Author: Kalpana Kannabiran
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8185604525
Written with passion, commitment and impressive clarity, this volume of writings provide a more specific lens on how gender oppression forms a part of the new globalization and right-wing nationalisms, and gives the reader a chance to grapple with the successes and defeats of the women's movements.
Focusing on the many hegemonies that confront women and men today, Kalpana Kannabiran and Vasanth Kannabiran present fresh insights on the linkages among gender, culture and politics. Their ‘concerns in politics have centered on questions of culture and representation, on power and hegemonies that find legitimacy, in globalization, and the imperatives of anti-communal struggles in a field fractured by the globalizing politics of cultures.’ As feminists who have long worked in Andhra Pradesh, they have witnessed the coalition between globalization and fundamentalism and consider the disturbing portents for women, children, minorities and dalits. While reflection on the increase in state repression, they also critique the way the Left revolutionary parties too restrict women’s engagement.
In ‘Looking at Ourselves: Stree Shakti Sanghatana’, the authors give the reader a valuable first hand account of radical Left activism with an incisive critique. ‘Caste and Gender: Understanding Dynamics of Power and Violence’ reveals the connections among caste, gender and violence. Telling, they urge that there must be a distinction between the violence ‘that is a reaction and often a legitimate response to caste oppression and violence on women of another caste or community in order to attack or erode its sense of worth which is welded to definitions of manhood’. Other essays discuss sexuality, rape and domestic violence, and reveal the role of ‘sexual terrorism’ that is used to silence and subjugate women. They go on to analyze ideologies of gender, power and sexual violence in the courtroom.
In ’Crossing the Black Waters: Commemorating 150 years of Indian Arrival in Trinidad’ Kalpana focuses on the different diasporic experience of indentureship, far removed from the later emigration of the richer upper castes to the West, where immigrant culture is increasingly becoming dominated by Hindu nationalism. Writing on their own political activism, Kalpana and Vasanth throw new light on the anti-arrack struggle of Andhra Pradesh and deconstruct the rise and fall of Lakshmi Parvathi and her place in the Hindu politics of the Telugu Desam Party. They go on to suggest that discourses on rights have been exclusively heterosexual, have not provided any space for eunuch like Shabnam Mausi who was elected to the Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly in 2000 and refused membership of the Congress Party. They also discuss the thwarting of internal democracy in revolutionary groups like the UCCRI (ML), and point to reasons why many feminists quit radical Left parties. Finally they argue convincingly on behalf of the Reservation Bill, countering the charge that only the biwi-bahu-beti brigade will be the gainers.
In ‘Sharing the Fish Head’ Vasanth talks of the complexities of gender training, of the close encounters with donor agencies and professionals who are working towards gender justice in organizations.
Writing with passion, commitment and impressive clarity, these essays give the reader a chance to grapple with the successes and defeats of the women’s movement and to gain a sense of the way forward.
This volume of writings, while deepening the hurt of those who have seen, contain the kind of detail that can play a valuable role in bringing into the fold those who refuse to see the rough rock of patriarchy.
— Devaki Jain, development economist and feminist writer
‘De-Eroticizing Assault: Essays on Modestly, Honor and Power’ is must-read for anyone wanting a more specific lens on how gender oppression forms a part of the new globalization and right-wing nationalism. Kalpana and Vasanth repeatedly give us new insights on the complex and changing relations on power expressed in the arenas of sexual exploitation. Their discussion of rape, modesty and the state through the visor of caste and class are truly brilliant. Feminists across the globe should give thanks for this generous gift.
— Zillah Eisentein, professor of politics, Ithaca College.
Introduction: Feminism and the Cultures of Politics
1. Looking at Ourselves: Stree Shakti Snaghatana
2. Caste and Gender: Understanding Dynamics of Power and Violence
3. Outrageous Modesty, Outraged Honor
4. Death for Rape?
5. A Ravished Justice: Half a Century Judicial Discourse ‘On Rape’
6. Desecrating Grace, Defiled Bodies, Dispossessed Community
7. Grossing the Black Waters: Commemorating 150 years of Indian Arrival in
8. A Hen Crowing: Women and Political Power
9. Sharing the Fish Head