Sexual politics and rape in the selected works of Shashi Deshpande: a feminist Perspective
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Since the early revolutionary period of the first wave of feminist movement in India in 1850, women have come a long way with the feminist liberation movements continuously striving to bring in reformation in various fields—social, economic, political, etc. to ensure equality for women. However, despite all the reforms and changes brought in by these movements, women are still subjected to constant threat of oppression and assault not just in public places, but also at their homes and workplaces. Oppression, not just in the form of physical torture and molestation, but also in the form of ‘mental rape’ is an issue that has been left unspoken for decades due to fear of ignominy and stigmatization. In order to bring these ‘unspoken’ issues in focus, Shashi Deshpande has made earnest attempts to articulate the aspirations of these oppressed women through her writings. The works of Deshpande are reflective of the condition of contemporary Indian women—their struggle for identity and recognition in a society dictated by a male-dominated structure of patriarchy. This paper attempts to examine the two novels The Binding Vine and That Long Silence authored by Shashi Deshpande from the feminist perspective, and investigate the issues concerning sexual politics, women’s oppression and violence through an application of feminist literary criticism and postcolonial theories. In addition, the paper will investigate the concept of ‘sexual politics’ and ‘rape’ by scrutinizing the underlying factors including the historical, religious, socio-cultural and legal elements that have been instrumental in the construction and shaping of ‘sexuality’ in contemporary Indian society.