Professor Ruby LalWomen in India16 March 2015Essay Prompt A: Evolution of My Views During Women in IndiaAs a policy debater I spent most of high school scrutinizing current power systems and being exposed to lots of truths about gender inequality that instilled a cynicalworld-view in me. This, compounded with the numerous news stories in the past two years about gang rapes in India and my personal experience of being sexually objectified while walking the streets of Delhi molded my opinion of women in India as fundamentally oppressed and disadvantaged. I expected this course to shed light on what the root causes behind the disgusting treatment of women in India were, who in the current power system was perpetuating this violence, and how change was possible. Overthe course of this semester my perception of women in India has changed due to the dramatic change in my approach to analyzing the information; instead of looking to overarching clear disadvantages women faced earlier, we can appreciate individual narratives which highlight the pleasures of being a woman in India and celebrate the fightthat these women put up against those power structures. At the beginning of the semester I spent a considerable amount of time dissecting the phrase “women in India” and concluded that it was impossible to generalize such an ethnically, culturally, and linguistically diverse group. The images that came to mind when I thought of India were a hodgepodge of what I had experienced when I visited India and the western construction of “exotic” India. According to the 2014 Census of India, there are 1.27 billion Indians, more than 2000 ethnic groups, every major religion 1
represented, 216 languages spoken, and a vast socioeconomic divide due to the remnants of the cast system – homogenizing the population would be a grave mistake. “India” also conjured ideas of color, heat, industrial development, and English imperialism. “Woman”conjured images of biological and social contrast with man, reproduction, motherhood, victims of sex discrimination, and beauty. Images of “Women in India” were overwhelmingly negative as they were dominated by sexual objectification, news stories about gang rapes, and sexist government officials.