• Nanna Hinchely
4. semester, Global Refugee Studies, Kandidat (Kandidatuddannelse)
Indian women negotiate gender within violent gendered spaces structured by cultural norms, and the position of women is marked by precarity. Thus, living up to normative womanhood becomes a vital task throughout a woman’s life. Drawing on empirical material from fieldwork in Kerala, India, this thesis explores women’s gendered lives and how their negotiation of gender is affected by violence. The thesis takes its point of departure in the empirical material and the analytical argumentation is led by the interlocutors’ narratives.
With an understanding of gender as performatively constructed, it is argued that the normative gender script prescribes women to act as virtuous, dutiful wives devoted to their husband, which entails enduring whatever violence she is met by. Women are believed to belong to the private sphere, and all familial responsibilities as well as the blame for any domestic problem that might occur fall to women. When entering the public sphere women are expected to act according to cultural norms, which means demonstrating virtue, purity and visibly showing that one belongs in the private sphere. Negotiating one’s gender within the normative script appears to be vital as the repercussions for not being deemed a ‘good woman’ can be severe and entail violence involving both physical abuse and social exclusion. The reproaches that follow if one falls outside the normative gender script can leave a woman in a precarious position on the margins of society. It is thus argued that receiving social blame and judgement from the community can be defining for a woman’s wellbeing and opportunities in life. Suffering is foregrounded as a marker of the female character and a woman is expected to handle her problems privately in order for her to be considered a dutiful and devoted wife, and that means enduring violence and thus suffering in silence.
This thesis argues that the women’s negotiation of gender is guided by the precarity of the female position mainly because of fear regarding violence and social stigma. Furthermore, I extent the argument suggesting that normative womanhood entails self-sacrifice, and that suffering becomes a constituting factor in the performativity of female gender. Lastly, in the discussion section of the thesis, parallels are drawn between the self-sacrifice involved in normative womanhood and the significance of female self-immolation in Hindu mythology.
Udgivelsesdato18 jun. 2021
ID: 415078615