Posted by: mavra | December 14, 2007

week 9-War, violence and politics

Adrienne Rich talks about her experience with the American Poetry Review and her eventual indifference with this association. This indifference found its root in the issue of the female voice being absent from the literary canon and discourse. Same was the case with the American Poetry review as it selectively Incorporated writing which did not politicise of aggravate current issues. Based on her personal struggle, Rich talks about the importance of reinventing space for the female perspective. she says that the space has to be created for the female perspective as it is usually pushed to the sidelines in a male dominated society.

In her column, Rich writes on the topic of Vietnam and the enormity of the violence that took place there. In her discussion she comes to equating all kinds of political and social violence with sexual violence as both are products of the male created and controlled structure. she goes on to discuss how some violent atrocities are just considered to occur naturally, a permanent existence of deviance which cannot be done away with. Rape is one such act that is considered to exist everywhere since the beginning of organized societies. It is an act which will continue to exist as it is something considered to be part of the male frame of mind “naturally” and therefore a natural part of the societal framework as well. Only recently have efforts been made to illustrate how such a violent act exists in its various manifestation, as a means to assert power over women.

Rape is an act of enormity and consequence. It robs woman of her identity, her position in society and reduces her form a status of an equal individual to one with no rights. Similar issues of a limited attitude and response towards rape exists in Pakistan. Rape cases especially domestic ones are kept hidden, with the belief that it is in man’s nature to be sexually violent. Women also take it as a given that if they enter the public sphere they are automatically making themselves vulnerable to such violence.

Rich gives the example of the two Pablo Neruda poems and illustrates how literature produced by men, seeks to reinforce the role of men and women and the romantic struggle between the genders. The struggle may be romanticized but it is exactly this role allotting which creates space for sexual violence Rich further uses the metaphor of war for rape as a displacement of reality at a time of social crises also makes it natural for soldiers to cross the boundaries of the moral.

The second reading deals with the concept of identity and how socio-political factors cut across religious ones, creating new symbols and new identities. It talks about the question of hijab and discusses how religious choice became a national issue in Gaza. In order for the Islamic Resistance Movement to have influence it was important for them to distinguish themselves as a different social force. This reading highlights, how in such a situation an issue as private as personal attire and lifestyle becomes politicized and a symbol which is thrust upon women without their choice. This shows how women are considered to be a non entity in the dynamic of political and social power struggle.




  1. 3.9

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