Department of English
10th June 2016
Gender and Social Stratification in Contemporary India
– K.L. Sharma
The essay discusses how the politics of women’s studies has completely overpowered the real problems relating to gender and social stratification. The essay looks into the issues such as how women have been overpowered by men, how the present social sciences understand the patriarchal traditions and ways of thinking. The essay also gives a brief explanation in understanding the definition of maleness.
The essay then talks about how the available studies on women are biased, they are written in favour of urban middle class women overlooking the rest. Women are treated as ‘Object’ in a society where women are situated only in domestic spaces. They are merely seen as a symbol for sexuality or a means to reproduce and are subordinated by men. The essay argues on why reforms and legislations haven’t produced desired results to erase such gendered and social stratification.
The author then gives an overview of how Indian women are treated and subdued. Tracing it from the time of child marriages, Sati etc he states that the cause for such practices is a result of weak Indian state. A woman in India is always associated to a male in order to gain an identity. Hence she is always the ‘Other’ or a mere ‘object.’ The essay then uses Mann’s advocacy which states that how stratification is gendered and gender is stratified.
According to Kabeer, “gender forms a basis in all forms of social inequality.” The only way to let go such gendered inequalities is to deconstruct the old notions of the stereotyped constructed around male and female, woman and male. The essay talks about breaking such binaries. K.L. Sharma then talks about the preconceived notions about feminism being misconstrued as an area of studies against men. Further in his essay he discusses the purdah system prevalent in India and how it is a perfect example to understand ‘gendering’ of social relations. A girl’s education is limited to the idea of acquiring or maintaining a family status. She is a always in relation with a male or a family and hence, even her achieved status in society is seen as derived.
The essay further focuses on the issue of women as the object of human gaze, they seen as actors and subjects. It also focuses on women being subjects and not being able to get an equal say a men or treated at par. The essay gives an overall view of such issues and states real life examples of such gendered/ stratified prevailing practices. The essay questions its audience by asking, if woman is the centre of everything and nothing can move and work without a women then why are they less important than men?
Sharma. K.L. “Gender and Social Stratification in Contemporary India.” Gender Issues- Attestations and Contestations. Ed. Rajul Bhargva. Jaipur: Rawat Publication 2010. 172-182. Print.