Thursday, May 01, 2008

Painting of forceful disrobing of Indian mythical character Draupadi

by Raja Ravi Varma (1848-1906)
Source : Wikipedia

It is risky for a woman to deal

with Female Sexuality in India

“You are known for pushing the envelope, openly discussing female sexuality in your stories and novels in a way that hadn't been done before . Isn't that risky?”

This was the last question of Linda Lowen, the
well-known feminist media person of America, to me in her interview for “The New York Times” owned portal

In India most of the female writers either quit writing or make them more adjustable to male dominated values, after their marriage। You find shyness in their voice while relating the truth and exposing their innerself।Even their weaknesses or love relations are also not expressed clearly in fear of social scandal of their character। A typical womanish shyness prevents them to write their actual feelings towards sex and love।This is not only due to any restriction imposed by their family, but many times we find that an idea of being a good girl pursues them to hide their own feelings and experience

In “The Second Sex”, Simone also discusses three particular inauthentic attitudes of women in which they hide their freedom in: "The Narcissist," "The Woman in Love," and "The Mystic." In all three of these attitudes, women deny the original thrust of their freedom by submerging it into the object; in the case of the first, the object is herself, the second, her beloved and the third, the absolute or God.The patriarchy society also tries to incorporates multiple myths of woman in her mind (such as the myth of the mother, the virgin, the motherland, nature, etc.) and attempts to trap woman into an impossible ideal by denying the individuality and situation of all different kinds of women.
In India the ‘chastity’ means a lot for a woman and it is always demanded that a female should keep her ‘chastity’ pure and perfect. (It is another issue that nobody asks a man for the purity and perfection of his chastity). In case of poetry, one can hide herself with mystic metaphor or myth, but in fiction, one has to open herself completely. So, it is difficult for a woman to write any fictions sincerely hiding her experiences and reactions.

Kuntala Kumari Sabat (1900-1938) was remembered in Oriya Literature for mystic strain and reformative zeal in her romantic poetry . Before marriage she developed an extra marital affairs with a fatherly person Dr.Kailash Chandra Rao and after her marriage to Krushna Prasad Das alias Brahmachari, she shifted to Delhi .Her pre or post marital life were not so peaceful and her life was dangling between love, sex , oppression and harassment by male dominated mentality of feudal India .But we never find any sexual agony or her own saga .of life in her poems rather than a coated version of mysticism in the form of Sufi ideology

In the June 1998 issue of Harper's Magazine Francine Prose wrote an essay "Scent of a Woman's Ink: Are Women Writers Really Inferior?” She expressed her agony for neglecting female writers by insisting that despite the sales success of middlebrow "women's fiction" -- as epitomized by Oprah Winfrey's hugely successful television book club -- women writers of "serious literary fiction" can't get no respect. Not, at least, from "the more cerebral book-review pages and the literary prizes."
Prose has revived the debate by asking whether women writers are really more prone to "diminutive fictions, which take place mostly in interiors, about little families with little problems," and are they really more inclined toward a soft, self-absorbed emotionality or not . Actually, Prose maintains, male writers do all of that, just as women produce works that are "fiercely unsentimental, sharply observed, immensely ambitious and inclusive."
In reviewing my anthology of short stories once Jatindra Kumar Nayak , an Oriya critic wrote : (my) stories are as “a labyrinth.of the emotional lives of woman” Readers -- and especially critics -- are the ones who persist in seeing a fiction as inevitably colored by its author's gender, and the male critics always think that the domestic issues, love -- are of less consequence then the depth of thought produced by male writers? In short, it is a big question now , who will determine the difference in importance between a woman's inner or outer life and a man's? The answer, until recently at least, has been men.
Uma Parmeswaran once wrote an article on Kamala Mrakandeya at Sawnet , where she described that Salman Rushdie in his novels Shame and The Satanic Verses raised the issues of race riots in Britain .But before 20 years of Rushdie , Kamala Markendeya talked not only about the violence of racism but also about other diasporic realities - educational degrees that are not given accreditation, the resistance of immigrants to the expectations of the »host« culture, chasms of communication between generations, cultural values and needless cultural baggage. But the male dominated literary criticism placed Rushdie as a pioneer of diasporic struggle.
In India, a female writer is always considered as an inferior writer in comparison to male .(In any office or educational centers where male and female employees work together, you can easily notice a male subordinate never makes any ‘wish’ or ‘good morning ‘ to his female superior boss) The traditional readers have tendency to find out the hidden love affairs that have been hiding beyond a fiction of a woman writer. Till now , their mind is not prepare to accept a woman as a thinker or as a philosopher , whereas in Vedic period there were female philosophers like Madalsa,Gargi and Maitryi.
There were some interesting happenings with my story writings.Gambhiri Ghara (The Dark Abode), the most controversial novel of mine was first written in a story form and it was written for a special issue of an Oriya periodicals. Before the publication of the short story it was rejected and I was asked to submit another story in place of The Dark Abode.While inquiring the reason of the rejection of my story, I was told that the editor would talk to my husband.This comment of the chief editor made me irritated and I asked the chief editor whether my husband has an authority over my writer self ?The patriarchy idea of the chief editor made me to transform the short story to a novel.
Once I was also insulted and forced to beg apology for writing the story Jalhad (The Butcher) by the staff council of my college। It was about the rape story where the victim was an infant, the girl child of a working woman. .It was also a story of harassment faced by a working woman from the masculine sphere around her .The story was also about the imbalanced situation of a working woman who finds herself dangling between home and working place ,But the story was asserted as an obscene one and a petition was moved to remove me from my service of lectureship from the college .

And at last my answer to Linda was:

:”Yes, it is risky for a woman writer to deal with these themes in an Eastern country, and for that I face much criticism। But still I believe someone has to bear this risk to accurately portray women's feelings - the intricate mental agony and complexity which a man can never feel - and these must be discussed through our fiction।”

1 comment:

  1. Sex is made the scapegoat for people who are not fully capable of understanding it themselves. It is neither as corrupting as it is made out to be nor as all-consuming. It is not merely confined to the body but people love to think that so that they do not have to think about it in any other light.
    Hypocrisy rules its perception and this is not merely limited to India but is a worldwide phenomenon. Even the western countries which show so much of it, tend to degrade it more than anything else.
    I'm just beginning to understand these things for myself, and I've written a book on the same called Skid Marks of Logic. Its coming out in March. I hope you will support me in fighting for this cause, especially as concerns women.
    The facebook group for the same is