ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Shilpa PhadkeSubscribe to Shilpa Phadke

Risking Feminism?

This paper is a classroom ethnography that engages with urban, middle-class narratives on feminism by young women. For them, their feminism is often precarious because it places possible heterosexual romance at risk by marking them as apparently anti-men. Further, it tends to place them in antagonistic relationships with their families, compelling them to engage in various strategies of negotiation, subversion and rebellion. This paper examines their understanding of both possible heterosexual relationships and the complex negotiations with families. Reflecting on these narratives, it argues that young women feminists today are taking risks, asking difficult questions, critically evaluating their own location and subject positions in their engagement with a feminist politics and practice.

Unfriendly Bodies, Hostile Cities

Following sexual assaults on women in public spaces in cities, discussions tend to frame the issue in terms of women’s safety in the streets rather than their right to access public space. The overarching narrative appears to be that cities are violent spaces that women are better off not accessing at all. This paper attempts to make a case for women and others accessing a city which is perceived as hostile, and to do so without being censured. It argues that loitering offers the possibility of rewriting the city as a more inclusive, diverse and pleasurable one.

Dangerous Liaisons

Safety in public spaces has thus far been tied to the notion of state responsibility and client-hood. For women particularly, this status of client-hood is linked intimately with ideologies of protectionism and the need to demonstrate protection-worthiness through manufacturing respectability. This reduces rather than enhances women's access to public space. This paper interrogates the discourse of safety in public space to argue that making a claim to the right to take risks in public space rather than petitioning for safety might take women further in the struggle to access public space as citizens. Focusing on Mumbai's growing hierarchies of access to public space, the paper also argues that women's exclusion from public space is linked to the exclusion of other marginal citizens.

Thirty Years On

The womenâ??s movement has with varying degrees of success negotiated with the changing socio-political contexts in India. However, change is slow and painful and the lives of a large section of Indian women have only marginally improved. The contemporary Indian womenâ??s movement is still accused of being westernised and unIndian. An important task for the movement thus is to vocally locate the feminist struggle in its diverse Indian cultural and historical settings. It is also imperative that the womenâ??s movement begins the task of recreating spaces and building bridges so that its various fragments can once again be fitted into the larger jigsaw.

Contextualising Sati

Contentious Traditions: The Debate on Sati in Colonial India by Lata Mani; Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 1999; pp 246, Rs 495.
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