Literature’s Liberating Refuge from Patriarchy

Let me start with the honest admission of a politically unwise desire. It has traversed my thoughts, especially in moments of heightened vulnerability. The will to separate the personal from the political, an aspiration I had endeavoured to embrace, but didn’t, because, couldn’t. Detaching myself from the political would be conceivable if only I could sever the ties that bind to my identity. 

        1. But, isn’t that how dictators, devils, and divinity win? 

As a woman, I have been acutely aware of the pervasive intention of my environment to systematically weaken me. It has demanded that I conform, to fit into an ideal amalgamation of servitude, hopelessness, and acceptance. Men I have known perpetually threaten women and go on to exploit the generated sense of fear to tighten their grip. 

The men who have wronged us have names, faces, and addresses. They are our fathers, brothers, friends, partners; cab drivers, relatives, the whole damned world; anyone, everyone. They are real and live freely, curbing our movements, and controlling our identities. Ironically, they dangle the promise of care and protection, but only if we obediently tread the path they choose, a path it has laid down for countless others. However, unconditional is not a word easily paired with women. 

The politics of hair is one very essential bottleneck in curbing choices. Society exercises a monopoly over our hairdos using it as a ‘literal canvas for political beliefs.’ 

At times, my politics has made me question my worth. It feels as though I have been buried in the smallest of coffins, descending to the deepest depths of the ground, sinking into the abysmal realms of insignificance. But, isn’t that how dictators, devils, and divinity win?


           2. Mothering Men? You cannot give people what they are incapable of receiving. 

Men incessantly mock and disregard every space women create for themselves. I have personally put a lot of hope and aspiration to make them understand the issue from different lenses. However, we now need to desist ourselves into mothering people who have internalized resistance to progressive change. Any movement that stands true to itself will sustain, also conquer, with or without dudes. 

Joseph Heller said, ‘It is neither possible nor necessary to educate people who never questioned anything.’ 

The trajectory of my thoughts on sex and identity has undergone a continuous transformation. The process of belief and self-discovery has been influenced by both constructive and detrimental influences from individuals. I am grateful for these experiences. Recognizing red flags is essential to avoid them. 


           3.Had I not created my whole world, I would have certainly died in other people’s. 

My mind is filled with a multitude of incidents, both personal and shared by others, that tear at me, longing to roam freely. The ceaseless battle with uncertain thoughts, entangled in undecipherable fear, has led me to a resolute decision: to immerse myself in reading. 

There is an urge within me to reinforce my anger with the collective rage of other women, for I never wish to let them down. Rage, in my view, is a human response, particularly when, as a woman of caste, I am confronted with the normalization of perceived wrongs and a constant stream of justifications. 

The solace I find in reading helps alleviate the tension. It is through literature that I discovered common sympathies and alignments. 

However, I have come to realize that deep down, we all share a fundamental similarity. We all possess the capacity for darkness within us, capable of inhumane acts, perpetrating harm, and engaging in wrongful behaviour. It is the choices we make that draw the line, but sometimes those lines become blurred, leaving us grappling with moral complexities. 

Reading is not merely confined to nerdy pursuits or an aesthetic indulgence. It encompasses a range of emotions, from the painful to the heart- wrenching, the unravelling to the traumatizing. It can evoke a mixture of emotions: frustration, affirmation, and even sadness. 

Currently, I am engrossed in the works of Beauvoir


Neetika is an alumna of Miranda House, University of Delhi. She is currently exploring themes under Gender Geography.

Featured image illustration by Pariplab Chakraborty.