Thursday, December 08, 2005

about my work now....

Thought would write something about my project, and expect the small yet regular readers' to comment on it. so don't disappoint me you guys.
My research aims to look at women's work. But this is where it also hits a block. Almost all the feminist analysis of women's work and working women has concentrated on the working class women, their participation in economic production and the possiblities of more equal rights for women and consequently the possiblity of emancipation.
But i do not want to look at the working class women. for entirely selfish reasons (being brought up by a working mother and working father who took their work very seriously, mother being part of a worker's union and always knowing that when i grow up, i can not think about getting married and letting the man take care of my needs, not because that is impossible, but because that is simply not done.) When i looked to feminism for some engagement with the work done by women like my mother and the kind of woman i grew up to be, i had to face a void.
Middle class women, those who do not have to be a part of the workforce by economic necessity, especially in India, have not found any analysis of their situation in mainstream feminist discourse.
Even abroad, the discussions have mostly been restricted to the analysis of housework and etc.
that is where women's fiction, especially romantic fiction comes in. it is my proposal that unlike feminist theory, popular romantic fiction read and written by women, exhibit a different level of engagement with the middle class woman's work. they concentrate on exploring the meaning of work for women who do not have to earn their livings but choose to do so, women who derive pleasure from the work that they do, and women for whom work is a question of choice.
The formation of subjectivity in a patriarchy like India, for middle class women, i believe is determined greatly by their ability to go and work outside of the home, in the public domain.
Examples? MIlls and Boon would be nice. these straight forward romantice stories have seen a lot of change in their shape and conetent of the last 60 years or so. the chaste kiss has been replaced by some heavy duty sexual acitivity, but the women heroines are also no longer subordinate nurses or receptionists. they have carved out a niche for themselves in the public sphere, and by their own right. what are the implications of such an important move? how does the narrative reconcile with the two distinct traces of movement in the fiction, one in which the hero is the be-all-and-end-all of the heroine's life, and the other in which she refuses to compromise about the importance of her work in her life?
Also, what is the necessity of asking questions about middle class wokring women?
and so on and so forth.....

8 comments:

  1. I wrote the biography of an 18th century female preacher at least partly because I felt that the work of these women had been written out of history. So I'm in support of you, but can't really offer any useful help, as I Know Nothing about your subject.

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  2. i dunno how helpful my suggestion wud b to u. i feel u should try looking into kerala and northeast india's (is it meghalaya?) where matriarchal society prevailed and in manyways have not lost roots yet. shud give u some interesting angles for ur project i think.

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  3. that is interesting. I think the same thing happened here in the 70s & 80s. Romantic novels involving powerful women. (as bosses, executives, etc...) in control of thier lives & other lives around them, also the sexual activity portrayed was stonger then in previous works.
    There is obviously a trend starting. Prehaps this is how it works it's way into the mainstream.
    (or the middleclass).
    Even tho, radical feminism is still a luxery of the educated in America. Not an option for the middleclass woman who must sacrifice some high ideals for the sake of family. Me, for instance. Of course feminism has helped the overall situation of women in this country. For instance, my father would never change a diaper, but my husband has done so without complaint. He also knows since i work that he has to help w/the household chores. I think this is the norm.
    Of course, I won't presume anything about India, but, prehaps change is slower there?
    A few American feminist writers of the period I spoke of. Erica Jong, A quote from her famous Novel, 'Fear of Flying':
    "The zipless fuck is absolutely pure. It is free of ulterior motives. There is no power game. The man is not 'taking' & the woman is not 'giving'. No one is attempting to cuckold a woman or humiliate a wife. No one is trying to prove any thing or get any thing out of any one. The zipless fuck is the purest thing there is. And it is rarer then the unicorn." (1973)
    Gloria Steinem, a quote:
    "Some of us are becoming the men we wanted to marry." (speech at Yale, September 1981)
    Hope this gives some insight into something.
    Chow!

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  4. Live and let live.

    Why spend so much time inside your head when there is a great big world out there to enjoy? You know you want to.

    "and so on and so forth..." translates to there are no answers.

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  5. Medusa, that stupid bitch j_g is on my blog insulting my Indian friends. Just so you all know she is a weird masocist(?) who likes to start trouble. I'm going to tell her to knock it off, but, feel free to say whatever to her. She is on my, 'Musings, Rants, & ravings' site.

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  6. Millis and Boon... are you serious?

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  7. yes. i know. thats a problem i have with feminism as a whole, because it tends to be exclusionist of people who dont fall in the marginlaised underprivileged category. like me. it assumes a homogeniety of experince and validates some sorts of experience. i cld give you a nice vargas llosa quote but the book is in hyd. remind me.

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  8. i too grew up knowing that when i grow up, i can not think about getting married and letting the man take care of my needs, not because that is impossible, but because that is simply not done.

    but my mother was not a part of the labour union and is a house wife. life is ironical naa!

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