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

Review of Women's StudiesSubscribe to Review of Women's Studies

Real Life Methods

This paper argues that an emancipatory impulse is critical and central to feminist method--one which effectively counters a widespread fetishisation of social science research where little attention is paid to the relationships of production of research findings and conclusions. Just as the women's movement and its political critique has affected discourses that are not specifically about gender or sexual distinctions, the emancipatory impulse of feminist methods can also be deployed in enquiries that are not focused entirely on gendered accounts of social phenomena. The aim of this study is not to essentialise certain methods as "feminist" but rather to suggest that methods used by a researcher who is a feminist, in enquiries into phenomenon that throw up questions of hierarchies other than gender, would not remain uninfluenced by her feminist politics. This claim is bolstered by the author's experiences as a feminist researcher studying the segregation of Muslims in Delhi.

The Erotics of Risk

This paper invites contemporary Indian feminism to take a leap outside of its faith--via a humanities turn, using sexualities as a tool--to find a path in academic praxis that resists the structures of moral policing and panics consuming our current political climate. Sexualities offer off-roading alternatives to developmental formations of gendered modernity that confine themselves to the tested, the programmatic and the ethical. The humanities as a method, through sexualities, can propel gender studies to an irrational wanton terrain away from the logics of rights, power and punishment via an engagement with praxis, form and situation into sharp materialist-hedonist possibilities of language, pleasure, profanation, the precarious and the tragic.

Rape as Atrocity in Contemporary Haryana

This paper highlights the escalating incidence of sexual violence against Dalit girls by Jats in contemporary Haryana, and the extraordinary struggles unfolding in the battle for justice. Details from a few cases through fact-finding visits and interactions present pictures of suffering and courage within entrenched structures of caste, now under siege. The unique place of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act in contemporary Haryana is another major facet of the struggle under way. The paper poses many questions to the women's movement, the wider democratic public, and the state. How much progress has been made in claims towards restorative justice, whereby victimhood can be transformed into meaningful survival?

Locating 'Hyderabad for Feminism' in the Present Struggle against Violence

This paper explores the voice of the urban middle-class youth in the current struggle against patriarchy, focusing on Hyderabad. Within this broad topic, it focuses on the group 'Hyderabad for Feminism', and the kinds of questions, reactions and discussions that occur on its Facebook page.

Some Thoughts on Extreme Violence and the Imagination

This paper explores the relationship between torture and sexual violence. As I understand it, sexual shaming, humiliation and hurt are inalienable aspects of torture inflicted on men, women and transpersons. In this sense, torture is nothing but the utter and violent perversion of the sense of touch, of that recognition of bodily being occasioned by physical intimacy. While easy correspondences between torture and sexual violence cannot be established they are related. To this end, this paper addresses the following questions: How do victims of torture survive that experience? What affords succour to those who have endured unspeakable pain? How is one to understand the manic intensity with which the torturer inflicts violence? It draws upon a range of texts to do with torture and sexual violence--fiction, affidavits, court judgments and descriptions of legal trails.

Gathering Steam

From faint beginnings in scattered solitary actions in the 1990s, the activities of men's rights activists have emerged in India as a well-organised social movement. They denounce feminists with a broad brush, portend the impending doom of the institutions of marriage and family, and particularly attack the simultaneous use of civil and criminal laws relating to marriage and domestic violence for alleged harassment of husbands. This paper uses an ethnographic account of one Delhi group to examine their political strategies and techniques of shaping community and identity. There are lessons here for feminist organisations: from understanding the varied anxieties that bring people to such groups, to identifying the conflation between specific weak cases and general castigation of wives, to studying the specific tactics of an energetic grass-roots contemporary movement.

Protection of Women from Domestic Violence

After a prolonged campaign for criminal and civil laws to curb domestic violence, the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 came into force. However, lasting solutions to the problem continue to be elusive, as the grim statistics of wife murders and suicides by married women record a steady rise. This article takes a close look at the manner in which this law is being implemented on the ground, and the many shortcomings, even as women continue to be blamed--earlier for "misusing" the law and now for not wanting to approach the courts because the justice delivery system is tardy. The crux of the issue is the support network that the victim of domestic violence needs and it is here that the implementation of the domestic violence law has failed most spectacularly.

Reporting Sexual Violence in India

The Delhi gang rape of 2012 is a milestone in the way in which Indian media covers the crime of rape. This paper examines how the mainstream Hindi and English print and broadcast media has handled such coverage since then. It looks at how the media deals with rapes committed by family members and sexual violence during communal riots and in insurgency-affected areas. It finds that economics plays an important role in what the media reports and the prominence it gives to reports of rape.

The Selfie and the Slut

The selfie, which has become a default aesthetic of self-representation, is either mocked at as a fad, or considered as a digital photograph. This paper looks at the phenomenon of "selfie-shaming" to see how either of these approaches of dismissal or trying to regulate the selfie through the same regulatory frameworks as the photograph fail to capture the complex practices of body, technology, control, and regulation that are implicated in this phenomenon. In looking at selfie-shaming and the subsequent processes of "slut shaming", it argues that we need to think of selfies not only as cultural artefacts but also as born digital objects to show how it produces new regimes of control and visibility of women's bodies online. Drawing from software studies, cyber-feminism and digital cultures, it constructs the case of #GamerGate to show how we need to expand the scope of women's problems of consent and agency online beyond the instances of revenge and non-consensual pornography.

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.

Navigating a Field of Opposition

This paper attempts to think through an impasse in the field of feminist scholarship and activism in India, one that has been perceived and analysed by many feminist scholars in the last few years. This seeming impasse pertains to the "caste and gender" relationship, which has produced a field of opposition on questions related to sexual labour and sexualised representation. The focus of the study is on the figure of the bar dancer and the devadasi, and the continuing debates on their practice or the systems they are located in, to argue that this false field of opposition is created by a growing separation between legal and social reform and the consequent erasure of social histories of caste in moments that are overdetermined by the law. This paper, therefore, advocates a return to thinking through questions of consent, agency and freedom through the realm of social practice and history.

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