Nidhi Chadha- Memories of the Second Sex: Gender and Sexuality in Women’s Writing

Nidhi Chadha

1537244

Dissertation

Department of English

16  June 2016

 

Memories of the Second Sex: Gender and Sexuality in Women’s Writing

– Malashri Lal

In the essay the author discusses women in a literary space and offers to its reader a paradigmatic tale from past and a contemporary present. She talks about male aggression and female victimization in her essay. Women in literary spaces are always questioned on their ability to write. Using Virginia Woolf’s novel “Beat (him) black and blue” and Trinh T. Minh-ha’s contemporary visual narrative “Naked Spaces” the essayist supports her arguments.

The author focuses on, “the relationship between woman and her living spaces… as the very site of difference on which the Universal and the Particular (historical, cultural, political) are at play. The article focuses on discursive universalism talking about how men and women should be equal. It also brings to the readers’ notice, the concept of reflective solidarity.

The author then questions the subjective existence of the male over the female who has always been titled as the ‘Other.’ Sexuality can hence be viewed as a culturally constructed difference. The essay gives an overview of different cultures and how conflicts of gender and sexuality are prevalent in women’s writing. Discursive universalism also questions whether all alternatives are equal. Between the ‘I’ of identity politics and the ‘Other’ is a hypothetical perspective of the third. The ‘other’ becomes a third space in the interaction, which is a space of difference according to Dean.

The essay ends by calling reflective solidarity a risky business as it involves taking a responsibility for other and those around.

In Rama Mehta’s Inside the Haveli a woman writer is seen to break stereotypes using a less privileged woman to fight for her rights and freeing herself from the clutches of male dominance. At the same time the main plot focuses on a modern girl married in an orthodox stringent family who despite of having all the privileges of  economy and education  is seen to be overshadowed by the patriarchal dominance. Hence the ‘other’ is created in the novel by the dominance of ‘I’.  This essay hence explains how subjugation of women has been rampant in any domain irrespective of any cultural, social or economic boundaries. If they are subjugated in writing, then they are even dominated in domestic spaces and professional fields. The essay hence explains to its reader an overview of the importance of an individual voice for a woman which will establish her not as the Other but as an individual with equal-  rights and opportunities like her male counterpart.

 

Lal. Malashri. “Memories of the Second Sex: Gender and Sexuality in Women’s Writing.” Gender Issues- Attestations and Contestations. Ed. Rajul Bhargva. Jaipur: Rawat Publication 2010. 172-182. Print.

 

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