A controversy erupted in the Tamil literary world on Wednesday with a few women writers and activists issuing a statement condemning well-known author B. Jeyamohan for his “misogynist” criticism of women literary figures and their works.
Sharply responding to the missive through a post on his website on Thursday, Mr. Jeyamohan dismissed it as lacking in basic understanding of his writings.
The tension had been building up over last week after Mr. Jeyamohan’s post titled ‘Women writings’ elaborated on his earlier opinion on how ordinary women writers hog the media limelight whereas even those male authors with solid works get very little attention. In another post, he had also contested that while men had to prove themselves through their writings, women writers get their due by just projecting themselves as women.
We will be failing in our duty to society if we don’t protest his intellectual violence against women - Ambai and other Women writers.
In the statement, which extracted paragraphs from several of Mr. Jeyamohan’s pieces, the women authors and activists said his opinions portrayed his "misogynist" attitude that derided women. Such "vicious" comments against women stem from a deeply-rooted patriarchal mindset that believes men are superior.
“We understand his psychological need to stay in the limelight forever… But we will be failing in our duty to society if we don’t protest his intellectual violence against women,” read the statement, attested by writers such as Ambai and Kutti Revathi.
While Mr. Jeyamohan was the focus of the current statement, the women writers said they would hold regular dialogues on the stand taken by such individuals given that some publishers and literary personalities have been indulging in “personal assaults and character assassinations.”
I'm not confined to their petty world. Any criticism should happen at an intellectual level - Jeyamohan
Responding to the charges on his website, Mr. Jeyamohan said the statement's content was indicative of the fact that those who wrote it have not read his works. “There is no greater certificate to their literary taste and debating ability than this [statement],” wrote. While seeking forgiveness if he had hurt any of those who attested the statement, he said he was not confined to the same "petty world" they were. "Any criticism of a writer should happen at an intellectual level," he said.