Editorial March ’13

Judith Butler in one her most important works, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of identity, notes, “… that gender is a choice, or that gender is a role, or that gender is a construction that one puts on, as one puts on clothes in the morning, that there is a ‘one’ who is prior to this gender, a one who goes to the wardrobe of gender and decides with deliberation which gender it will be today.”

If we were to deconstruct the construct of the gender, maybe the ‘one’ could go to the wardrobe every morning, and decide with deliberation, how much of which gender it wants to be. Could it wear just the legs today and go out or wear the vagina, on a day, ‘the one’ had to walk in a fashion parade, or wear absolutely nothing at all, on a day, one felt like dancing without carrying all that weight…? ? Or when the weather is beautiful with blue-birds singing on wafts of magnolia breezes, could it just wear the nose and the ear for a walk in the park, and leave the breasts behind for some other day when the cats have given birth to a dozen kittens?

By such deconstruction, will we be defying nature, as it has constituted us?

The true relations between body and nature, are quintessentially different from the power relations of a society, which have come to define the violence, the voyeurism, the sexuality, the legitimacies – the entire ontology of the body today. Oscar Wilde in his essay, DeProfoundis, which he wrote while being jailed for his homosexuality, elucidates the true nature of the relations between man and nature in these poignant concluding lines, “Society, as we have constituted it, will have no place for me, has none to offer; but Nature, whose sweet rains fall on unjust and just alike, will have clefts in the rocks where I may hide, and secret valleys in whose silence I may weep undisturbed. She will hang the night with stars so that I may walk abroad in the darkness without stumbling, and send the wind over my footprints so that none may track me to my hurt: she will cleanse me in great waters, and with bitter herbs make me whole.”

In an interview with Elizabeth Meese, Margaret Atwood had said, “I think that people very much experience themselves through their bodies and through concepts of the body which get applied to their bodies. These ‘concepts of the body’ are enmeshed in language, genre, and other cultural systems of signification.”

What lies in the pages ahead, is an attempt at understanding how these body concepts have been forced, normalized and internalized by us, through our history and our politics, and is also an attempt to deconstruct the power relations to reclaim the body in its myriad meanings, part by part.

Pritha Kejriwal is the founder and editor of Kindle Magazine. Under her leadership the magazine has established itself as one of the leading torch-bearers of alternative journalism in the country, having won several awards, including the United Nations supported Laadli Award for gender sensitivity and the Aasra Award for excellence in media. She is also a poet, whose works have been published in various national and international journals. She is currently working on two collections of poetry, soon to be published.

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