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anti feminist kannada novel

anti feminist kannada novel

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Published by B V Rama Prasad
this is an analysis of a popular novel published in a kannada magazine. it expresses some anti feminist strands
this is an analysis of a popular novel published in a kannada magazine. it expresses some anti feminist strands

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Published by: B V Rama Prasad on Dec 21, 2011
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12/21/2011

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The Novel Mithya: A Response to Feminism?
Dr. B.V. Rama PrasadReader in EnglishDepartment of EnglishKuvempu UniversityThis paper tries to draw attention to the novel Mithya, by Geetha U.B., which was published as a serial in the weekly Sudha from 7
th
Aug 2008 to 20
TH
Nov 2008. The aimof this paper is to-1.Draw attention to the novel which seems to respond to feminism in its ownway.2.To talk about the various ways in which it tries to portray the ‘disadvantages’men face because of the changing times.3.And to show that even in such a novel the complexities of the question of manvs. women are not ignored.First, let me point out that the novel does not use the word feminism. But it triesto talk about the ‘advantages’ that women have and the disadvantages that men face because of the changing times. The ways in which the novel tries to formulate its thesis(that men – at least certain types of men – suffer because of the ‘female domination’) areof interest to feminism. What I want to point out is that the society has responded indifferent ways to the changing position of women in modern times, and this novelexpresses some such responses.1
 
As this is not a novel very well known among ‘serious’ students of literature, letme summaries the story of the novel in a few words. The novel is about a man calledPurushoththam, who works in a private company under a female boss. The protagonistfeels that both in his home and in his office he suffers because he is a man. In his family,as the only son, he has to take on all the responsibilities and in his office he has tocarefully deal with his boss who is trying to have an affair with him. The boss finallymakes ‘the indecent proposal’ and when Purushoththam refuses, slaps a false case of sexual harassment on him. But all ends well and Purushoththam’s innocence is proved.Purushoththam feels that he suffers because of the responsibilities that patriarchyimposes on men and because of the unfair advantage that women have because of thechanging times. He looks at himself as a very untypical man. He is soft, cries whenwatching emotional scenes in movies, and does not know how to say ‘no’ to a sexualadvance. He is interested in painting, but his parents discourage him because painting,along with music, is a feminine job. His sisters, on the other hand are encouraged becausegetting a job is not very necessary for them and because they are good at conventionalacademic subjects. His boss makes fun of him saying being a woman she is not afraid of going home late and wonders whether he is henpecked. She also says, when he is alonewith her in her house, that he is behaving like a young girl caught with a lecherous boss.Purushoththam also acknowledges that he is not ‘masculine’ enough. He wonders whomade the division between masculine and feminine qualities. Some of the problems thatPurushoththam faces, he feels, are because he does not confirm to the stereotype of masculinity.2
 
Just as Purushoththam is constructed as an untypical man, his boss Prathiba isconstructed as very unfeminine. She shouts, insults, and commands. She dominates over the 15 men who are under her and is proud of the fact. The hero thinks that womenshould not have so much vanity. She forces Purushoththam to stay at office beyondworking hours and she boldly propositions to him. She is practically a single woman because her husband is in Dubai and her son is studying somewhere else. There is adeliberate reversal of gender roles with the woman being the aggressive one. Is there aconception here that to be a boss, a woman has to be masculine?Many such stereotypes about working women are expressed in this novel throughvarious means. The hero’s wife thinks that it is insulting for him to be working under awoman. She also says that the hero’s sister deliberately does not want to have children because working women do not like the additional responsibilities. Another workingwoman says that it is now fashionable to have only one child and that people should notfuss over children. The men in the story think that women have an unfair advantage in the job market. The hero thinks that the media gives unfair coverage to women achieversignoring many men who have achieved more. There is a suggestion that Prathibha doesnot deserve her position. Another character in the story who has lost his job as a personalsecretary to an attractive woman thinks that women get jobs because of their looks. Hefeels that women get jobs through flirting and they make use of the tag of the weaker sexvery effectively. Thus, on the one hand the novel suggests that working woman have toignore the traditional responsibilities of being a mother and on the other hand suggeststhat working women have an unfair advantage because of their sex.3

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