Hearing the Hidden Voices of Feminine Sexuality: Folkloric Challenges to Patriarchic Traditions in Rajasthan

By Preeti Sharma.

Published by The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Cultural Studies

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Folk forms, subalternity, marginality, victimisation and sexuality seem to get interlocked into a complex interconnected structure, often characterised by the contested binary phenomenon of the peripheral position of folk forms and the pedagogical presence of the dominant mainstream forms of arts and literature. This contest dilutes down to the structuring of Manichean symbolism of the qualitative divide between established and refined artistic forms and undocumented folk forms; one well structured and expressed while the other remains subjugated within deep ravines of narrowly understood and sparsely followed narratives in local dialects. The paper highlights this very division by deconstructing ways in which folk forms get overshadowed by the highly publicised mainstream hegemonic art forms and literary creations, thereby leading to the parochialisation of social issues into the framework of mere mainstream cultural gaze and squinting the very perspective of looking at these issues from the viewpoint of other alternative non-established forms. This inadequacy hence results in the creation of hidden spaces, which present themselves as furtive grounds to be explored by social scientists. My contention is that folklore tends to represent queer forms of expression by their bold descriptions of unconventional issues such as feminine sexuality, else tabooed as deculturalised practices in mainstream cultural forms. Folk narratives tend to be more brazen in articulating the intricate linkages between culture and biology by invalidating the more popular and established notions of feminine sexuality that has been subjugated and victimised by the dominant masculine articulations of sexual practices. In this way, folk forms tend to dislodge the inevitability of culture as an influential force on biological behaviour, as held in mainstream cultural discourses. The paper explores portrayal of feminine sexuality in Rajasthani folk literature and brings to the fore how marginalisation and subalternity fail to restrain the bold feminine expressions of sexual longings.

Keywords: Folklore, Feminine Sexuality, Subalternity, Marginality, Patriarchy

The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Cultural Studies, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp.37-47. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 257.828KB).

Dr. Preeti Sharma

Associate Professor, Department of History and Indian Culture, Faculty of Social Sciences, BanasthaliVidyapith, Tonk, Rajasthan, India

Her area of specialisation is Ancient Indian History, while the areas of her interest include gender studies, more specifically women’s representation in art and literature; feminine sexuality; social history with special bearings on patriarchic formations; folk lore of Rajasthan; multiculturalism, etc. She has published several research papers in reputed journals on related issues and has also successfully carried out a Project on South Indian Rock-Cut Temple Architecture. Dr. Sharma has worked on ‘Interpretations of Mahabalipuram Relief’ as part of her UGC Inter University Centre Research Associateship in Humanities and Social Sciences at the prestigious Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Rashtrapati Nivas, Shimla. She teaches Ancient Indian History, Women in Modern India, Modern World History, Research Methodology, and Historiography at Undergraduate and Postgraduate levels.