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Tuesday, Dec 07, 2021
Outlook.com
Review

Sex And Stereotypes

Tracing feminine sexuality and gender identity in an Indian context

Sex And Stereotypes
Sex And Stereotypes
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

First, the presentations I enjoyed: Patricia Uberoi's analysis of the podoerotics and podosemiotics of Guru Dutt's film, Sahib, Bibi Aur Ghulam as an entry into interpreting the film's message and the problematics that popular cinema addresses. Meenakshi Thapan's interviews with middle and upper class women in Delhi as the conduit for understanding the cultural underpinnings of femininity which flowed from women's perceptions of sexuality. S. Niranjana's working out of the notion of the female body as 'situated' in space, time and culture, i.e., the modes in which women walk, work, talk, dress. Poonam Zutshi's archaeology of the menstruating woman as part of the discourse on blood and theories of humours, of fermentation and of reflexes through hysteria and melancholy to the heretical figure of the witch and, finally, the menstrual cycle in an endocrinological sense.

Of the three essays that seek to extrapolate the social construction of gender identity, T. Sarkar's is the most interesting—drawing upon the richness of theatre, song, paintings and prints that grew around the tragedy of Elokeshi. These sources provide kaleidoscopic images of the responses of the 'samaj' to adultery, murder and a titillating trial. Though Sarkar's separation of the erudite from the 'low life of literature' linked to a lower middle class is not a happy device.

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