Women writers find patriarchy a challenge

Writers K. Sachidanandan, Jaishree Misra, Anita Nair, and K.R. Meera at a session on ‘Women’s writing in India’ held at the Kerala Literature Festival in Kozhikode on Friday. -Photo: K. Ragesh  

: A question that writer K.R. Meera had to face quite often was how she could get certain details in her novel Arachar , being a woman. “I found it quite an insult to my intelligence, my learning and research experience. If a man had written Arachar , this question would not have arisen,” she said.

Many men in the State still viewed women’s writing as something that “began at the kitchen and ended at the verandah” and the patriarchy’s refusal to acknowledge the achievements of women writers is a major challenge before us these days, she added, speaking at the session on ‘Women’s writing in India’ on the second day of the maiden Kerala Literature Festival in Kozhikode on Friday.

Writer Jaishree Misra said the presence of symbols usually associated with women on the cover of her books had been a major turn-off for male readers, who instantly categorised those books as ‘only for women’.

She said fulfilling one’s familial duties alongside a career as a writer was a bigger challenge for her. K.R. Meera later spoke on how her works were censored when it did not conform to the publisher’s idea of how a woman should write or speak.

The freedom provided by English language compared to regional languages was appreciated by all the authors. Jaishree Mishra explained how she could write uninhibited while writing for a foreign publishing house while on the other hand she had to be conscious not to hurt the conservative mentality of Indian readers while writing for an Indian publisher.

Anita Nair felt equally comfortable writing in English and Malayalam, though she has not written fiction in Malayalam. Meera felt that English was much liberating as a language as it had been able to shatter the gender differences to a great extent.

“It is like how a vehicle liberates a woman by providing her freedom of movement,” she said.

Noted writer and Festival Director K. Sachidanandan moderated the session, which was presented by the Kerala State Women’s Development Corporation.

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Printable version | Nov 22, 2020 11:24:24 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kozhikode/women-writers-find-patriarchy-a-challenge/article8201054.ece

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