Feminism and Peace Activism

Women fighters, as I show above, are accommodated by the nationalist proj­ect of liberation, but both their femininity and their subjectivity are compro­mised to accommodate patriarchal anxieties. Some women fighters see them­selves as feminist activists, working towards a more egalitarian and open society. But some feminist organizations see nationalism, and particularly the armed forces, as […]

The Woman Fighter

One of the mythic icons of the Jewish woman fighter prior the 1948 war is that of a Palmach13 girl, hiding grenades in her bra. This mental image accom­panied my upbringing, suggesting that women were brave and capable and that they contributed to Israeli independence as much as did men. Surprisingly, nei­ther I nor my […]

Nationalism and Feminism

Tlatli, Mehta, and Khleifi did not invent the fictitious and cinematic config­uration whereby woman and nation are equated. In fact, feminism in Israel, India, Tunisia, and Palestine (as well as elsewhere) had developed in tandem with national liberation movements. Much like the American women’s suffrage movement—which emerged out of the comparison between the statuses of […]

Cinematic Context

I begin with a brief analysis of violence that is enacted against women within the context of national liberation movements. I have in mind an image from Deepa Mehta’s 1999 film Earth. Mehta tells a story of a Hindu nanny to a Per­sian family living in 1947 Lahore on the eve of the partition of […]

Showing Rape: The Double Victim

As feminists we are caught between a rock and a hard place: the erasure of rape from the narrative bears the marks of a patriarchal discourse on honour and chastity; yet showing rape, some argue, eroticizes it for the male gaze and purveys the victim myth. How do we refuse to erase the palpability of […]

Women’s Rage

Feminist anxieties about constructing vengeful heroines through rape-revenge narratives in the 1980s circle around eroticizing rape scenes and, hence, per­petuating a victim syndrome while masquerading the revenge as female agency.15 I propose that a historical approach might be helpful here. Com­paring these films to their antecedents—the classic Aradhna-style victim, or the inscription erasure in Teesri […]

Double-Speak about the Body

Between the moral authority of the state’s censor board and preoccupation with women’s bodies through strategic camera angles and movement is the grati­fication and scopic pleasure that filmed bodies, especially those of the vamp, offer to both male and female viewers. The vamp is presented as the sexual — ized woman, craving men and their […]

The Sexed Body and Ocular Pleasure

Before turning to the charge of masculine subterfuge employed in depicting rape scenes, I want to make an observation about the figure of the vamp—a liminal figure, favoured for decades in Hindi cinema, that significantly atten­uated in the 1970s and had disappeared by the 1980s, coinciding with the emer­gence of the avenging woman. In a […]

Rape and the Rape Threat8

I now take a quick detour from Hindi films to representations of rape within a broader cultural milieu, particularly before the transformative moment of the second wave of the Indian women’s movement. Lynn Higgins and Brenda Sil­ver (1991, 2-3) note that representations of rape in myths and literary texts are at once a structuring device […]