Ferministic Perspectives in Shashi Deshpande Novels

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Feministic Perspectives in Selected Novels of Shashi Deshpande’s with reference to That Long Silence, The Dark Holds No Terror and The Binding Vine INTRODUCTION
CHAPTER – I
Feminism
The term ‘feminism’ has its origin from the Latin word ‘femina’ meaning ‘woman’ (through French ‘feminisme’), and thereby refers to the advocacy of women’s rights, status and power at par with men on the grounds of ‘equality of sexes’. In other words, it relates to the belief that women should have the same social, economic and political rights as men. The term became popular from the early twentieth century struggles for securing women’s suffrage or voting rights (the suffragette movement) in western countries and the later well organized socio-political movement for women’s emancipation from patriarchal oppression. Feminism is the name given to a political movement that gathered momentum in 1960’s giving a call for ‘liberation’ of women from certain forms of gender based discriminations that deprived women of the opportunities for self-promotion and equality men simply because they were women. It refers to political, cultural, and economic movements aimed at establishing greater rights, legal protection for women and/or women's liberation. Feminism includes some of the sociological theories and philosophies concerned with issues of gender difference. It is also a movement that campaigns for women's rights and interests. Nancy Cott defines feminism as the belief in the importance of gender equality, invalidating the idea of gender hierarchy as a socially constructed concept. Feminism looks into the relationship between men and women with a new insight especially with regard to the accepted or desirable gender roles. Besides, the important foci of feminism are the revisionary reinterpretations of writings by men and their effects on women, representations of women in the texts, texts by women and women’s portrayals of men and their responses or reactions to the tradition of gender roles. Mill believed that ‘the liberty of the individual is absolutely necessary for the development of the society’ and viewed women’s freedom as an essential condition. He pleads led for their right to enter any profession or trade and their right to vote. Mary A. Kassian, in his “Feminist Mistake” denotes feminism as: “Feminism supposed that men had secured power for themselves by claiming the authority to decree meaning. History, anthropology, sociology, psychology, religion, medicine, art, culture - all of life's meaning was arbitrarily defined by men. Therefore, as the philosophy of feminism spread, it challenged society to make women's experiences a reference point for determining life's meaning”. Feminism has its origin in the West. Its genesis can be marked during the last decade of the eighteenth century when the struggle for women’s rights began. The most significant work concerning the quest for recognition of women’s socio-cultural roles and struggle for women’s social, cultural, and political rights was Mary Wollstonecraft’s “A Vindication of the Rights of Women” (1792). Prominent among later works with such quests include Margaret Fuller’s “Women in the Nineteenth Century” (1845), John Stuart Mill’s “The Subjection of Women” (1869), Fredrich Engels’ “The Origin of the Family” (1884) and Olive Scheiner’s “Women and Labour” (1911). The struggle was carried on by the Suffragette movement at the outset of the twentieth century. In 1929, Virginia Woolf’s book “A Room of One’s Own” came to light and was recognized as the most important feminist document. Woolf questioned, quite discreetly and self-consciously, why woman’s space in literature was so limited or marginalized. In her essays, as in “Professions for Women”, she took up issues concerning women writers who were confined to the angel-in–the-house ideology of ‘womanhood’, suffered from economic and socio-cultural disadvantages in the male-governed society, and could...
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