FEMINISTIC VISIONS IN THE NOVELS OF MANJU KAPUR CHAPTER - 1:- What is Feminism? Feminist Literature in English is certainly not a recent innovation. It has been there ever since perspectives on life were recorded in the medium of literature, though it certainly has come to its own of late of recent origin again is the feminist perception of literature. Feminist criticism in its broadest implication has three distinct subdivisions, each with its own adherents. The first two are well defined and frequently practised without raising any ideological outrage. These are: The examination and analysis of the portrayal of women characters by themselves or in relationship with their male counterparts, and the appreciation of female authors. What is noteworthy is the fact than in the last few years these commonly accepted critical practices have been overhauled to accommodate the possibility of exclusively feminist perceptions of human relationship. The third direction is that of the so called -˜prescriptive criticism' that attempts to set standards for literature that is -˜good' from the feminist perspective. Feminism in the Indian context is a by-product of the Western liberalism in general and feminist thought in particular. The indigenous contributing factors have been the legacy of equality of sexes inherited from the freedom struggle, constitutional rights of women, spread of education and the consequent new awareness among women. The Indian woman caught in the flux of tradition and modernity saddled with the burden of the past but both to cast off her aspirations constitutes the crux of aspirations constitutes the crux of feminism in Indian literature. In literary terms it precipitates in a search for identity and a quest for the definition of the self. In critical practice, it boils down to scrutinizing empathetically the plight of women characters at the receiving end of human interaction. Feminist English Literature is a spectrum of many colors and shades- soft, prominent and strident. The voices emanating therefrom vary from the traditional-but-conscious- of-their-selves to exclusively self-seeking with a seeming vengeance. When clearly articulated, well argued and precisely defined feminist sentiments rather than mere faint echoes thereof can be traced even in early works like Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, one feels chary of dubbing feminism as merely a late twentieth century phenomenon. The feminist perspective on literature- creative or critical - whether in a third world country or elsewhere, has had to confront issues of similar persuasion : male chauvinism, sexist bias, psychological and even physical exploitation, hegemonistic inclinations in not merely the male but also the female sections of society, the utter disregard for the female's psychological, cultural, familial and spiritual quests. Predictably enough the ways out suggested subtly or propagated more avowedly have ranged from mild protest, seeking accommodation through moderation, love and persuasion to carving out of a self-sufficient exclusivist self. The articles included in the present anthology form an insightful sample of the incisive critical endeavour being undertaken in our universities and higher institutions of learning. They are in-depth analyses of works of feminist persuasion. The author's and texts covered are unmistakably milestones in literature in English across the world. The studies incorporated here include scholarly articles on Kamala Markandaya's A Silence of Desire, Rama Mehta's Inside the Haveli, Shashi Deshpande's Roots and Shadows, and That Long Silence, Uma Vasudeva's Shreya of Sonagarh and The Song of Anasuya, Nina Sibal's Yatra, Shobha De's Socialite Evenings, Anita Desai's entire corpus from Cry, the Peacock to Baumgartner's Bombay. Kamala Das's creative outpourings, Margaret Atwood's essay in giving her inner perceptions -˜a local habitation and name', her rendering of feminine sensibility in The Edible Woman, The quest- motif in the works of Jean Rhys, Anita Desai, Geetha Hariharan and Margaret Atwood, A Doll's House, Frankenstein, Pride and Prejudice, Virginia Woolf's Between the Acts, Ellen Glasgow'' The Miller of Old Church, Toni Morrison's whole Range of Novels, and F. Scott Fitzgerald's Portrayal of Women. Besides these erudite studies of single texts, individual authors or a group of authors, the anthology also includes lucid exposition of the varied nuances of feminism, interspersed in different articles, preceding detailed consideration of texts under study. Not merely that. Also included is a wide ranging study of the treatment of the neurotic phenomenon in Indian English fiction with special reference to the portrayal of the emerging self of women characters. A quick glance at the range of these studies indicates the wide horizon opening up for exploration from this perspective. A perusal of the studies is bound to open up new vistas of appreciation and understanding. Feminists do not agree among themselves on one all-inclusive and universally acceptable definition of the term feminism. Depending on one's political or sociological observations and goals, one's individual aspirations for womanhood and for humanity, one's understanding or interpretation of the word woman, and several other factors, the term feminism can mean different things and have a variety of functions ... (T) here are several different theories of feminism, and there is much discussion ... on what it means to be a feminist, what goals feminism should have, and how feminists should behave. Feminism may be a perspective, a world view, a political theory, a spiritual focus, or a kind of activism. It was thus that an American feminist and historian of feminism, Sheila Ruth, wrote twenty-five years ago (Issues in Feminism, 1980). In her words we see the in-determinacy as to the meaning, nature and function (or utility) of feminism. Aware of these shortcomings in trying to define the term Ruth proceeds to elaborate on the specifics: 1. Feminists -œValue women in and of themselves, as ends in themselves-•. 2. Feminists -œdo not accept the cultural images of women as incompetent, petty, irresponsible, or weak. Rather ... (they) ... affirm ... (their) ... capacities to be strong, capable, intelligent, successful, ethical human beings-•. 3. Feminists value autonomy for individual women and as a group. They wish to control their -œpolitical, social, economic, and personal destinies.-• 4. Feminists reject the traditionally postulated female as well as male characteristics. They value each quality, in either sex, on -œits own merit-• and how it has an impact on -œthe quality of life-•. 5. Feminists reject the -œmyth, ignorance, and fear-• instilled into women and wish to replace these attributes by reality and knowledge. 6. Feminists pursue their objectives fully conscious that for long women have been denied basic human rights, such as the right to vote, to earn a living, to control their bodies and to pursue knowledge (particularly of such disciplines as mathematics and science. Understood in this way, feminism should aptly be called - œWomanism-•. Let us now begin by confronting the question, -œWhat is - ˜Feminism'?-• As the answer must inevitably lead us into numerous disciplines such as history, politics, governance, sociology, culture, literature and the arts and even biology, the meaning of feminism will vary from the vantage of one field of enquiry to the next, one society to another and, most importantly, from the West to the East. It will also, as the second half of the twentieth century has experienced, show its changing ideological and pragmatic content. What are (so the plural is fully justified) the feminisms of Susan B. Anthony, Angela Davis, Simone de Beauvior, Judith Fetterley, Betty Friedan, Sandra Gilbert, Susan Gubar, Germaine Greer, Erica Jong, Marga-ret Mead, Kate Millett, Toni Morrison, Gloria Naylor, Cynthia Ozick, Sylvia Plath, Elaine Showalter, Patricia Meyer Spacks, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Gloria Steinhem and Catherine Stimpson on the one hand and those of Kamala Das, Anita Desai, Shashi Deshpande, Kamala Markandeya, Gita Mehta, Jai Nimbkar and Arundhati Roy on the other? Many more names could be easily added. So, whose feminism? Feminism's plurality must be accepted as part of our introduction to the various literary, cultural and sociological perspectives. It is de rigueur that one accepts the term -œFeminism-• as an inclusive attributive. If white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant women adhere to a feminism, other groups of women, even within the same society, will have sharply different ideas as to what constitutes their feminism. The African Americans, the Hispanics, the Asian- Americans and other - œhyphenated-• sub-groups in America and citizens of West Indian or Asian origin in Britain will all have their own versions. The less affluent, to say nothing of those who are on the fringes of society, must surely add to this overlapping picture. And then, one must acknowledge the African, Asian, European and other varieties. It is in this way that Asian- American women posit their own variety of feminism, one that can examine their unique place and role in a Western society they have opted for, one that can focus upon their unique dilemma. Implicit in this analysis is the attention one must pay to questions of a) assimilation, b) homogenization, letting oneself go and become part of the melting pot, the salad bowl or the mosaic (as these terms keep changing in the U.S. society, for example), c) resilience vs. resistance, etc. We are lead to another question. How is such a variety of human situations to find expression in literature, in the writings of the differing groups of feminists? The needlessly sweeping generalizations will serve no purpose. Beyond these strands of feminism, there is -œWomanism-•, a nomenclature appropriate for the more human and humanist, open and accommodating and less radical, con-frontationist, ideological and certainly less crabby a vision in this chao-tic mix of evolving phases. Consider the plight of the African-American women. Centuries of slavery, the gross violation of even the most basic human rights even in the post-bellum era right up to the 1950s and the continuing racial discrimination and friction ever since, despite the path-breaking legislation, record but one part of the tragedy. They have had to face a threefold jeopardy: the white society's racism and sexism and their own men folk's possessive, exploitative stranglehold. Naylor's women characters, as those created by her sisters in their common cause, are mute witnesses to this pain, humiliation and injustice. What is the redemption for females of her world? Even fathers are capable of inflicting shame and suffering. Caught between this unending cycle of despair and violence, what is the escape route for the women she portrays? (This example of the predicament of the African - American women is, mutatis mutandis, applicable to women in every society.) With the emergence of feminist criticism (with its own theory and aesthetics, as in Feminist Literary Criticism : Explorations in Theory, ed. Josephine Donovan, 1975, A Literature of Their Own by Elaine Showalter, 1977, The New Feminist Criticism, eds. Patrocinio P. Schweickart and Elizabeth A. Flynn, 1985, A World of Difference by Barbara Johnson, 1987, No Man's Land : The Place of the Woman Writer in the Twentieth Century by Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar,1988-1989, Beyond Feminist Aesthetics by Rita Felski, 1989, Reading Black, Reading Feminist : A Critical Anthology by Henry L. Gates, Jr., 1990 and many more), it is but natural that literature written by women should be read, interpreted and evaluated in a new mode based on a radically altered set of expectations and values. (We assume that such aesthetic and critical processes like reading, interpretation and evaluation are still valid in academia where the notoriously anti-literature notions of post- structuralism and post-modernism have not yet been dislodged). That a patriarchal society's traditional hold is reflected in the way male and female protagonists are portrayed in literature is but one index. While contemporary writers exemplify this new feminist awareness, there have been in the past similar voices crying against gender-based injustice well before the dawn of the modern era and its concerns. A worthy example of such early pre-feminist feminist is Kate Chopin and her uneven but bold, starting and prescient novel, The Awakening, 1899. She was born before the American Civil War. She lived in the highly conservative state of Missouri and a somewhat freer state of Louisiana. She felt a kinship with French writers, Maupassant, Mme. de Stael or George Sand, rather than those writing in English. She shocked those around her by her unconventional ways. She shocked her publishers and readers even more by her candid and daring depiction of human sexuality, something which writers, especially female, did not do at the time. These voices long ignored or forgotten are now being rediscovered and reinstated, alas, sometimes uncritically. Feminism holistically, then, as a socio- political program, advocates freedom, justice, equality, dignity, compassion and other egalitarian values to benefit women everywhere as they are the ones denied these considerations for long. The enormity and complexity of the issues and claims involved must be recognized if the long debate is not to be wasted in mere narrow-minded, fissiparous and personal tendencies. There is some truth to be wisecrack. -œWhat would the Suffragettes have said about Germaine Greer or Kate Millett?-• For, it is incontrovertible that the very nature of women's struggle has radically changed since the days when the right to vote was denied. Now from the concerns of middle-class women in North America and Western Europe, the movement is enlarged to comprise the problems of women everywhere whatever their class, economic well-being, race, colour, nationality, religion, ethnic origin and the like. Feminism seen thus is in fact a twentieth-century renaissance whose sometimes unavoidably conflicting voices must be faced. An illustration, say, of the life and work of Sylvia Plath, might help. Through her poetry and fiction emerges an anguish which is her feminism in an understated, almost apolitical and nascent form. But are her pleas against society and contemporary civilization itself more like an untraditional individualism for which women must defy codes set by men? The strategies adopted by the women she portrays is an indication of the stirrings of their feminist selves. Shouldn't a woman long used to subjugation by a member of her own family get even with him or her, i.e., get even with society? Similarly, if a man has a fling, shouldn't a woman feel justified in having one herself? Given such situations, getting even easily translates into vengefulness. More and more, fiction becomes only a thinly veiled story of Plath's own life comprising her real-life traumas (strained marriage, career hopes and frustrations, unsuccessful attempts at suicide, etc.) are the lot of the females she depicts. Freedom within the framework (-œbondage-•?) of wedded bliss seems to be a contradiction. Defiance of conventions dictated by men is her feminism. The strategy of one-upmanship adopted in her stories points to the stirrings of are awakened female self, and of Plath herself. Among the frontiers of knowledge sought to be broadened in the wake of recent developments in theories of criticism, the rewriting of the history of a people long oppressed, the search for their origins (remembering Alex Haley's Roots, 1976, will be apt in this context), letting them (i.e., the oppressed) tell their own tale and thus, in the process, revise the histories written by others (i.e., mainly the oppressors) has been a necessary undertaking. Whether such - œrevising-• has turned into -œrevisionism-• is a matter fit for a separate, objective inquiry. But with the ending of colonialism (of different kinds), with the gradual receding of racial, ethnic and other hegemonic dominance on vast numbers of humanity everywhere, some corrective steps in establishing and recording what has really taken place in the past are overdue. Staying clear of old paradigms of the male and the female, the oppressor and the oppressed, issues regarding - œdisconnectedness-• and -œfemale bonding-• must also be addressed. But, even within African- American feminism, there is noticeable room for pluralism, ambivalence and difference; the divisions and sub-divisions becoming more and more visible with the passage of time, say, during the second half of the twentieth century. It need not be surprising if Toni Morrison and Alice Walker, Zora Hurston and Gloria Naylor exhibit sharp differences while united on the general objective of their struggle. The preceding discussion shows that finding a way through the maze of scholarly sources and even dictionaries and encyclopaedias in order to settle the question of what is an acceptable definition of feminism is by no means easy. Let us settle for a working hypothesis : a woman must free herself so that she does not depend upon another person (male or female), a group or a faith (religious or ideological). Subordination to anyone or anything is rejected. Nor, on the other hand, is it necessary for a woman to be anti-man to prove her credentials. Such a one is a feminist. Is there, however, a new orthodoxy in place? Is there a new fundamentalism reigning unchecked, unchallenged? Even a dispassionate questioning of this new tide of feminism gets immediately branded as a heresy, a sign of a fossilized academic mind, a reactionary, a colonial, even a stooge of the Western capitalism and imperialism and so on. All one needs to do at a seminar is to quote D.H. Lawrence, Henry Miller, Norman Mailer, Jean Genet or Kingsley Amis approvingly, all hell breaks loose. A chorus of protest and outrage will ensue to drown even the most determined speaker. This is not a fitting climate for a disinterested search for a saner and more harmonious future for all. It is as if the accumulated wisdom and enlightenment of over three thousand years of occidental heritage all the way from Homer, Sophocles and Aristotle down to John Ruskin, Matthew Arnold, Saul Bellow and Norman Mailer have been rendered irrelevant. The reader may judge the extremism explicit in such a mind-set and that the larger cause of literature and literary culture (including that of feminism) will not be served by it. Even the most diehard Kate Millett and Phyllis Schaffley (two polar opposites, one a fire brand radical and the other just as determined right wing conservative) must admit that political or ideological extremes have never helped anybody down through recorded history. Let me state what I personaly believe in. I am a pursuer of creative literature. I value that life which is of the most unobtrusive variety of culture and civilization. Stripped bare of all hyperbole, all rhetoric inspired only by one sort of political or ideological bigotry, feminism to me is a vital part of universal human rights. If the end of feudalism and colonialism and of whatever they have bred, if the end of empires, militarist or ideological, and whatever they have entailed has come about (and which may be an over- statement), patriarchal and other forms of oppression and exploitation of women through the world must also end expeditiously. How can we (men, i.e.), deny more than half the population rights and privileges, dignity and respect, equality of opportunity and status - which are already overdue in most places? Let us, men and women, join hands across seemingly formidable barriers created by history, circumstances, but mainly by ignorance, mendacity and vested interests. To paraphrase the words of E.M. Forster (taken from a different context), let us build the rainbow bridge that will connect men and women. Without it both will be increasingly redundant and meaningless fragments, mere arches awaiting to be connected. Without it both will be unenlightened and unredeemed. With it, human souls in our own technologically-driven, materialistically - conceived life in the East and the West, will be capable of order, proportion and sanity and above all, fullness that are latent in us. The diverse roads of our souls will be clear and stretched far into human consciousness which only the human imagination can gauge. Fragments will cease and men and women will breathe exaltation. Such a feminism will be an essential and vital part of humanism. We in India with our unique ancient heritage, and without Western obsession with what has been called an act of grand patricide, can tread the middle road. Even as I am rounding off this short essay I remember that it is the week of 8 March, the International Women's day. For newspapers and news magazines it is a field day. There were, however, a few bits and pieces worth noting. In the opinion of some, women have made it. Women have a place in society just as good as men have. There is no longer a suffering woman! All of which means that feminism's objectives are met. Women finally have their own place in the sun (as the expression goes). One even went on to suggest that feminism as a cause or as a movement (literary, sociological or political) is passe. So on and so forth in a clearly chirpy manner of a Pollyanna. Obviously there is more to the subject than this breezy optimism suggests, as others argued more sagaciously. Even in the citadels of feminism and womanism (say, in North America and Western Europe) gender discrimination continues to be a harsh reality. It is girls and women who are expected, indeed ordained, to -œadjust-• (whatever that blessed word means). Right from the cradle a conditioning takes place (even with well-meaning parents) and in no times at all an ignored, hurt baby girl develops into a repressed young woman in the full gaze of a patriarchal society. The simmering anger and frustration may remain slightly submerged; but there they are. In every facet of life the old codes governing the sexes are still operative. Therefore, on all counts there are battles still to be fought. A civilization's aches and agues are, inevitably, creative literature's concerns. Society, the governing class and all the other seats of power and authority must just as inevitably respond constructively - commensurate with the challenge. Men and women of letters and literary critics not necessarily wedded to any extraneous cause, whether -œprescriptive-• in their practice or not, will in their own way, do their bit. I began with a reference to woman scholar from USA. I shall conclude with the words of another, Susan A. Ross, a leading advocate of women's rights: The feminist movement was born out of the realization that women's voices were not being heard, that women's many talents were not being used that violence against women and children was rampant in the world, that we could only make a better world when all of humanity, men and women together, could fully participate in the future. (Frontline, 24 September, 2004 Feminism has been the by product of fission and fusion of diverse convulsions consequent upon the compulsions of the time subsequent respond of the human mind, of the particular sect, known as the -˜other', the -˜I am home, this is home' (33), that could envisage the evangelical Christianity of Britain and United States, wave of equal rights of French School of nationalism, suffrage movement etc. otherwise known as suffragette women's emancipation, women's liberation, women's movement, feminism, social feminism, radical feminism, antislavery movements, etc. It is directly related to the culture of the land and so we find different tags, such as, the English feminism, the Canadian feminism, the African feminism, the Australian feminism, the New Zealand feminism, the French feminism, the Marxist feminism, and of the course, the Indian feminism. The present paper intends to examine feminism in the Indian context and its repurcusions on the writings of women writers of Indian English Writing. Talking of feminism in the Indian context, we find it as an amalgamation of Western liberalism in general and feminist thought in particular accompanied by the indigenous factors such as the legacy of equality of sexes inherited from the freedom struggle, constitutional rights of women, literacy drive generating awareness etc. Not only that, if we look back to our scriptures, we may easily trace its flavour far back in our culture and civilization; Manu- Smriti (Manu's Code) though accused of being conservative in providing liberty to woman, sanctions due respect and right to woman is general. -œYatra narayastu poojyante ramante tatra devatah/ Yatra taastu na rpoojyante, sarvast traflah kriyah-• (Gods themselves abide in places where woman are worshipped or kept happy Labours never bear fruit where women are not respected) Sochati Jamayo Yatra Vinashyaotyashu tat kulem - (Annichilated will be that family or clan where woman are in misery - the class or family of a happy woman is bound to prosper.) Obviously, it won't be erroneous to postulate that feminism existed in the mind of the earliest mankind as a sub conscious/ unconscious concern though not articulated distinctly. In the Western world we find its seedling in the commonest credential of the advocacy of the rights of women as the basis of similarity and differences and thereby our explanations confronts the multiple tradition : in the medieval Europe (Jean de Meung, Christina de Pisan, Marie de Gouvang, Aphra Ben, Mary Astell, etc.) in the period of Enlightenment (1770-1860, that talks of the rights of man reasons, natural law and equal rights), in the suffergette movement (1860-1930) in the antislavery and evangelical movements of 19th century in unitarian and Quaker traditions, socialist or communitarian movement of Saint Simon, Fourier and Robert Owen breeding individualist feminism (bourgeois) of socialist feminism and to a great extent to the new dimension provided by the decades to deconstrution of women of postmodernists in the 1970s and 1980s. The mediaval Europe was defender of woman's nature, the Enlightenment emphasized on woman's rights in marriage, education and employment (French, American and British early activists like Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Margaret Fuller, Lucretia Mott, The Laugham Place Group etc. Mary Wollstonecrafts'A Vindication of the Rights of women in 1792), the suffargette movement could unite women of various backgrounds; Freud's discovery of the unconscious and his ideas of penis envy, female narcissism and female maschoism could bring revolutionery change in the mental make up of comman man, Consciousness Raising groups of 1960s and many books of the decades also, influenced, for example, -œThe Second Sex' (Simone de Beauvoir, 1953) -˜The Feminine Mystique', (Betty Friedan, 1963), Sexual Politics (Kate Millet, 1969), -˜The Female Eunch (Germaine Green, 1970) etc. The concept of universality (of 1960s) was challenged by the working class, third world and black women; the circumstances became mare disgusting as the woman was deconstructed in the 1970s and 1980s fragmenting the lot into different groups : in the Anglo American feminist tradition radical liberalism came up, the French tradition (that of Locan, Kristeva, Cisxus and the -˜Guoupe politique et psychoanalyse') question of language, the construction of sexuality, the articulation of sex and desire in the text was explored that was opposed to the notion of a coherent subject, central to the work of bourgeois or humanist feminism. All these development have direct or indirect influence on the feminists of India, their work and their approach in defining their male and female characters. The voice of feminism in Indian English writing is not audible in the writings of the writers of the first generations. Thereafter we have the voice of protest, an urge for order through defiance, paying back the men in their own terms, without the dependence syndrome etc. Nayantara Sahgal is, perhaps, the first writer in Indian English writing whose novels tell us about the women who are oppressed by marriage, by political circumstances and by accidents of history, by violating the established norms, in her novels such as; -˜A time to be Happy', This Time of Morning', The Day in Shadow', A situation in New Delhi, -˜Rich Like Us, etc. In these novels women try to establish a model. Raji Narsimhan is another writer with the novel, Forever Free' where woman establishes a different model through defiance. Uma Vasudev's -˜The Song of Anasuya' is yet another novel where woman establishes here identity by paying back the men in their own terms. Ruth Jhabvala, Kamla Markandya, Shahsi Deshpande, Anita Desai, Mamta Kalia, Imtiaz Dharkar, Arundhati Roy, Shobha De, Lakshmi Kannan, Bharati Mukherjee etc. Play a crucial role in pronouncing this particular voice. Actually speaking Indian English fiction has a broad fare of the spirit of nationalism which includes historical as well as socially and politically conscious theme followed by psychological novels. It is a development from historical romances to social raslism to psychological probings into individual personality and consciousness. In the post independence era the emphasis further shifts from a concern with society to a concern with private life and individual consciousness pleasing on the exploration of the inner world of a man. As R.S. Singh says, -œThe history of Indian English fiction is, broadly speaking, a development from historical remances to social realism, to psychological probings into individual personality and consciousness. The most remarkable trend noticeable in the post independence fiction is the shift in emphasis from a concern with society to a concern with private life and individual consciousness placing its focus on the inner ecology of man-•. (Singh, 1977, 167-68) Meenakshi Mukerjee also claims in -˜The Twice Born Fiction', that, -œThe Modern novelists exhibit a marked propensity towards depicting the private life.-• (23) If we consider the first appearenc of women novelists, we find four women novelists : Raj Lakshmi Debi with -œThe Hindu Wife', Toru Dutt with -˜Bianca', Kerupabai, Satthianadhan with - ˜Kamla', -˜Saguna', -˜A Story of Native Christian Life and Shevantibai M. Nikambe with -˜Ranibai', all before the turn of the 20th century. Cornelia Sorabji proved to be the first women writer to appear with first Indian English short story in the beginning of the twentieth century having a considerable literary output. In the last quarter of the nineteenth century we find the emergence of women writers of great significance, on the one hand we find the birth of a new era of emancipation for the Indian women on the other it was a commentary on the rise of individualism. Great social reorientation allowed them ample opportunities to participate in the social and intellectual life and with the rise of individualism rise of novel is also to be traced. It is in this age that we find the first generation of women writers such as Toru Dutt, Swarna Kumari, Ghoshal, Krupabai, Santhanisthan and Sorabji Cornelia followed by Hyotshan Bhattacharjee, H. Kaveri Bai, Iqbalunmisa Hussain, Vimala Kapur, etc.; their works may be counted as reformistic, sociological and autobiographical, though they have less literary merit and most often ranked as insignificant and nonentities. After independence we have major novelists right from Kamla Markandeya up to the present one. -˜Nectar in a Sieve' (1953) is the first novel of Kamla Markandaya that brought her international recognition. The most striking feature of her writing is the characterisation of women placed against -˜historical, cultural, political and sociological environment of a changing India. Women consciousness dominates in the familial relationship of her novels. Ruth Prawer Jhabvala goes to the middle class families and try to look into their problems of personal relationship. - ˜A Backward Place (1965) is remarkable for its depiction of three European expatiarate women in a unique tone of sympathy and derision. In -˜The Nature of Passion' (1956) we find the incongruities of human character and situations, in -˜Esmond in India' (1958), there is East- West encounter and marital discord and -˜The House Holder' is a social comedy with a touch of irony self- analysis and the comic elements too. Nayantara Sahgal, basically a political novelist, has a strong realistic base, trying to adjust herself in between the personal values and changing values. Her feminine sensibility appears to be unconventional and of the time borders on clash of egos and subsequently divorce yet her primary concern is to anticulate the voice of women. -˜A time to be Happy', -˜The Time of Morning and -˜The Day in Shadow' are some of her important novels that have autobiographical touch and the conflict between the personal world of man-woman relationship and impresonal world of politics. Needless to say that Anita Desai, Shashi Deshpande and Bharati Mukherjee are taken as triad, becoming conscious rememblance in dealing with the world of women, as Shashi Deshpande specifies, these women writers present characters who speak of -˜the power of women, the diviousness of women, the helplessness of women, the courage of woman-• Where Shall We Go This Summer' brought Anita Desai an award and more publicity and recognition, the theme is husband-wife alienations, a theme that recurs in most of her novels. Desai's other novels that matter most are -˜Cry, the Peacock', -˜Voices in the City', -˜Bye Bye Blackbird' and -˜Fire one the Mountains'. Her minute exploration of existential life and internal character is remarkable. As Srinivas Iyengar feels, her chief concern is -˜the inner climate, the climate of sensibility that lours or cleans or rumbles like thunder or suddenly blazes forth like lightening, more compelling than the outer weather, the physical geography or the visible actions, her forte in other words is the exploration of sensibility.' (464) Shashi Deshpande dislikes to be categorised on the basis of being a women writer. In -œWriting from the Margin-• she maintains, -œThe way. I see the world is coloured by this fact of my being women, by the historical and social circumstances of women's lives ... Nevertheless, when I sit down to write I am just a writer my gender ceases to matter to me. -œHer novels -˜Roots and Shadows, -˜That Long Silence, -˜The Birding Vine,' -˜A matter of Time', - ˜Small Remedies, -˜If I Die Today', -˜Come up and Be Dead' and various short stories confirm her altogether different place. Jasbir Jian finds in her book -˜Gendered Realities, Human Spaces : The Writing of Shahsi Deshpande' that -˜there are at least three different traditions she relates to, two which she acknowledge and the third which she does not. The tradition of the nineteenth century women's writing in acknowledged in many different ways as in her affiliations with women writers of other Indian languages. She deals with the them of Indian family and the unconventioned marriage (on the basis of love and romance) that indicates a rebellion on the part of the woman in the Indian context at least. Shyamala A Narayan points out in her Book Review that Jain believes that Deshpande is a conscious artist and shows how she has achieved a certain -˜Indian-ness' through -˜a multiplicity of intertextualities from different cultures' and -˜a new integrated approach which embrances different traditions of the oral and written cultures'. Bharati Mukherjee comes under Indian diaspora writers with her chief concern for the immigrants; the identity crisis, the conflict between two cultures, racial diseriminations, etc. -˜The Tiger's Daughter, -˜The Middleman and Other Stories, -˜Darkness and -˜Wife' are her prominent works. -˜Jasmine is more a woman engaged in a quest of values. Other novelists who matter in such delibrations are Sntha Rama Rau, Nargis Dalal, Jyotshna Bhattacharya, H. Kaveri Bai, Iqbalunmisa Hussain, Vimala Kapur, etc. who though wrote less, wrote meaningful. If we explore the present scenario, We find more powerful writers like Arundhati Roy (-œThe God of small things'). Manju Kapur (Different Daughters). Namita Gokhle (Paro) and Shobha De (-˜Socialite Evenings') - all fighting with problems that the present generations has to face. This long journey of Indian women English writers has experienced upheavals of different sorts and categorisation of various scholars and assault of numerous critics. The progress and development of these women writers may be summed up as fellows; as pointed out by observers :- a) They started with accepting the male superiority (male psedonyms) followed by raising voice of protest and then a search for identity. b) They started with the description of historical and political climate, then creeped into social periphery, individually family, cluminating in exploring personal and woman life. c) They initiated with traditional looks and influenced by the global climate, at present dwell upon the inner world of the individual both men and women. d) They dislike to be saggregated as a different class of writers, that is, women writers. These observations tell us a lot about the women writers (Indian) in general. No doubt women had to encounter the world that revolved round men only; the feminist phase provoked them to protest and finally the quest of freedom culminated in self discovery. And so we have stories of encounters, dissatisfaction, restlessness, anxiety and embarrasment. This is a desire to establish one's own world but not completely divorced from the world of man; but as a complimentary body, a counterpart. Meenakshi Mukherjee ferels -˜the label women writers implies same set of expectation and Anita Desai feels' the women writers are likely to place their emphasis different from man. It may be the female psyche they are talking of, we may cal it -˜radical feminism' coming out of the -˜privacy and secularism' of their -˜sweet home' climate. These writers wish to establish that women is a being, not an appendage of man, not the - ˜other', not an addition to man, rather an autonomous being, capable of finding her own way to salvation. Post-feminism has arrived, feminism is passe. The is the assumption but what, in fact, is the reality? Has post-feminism arrived? And if so, is it a saga of victory or a narrative of defeat? In November, 1999 we had seminar on Krishna Sobti's work, and while there was a scramble by paper readers to place her in the feminist slot, the writer herself took the position that her concerns were more comprehensive and wide-based. At about the same time, there was a newspaper report about an interview given by Shashi Deshpande where in she has asserted that tired of being ghettoized as a feminist writer she may as well give up writing. Others before her, writers like Anita Desai for instance, had resisted being labelled as feminists and had rejected all comparisons between the metaphor of birthing and creative writing. At about the same time, I was reading Dalip Kaur Tiwana's literary autobiography. Puchhde Ho To Suno (1995) in which she has discussed the issue of being a woman writer at some length. It was evident that the Tiwana was unwilling to be limited by the term feminist. The list is endless both at home and abroad. Laxmi Kannan adopts a similar position. Doris Lessing was disappointed that The Golden Notebook (1962) was read as -œa feminist tract-• which pushed her literary experimentation into the wilderness. In a 1972 introduction to The Golden Notebook (Second edition), Lessing is of the view that the women's movement is -œobsolete and parochilal-• in the face of impending global disaster-•. And Madhu Kishwar, the editor of Manushi, wrote in 1989 (No 61) an editorial titled -œWhy I do not call myself a Feminist-• in which she gave several reasons for not preferring the term. Other reasons which prompt me to look at this phenomenon more closely are the unseemly scenes which have taken place in our Parliament each time the Women's Reservation Bill has been presented. The downgrading of women-employed jobs and professions, continued discriminations and the recantations abounding all around right from Betty Friedan to Kamala Das. As early as 1987. Susan Faludi in her book Backlash : The Undeclared War Against Women examines the strategies which -œaimed to divide and isolate women at a crucial moment in the struggle for equality, independence and autonomy-• looking at the failures and tracing their causes (Smith xiv). Faludi scrutinizes the myths which are being floated about equality and freedom, substantiates her conclusions with data and writes : The truth is that the last decade has been a powerful counter- assault on women's rights, a backlash, an attempt to retract the handful of small and hard-won victories that feminist movement did manage to win for women ... The backlash is at once sophisticated and banal, deceptively -˜progressive' and proudly backward. These beliefs, positions, approaches and trends are contradictory and complex and compel one to look at the whole movement being referred to as post- feminism very critically. Apparently what is at stake is also very varled : ideologies and epistemologies, literary aesthetics and social structures, Again, does post-feminism celebrate the achievements of feminism which in themselves are not insignificant, or does it signify a return to the same old universalism and masculine normative patterns? Positioning the -˜post' raises its own questions. Position is both a noun and a verb and carriers several meanings: locate, post, placement, reversal. Which one is the real meaning? Locating the -˜post' i.e. what are the real reasons for the post position? Or is there, in my choice of this word, a desire to find out whether this post is post-essentialist feminism, post-western feminism (where India is concerned) or post-radical feminism? Feminisms are several and they are culture specific. The feminist discourse in India has, at times, gone all out to differentiate itself from the feminisms of more affluent societies primarily because of cultural reasons? Thus, when the whole issue of positioning the -˜post' or locating it in terms of time and concerns arises, context becomes important despite the existence of parallel factors being present in most cultures. Feminist theory is not one, it has several different theoretical approaches and positions but whether it is socio-economic, psychological or literary, its two primary concerns are power and freedom. Both have traditionally been denied to women, placing them on the margins. It is these margins which are being redefined or shifted through a shift to post- feminism in literary aesthetics. Gayatri Spivak in her essay -œMarginality and the Teaching Machine-• has observed that there : can be no universalist claim in the human sciences. This is most strikingly obvious in the case of establishing -œmarginality-• as a subject-position in literary and cultural critique. The reader must accustom herself to starting from a particular situation and then to the ground shifting under her feet. (Spivak 53) Thus post-feminism emerges not merely as a -˜post' phase but perhaps part of feminist strategy to renegotiate the margins, to prevent feminist aesthetics from reaching a dead end in the manner in which Dalit aesthetics has done, and from being trapped in confessional and victimcentred narratives. Women's writing if about women's experience, is still devalued. It defines the readership and confines it to the level of -˜sharing' and -˜consciousness-raising' writing. Its evaluation and critiquing are still largely male-centred and dispute its very validity. The subtexts are often ignored. It is important to know who is reading women's writing and how it is being read. Intepretation rather than open out a text may, at times, limit and strait- jacket it. The multiple concerns of feminism have led to its affiliation and engagement with almost every discipline and with every contemporary movement, but its basic approach has been one of questioning, a suspicion of knowledge as well as the history of knowledge. This is a necessary first step, if one wants to stand outside the layers of imposed systems of thought and to comprehend the nature of stereotypes and to stand outside them. And this questioning has gone far beyond the questioning of any other struggle before it, before it, for instance the class struggle or the colonial struggle for the relationship between women and social structures is far more intricate and more deeply embedded in society than any other. Education, marriage, family, morality, linguistic constructs, custom, law - all these are important elements or self-construction. The post- feminist position is the third stage in the feminist struggle. Here, I am not concerned with phases : they have been many more, but stages. The first was a concern with the right to equality and political rights and the second with emphasis on alternative perspectives and epistemological structures. Both of these failed to destroy the binary oppositions. The first still held -˜man' as central, with woman being a -˜no-man' with aspirations to become one, the second privileged differences, motherhood and the self. The third stage, the post feminist one is at one level an attempt to demolish these binary oppositions and at another an effort to redefine power and freedom. It is an attempt to extend the area of women's roles and of their questioning of relationships in order to drive home the point that the self does not exist in isolation. Debates have centred on the connection between gender and epistemological structures, temporal and religious frameworks, theorizing and revising our understanding of existing knowledge systems. But none of these debates have settled any issues, they cannot be treated as final and universal, or universally accepted. The social reality does not permit this optimism. Despite the affiliation of feminism with activism, and the support extended to it through affirmative state action and empowerment strategies, the movement, in India at least, still remains on the margins. It is both an anathema and a challenge, and also a matter for serious consideration. Have our consciousness- raising strategies failed? Is the state support half- hearted? What has the law done to enhance equality? Is its splintering into class attitude responsible for its marginality? These all need to be thought about and debated but the greatest obstacle has been the concept of -œtradition-• which has been rigidified and is increasingly being reshaped in conservative and reactionary modes. If, in the west, women have had to question the findings and conclusions of the Enlightenment philosophers and of men like Rousseau, Darwin and Freud, in India it is the writings of men like Manu and the masculine interpretations of myths. Manu surfaces everywhere - in convocation addresses, college functions, women's assemblies (specially when chaired by men), public meetings and assembly speeches. He becomes the final defence of those who feel threatened by feminist questioning of social structures and power relationships. Confronted by this kind of a social situation, how do writers respond to it? Where are the strategies which they adopt to counteract this? Pandita Ramabai took him head - on. The High Caste Hindu Woman (1888) is an analyses of Manu's position and exposes its in-built gender biases and the nature of its authoritarian control over women by controlling all that goes to constitute or develop the self as well as identity. Though they are words often treated as synonyms, I would like to make a distinction between them, identity being a characteristic or a condition which distinguishes a person and self being the individual consciousness as seat of subjective thought and action. The first is marked by external factors like class, caste, status and the rest of it, while the second, self, depends upon body, mind, intellect and emotions, in short in the control a person exercises over these. Control over the body implies the acceptance of a person as a contigent being, and in the case of women immediately focuses attention of biological existence. Sex, rape, marriage, procreation, birth control, abortion would all be important areas of concern. Body implies the right to be. Emotion is equally relevant for it implies the right to feel, to respond, to relate. Intellect, the region of thought, presumes the right to know, to think, to have ideas, and mind the right to take a decision, to make a choice, in brief to act. But women have very limited freedom and even less control over these four constituents of the self. Either society, religion or tradition control them and more often than not religion, tradition and morality are used to exclude women from power and knowledge and reinforce patriarchal authority. We have examples of this in the nationalist discourse (Chatterjee), in the aftermath of the partition abductions (Veena Das) and in the developmental policies (Nirmala Buch, also see Banerjee). A very recent example is the Supreme Court judgment which by recognizing male illicit relationships in the garb of justice for the children of those relationships victimises the monogamous wife. Yet, despite these controls exercised by society, there is a native tradition of feminism which can be traced as far back as possible. It exists in the Ramayana and Mahabharata, in the folk songs which provide space for critiquing, in the writings of women which Susie Tharu and K. Lalita have traced in their two volumed authology Women Writing in India. There is also a nineteenth century intervention perceptible in the several writings which are now being recovered or reprinted. There has also been an ongoing struggle against tradition as efforts have been made to shift the margins of the boundaries. This feminist tradition is not always and not necessarily female. Men have contributed to it at several levels, in many ways and to different regions of thought and experience. But it is literary tradition which concerns me here. Men have been sensitive enough to question the closing-in of boundaries. Some major examples are available to us in Tagore's Yogayog (1929), Sarat Chandra Chatterjee's Shesh Prashan (1931) and Jainendra Kumar Jain's Tyaagpatr (1937). While Tagore focuses on the nature of incompatible marriages, and a woman's lack of freedom in her responses, Sarat Chandra Chatterjee projects, through the character of Kamal, a woman who survives with dignity through widowhood, a fake marriage and loneliness. She defies social norms, is at times ostracised but is never really without self- generated strength which helps her to sustain herself. Mrinal, the young woman, in Jainendra Kumar's Tyaagpatr is an illustration of a woman struggling to reconcile her personal desire for freedom and love with the moral norms defined by the patriarchal society. The system doesn't allow her to laugh, to love or even dream; it does not allow her to relate, and finally it does not even give her the option of submitting. She finds her self, in whatever limited degree, outside marriage, and relationship outside respectability, as an abandoned woman. Both her body and mind refuse to be controlled. But throughout this struggle she does not abandon her personal sense of morality. Yet none of these writers is read as a -˜woman's writer' and the debates they initiated are not viewed as irrelevant, even if they are not perceived from a feminist perspective. This is not necessarily the case with women writers. Most women writers who protest against being labelled as feminist are doing so for a variety of reasons, some of which can be stated as follows : the reader - critic reads them selectively and glosses over their subtexts; the media and the market view them as woman-to-woman writers, i.e. women who write about women and address a female readership; a lot of research and reviewing is confined to this slot and stereotypes them; they are identified with victim - literatures and this limits the perception of their experimentation or aesthetics; feminism is still not viewed as an individual's right to grow, but as militant rebellion bent upon indiscriminatingly destroying all social and moral codes or the -˜new' woman is seen is a promiscuous one; moreover binary oppositions continue to exist. Writing has often enough rebelled against the methodologies of criticism; post-feminism appears to be another such example, seeking to explore other ways of realigning the margins, necessitating a second look at the recantations, at the backlash and evolving definitions of freedom. The relationship between feminism and post-feminism is a much deeper one than the word -˜post' indicates. The connection is perceptible in the choice of themes and the way these writers explore these themes. Krishna Sobti's Mitro Marjani is primarily read as a text celebrating female sexuality and an oft-quoted passage is the one where Mitro indulges in praise of her own bodily beauty. Not only is Mitro Marjani (1967) read in separation from the rest of her work which in itself is fair enough, but it is read as a representative novel encompassing all her work, glossing over the variety of themes and issues, styles, approaches, linguistic and aesthetic experimentation in the rest of her work. The novel in itself is about much more than female sexuality. It is about the dynamics of family life, about patriarchal structures and paternal authority. Fathers are either absent or old and weak, and without power. The novel opens with the performance of the shraddhas in the memory of the ancestors, but the shraddhas have become a mere ritual and no one has the time to remember them (10). Gurdas, the father of three sons, is now relegated to a back room and his main channel of communication with the rest of the family is through his wife Dhanwanti. It is the maternal link which is emphasized when he addressed his sons -œDhanwanti ke putro-•. Even where the authority appears to be vested in men, it is wielded by the women. The space which is dominant is the domestic space and a great deal of action takes place in an around the kitchen. And as the novel progresses, Phulwanti, the youngest daughter-in-law, compels her husband to move out of the family. Sumitra, the -˜Mitro' of the title, is temporarily sent away, and Suhaag, the eldest one exercises authority through her prospective motherhood. The narrative is about man- woman relationships, woman-to-woman relationships and the power which is latent in them. Mitro questions the whole husband-centred female existence and the moral values generated by patrillineage (78). She defies all social norms towards that end. In fact, her act of drawing attention to her body is also a defiance of the norms. It is the beginning of a subject- position, a rejection of the male gaze, a shift from the purely ornamental beauty for which women are appreciated and trained to cater for. Mitro is different from both her sisters-in-law, one who is preparing for motherhood and the other who is concerned about property and riches. And even as motherhood is privileged, it is the family which is problematized. Banwari, the eldest brother, defends his brother Sardari, who is Mitro's husband, -œSardari mein koi dosh nahin, amma, woh jarnaili naar chhote mote mard ke bus ki nahin-• (86). Mitro's character has none of the wilyness which is traditionally associated with sexual seduction or seen as belonging to the women's art of manipulation, treya chiratr, as it is often referred to. Her responses are spontaneous and her actions transparent. Nevertheless, she brings into the household something of a public woman's approach thus redefining the area of -˜respectable' man-woman relationship. The mother- daughter relationship between Mitro and her mother, is also crucial to the meaning of the novel. Roles do not confine. Mitro's mother transgresses the boundaries of conventional motherhood, and mitro senses in her arrival for her husband's affection as it her womanly presence which imposes itself on Sardari. It is this aspects which is responsible for the sensual abandon in the Mitro- Sardari relationships and serves as a basis for a return to the now redefined family circle. Mitro challenges the notion of a passive female sexuality and in the process frees the sexual act from a primary responsibility towards procreation and motherhood from the image of a protective feminine figure. Dalip Kaur Tiwana in Puchhde Ho To Suno writes that perceptions of Indian womanhood are broadly classified into the Devi and not-Devi, and this is a division into the good and the bad, the domestic and the public space, the wife and the whore. These boundaries blur in Mitro's life as she makes a place for herself on her own terms in her marital home. The image of motherhood as a protective feminine principle is also under attack from several directions and several women writers have challenged it, more specifically Anita Desai whose early novels abound in absent mothers, ailing and weak ones or possessive and domineering ones. But it is in Journey to Ithaca that the idea of a biological mother is superceded by that of a spiritual mother. In this it stands half-way between a woman's role as procreative mother and the image of the Mother Goddess. Motherhood is traditionally venerated in Indian Culture, but it doesn't free the woman from her body. Manu perceived motherhood to be the main purpose of a woman's life and placed a mother a hundred times above the father. And Sudhir Kakar is of the view that one of the dominant narratives of this culture is, -œDevi, the great goddess, especially in her manifold expressions as mother in the inner world of the Hindu son-• (Kakar 131). But the theory of maternal superiority, Angela Carter has pointed out in The Sadeian Woman : An Exercise in Cultural History (1979), -œis one of the most damaging of all consolatory fictions-• and it places women out of history, where - œfertility governs all decisions, choices and relationships-• (106). Motherhood, it needs to be understood, subjugates the female body, and is primarily an asexual relationship without power. Moving from absent and surrogate mothers to Laila in Journey to Ithaca, Desai negotiates the concept of motherhood in a different manner. It is through denial of sex and the renunciation of all bodily desires that Laila becomes the Mother. She is not a familial being. Her parents are of the view that she have been dance group and finds her way to India and wills her way to Motherhood through an active act of self- assertion. Montu-da, one of her biographers, describes her transformation as an act of transcending a separateness. Finally, when she is taken into the Master's fold, he pronounces her to be Shakti and says: ? Thou art Durga ? Mother of us all ? Thou art Kali ? The Divine Force ? And Parvati ? Sweet Goddess of the Mountains (290) Contrasted to Laila, who is transformed into Lila, are other mothers like nonna and sophie, mothers who despite their wish to protect their children have to let them go. Through these portrayals Desai is not merely deconstructing motherhood, she is also questioning the institutions of marriage and family which obstruct the process of individuation, freedom is a rare commodity. The intricate web of human relationships as it is instrumental in the development of the self is also a dominant concern in Shashi Deshpande's novels, each of which focuses on a different issue - loneliness, clash with male ego, the degree of freedom within marriage and the extent to which one can approximate independence. Roots and shadows (1983) are about the nature of adultery. When Indu has a physical relationship with Narendra, it is not infidelity to her husband, nor is it an involvement with him; it is merely the use of something she owns, in order to show that she cares for him as a human being. There is no feeling of guilt attached to this act. In her 1991 novel The Binding Vine, she goes on to juxtapose two kinds of rape-one within marriage when the unwilling Mira is married off to a man much older than her, and another outside marriage when Kalpana's masi's husband rapes her. But it is in her most recent novel A matter of Time (1996), that she subtly debates the whole issue of individual freedom. The novel has three parts- The House, The Family, The River - and each title carries within it a meaning. -œThe House-• is the body; it is also memory and lineage, the coming together of all different elements. Houses again signify enclosures and domestic space and are of special significance in the work of women writers. -œThe Family-• consists of three generations - Shripati and Kalyani, husband and wife, living in the same house but on different floors and who have not been on speaking terms for the last thirty years; their daughter Sumi and her husband Gopal, who have just separated and this separation has brought Sumi and her two grown up daughters to the parental home. The third generation is that of the grand - daughters just at the threshold of life. The third part -˜The River' is about self- introspection and about immersion in the river waters which clean and purify. It is also about the stream of life which flows. Despite the concerns with silences, rape and estrangement, these novels are not about women but about social institutions and the nature of freedom. Love need not destroy, possess or absorb or annihilate. It can stand aside and let the other be free. At one point in the novel there is a reference to the Mahabharata and to the year which the pandavas had to spend in anonymity. Draupadi takes on the role of Sairandhri and Arjun becomes Brihannala. The question is why? Draupadi perhaps to be free of her five husbands : - œTo have the pleasure, the liberty of being alone, her own mistress, not to have to share her bed every night with a husband-•, and Arjuna in order -œto opt out of the male world of war and violence, of relating to woman only as lord and conqueror-•. He chooses to be the eunuch Brihannala, so that he can -œenter the gentle world of women, of music and dancing and become an insider in this world-• (86). These choices stress the point that the self if not one single, inviolate being. There are several selves shifting place and jostling with each other. A matter of Time is also a novel of absent fathers, or fathers who opt out of responsibilities. What is difficult is for the women to be rid of their unseen presence. Both Sumi and her daughter Aru struggle to get rid of the oppression, to find the means to be on their own. Freedom, when it comes, brings with it its own burden. Gopal is aware that Sumi by not bringing in any legal action against him is giving him his freedom while at the same time learning to build a sense of freedom for herself (222). As the three generations are housed together in the same space, it comes home to Sumi that one of the reasons Gopal has withdrawn is because a house full of females is -œlike a zenana-•. (Her father had also withdrawn after her brother had got lost. What does this signify?) Gopal had once admitted it is not easy to be the only male in a family of females, as one feels so shut out. Sumi is also aware that a single- sexed household is not balanced enough; it is lopsided. It lacks the tension essential to the act of living (60). Moreover, it continues and perpetuates the marginality of women. 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