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    The Editorial - TMYS Review June 2020

    GENDER IDENTITIES AND SOCIAL REALITIES : ESSAYS AND STORIES ON INDIAN WOMEN

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    EDITORIAL : 

    Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in the essay “We should all be Feminists”  mentions how men and women are not only essentially different biological entities having different hormones and different sexual organs, but also different in terms of their thinking and mental orientation. Science has taught us since childhood how their biological abilities are different: “Men have more testosterone and are, in general, physically stronger than women.” (Adichie, 16) Though the population of women has been roughly around 50 percent worldwide, yet  most positions of power and prestige are still occupied by men. 

    In the twentieth century, the study of gender has emerged as one of the most important trends in the disciplines of sociology, literature, history, and cultural studies. Gender studies today is undoubtedly a significant area of research and study. The journey began with the publication of Mary Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Woman – a path-breaking work in its own right –which still resonates with feminism and human rights movements of today. In A Room of One's Own, which was written much later, Virginia Woolf  advances the argument that a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction or even to talk about her own life. The essay deals with the problems that a woman writer  must negotiate in order to make herself heard. In works of several noted male writers of England, we come across  time-honored stereotypes of  women  being presented as irrational, emotionally weak and inconstant individuals. Though many writers did express their sympathy and understanding for the woman,  feminists felt that there had always existed a gulf between fundamental masculinist and feminist assumptions.

    When women writers such as Mary Ann Evans decided to take up novel-writing as a career, they were forced to work under male pseudonyms to appeal to wider audiences.

    This further justifies how precarious and difficult it was for the woman to negotiate the shackles of patriarchy and thrive on her own terms. 

    In the Introduction to Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex, (1949)  the author goes to trace how history has always talked about (his)tory; deliberately ignoring and marginalizing “her” voice. In this seminal work on feminism Beauvoir investigate how society had always been based and operative on patriarchal constructs and thus, it became clear why women were relegated to the margins of the society. They were seen as the “other”, as opposed to the figure of the man who occupied the centre stage position- of power and supremacy. Women had no voice of their own and  were assigned positions of victims! When they attempted to rebel and stand out, they were subjected to death and annihilation.   

    Beauvoir’s essay attributes such circumstance to philosophy of figures such as Aristotle, who averred  that a woman’s nature was afflicted with a natural defectiveness. The introduction also mentions St. Thomas, who saw the woman as an imperfect being;  her entire existence was an incidental one since she was created out of ‘a supernumerary bone’ of Adam. It is with these pioneers that there was a gradual rise of different waves of feminism and growth of demand for the rights of women. 

    It is true that now we can surely perceive a transformation in the way the world looks at the woman, she is now a voice to reckon with and assumes a place of her own. Though she has earned her place and power in society, there still exists a wide gulf between the male and the female gaze. In the words of film theorist Laura Mulvey; , “the male gaze”, represents the perception of a heterosexual male viewer which often seeks to represent women either as commodities, victims or sexual objects meant for the pleasure of the male viewer. Even in her suffering, resistance, or submission, one can find the gratification of the male ego. On the other hand, in the case of the woman writer, it is expected that she will focus on the woman figure with compassion and kindness and explore the various layers that determine the gender concerns of the society. Strangely enough, though a male novelist/ writer is primarily seen as a novelist or a creative artist in his own regard, a woman novelist is still primarily a woman. Nobody talks about his gender identity in the way they mention hers. Nobody mentions “men’s fiction” or men’s films but women’s fiction and woman’s sports is a commonly used terminology. It is an integral design of society of associating female writers with the themes dealing with the personal, the domestic, the emotional, the subjective, and thereby charting and chalking out the limits of the territory of her creativity. 

     

    The first edition of TMYS Review - a Digital Quarterly for Humanities (June 2020) seeks to probe into the heart of the contemporary society and look at the way the culture explores gender roles through various perspectives. These stories speak a lot about the changing perspectives of a generation and also attempt to explore the various nuances of gender studies as reflected in them. The rise of the corporate culture and the impact of globalization in the twentieth century have resulted in the birth of a new breed of Indian middle class. Women characters in many stories written by both men and women are represented as thinking individuals and not mere silent decorative marginalized entities. The stories hint at the changes which have come about in the country in the last few years and it seems that the time has come in the history of the nation to sit up and hear ‘her’ story as well.

    Sociologists, psychoanalysts, economists, anthropologists, and historians have now started to look into the various facets of modern life and there has been a rapid expansion of the boundaries of cities. The stories included for analysis talk about the multiple images of the woman. The depictions vary from the woman being presented as a sacrificial scapegoat, a victim to an individual who can dare to dream and achieve her ambition. With the study of literature becoming more and more inter-disciplinary, this humanities quarterly would surely contribute to the expansive resource of historical studies and popular culture, with its focus on modern India. By delving into the anguishes, aspirations, frustrations, and anxieties of the modern so-called emancipated woman the quarterly would help us to reflect upon the ‘real’ history of the nation at present.

     

    www.tellmeyourstory.biz has created an extensive anthology of stories written by common people who constitute the crux of society. The TMYS Review - a Digital Quarterly for Humanities will offer an academic reading of a selection of these stories which have been curated over the last few years or will be curated henceforth. Research on the changing urban scenario constitutes an important area of research in modern times which further validates its aptness in the academic arena. The essays and commentaries included herein will seek to study and document the lives of the people as they really are. These analytical articles written by students, academicians, researchers all across the globe will hence include a wide range of perspectives.

     

    Each edition of TMYS Review will present a set of stories and their simultaneous scholarly interpretations, grouped under specific sub-topics sheltered by a dominating theme. The stories published on TMYS Review will offer mimetic reflections of the dreams, ambitions, failures, and success that define human life. The stories will show how several changes have worked its way through the socio-political and economic structures of the country in the last two decades which have left perceptive impacts on the minds of today’s youth. The emerging (and established) scholars will shoulder the task of establishing an energetic 'think tank' by transforming the underlined voices of the stories into a unique knowledge bank. 

    Our inaugural issue presents a comprehensive list of stories and essays to introduce not only a theme and context but also this very distinct discipline to source and recycle learning content. It is with profound pleasure, humility, hope and anticipation that we celebrate this launch.  I would like to extend a very warm welcome to the readership of TMYS Review – a Digital Quarterly for Humanities. I take this opportunity to thank our authors, editors and  all of them who have volunteered to contribute to the success of the journal.  

    We intend to keep the good work going. Do read, reflect, discuss, share! 

     

    Dr. Anindita Chatterjee

    Editorial Board - TMYS Review

     

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Comments

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    Dr Kheya Baidya says (Jul 1, 2020):

    Wonderfully written. Feminism is not an 'ism' . It is a quest of identity of half of the entire population with xx chromosomes. It is an introspection of feelings, of loneliness, of dreams, often trampled upon and of desire to march in togetherness, in melody of harmony, in brightness and darkness.

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