Gender And Gender Identity In Feminist Literature

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The issue of “gender” and “gender identity” has occupied significant place in literary theories and more specifically in feminist literary criticism. Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines gender as – “the behavioral, cultural, or psychological traits typically associated with one sex.” Feminist critics have attempted to distinguish between “sex” and “gender”. For them sex is a biological phenomena while gender is socially constructed. There is no direct relation between gender and biological sex. “Masculinity and femininity are essentially coercive categories that straitjacket men and women” (Nayar 83). Gender discourse is always a practice of power, where masculinity is always associated with authority and superiority while femininity…show more content…
According to contemporary gender role ideology, gender roles have been and still are constantly changing. Londa Schiebinger in her book Has Feminism Changed Science also expresses similar views and enunciates that gendered characteristics – typically masculine or feminine behaviors, interests, or values – are not innate, nor are they arbitrary. They are formed by historical circumstances. They can also change with historical circumstances. Women’s writing and feminists have also questioned all such existing view points, that are essentially ‘patriarchal and conventional’ in nature. They reject the idea that a woman’s dignity and honor is inside the boundaries of home, as nurturer and care provider and man work out of the home as ‘bread earners’. For them this confinement of women to family and home has been central in restricting her status and identity to and incomplete human being, one who is necessarily defined with reference to man. Simone de Beauvoir, while scrutinizing the historical reasons behind ‘destiny’ and ‘situation’ of woman’s lives, rightly identifies ‘sexuality and socialization’ as the basic ‘poles of analyses’ around which her subjugation and subservience revolves. The right to property and ownership and its denial to women for ages can be another ‘decisive pole’ that has confined her existence and identity…show more content…
This novel subtly shows the difference between the values ascribed to male and female traits in which man’s needs take precedence over women’s needs. Deshpande subverts stereotypical conventional ideals of motherhood, femininity, and masculinity. She shows both male and female sexes transcending their gender attributed traits. Female characters in this novel- Kalyani, Sumi, Aru exhibit masculine traits which are conventionally associated with males, on the other hand male characters- Shripati and Gopal, who escape their duty and responsibility towards their families, unveil feminine traits. Vinay Kirpal also is of the opinion that “Deshpande’s protagonists generally seek to come out of their tradional beliefs” (Geethamala, 196). For her writings, Deshpande herself tells Vanamala in an interview: “I want to reach a stage where I can write about human beings and not about men and women”

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