Monday, December 16, 2013

Are Indian Women Racy in Sex?

In its current issue, ‘India Today’ has published a survey report as usual on male-female sexuality in urban places of India. Some of my  friends messaged me to know my response. Here, it is:

In comparison to Sex Survey by “India Today” in 2003, this survey results of 2013 seem to indicate Indian women seem to be more in controlled and expressing their needs in their sex lives.  But are the numbers really accurate?
Let’s look at the results:

  If these results were true, it would be good enough to think that women’s body has been reached under women’s right. But does the ground reality show such conclusion?

This survey seems to be based on totally prejudiced sexist bias ideas inspired with the sex surveys of   some survey agencies earlier in the West.  Women have barely figured in it, the survey might be done with urban ladies who performed roles generally reserved for men. In India, still arranged marriages have a preferred social recognition.  Marital rapes in such arranged marriages are very common phenomena.  Ironically, the survey remained silent about the marital rapes occurred in India. They did not include any question on such rapes in their survey. The survey did not open how many of its married respondents are coming with love marriage or arranged marriage.

What is the motto of such surveys? I think, the underlying motive is only to help the patriarchal conspiracy to subjugate women. These are all money matters. Not ‘men’ but the ‘economy’ and ‘industries’ are now finding a new market among women to perceive their sexual desire.  The ‘consciousness about women’s sexual desire’ began when Procter & Gamble tried to win FDA approval for its female testosterone patch, which the company claimed could help women boost their sexual desire. Ironically, it has been proven by scientists that no single measurement of androgen hormones, like testosterone, can predict low desire. Some women with low testosterone levels did not have low desire, while some women with normal levels did.

Even the media are used by the commercial houses to subjugate women to make them pornified so that they could be utilised for income. Channel 4, one of UK’s popular TV broadcaster, in its programme “Embarrassing Bodies,” encourages the female viewers to soothe insecurity about common bodily issues, refers a woman to a cosmetic surgeon to have her perfectly healthy labia sliced off. Commercial cosmetics business houses try to propagate that such cosmetic FGM is safe reporting 71 percent of women having the procedures report an ‘improved sex life’ and 23 percent report they could reach orgasm more easily after obtaining such operations. But these claims are possibly advertising/marketing-based and cannot always be substantiated. Thus BJOG, an international journal of obstetrics and gynecology has denied these claims in a report published in its 1st issue of Volume 117. Experts (L. M. Liao, L. Michala, and S.M. Creighton) write:

“This review has identified almost 1,000 published cases of cosmetic labial surgery. Because the majority of such procedures are performed in the private sector, here audit and publication are not required, and because advertisement, especially via the Internet, is widespread, these figures are likely to represent the tip of the iceberg. No prospective studies were found. Follow-up was not carried out for most studies and, where available, it was of short duration with unspecified or suspect methodology. There was no attempt to compare preoperative morphological measurements with published criteria to assess the need for intervention. Surgery appeared to have been offered on demand, justified by verbal reports of physical and psychological difficulties.”

Sexual problems of women have not received adequate attention from the researchers. Worldwide, female sexual dysfunction (FSD) is a highly prevalent problem for 38%-63% of women.  Very few researches have been made clinically on sexual frigidity of women in India. And yet, according to a recent study by researchers at the Yale School of Medicine and Albert Einstein College of Medicine, nearly half of all women who participated in the studies suffer from some sexual problem; many suffered from more than one. And it has now been proven that orgasm is not experienced by most women either in the West or in the East. Curiously, very few activists have come forward to proclaim that right for women. And it appears most medical researchers and funders of this research are also not in the mood to spend too much money trying to figure out why some women are sexually unhappy. But the surveys by India Today shows only 2.3 % of female respondents admit about their sexual unhappy lives. What a silly nonsense result!

I believe women are still living in denial of their sexual desire. Most women seldom discuss sex with their doctors. They even think not being able to experience orgasm during sexual intimacy is a normal occurrence. Indian society still has not been removed its taboo on sex and most of the women  are totally molded by patriarchal conspiracy where male sexuality is termed as ‘active’ while female sexuality is ‘passive.’ Here, I don’t think the situation in the West differs much from that of the East. It seems throughout the world, the sexual instinct of females is routinely suppressed. Those who find so much sexual positivism among Indian women might have selected a fixed specialized domain and this domain can’t be termed to represent Indian women any more.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Feminism is Humanism. So Why the Debate?

While speaking on the topic ‘Reclaiming Language, Space and Body: Women Writing in Odia’ during the Second Literary Festival arranged by Samanvay at IHC, Delhi on November 4, 2012, I stumbled upon some strange reactions from some of my colleagues. This predisposed me to think how poor our ideas are in such areas. As the topic was related to ‘body’ and ‘women writing,’ I marked many of the participants mingled the term ‘body’ (or exactly to say ‘woman’s body’)with sexuality. And amusingly enough, they had very limited ideas about female sexuality.  As a result, the total discussion roamed round the merits and demerits of extramarital affairs.  It could have been so much more...

In my speech, I related, we have a very blunt idea about sexuality. Common people in India can’t think more than a ‘passion’ or ‘lust’ or ‘erotica’ or ‘pornography’ while relating the term ‘female body.’ But the term is more allied with social issues primarily affecting women in our culture such as birth control, abortion, the family, sexual discrimination and harassment, and rape.
In one of my essays discussing ‘discrimination with the female body,’ I have written, “In Asian and African countries, it's a regular practice to breastfeed girls for a shorter time than boys so that women can try to get pregnant again with a boy as soon as possible. In the case of adolescent girls, they are provided with less food than their brothers by their own mothers. As a result, girls miss out on life-giving nutrition during a crucial time in their development, which stunts their growth and weakens their resistance to disease.

Sunita Kishor published a survey report in the “American Sociological Review” (April 1993). In her article “May God Give Sons to All: Gender and Child Mortality in India,” she writes, “despite the increased ability to command essential food and medical resources associated with development, female children [in India] do not improve their survival chances relative to male children with gains in development. Relatively high levels of agricultural development decrease the life chances of females while leaving males' life chances unaffected; urbanization increases the life chances of males more than females...Clearly, gender-based discrimination in the allocation of resources persists and even increases, even when availability of resources is not a constraint.” Is this not gender discrimination as related to the body of a female?
(See: ‘Seeking a Voice for Open Questions About the Sexual Rights of Women’ from

Reacting to my speech, one Kannad poetess Mamta G.Sagar commented, from the audience, she was opposing any feminist voice in literature and stated a writer should not be a feminist but rather a humanist. I clarified my position on how anyone could expect a discussion on the topic of ‘body’ wouldn’t reach the arena of feminism? And I also clarified my view that I think it’s a vague statement to say a writer should not be a feminist but a humanist. It sounds as if feminists are not humanists and the authors who believe in patriarchal milieu are the real humanists.

But after that seminar, when I tried to know more about Ms. Sagar, I came to know from Muse India that she likes to introduce herself for her work on Women and Gender politics. In her Wikipedia page, she mentioned she had acquired her Ph.D. degree in “Gender, Patriarchy and Resistance: Contemporary Women’s Poetry in Kannada and Hindi (1980-2000).” This moved me to write the following.


Am I a feminist? I’m actually uncomfortable calling myself a feminist, but not because of my perceptions of what feminism is or who’s eligible for the label. My regular readers know the reason why I find myself uncomfortable as I possess very different views from Western second-wave feminists regarding their beliefs on the feminists’ milieu. To me, femininity (rather than feminism) has a wonderful power.  In our de-gendered times, a really feminine woman is truly a joy to behold. She can unleash her own unique yet universal femininity by just being who she is rather than what some want her to be.  Isn’t that refreshing?  We are here for gender sensitivity to proclaim gender equality.  Do not man and woman compliment one another when one strips away the not-so-hidden agendas of those committed to quests of power and control?
‘Equality’ is a term which aims to rectify institutional racism/sexism/ageism etc. through affirmative action and has long been derided as being unequal treatment, in violation of the ‘one-rule-for-all’ principle. This equality is achieved when (and if) the law treats all individuals the same, without reference to their sex, race or age. This kind of equality leaves many ‘equalists’ happy, but still ignores the long history of discrimination against certain groups in society which leaves them in a disadvantaged position with no chance of carrying out their lives on an ‘equal playing field.’ On this approach, historical grievances must be acknowledged and rectified and a special effort must be made to bring these groups to an acceptable position in society. This approach is often accused of being ‘unfair,’ ‘discriminatory,’ ‘racist,’ or ‘sexist’ by some ‘privileged’ groups who began the controversy of feminism versus humanism largely for their own purposes and maybe not for the common good.

The French philosopher and social anthropologist Michel Foucault in his two books Discipline and Punish and The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1 makes few references to women or to the issue of gender and he calls his ideas of transformations in the nature and functioning of power as the theory of genealogy, which challenges the commonly held assumption that power is an essentially negative, repressive force which operates purely through the mechanisms of law, taboo, and censorship. Foucault named this as ‘juridico-discursive’ conception of power and according to him the term  has its origins in the practices of power characteristics of pre-modern societies. In such societies, he claims power was centralized and coordinated by a sovereign authority who exercised absolute control over the population through the threat or open display of violence. From the seventeenth century onwards, however, as the growth and care of populations increasingly became the primary concerns of the state, new mechanisms of power and control emerged which centered around the administration and management of ‘life.’ In the complex story Foucault tells, this new form of ‘bio-power’ revolved around two poles.

One pole was concerned with the efficient government of the population as a whole and focuses on the management of the life processes of the social body. It involved the regulation of phenomena such as birth, death, sickness, disease, health, sexual relations, and so on. The other pole, which Foucault labels ‘disciplinary power’, targeted the human body as an object to be manipulated and trained. (See ‘Foucault and Feminism’by Aurelia Armstrong. Link:

Like other social anthropologists, Foucault believed the body and sexuality are cultural constructs rather than natural phenomena. But ironically, of those feminists who possess the same belief on socialization of gender as Foucault called out the philosopher for his misogynist theories. Jana Sawicki, who was known as Foucault ‘s strongest supporter, criticized Foucault’s theory of genealogy in her book Disciplining Foucaultas being ambiguous and a source of conflict and agreed he did not go far enough in their direction and address their concerns with the focus on women’s experiences on which feminism insists. She questioned: How can he say so much about sex and so little about women? Does his gender matter?

Judith Butler, another Foucauldian feminist, though influenced by Foucault‘s thinking of socialization of gender and body through Nietzschean genealogy, psychoanalysis, and Derridean discourse, overlooked the concepts of technology and strategy which form a key part of Foucault‘s thinking.

Foucault’s humanism is a ‘strategic rejectionism.’ According to him, humanism is also the legitimizing force behind a liberal democracy. It tells people that although they do not have power, they are still the rulers. In short, humanism is everything in Western civilization, according to Foucault, which restricts the desire for power; it prohibits the desire for power and excludes the possibility of power being seized.

I think critics who stand for humanism saying feminism is against humanism certainly support Foucault’s ideas of the rejection of humanism. Actually, the question of Humanism was first raised by the Italian philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) when he announced that "L'homme est né libre, et partout il est dans les fers" (“Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains."). By saying this, Rousseau distinguishes between ‘abstract Man' and 'actual man' caught in their social positions of conflict.

Paul Kurtz, the founder and chairman of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, has edited a book titled The Humanist Alternative, Some Definitions of Humanism (Published by Prometheus Books, Buffalo, NY and Pemberton Books, London, 1973, 190 pages) where we see different authors find different types of humanism, such as: ethical humanism, religious humanism, atheistic humanism, heretical humanism, scientific humanism, naturalistic humanism, and just humanism (without any preceding adjective). Not all of these humanisms are different from each other but on the other side, this list of humanism is far from complete.Similarly Tony Davies, a senior lecturer in English at the University of Birmingham mentions "seven distinct sub-definitions of humanism" in the Oxford English Dictionary in his book Humanism, (published by Routledge, 11 New Fetter Lane, London). And similarly, Thomas Paine’s Rights of Man (1792) or Thomas Jefferson's the Declaration of Independence (1776) all appeal to the abstract singularity and universality of Man.Humanism, then, posits a ‘timeless and unlocalised’ condition, which is Frederich Nietzsche's radical insight in his book Human, all too Human, where he writes, “all philosophers have the common failing of starting out from man as he is now and thinking they can reach their goal through an analysis of him. They involuntarily think of 'man' as an aeterna veritas, as something that remains constant in the midst of all flux, as a sure measure of things. Everything the philosopher has declared about man is, however, at bottom no more than a testimony as to the man of a very limited period of time. Lack of historical sense is the family failing of all philosophers.”

As a consequence, Foucault's humanism, or clearly ‘anti-humanism,’ must be seen as the developing part of Nietzsche’s idea of ‘historical philosophizing’ and with it, ‘the virtue of modesty’ by which Foucault  meant ‘a healthy willingness to resist temptation to confuse our own dispositions and values with some universal and eternal human condition.’ According to Nancy Fraser an American critical theorist, Foucault opposes humanism in the sense he does not support absolute government, or torture, or the violation of rights. Rather, what he argues is that such causes are not adequately supported or opposed by humanist liberal arguments. Humanism is a discursive myth, and notions of autonomy and self-determination are illusions of a liberal hegemony form of disciplinary government which fails to recognise the historical constitution of self hood  Such a discourse, in my view, is at odds with both reason and experience. (See: “Michel Foucault: A "Young Conservative?,” in Michael Kelly’s (ed.), “Critique and Power: Recasting the Foucault/Habermas Debate.” Cambridge Mass.: MIT Press, pp. 185-210)

Those who are pointing to the notion feminism is an anti-humanist activity somehow are frequently charged with a strong form of epistemological relativism. It is important to establish the connections precisely in order not to misrepresent feminism. Such a conception is not metaphysical in that it does not claim to derive from a source exterior to human beings in history. Feminism, on the other hand, should not be a war with men but at war with history—a history defined by a patriarchy so tenacious and entrenched, it feels almost dangerous to say the word aloud.

Because feminism is basically a humanistic philosophy and world view, it then must be understood in terms of humanistic ideals. From feminism’s primary concerns of equal rights, authority, and the sexual roles of men and women flow a significant number of social, political, moral, ethical, religious, and economic issues of importance to individuals, families, communities, and nations as a whole. Instead of the idea that man makes himself God, which is a core attribute of organizational humanism, we should continue our attempts to establish that ‘human’ (not man or woman only) makes ‘themselves’ God.
I wonder then how our so-called feminist authors could announce at an intellectual gathering feminism is not based on humanistic philosophy. Not only Mamta G.Sagar, but many of my colleague short story writers and poets support the notion feminism is an attack against humanism. Amazingly enough, these writers, from time to time, claim to be feminists and where there is a chance to benefit from feminism, they pounce on the opportunity to be part of it.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Vagina...Open for Business and Debate

Naomi Wolf, who became famous for her book The Beauty Myth (1991), argues that "beauty," as a normative value, is entirely socially constructed and that patriarchy determines the content of that construction with the goal of reproducing its own hegemony. According to her, women are under assault by the “beauty myth” in five areas: work, religion, sex, violence, and hunger. Ultimately, Wolf argues for a relaxation of the normative standards of beauty.
In 2012, Wolf writes in a new work, Vagina: A New Biography, where she says that the “badness” to which women are attracted isn't a literal badness; it is the sexual appeal of “otherness, wildness, and the dimensions of the unknown.” The book is also about the role of the autonomic nervous system, which she explains in the pages of the book.
Promoting her book, Naomi writes in The Guardian (September 8, 2012 issue), “a single system” works for female orgasm and that is dopamine. She further writes, “Dopamine is what I call the ultimate feminist neurotransmitter: it yields motivation and goal-orientedness, trust in one's own judgment and, most notably of all, in my mind, confidence. (Cocaine, for instance, powerfully stimulates release of dopamine – hence the crazy confidence and sociability of coke users, at least under the influence, responding to that boost). Opioids give the brain the sensation of ecstasy or transcendence; and finally, oxytocin – which can be released both when a woman's nipples are being stimulated and during the contractions of orgasm – creates a sense of bonding, caring, and intimacy. Oxytocin has been shown in studies to give people with heightened levels an advantage in reading the emotions of faces.”
But is Naomi Wolf’s attempt to find a brain-vagina connection or the role of dopamine in orgasm in any way helpful to know or explore the real problems of female sexuality? I doubt it.
While reading Naomi Wolf’s Vagina: A New Biography, I tried to search for that Naomi, the one who stands against the commercialization of women’s bodies. You may remember her book Beauty Myth started an uproar against the multi-billion-dollar cosmetics industry. According to her, these industries used the idea of beauty to exploit women for their commercial benefits.
I have been asking questions about where women stand in relation to the recent dopamine phenomenon declaration by Naomi. Where are women’s voices on this topic? Where are the critical voices? Isn’t it a fact that tomorrow, a pharmaceutical company will come forward to market dopamine just as Pfizer has done with Viagra? Is the feminine mass going to stand by and cheer being orgasmic with dopamine? Is all this so-called ‘brain-vagina connection’ really in women’s best interests?
In Wolf’s latest book (Vagina: A New Biography),psychological, social, political, economic, or relational factors regarding female orgasm are rarely, if ever, discussed. I remembered in the case of Beauty Myth, she wrote in that book how women, held back by having to work two shifts -- one of paid work for an employer and another unpaid at home for the family compared with the single shift worked by men -- still made strides; and how the addition of a third shift -- the beauty shift; all that shaving, plucking, painting, curling, styling, toning and trimming -- serves the purpose of keeping them down by keeping them tired and distracted -- too tired and distracted to be successful at work and too tired and distracted to become involved or even interested in unions or other political action that might help change the situation.
As a feminist gender studies scholar, I wondered how Naomi forgot about the women who engage themselves in three-shift days could think over this dopamine for conjugal orgasm. Because sexual dysfunction is related not only to the brain-vagina connection but to economical and social situations through which a woman has to pass as well.
In traditional texts, the word ‘vagina’ was considered with very confessional and contradictory statements. In Hindu scripture, Manu Samhita, vagina is mentioned as ‘the gate of hell.’ Indian Tantra practitioners called the vagina ‘the pathway to enlightenment.’ Chinese Tao philosophy used the ‘golden lotus.’ Shakespeare wrote ‘blackness’ in Othello or ‘boat’ in King Lear.
But later after the Victorian age, the gentlemen’s manner revealed a fear of the word ‘vagina’ in public discourse. When I posted about Naomi’s recent book in a group on facebook, a female member commented it is better not to use ‘taboo’ words (such as vagina) in public or in a social networking venue.
This happens in India as well. When the feminist music group ‘Pussy Riot’ were sentenced to two years in prison by a Russian court for performing a 40-second anti-Putin ‘punk prayer’ in a Russian cathedral and when Eve Ensler’s TheVagina Monologues had completed  a 16-year run throughout the world, including India, the word ‘vagina’ still embarrassed common females in India.
This embarrassment happened not only in India but in America as well. In June, Michigan Democrat Lisa Brown was barred from addressing the House of Representatives after using the word ‘vagina’ in a debate on an anti-abortion bill.
In Australia (Source:, Friday 15 June 2012 18.32 BST) this year, a TV advertisement used the word vagina for the first time to sell its products for menstruation. There was a series of complaints and calls for the ad to be banned.
But the word ‘vagina’ still remained as a potential factor either in religion or in business. Supporting female genital mutilation in Islam by some feminists in the name of cross-cultural feminism or making protest on this crude brutal system have been the main topics the last few years. Meanwhile, hymenoplasty did a million-dollar business by only surgical beautification of vagina. All these efforts made the ‘vagina’ more of a mystique while the real questions and problems of female sexuality remained misspelled in the feminist discourse.
For centuries, the vagina was the centre of attraction for many intellectuals, psychologists, scientists, and for people of letters. From Vatsayan (who wrote the Kamasutra) to Leonard Shlain (who invented GYNA SAPIENS theories) to Sigmund Freud (the premier person to support the vaginal orgasm) to Ernst Grafenberg (who invented the G-spot theory) and many other scholars also did work on this female organ and interestingly enough, if we will verify the gender of such scholars, we will find most of them to be male. So one can conclude the vagina, which is merely a female organ, is more significant to males than females.
The attempt to proclaim women have autonomy over their own bodies is the real solution of solving the problems of female sexuality. But is the female body only restricted to the vagina? In India, female fetuses are routinely killed before their births. Before such killings, nobody asks the pregnant mother whether she wants to abort or doesn’t.  The decision is not hers.  She’s merely a vessel. In India, when a mother serves food to her children, she serves more to her son than to her daughter. Can this be labeled as persecution over a female body? In India, when a bride is killed at home by her husband or the husband's family due to his dissatisfaction over the dowry provided by her family, isn’t it an attack on a female body?
Believe it or not, India has more than 40 million widows -- the highest amount in the world. A widow, regardless of her age, has to get into a dreary garment and give up other ornamentations and confine herself to a corner of the house. A widow even has to tonsure her head in certain communities. She is not allowed to attend weddings or other celebrations as her presence is considered a bad omen. Are these patriarchal rituals not linked to a female’s body?
The concept of women’s bodies in the West differs from that of the East. Vagina may be a main source of female sexuality for Naomi but it is not at all for an Indian female like me. Burning Brides may be a name of hard rock band in America but here, it is very difficult for me to even imagine bride burning being associated with any sort of musical concert. This is the difference between Eastern feminism and Western feminism. Before discussing South Asian Feminism, we have to realize this bitter truth and carry on.
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Sunday, January 08, 2012

Questions of Sexual Politics in Indian Literature

Based on the middle-class milieu, Sarat Chandra Chottapadhay’s novel “Shesh Prashna” (later published by Penguin as Final Question  is a unique novel of its time because it reinforces the author’s enduring relevance on a female’s sexuality, questioning all patriarchal values.  I have stated before in my various articles that unlike Western countries, feminism in India had been motivated and ignited mostly by males and never females.  It is a very interesting fact that in the colonial period, we find none of the female authors came forward with any question over the patriarchal milieu except some Anglo-Indian writers like Bithia Mary Crocker (1849-1920), Maud Diver (1867-1945), Sara Duncan (1861-1921), F. E. Penny, Alice Perrin (1867-1934), and Flora Annie Steel (1847-1929).  They all are now forgotten, but once they played a major role in molding conflicts and collusions between British feminist discourses at the turn of the nineteenth century and contemporary conservative discourses bolstering colonial patriarchy.  Though they were related to India somehow by their birth; culturally, they were not associated with India.  And as we can’t claim Rudyard Kipling as an Indian writer, it is logically dishonest to include these forgotten writers in the Indo-Anglican literary stream.
 In the colonial period, we find the participation of women in literature aimed for rebelling against British rule.  The body of work produced was often related to the freedom struggle and to reform as well as the nationalist movements.  The trend of educating Indian women began in the late nineteenth century with the rise of the reformist movement in India by male reformists like Ram Mohan Ray, Chandra Vidyasagar, and others, which caused more participation of women in actively rebelling against British rule.  This led to a new stage in the development of women's literature in India.  The body of work produced was often related to the freedom struggle and the reform and nationalist movements.  Although there were still women such as Bhabani and Jogeswari whose writings in the early nineteenth century questioned the patriarchal dominance of their husbands, the majority concentrated on the freedom struggle. Another feminist activist Savitribai Phule, who along with her husband championed the cause of women's education, was the first woman teacher in modern Maharashtra and together with her husband; she started the first school for girls. Her writing carries the mark of an activist and scholar who wholeheartedly believed in the cause of the untouchables. Her follower, Pandita Ramabai Saraswati, was educated both in English and in Sanskrit.  She stood herself against the patriarchal reading of the Hindu scriptures and early scholarly works of learned Brahmins which encouraged a repressive and demeaning interpretation favouring the suppression of women.  Sarojini Naidu, dubbed as the nightingale of India, published her first set of poems at the age of sixteen and went to England where she was educated at King's College in London, and later at Cambridge.
Towards the mid-nineteenth century, more and more women began to write in regional languages as well as in English.  Some of them, such as Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain, created a world of feminist ideologies.  In “Sultana's Dream,” she talks about a world dominated by women; a world which has imprisoned men in the male equivalent of zenanas (women's quarters).  She creates a world that is much better than the one men managed.  In her woman's world, there are no wars and there is constant scientific progress and love for the environment. (See: Tharu, Susie and Lalita, K. (Eds), “Women Writing in India Volume 1, 600 BC to the Early Twentieth Century,” Oxford University Press, New Delhi, Feb. 1991)
There were also two Sarala Devis in the feminist activist world of the colonial India; one is Sarala Devi Chowdhury (1872-1945) of Bengal and another is Sarala Devi (1904-1986) of Orissa.
The former one was a Bethune School student, BA with honours in English (1890), proficient in French, Sanskrit, and Persian and was also the niece of Ravindra Nath Tagore.  Apart from writing, Sarala Devi also edited a number of journals.  When her husband was in jail, she edited the Hindustan, and launched its English edition.  For a long time she helped in editing  the Bharati, another Bengali journal.  Among her important publications were: Nababarsher Swapna, Jibaner Jharapata, Banalir Pitrdhan (1903), and Bharat Stri Mahamandal (1911).  In Kolkata, Sarala Devi Chowdhury founded the Bharat-Stri-Shiksa-Sadan (a feminist organization) and introduced games with swords and batons among women. Her involvement in nationalist politics brought her in contact with Mahatma Gandhi, Lala Lajpat Ray, Gopal Krishna Gokhle and Bal Gangadhar Tilak.
On the other hand, Sarala Devi of Orissa studied up to class VI, was a freedom fighter, and a woman activist at the premier of feminism in Orissa.  She writes many essays in Oriya such as: “Utkalaa Nari Samasya” (The Problems of the Women of Orissa) 1934, “Narira Dabi” (The Rights of Women) 1934, “Bharatiya Mahila Prasanga” (about the women of India) 1935, “Rabindra Puja” (A Homage to Rabindranath), “Beera Ramani” (The Women of Valour) 1949, and “Bishwa Biplabani” (The Great Female Revolutionaries of the World) 1930.  She was also writing in Bengali under the pen name ‘Debjani.’  She started her political career with 35th National Congress at Nagpur.   She was one of the first women authors to show political awareness and a feminist outlook.
If we compare both the Sarala Devis, no doubt the latter one was more a feminist in her thought than the former.  She was more radical in her thought and refused to use a veil -- instead, covering her head with one’s own sari as a mark of modesty of a woman -- and reacted vehemently against many of the prevailing social taboos.  She once wrote in an auto-biographical essay that God is a patriarchal product.  In His world, man always remains untouched and a woman becomes fallen in committing sin.  Describing her as one of premier of Indian feminism, Sachidananada Mohanty writes, “In her book, Narira Dabi, Sarala outlines a manifesto for women’s empowerment.  Comparable to Mary Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Women, what impressed us was the breadth of her extraordinary knowledge of contemporary history, law, and social life both in India and abroad.  In voicing her anger against the subordination of women and marital rape, Sarala distinctly emerged as a revolutionary woman.  Far ahead of her times, her life and career deserve the attention of an all-India audience. 
Sarala begins her essay in a matter-of-fact manner: “There is much agitation in today’s world over the question of women’s independence.  Both in the West as well as in the East, one hears, in one voice, the demand that women should become free.  The campaign has made headway in the western countries. In the East, however, it is still at the stage of inception.  Nevertheless, there is little doubt that the agitation would fructify in the near future.” (See “Gender and Cultural Identity in Colonial Orissa,” by Sachidananda Mohanty, Hyderabad: Orient Longman, 2005, pages 90-99)
What do we see in these writings of colonial days?  Patriarchy was kept aside as a less harmful object than social reforms or nationalism.  Most of these women writers wanted to reform society in the framework of patriarchy.  Sarala Devi was the first woman to shed some light on the ‘detachment of the woman’ questioning from the formal need of development of woman under the patriarchy framework.  Before Sarala Devi, the feminists of India, who were already inspired by the National Movement started by the Congress Party, especially by Mahatma Gandhi, were fighting for the issues surrounding limited rights to women based on the flawed perceptions that men held of women.  She raised the question of why women should not claim her rights over own body?
Though Sarala Devi was not so educated on a formal academic scale, she was well-accomplished with English and Bengali.  She was very fond of Rabindra Nath Tagore and Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, two eminent writers of Bengal.  Among these two veteran authors, Sarat Chandra was the most popular Bengali novelist and short story writer of the early twentieth century in India.  His novels are not only popular in Bengali but in almost in all Indian languages.  His works represented rural Bengali society and he often wrote against social superstitions and oppression.  He was particularly sensitive to the cause of women.  Though he was always known to be an intrepid champion of the marginalised in his novels, but he was also criticised by the critics for the emotional aspects he was dealing with in his novels, especially the novels written in his earlier stage.  Besides popular novels, he has written some worthy novels like Palli Samaj (1916), Charitraheen (1917), Devdas (1917), Nishkriti (1917), Srikanta in four parts (1917, 1918, 1927, and 1933), Griha Daha (1920), Sesh Prasna (1929) and Sesher Parichay, published posthumously in 1939.
In his novels, Sharat Chandra tried to establish questions related to women of the bourgeoisie met, from the very first, with stiff resistance from men.  Though he was the lone author of his time to support the causes of women, we find only one story of his contemporary great writer Tagore has been credited to show him as a supporter of feminism.  This is a short story title as “Strir Patra,” the dismal lifelessness of Bengali women after they are married off, hypocrisies plaguing the Indian middle class, and how the protagonist, a sensitive young woman, must — due to her sensitiveness and free spirit — sacrifice her life.  In the last passage, Tagore directly attacks the Hindu custom of glorifying Sita's attempted self-immolation as a means of appeasing her husband Rama's doubts (as depicted in the epic “Ramayana”).
Though Tagore was considered as more serious and elite, Sarat Chandra  also worked in parallel and remained at a safe distance away from Tagore’s style and concept, but this was not an easy matter for the authors of that time.  According to Dr. Sukumar Sen, Sarat Chandra (arguably) did not much appreciate poetry and hence deprived his work a little of the vast wealth of the Tagore literary ocean which could well have enhanced the texture and depth of his masterpieces.  However, the author made himself more committed to the issues than the elite poets of his contemporaries and even one of his novels “Pather Daabi” was banned for alleged preaching of sedition from 1927 to 1939 and again in 1940, under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code and under the Dramatic Performance Act respectively.  He was not particularly liked either by the Imperial representatives or by Hindu fundamentalists. 
The novel Final Question (Shesh Prashna) started with the cohabitation of the female protagonist Kamal with Shivnath.  In the decades of the last century, the term ‘living together’ was not much more glorified rather than the very inferior term ‘concubine,’ used for the female who are engaged in such relationship, but no term was created for their male counter parts.  Ashutosh Banerjee or Ashu Babu, an aged widower arrived Agra to live there with his unmarried daughter, Manorama.  Ashu Babu wants Manorama to get married to Ajeet.  However the dynamics of relationships take such twists and turns that Manorama comes close to Shivnath who is said to have ditched his first wife for Kamal and now ready to ditch Kamal also for the sake of her.  However Kamal herself is no longer mentally attached to him.  Ajeet, despite being the likely son-in-law of Ashu Babu, gets distanced from Manorama and comes close to Kamal.  Another angle in the story is that Kamal has a place for the aged Ashu Babu in her heart who is still so much dedicated to his deceased wife that his heart refuses to even think of any other woman in her place.
The total novel is not event-oriented as there are not many twists and turns in the plot.  It is thought-oriented and the author seems to have created the characters to bring an overabundance of diverse thoughts to the front through them.  The novel is studded with long and thoughtful dialogues, mainly regarding male-female relationships and the philosophy of life.  Throughout the novel, Kamal challenges the traditional values imposed by the male-dominated society on the women every now and then.  She does not shrink back in any argument just because the arguers are men and she is a woman.  She speaks and puts up her thought with logic, courage and conviction.  And quite naturally, that’s another reason for most of the males not to look upon her as a ‘good woman’ (as per their vision).
The novel raised the question: is love eternal or does it need a single-devotion towards a person of opposite sex?  The novel has its consequences to show how love, like everything in this mortal world, is also not eternal or immortal and has to meet its death when its life is over.  But the other aspects of the novel are the question raised by Kamal on basic beliefs of the so-called patriarchal society as she is not ready to take anything told at its face value and willing to test everything on the criterion of logic.  These questions, no doubt, are sufficient to raise the eyebrows of the Hindu fanatics of a patriarchal society.  Actually, the moderates of patriarchal society -- those who want to empower females under the patriarchal social milieu -- also couldn’t digest such questions which are somehow related to sexual rights of a woman.
In the initial period of feminism, I have told these are men, not women at all, to come forward to establish empowering woman concept.  Raja Rammohan Roy or Vidyasagar are the prime figures to set the root of feminism in India.  But what they laid down is the empowering under the umbrella of patriarchy and it is Sharat Chandra, who first tried to eliminate this patriarchal umbrella and it is irony that being a man, he was the pioneer and none of our feminists of that time came forward to take this credit.
But the questions raised by Kamal in Sarat Chandra Chottapadhay’s  novel Shesh Prashna (Final Question) had a long-term effect on Indian literature and I think these questions could give birth of the poets like Amrita Pritam and Kamala Das.
We could hear the voice of Kamal, once uttered in Sarat Chandra’s novel, approximately 50 years after, when Kamala Das wrote:
“- each time my husband,
His mouth bitter with sleep,
Kisses mumbling to me of love,
But if he is you and I am you,
Who is loving who
Who is the husk who the kernel
Where is the body where is the soul
(from “Only The Soul Knows How To Sing,” page 94.)
Thrashing out the beginning and development of feminism, till now, no one has admitted Sarat Chandra Chottapadhyay’s role in the making of original feminism in India, but actually, he is the person who was thinking an era ahead. 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Setting the Record Straight

A few days ago, Sonia Sarkar, a Special Correspondent of The Telegraph newspaper wrote me in a letter and questioned, “What exactly is Sense and Sensuality? The website gives me an impression that it is a common platform where women facing sexual harassment on streets can write about their experiences. But what after that? Is it only a platform of empathy or something more than that?”

I was stunned at her questions. I have been blogging here for not less than five years and my bloggings have been awarded as best blog by organizations throughout the world. In 2009, the Red Room, a literary website based in America, declared my blogging as one of the best blogs of the week in September of 2011. I have been awarded the Ladli Media Award of India for gender sensitivity for one of my bloggings. Many of my bloggings have been reposted, translated and published in different languages of the sub-continent. Google statistics show I have readers and visitors from all over the world. Moreover, the articles of my blogs have been published in a book form by a reputed publisher from Delhi. Still a Special correspondent of an English newspaper could ask me such questions. From that day, I decided to write a brief description of my motto of blogging and my ideas of feminism here, which I could publish as a preface in my next forthcoming book.

Who I Really Am

I have been repeatedly told that I am never an activist and basically, I am a writer. I have also told many times that as a feminist I am more a writer and as a writer I am more a feminist. Actually I don’t know if I am a feminist in any way or not because in my idea, I have found the ideas of Second Wave feminists as stereotyped. I am just a thinker and I write about what I think gender study should be.

I have found in India, some critics compare me with Simone De Beauvoir, though I differ from her on theoretical grounds. Once, The Tribune from Chandigarh described me as the ‘Virginia Woolf and Judith Butler of India’ in its Sunday, June 13, 2010 issue. But my readers know how many similarities these two eminent personalities and I have.

So, at last I have decided to list again some of my ideas on women in brief.

The Main Concept of My ‘Feminism’

For me, feminism is not a gender problem or any confrontational attack on male hegemony so it is quite different from that of Virginia Woolf or Judith Butler. I accept feminism as a total entity of female-hood, which is completely separate from the man’s world.

To me, femininity (rather than feminism) has a wonderful power. In our de-gendered times, a really feminine woman is a joy to behold and you can love and unleash your own unique yet universal femininity. We are here for gender sensitivity to proclaim the differences between men and woman with a kind of pretence that we are all the same. Too many women have been de-feminized by society. To be feminine is to know how to pay attention to detail and people; to have people skills; and to know how to connect to and work well with others. There will be particular times and situations within which you'll want to be more in touch and in tune with your femininity than others. Being able to choose is a great privilege and skill.

I think 'femininity' is the proper word to replace 'feminism,' because the latter has lost its significance and identity due to its extensive involvement with radical politics. Femininity comes from the original Latin word femine which means ‘female’ or ‘women’ and certainly the word creates debatable identical characteristics. It separates the female mass from a masculine world with reference to gentleness, empathy, sensitivity, nurturance, deference, self-abasement, and succorance. And patriarchy also sets the group alien from them in their traditional milieu.

There are many more differences in theories among scientists, anthropologists, and psychologist regarding the nature and behavior of the female mass. Biologists believe the role of our hormones, particularly sex hormones, and the structure of our chromosomes are responsible for such a dichotomy in gender, though some queer theorists and other postmodernists, however, have rejected the sex (biology)/gender (culture) dichotomy as a “dangerous simplification.” Psychology, often influenced by patriarchy, categorises women as different from the masculine world in certain behavioural, emotional and logical areas. Social anthropologists deny the concept of biology or psychology which keep women aside from the masculine world. Simone De Beauvoir’s saying “one is not born a woman, but becomes one” impressed social anthropologists so much that they create a different theory of feminine socialisation.

Here in my bloggings, I have constantly tried to analyse the ‘truth,’ as related by biologists and anthropologists. What I think true to my sense and sensibility, I have expressed without any hesitation. But still I don’t consider myself as a conformist because I consider myself more a writer and as a writer, I think I am always a genderless entity. In my opinion, a writer should not have any gender. But still, patriarchal society has prevailed; is there any possibility to have a genderless society?

How I differ from Simone De Beauvoir on ideas of Feminism

This section is from Wikipedia:

( There are some grammatical errors in the Wikipedian text, which I did not touch as I treated it as a quote)

Simone De Beauvoir changed the Hegelian notion of the Other, for use in her description of male-dominated culture. This treats woman as the Other in relation to man. The Other has thus become an important concept for studies of the sex-gender system. Michael Warner argues that:

the modern system of sex and gender would not be possible without a disposition to interpret the difference between genders as the difference between self and Other ... having a sexual object of the opposite gender is taken to be the normal and paradigmatic form of an interest in the Other or, more generally, others.

Thus, according to Warner, Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalysis hold the heterosexist view that if one is attracted to people of the same gender as one's self, one fails to distinguish self and other, identification and desire. This is a "regressive" or an "arrested" function. He further argues that heteronormativity covers its own narcissistic investments by projecting or displacing them on queerness.

De Beauvoir calls the Other the minority, the least favored one and often a woman, when compared to a man, "for a man represents both the positive and the neutral, as indicated by the common use of man to designate human beings in general; whereas woman represents only the negative, defined by limiting criteria, without reciprocity" (McCann, 33). Betty Friedan supported this thought when she interviewed women and the majority of them identified themselves in their role in the private sphere, rather than addressing their own personal achievements. They automatically identified as the Other without knowing. Although the Other may be influenced by a socially constructed society, one can argue that society has the power to change this creation (Haslanger).

In an effort to dismantle the notion of the Other, Cheshire Calhoun proposed a deconstruction of the word "woman" from a subordinate association and to reconstruct it by proving women do not need to be rationalized by male dominance.[11] This would contribute to the idea of the Other and minimize the hierarchal connotation this word implies.

Sarojini Sahoo, an Indian feminist writer, agrees with De Beauvoir that women can only free themselves by “thinking, taking action, working, creating, on the same terms as men; instead of seeking to disparage them, she declares herself their equal." She disagrees, however, that though women have the same status to men as human beings, they have their own identity and they are different from men. They are "others" in real definition, but this is not in context with Hegelian definition of “others”. It is not always due to man’s "active" and "subjective" demands. They are the others, unknowingly accepting the subjugation as a part of "subjectivity".[12] Sahoo, however contends that whilst the woman identity is certainly constitutionally different from that of man, men and women still share a basic human equality. Thus the harmful asymmetric sex/gender "Othering" arises accidentally and ‘passively’ from natural, unavoidable intersubjectivity.[13]

Why I differ from the Second Wave feminists or Western Feminists

For many feminist thinkers, after marriage a family breeds patriarchy. Happily-married women are considered false and double-crossing. The titles of popular feminist books from the early movement highlight the split between gender feminists and women who chose domesticity. Jill Johnston in her “Lesbian Nation” (1973) said married women who are heterosexual females 'traitors'; Kate Millett, in her “Sexual Politics” (1970), redefined heterosexual sex as a power struggle; whereas it was argued in Kathrin Perutz's “Marriage is Hell” (1972) and Ellen Peck's “The Baby Trap” (1971), that motherhood blocks the liberation of a woman. These feminists always try to paint marriage as legalized prostitution and heterosexual intercourse as rape. And they come to the decision men are the enemy and families are prisons.

My Thoughts on Marriage and Parenting

Betty Friedan and Germaine Greer were against marriage in their earlier thoughts. But they tried to skip from their anti marriage ideas in later periods of their lives. Marriage is a three-sided arrangement between a husband, a wife and society. That is, society legally defines what a marriage is and how it can be dissolved. But marriage is, on the other hand, for partners of the marriage; it is more of an individual relationship than a social matter. This is the main reason of crisis. Individually, I think marriage must be taken out of the social realm and fully put back into the private one. Society should withdraw from marriage and allow the adults involved to work out their own definition of justice in the privacy of their own homes.

Our feminist thinkers always try to skip the idea that offspring-begging is a natural instinct of a woman and it is related to our ecological and environmental situation. Anything against it may result in disaster. We find a woman has to pass through a different stage in her lifespan and there is a phase where a woman feels an intense need of her own offspring. Feminists of second-wave feminism have always tried to pursue a woman against the natural law because it is seemed to them that motherhood is barricade for the freedom of a woman. But if the woman works and has a career, doesn’t that mean that her working assignments would demand more of her time, more of her sincerity, and of course, more of her freedom? Where is the freedom there? If a woman can adjust herself and can sacrifice her freedom for her own identity outside her home, then why then couldn’t she sacrifice some of that same freedom and identity inside her home for parenting, when parenting is also a part of her social identity? And then what are the costs in both freedom and identity for women who have two careers -- one outside the home and one inside the home? It becomes good food for thought and debate.

And this double career of women could also be solved by rejecting the traditional patriarchal role of parenting. We have to insist on the idea of the equal division of labor in parenting. This equally shared parenting is now more common in the West where it has become an economic necessity to have two or more incomes just to survive. But still in South Asian countries as well as in many other parts of the world, we find shared parenting is a taboo factor because of the economic inequality between men and women, our crazy work culture, and the constrictions placed on us by traditional gender roles.

The conflict between American mother-daughter feminists Alice Walker and Rebecca Walker is a well-known chapter for Western feminism. Alice Walker, the mother, the second-wave feminist, obviously had an anti-motherhood idea as the other western feminists of her time. But Rebecca Walker, her daughter and a feminist of third wave discussed in her book “Baby Love” about how motherhood freed women like herself from their roles as daughters, and how this provided the much-needed perspective to heal themselves from damaged mother-daughter relationships and claim their full adulthood. What happened? This latest article is mired in unresolved childish hurt and anger (especially in the chapter “How my mother’s fanatical views tore us apart”), which would be all well and good except that she strikes out at her mother by striking out at feminism. I personally think the bitterness between her and her mother, as any woman who has ever fallen out with her mother knows, is a very painful experience and note to self, one that probably shouldn’t be written about too much in public.

In her book “Baby Love,” Rebecca Walker writes directly about unadulterated excitement and pride about becoming a mother. Rebecca argues that motherhood frees us from childhood. It is the most important step a woman can take because it creates another human being and because it makes a woman an adult.

I found this to be true for myself. In one of my stories in “AMRUTA PRATIKSHA RE” (Waiting for Manna )(1989), published many years before “Baby Love,” I discuss the queries of a woman after a lifetime of wondering whether to have children, wondering if the sacrifices are worth it, wondering if life is full enough already -- how does our generation of women decide to have children? How does any generation of women decide to have children? Or DO they decide to have children? Do they have the freedom to?

Why I Oppose Some Theories of Social Anthropologists: Natural Gender v. Learned Gender

I began the first article in my book “Sensible Sensuality” with “Bicycle and Me,” where I wrote of my experiences of childhood. As my father had an obsession for a male child, he wanted to see me as a boy and therefore, I was dressed as a boy; my hair was cut like a boy’s; and I used to play boyish games with boys instead of girlish games with girls. In my second article, I mentioned my Portuguese friend’s query, where he asked whether this being raised as a male child had any impact in my sexuality in later life or not. It is clear to me that these cross-gender activities did not make any difference in my later life, and I grew up normally as a woman.

When I studied more about gender theories, especially in anthropology, I found that the anthropologists tried to confirm that gender is not innate but is based upon social and cultural conditions -- in other words, it is learnt. But my mind did not accept the theory so easily. Margaret Mead, in her anthropological study in 1935, concluded the differences in temperament between men and women were not a function of their biological differences, rather, they resulted from differences in socialisation and the cultural expectations held for each sex. (See: “Sex and Temperament in Three Primitive Societies” by Margaret Mead; New York: Dell.). This is, I think, the earliest study that led to the conclusion that gender is more a social and cultural factor than a biological one. According to this study, it is the social environment of the child, such as parents and teachers, that shapes the gender identity of a child. A child learns what to wear (girls in frocks and boys in shirt-pants); how and what to play (dolls for girls and cars for boys); how to behave (passivity and dependence in girls and aggressiveness and independence in boys); and how to reciprocate (gender-wise thoughts, feelings, or behavior). As a result, according to their theories, these ‘learnings’ confirm an appropriate gender-wise appearance and behavior, which leads to gender identity.

The sex/gender distinction, seen as a set and unchangeable dichotomy, does not help social scientists. They might have feared that “the set of sex/gender distinction serve to ‘ground’ a society's system of gender differences, [but] the ground seems in some ways to be less firm than what it is supporting.” (See the essay: “Transsexualism: Reflections on the Persistence of Gender and the Mutability of Sex in Body Guards” by Judith Shapiro in the book ‘The Cultural Politics of Gender Ambiguity’ (eds) J. Epstein and K. Straub, 1991). Other social anthropologists like Moira Gatens , Henrietta Moore, Pat Caplan dismiss the idea of a biological domain separated from the social. Even Pat Caplan declared that “...sexuality, like gender, is socially constructed.” From the preceding sentences, one can see that gender identities are grounded in ideas about sex and cultural mechanisms and create men and women from them.

But we also have to remember that biological sex is related to chromosomal sex, genitalia, assigned birth sex, or initial gender role which are rooted deeply in science and somehow proved rather than hypothetically assumed. Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes within each cell; 22 of these are alike in both males and females. But when we come to the 23rd pair, the sexes are not the same. Every woman has in her cells two of what we call the ‘X’ chromosome. But a man has just one X and another Y chromosome. These sets of chromosomes are what make males and females different biologically.

Also, the sex hormones, primarily estrogen and testosterone, have a significant impact on the behavior of males and females. For example, why do boys typically like to play with cars and girls like to typically play with dolls? Social anthropologists think it is the impact of socialization while biological science thinks it is the role of these sex hormones which differentiate the choice children make gender-wise. Biology says the sex-specific differences in the brain are located both in the primitive regions, and in the neocortex, the higher brain region which contains 70 percent of the neurons in the central nervous system.

The neocortex is divided into two hemispheres joined by a 200-million fiber network called the corpus callosum. The left hemisphere controls language analysis and expression and body movements while the right hemisphere is responsible for spatial relationships, facial expressions, emotional stimuli, and vocal intonations. Females use both their right and left hemisphere to process language in certain circumstances while males just use one hemisphere. Females also reach puberty two years earlier than boys, as per biological science, and this changes the way they process social and sexual information.

There are still some characteristics and feelings that I think social anthropologists rule out for the sake of their theories. What about the voice pitch? Males have harsh voices and females have soft voices. This is a biological characteristic and it is related to gender. The crisis of infertility may create a serious trauma to a female, which a male cannot feel. This is a feeling innate with specific feminine gender and it is more a psychological and biological than a social problem. The menopausal psycho syndromes are totally biological and not categorised with this social gender theory. Social anthropologists emphasise that we are all trying to pass as a gender which is decided by cultural systems, not our biological sex. But that is only in a black and white world. But how about when it turns gray?

What happens in the cases of transsexuals who do not pass it? The operation does not make their bodies fully male or fully female. The genitals will not function as genuine genitals and their chromosomes cannot be changed. Voice pitch and other physical characteristics might reveal their transsexualism. Actually, the high level of testosterone in men drives them toward some specific masculine characteristics while the lack of high levels of estrogen in women creates a natural, biological push in the direction of feminine characteristics. So is this biological or is it social?

A Closing Thought

Each gender has different strengths and weaknesses. This does not mean that one sex is superior OR inferior to another. Being feminine is a woman's birthright! It is always hard for me to understand why any woman would want to give up this cherished possession. I feel proud and adore my feminine dress, grooming, carriage, posture, voice, and language.

I want to use an integrated analysis of oppression which means that BOTH men and women are subjected to oppression and stereotypes and that these oppressive experiences have a profound affect on beliefs and perceptions. I am against the patriarchy role model of society but it does not mean that I want to replace a matriarchal role model of society in place of the existing patriarchal one.

What I want is to develop equal mutual relationships of caring and support between all genders and I want to focus on strengthening women in areas such as assertiveness, communication, relationships, and self esteem.

I am here to stand against patriarchy and stand for all that it is not.