracks and loses her meek facade, the author furthermore states that our self-perception, with approval or denigration, will dictate how others see us, and define our power of seduction.
Barker uses the G-string as the symbol of society’s control over women. In her narrative, the frivolous panties become the standard in which every woman feels she should fit in order to be sexy, desirable to men, and most of all modern.
The stereotypical character of Jeanie, whom we meet in the beginning of the story, introduces Gillian to the G-string. She is the archetype of the trendy, classy woman that society sees as sexy and up-to-date: “Jeanie - twenty-one with doe eyes, sunbed-brown and weighing in at ninety pounds - told Gillian that the dress made her look like an egg-box. All lumpy-humpy” (70).
So when this fashionable, elegant individual declares to Gillian, speaking of the G-string: “These are truly modern knickers (…). These are what everyone wears now” (70), it is to be understood that the
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