BooksHistoryTranslat...

Translating Desire (The Politics of Gender and Culture in India)

Description Read Full Description
Introduction Over the past two decades, gender studies in general- and sexuality studies in particular - have exploded across the world, and India has begun to feel its strong reverberations. Even while one agrees with Mary E John and Janaki Nair that there has long been, and still exists, a “conspiracy of silence regarding sexuality in India,” it may also be asserted that such a silence - or perhaps, silencing - is indeed beginning to be challenged in both academic and popul...

Introduction

Over the past two decades, gender studies in general- and sexuality studies in particular - have exploded across the world, and India has begun to feel its strong reverberations. Even while one agrees with Mary E John and Janaki Nair that there has long been, and still exists, a “conspiracy of silence regarding sexuality in India,” it may also be asserted that such a silence - or perhaps, silencing - is indeed beginning to be challenged in both academic and popular discourses in contemporary India. John and Nair’s anthology is itself just such a timely intervention in this ever-more-visible aspect of gender studies in/about/from India. When they ask at the start of their introduction, “Is there a way of charting sexuality in India that does not begin with the Kamasutra (the text) and end with ‘Kama Sutra’ (the condom) ... ?” one may begin to find the answer (as they do) in all the spaces - historical, political, social and _ cultural - that lurk between the two. What constitutes these spaces? Where do they hide, and when do they become visible? Who inhabits them, and who receives them? How do they translate into meaning in our everyday - as well as extraordinary- lives, and once translated, how are they read? The varied essays in this collection address (sometimes loosely, sometimes very specifically) one or more of these questions about the role of sexuality in contemporary Indian culture. The title - Transtating Desire - would like to assume the widest implication of the act of translation, that is, not merely to “express in-another language,” nor even to just “convey [an idea] from one art or style into another” but to “transform,” “transport” and “retransmit” the entire trajectory of a particular aspect of socio-political experience into a variety of artistic and cultural forms. The expression and representation of sexual desire in Indian culture is indeed as old as the hills, and the Kamasutra is not its only proof.

However, there can be very little doubt that in the political reality of our twenty first century existence, we are being pressured to believe that desire is a dirty word, and it is time we stopped and considered why. We live, of course, in paradoxical times - despite a strong right-wing government at the centre, issues connected with sexuality- male/female, heterosexual/homosexual, permitted and deviant, legal and illegal - are more visible in India today than probably ever before. While national television channels beam images of Hindu mythological gods and goddesses going about their business of valourizing the great Hindu nation, we are bombarded by parallel pictures of flamboyantly sexual- and sexy - modern young men and women in the visual media all around us. The hegemony of a markedly heterosexual society, as well as one that still sees conjugality at the basis of all human sexual relations, is of course at the basis of all popular representations. Dangerously, the right-wing government has systematically been able to exploit this interest in the representation of sexuality - which it sees as directly influenced by the decadent West - by employing state machinery to appeal to the popular, often illiterate, imagination through counteractive nationalistic imagery. In particular, the articulation of female sexual desires, in and of itself considered a site of resistance - remains completely contained within a larger patriarchal terrain shared by warring political interest groups, in which the Right forcibly creates a nexus between morality and patriotic fervour for a “traditional” culture that we are apparently fast losing.

The representation of sexuality - in literature, art, cinema, television and advertisements - has been one of the areas of greatest public controversy in post-colonial India. Debates continue to rage on freedom of expression and obscenity, sexist agendas and censorship. The fact that, as in the West, Indian feminists have often been ranged on both sides of the debates (for censorship against obscenity/sexism, for freedom of expression against censorship) testifies to the continued confusion that the issue generates. The single most important landmark in the history of censorship in modern India is the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Bill that was introduced in the Indian Parliament in August 1986, supposedly in response to a demand raised by a women’s movement against demeaning depictions of women in the media, and that came into effect as an Act in October 1987. The important underlying assumption that governs obscenity laws - in India, certainly- is the belief that sexuality corrupts and taints the moral and social fabric of a nation and must, therefore, be suppressed.

Since sex/uality is associated with the woman as whore and man as fallible, the negative image becomes coterminous with being female, an equation that obviously bears dangerous inferences for women’s rights. Yet, many feminists have been demanding greater censorship, arguing that sexualizing the female body is insulting and humiliating for a woman. It is necessary, of course, to first stop assuming that any image that is sexually provocative/explicit is insulting the essence of Indian womanhood. As Ratna Kapur has argued, We need to develop more sophisticated and nuanced arguments about the power of images ... In the context of the often sexist representations of women, censorship does not address the underlying causes of this sexism. It does not make connections between sexist representations of women, and the continued subordination of women in the family, and other social structures. Banning images will not eliminate this subordination ... These strategies tend to reinforce, rather than challenge or displace the dominant ideology which constructs sex as bad, and women as highly sexualized and thus also bad. Moreover, we need to reconsider our strategies so that they increase the space within which women can express their sexual desires and subvert the notion that sex is something in which “good” women do not indulge. The association of any sexual image with a negative or degrading representation of women has also made it difficult to produce alternative erotica or sexual materials as they risk being collapsed into the obscene.

While representations of sexuality are subjected to moral/ethical structures and the socio-cultural codes of a society, it is the access to repressive laws that determine the extent to which such codes and strictures can be deployed to contain such expressions. The Indian Penal Code of 1860, framed during the British Raj, defines obscenity to include any visual or written material that is “lascivious or appeals to the prurient interest” and has the capacity to corrupt those exposed to it. (Apparently, the “test” for the Indian Penal Code is based on an English case, R vs Hicklin, decided in 1868.) The Indecent Representation of Women Act of 1987 prohibits indecency, which is defined as the “depiction in any manner of the figure of a woman ... as to have the effect of being indecent or of being derogatory or denigrating women or is likely to deprave, corrupt or injure the public morality or morals of any person ... “ In 1991, significantly enough a year that can be said to mark the beginning of the ascendancy of right-wing politics in the country, revisions were made to the existing film censorship guidelines so that more images could be brought under its purview. The Supreme Court ofI ndia has upheld the constitutional validity of the obscenity law on the ground that it constituted a reasonable restriction on the right to freedom of expression, under Article 19(2) (d).3 Margaret Alva, who, as member of the Rajya Sabha (the Upper House) of the Indian Parliament in 1986 framed the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Bill, justified its necessity in her “statement of objects and reasons,” the law relating to obscenity in this country is codified in sections 292, 293 and 294 of the Indian Penal Code. In spite of these provisions, there is a growing body of indecent representation of women or references to women in publications, particularly advertisements, etc which have the effect of denigrating women and are derogatory to women. Though there may be no specific indulge. The association of any sexual image with a negative or degrading representation of women has also made it difficult to produce alternative erotica or sexual materials as they risk being collapsed into the obscene.’ While representations of sexuality are subjected to moral/ethical structures and the socio-cultural codes of a society, it is the access to repressive laws that determine the extent to which such codes and strictures can be deployed to contain such expressions.

The Indian Penal Code of 1860, framed during the British Raj, defines obscenity to include any visual or written material that is “lascivious or appeals to the prurient interest” and has the capacity to corrupt those exposed to it. (Apparently, the “test” for the Indian Penal Code is based on an English case, R vs Hicklin, decided in 1868.) The Indecent Representation of Women Act of 1987 prohibits indecency, which is defined as the “depiction in any manner of the figure of a woman ... as to have the effect of being indecent or of being derogatory or denigrating women or is likely to deprave, corrupt or injure the public morality or morals of any person ... “ In 1991, significantly enough a year that can be said to mark the beginning of the ascendancy of right-wing politics in the country, revisions were made to the existing film censorship guidelines so that more images could be brought under its purview. The Supreme Court of India has upheld the constitutional validity of the obscenity law on the ground that it constituted a reasonable restriction on the right to freedom of expression, under Article 19(2) (d).J MargaretAlva, who, as member of the Rajya Sabha (the Upper House) of the Indian Parliament in 1986 framed the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Bill, justified its necessity in her “statement of objects and reasons,” the law relating to obscenity in this country is codified in sections 292, 293 and 294 of the Indian Penal Code. In spite of these provisions, there is a growing body of indecent representation of women or references to women in publications, particularly advertisements, etc which have the effect of denigrating women and are derogatory to women.

Though there may be no specific intention, these advertisements, publications, etc have an effect of depraving or corrupting persons. It is, therefore, fell necessary to have a separate legislation to effectively prohibit the indecent representation of women.

Contents

Acknowledgements vii
Introduction ix
Myths, Archetypes, Stereotypes  
The Search for Kathleen McNally and Other Chimerical Women: Colonial and Post-Colonial Gender Representations of Eurasians 2
Fears and Fantasies: Controlling and Creating Desires; or, Why Women are Witches 30
Designing Desire: Gender in Mainstream Bombay Cinema 48
Masculinities/femininities  
Outline for an Exploration of Hindutva Masculinities 82
Claiming Transgression: The Bengali “Feminist” Magazine Sananda and the Discourse of Sexualtity 106
The Female Body  
Two Figures of Desire: Discourses of the Body in Malayalam Literature 132
Food Transfigured: Writing the Body in Indian Women’s Fiction in English 145
Same-Sex Love  
Same- Sex Love in India: A Brief Overview 166
Too Hot to Handle: The Cultural Politics of fire 182
Rape and Violence  
Embodying the Self: Feminism, Sexual Violence and the Law 200
Rape and Translation in Bandit Queen 238
Translation  
“The Most Intimate Act” The Politics of Gender, Culture and Translation 256
Bangalore: A Short Story 282
Biographical Notes 295
Index 298
Author Index 310

 

Sample Pages
















Item Code: NAI384 Author: Brinda Bose Cover: Hardcover Edition: 2002 Publisher: Katha ISBN: 9788187649335 Language: English Size: 9 inch X 6 inch Pages: 344 Other Details: Weight of the Book: 740 gms
Price: $35.00
Shipping Free
Viewed 3646 times since 7th Mar, 2016
Based on your browsing history
Loading... Please wait

Items Related to Translating Desire (The Politics of Gender and Culture in India) (History | Books)

The Mahabharata Patriline (Gender, Culture and the Royal Hereditary)
Gender and Cultural Identity in Colonial Orissa
Captive Gender (Ethnic Stereotypes & Cultural Boundaries)
Gender, Language, and Learning (Essays in Indo-Muslim Cultural History)
Buddhism, Sexuality, and Gender
Gender in The Himalaya (Feminist Explorations of Identity, Place and Positionality)
Contesting Nation (Gendered Violence in South Asia: Notes on The Postcolonial Present)
Paradoxes of empowerment (Development, Gender and Governance in neoliberal India)
Writing caste/ Writing Gender (Narrating Dalit Women;s Testimonios)
Women & The Nation’s Narrative (Gender and Nationalism in Twentieth Century Sri Lanka)
The Violence of Development (The Politics of Identity, Gender & Social Inequalities in India)
Off the Beaten Track (Rethinking Gender Justice for Indian Women)
Gender Space and Creative Imagination (The Poetics and Politics of Women's Writing in India)
Women of Honour (Gender and Agency Among Dalit Women in the Central Himalayas)
Testimonials
Thank you for such wonderful books on the Divine.
Stevie, USA
I have bought several exquisite sculptures from Exotic India, and I have never been disappointed. I am looking forward to adding this unusual cobra to my collection.
Janice, USA
My statues arrived today ….they are beautiful. Time has stopped in my home since I have unwrapped them!! I look forward to continuing our relationship and adding more beauty and divinity to my home.
Joseph, USA
I recently received a book I ordered from you that I could not find anywhere else. Thank you very much for being such a great resource and for your remarkably fast shipping/delivery.
Prof. Adam, USA
Thank you for your expertise in shipping as none of my Buddhas have been damaged and they are beautiful.
Roberta, Australia
Very organized & easy to find a product website! I have bought item here in the past & am very satisfied! Thank you!
Suzanne, USA
This is a very nicely-done website and shopping for my 'Ashtavakra Gita' (a Bangla one, no less) was easy. Thanks!
Shurjendu, USA
Thank you for making these rare & important books available in States, and for your numerous discounts & sales.
John, USA
Thank you for making these books available in the US.
Aditya, USA
Been a customer for years. Love the products. Always !!
Wayne, USA