The Woman in the Purple Skirt by Natsuko Imamura | Stalking, but like in a Feminist Way




The woman in the yellow cardigan and the woman in the purple skirt are both unmarried, unskilled, and unappealing by societal standards. Two women without youth, careers, children, or husbands, they live largely forgotten in crappy apartments in the same neighborhood.


But people seem to pay attention to, and take interest in, the woman in the purple skirt in ways they don’t the woman in the yellow cardigan.


Nobody is more aware of this than the woman in the yellow cardigan.


She is obsessed with the woman in the purple skirt. She monitors her every move, making meticulous notes about her appearance and whereabouts. She frets over her choices and wellbeing.


There seems to be no reason why the two of them could not become friends.

But instead of brainstorming ways to strike up a conversation in the park, the woman in the yellow cardigan takes her stalking to the next level and begins orchestrating events in the life of the woman in the purple skirt.


This book is short, funny, and obviously, unsettling.


For all that the woman in the yellow cardigan has learned about the woman in the purple skirt, the events that unfold surprise her. Because in actuality people are too complex to be the image you hold of them in your mind.


The woman in the yellow cardigan see’s herself in the woman in the purple skirt in a way she doesn’t see herself in society.

And she latches on. She doesn’t assume a default position of power over the woman in the purple skirt, even though she is undoubtedly stalking her. Sometimes she’s a protector, a savior, an older sister — other times she watches with envy, astonishment, or longing.


In her mind, they’re in this together. Society is against them.

While in pursuit of this fever dream of friendship, the woman in the yellow cardigan recklessly neglects her own life, and as the reader, you have to ask yourself: Does she truly want friendship? Does she want to be less lonely. To be seen? To be the woman in the purple skirt?


And of course, the story is all the more unsettling if you think about it from the POV of the woman in the purple skirt, who has an unrecognized force acting upon her life, and an obsessed stalker with ambiguous goals and zero boundaries.


At the end of the story you’re left wondering: Is the woman in the purple skirt the victim of the woman in the yellow cardigan?


Is she indebted to her?


Or is she solely responsible for her own life, regardless?


Are both of these women living in such vulnerable positions because society still assumes they will achieve the protection of either a company or matrimony? And views their lack of that protection as proof of their own failures?

And if we're thinking along those lines, do both the roles that the Hotel Company and male Director play in the story just add insult to injury?


I'd love to hear your thoughts on this one! Do you think the woman in the yellow cardigan always had a propensity for stalking? Or did she just lose it after finding a woman she relates to and admires?

Thanks for reading!

Amanda

Photo taken by me


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