Book Review by C.S. Vyas What is a Woman? This is Trash. Leave it. by Shweta Mishra ‘shawryaa’.
What is a Woman written by a young woman is a bold book and a strong statement on Indian women. The author Shweta Mishra ‘shawryaa’ has bravely trodden the terrain of how Indian patriarchal society views women from birth to death.
The author’s focus is on the women who have suffered lustful male gaze. Her description of these hopeless women including mainly rape victims, prostitutes and working women is realistic and therefore convincing.
The style of writing is soliloquizing. The author addresses her feminist soliloquies to God who seems to relate the pains of heart through the one way communication.
The Introduction begins with ‘Dear God---You are the one who drinks and drinks venom and yet nothing happens. You take my venom too.’ (13) With this obvious reference to Lord Shiva’s gulping of poison, the author has garnered a lot of venom in the shape of a series of injustice perpetrated by men on women. In fact all 9 chapters begin with an address to God with an undercurrent of the feminine grievance that why he/she allows it.
The author presents to God her analysis of such patriarchal wisdom cum commandments that men will be men. The book highlights the malady that makes gradient sexual morality suffer from a phobia, leading to near silence about issues related to sex. Lack of openness about sex-education and lack of control on male adults by their parents has made society a hell for the girls who have to bear the brunt of incest, molestation and rape.
The book stimulates the thought that more than common lesson on morality or moral science in the school, the society needs different lesson for boys-potential perpetrators of rape) and girls (victims) (20). Cases of rape and molestation are narrated. The book analyzes the meaning of such phrases like ‘men will be men’.
The author seems to have succeeded in her purpose of providing readers a tormenting experience which may jolt them from their slumber and find an authentic space in the society and a role that closes justice to gender - a basic feature of humankind. The book makes no claims about being a systematic study of the problem, enshrining the identification of the problem followed by its solution. On the contrary, it bares various cases of injustices on women that arouse a strong feeling of disgust with the status quo. It is likely to torment the
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mind which may find its solace in inventing a proper understanding on gender equity and honour to practice it in real life.