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Patriarchy and the women artists of Indian subcontinent:


“Why are the women of Indian subcontinent- not interested in male body to create art work?” A Bangladeshi blogger Mr. Tanmay Kumar Hera raised this question in his blog, few days back. I found his question quite thought provoking. Even in this 21st century, we, women of this region are not comfortable enough at complimenting a man’s look/body with ease; creating art work is something unimaginable. But our men feel completely free to do so without any hesitation. Patriarchy is so deep rooted in this part of the world that it controls our (women’s) thought, expression, expectation, everything.

I am quite active on social media. I keep a long list of friends and followers. Receiving comment on my look is an ordinary matter for me. As long as an opinion on my physical appearance doesn’t carry any disrespect to me, I accept it with respect, whether it comes from a male or a female. I can’t expect all the people of my surroundings to keep an interest on my thoughts or intelligence only. Sometimes, some people just concentrate on my external beauty. That attitude doesn’t bother me at all as long as they keep it to their boundaries. But when it comes to my turn, my friends and well wishers want me to act in a sophisticated manner all the time. They don’t want me to find in complimenting a random male body. For them, this is an inappropriate behavior for a socially responsible woman like me. How can it be wrong to admire an attractive and well built man even if I am not connected with him emotionally or any other way? It is as simple as praising a beautiful flower or a bird. When a woman feels it abnormal to offer a compliment to opposite sex- it gives an indication that she is under the thumb of patriarchy. Directly or indirectly, we, the women of Indian sub continent are promoting the dominance of men in social and cultural systems till date by controlling our expression as per male expectation and our female artists have never tried to overcome these obstacles.

Here, I would love to write few lines about an American Feminist painter- Eunice Golden (born 1927), who is known for Exploring sexuality using the male nude. For Golden, painting the male form was her own expression of women liberation. She said, “While other women artists portrayed the female, often their own genitalia, as an emblem of their own power, I wanted to go beyond that, to find my own path to challenges society’s entrenched ideologies and mores. My muses were male artists who posed for me and supported my work.”

I am not only an admirer of Golden’s artwork but I try to imply her thoughts/ideologies in my life also. Equality among all the genders – is always my first priority in my life. Though I am not a talented artist or a writer, still I have few words in my stock and my eagerness to establish equality. I live such a life which leads to equality. I accept human body as a wonderful gift of the nature. Hence, I never step back from admiring this amazing creation. My gender never comes my way in this matter and this is an honest expression of my liberty.

A question always comes to my mind. Why do most of the women of Indian sub continent can’t accept themselves as independent human beings? They are always fascinated by the concept of completeness of womanhood and this concept has been defined by a patriarchal society from years. We are taught to feel ashamed of our own body from our childhood. That is the point from where they start to cut our wings. How can a person will think of creating an art work gazing at a body of opposite sex ;whereas she is ashamed of her own body? My breast is just a part of my body which plays a good role in sexual activities. But in this part of the world, my cleavage describes me. If I upload a photograph on social media which shows my cleavage, my friends declare it as an indecent act of an unethical human being.

I am not a talented one to create art work on a male body but I am a woman from Indian sub continent who wants to create an atmosphere where female artists can go beyond their boundaries. A male muse can unlock creativity of a female artist as a female muse does to a male artist. Hence, it is essential to build a positive environment for the female artists too. I strongly believe, we don’t need always to do something extraordinary to bring equality. Even an ordinary lady like me can make a big difference by leading a life with a liberal mind. We just need to change our attitude. It starts from expressing our emotions to protesting discrimination. Self acceptance brings self respect, confidence with an attitude of completeness and we walk towards a liberal world. It’s our responsibility to make a free world for art and literature so that no room left for gender based discrimination. There is nothing like impossible. We, women just need to keep our wings firm to fly up.

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