Tuesday, 18 December 2018

The Theatre of Femininity - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee


Patriarchy had trumped matriarchy over eons, for all the wrong reasons. Millennia back, when the hunter-gatherers constituted the entire humanity, hunting of large animals and carrying them to the dwellings needed muscle power of the male, who dominated women, confining the latter to home for child rearing. With the emergence of agricultural communities just a few thousand years ago and with assured supply of food, the nomadic travels ceased, leading to enhanced population that, in turn, gave rise to increased pregnancies and consequent child mortality. Women gained precious little, till the arrival of industrial age and now the information age, when, for once, both maternity and muscle have started to matter less and equity has increasingly prevailed among the genders with higher quality of life for all. Or, at least, this seems to be so in the developed societies, but the lack of development still carries the legacy of an overarching patriarchy.

Beginning with the “free” female labor on the domestic front, the consequent ills are well-known and numerous. They extend all theway from female feticide; early marriage of the daughters; newly detected high mortality of nubile mothers; post-marriage dowry death; and widowhood contemptuously exploited; up to the point of women being perpetually treated as “property” by their male “masters”. Down the line, male predatory instinct prevails for the unprotected, harassment for the unwilling and subjugation of the downtrodden from the other gender: unabated and most often swept under the carpet. It was high time the performing arts in India dared pick up the cudgels in all seriousness and this critic finds it heartening that the indigenous drama groups of Bengal are developing a genre that can be given the nascent appellation: The Theatre of Femininity.

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