Questions of Female Gaze: Males Through Eyes of Females in Vijay Tendulkar’s Select Plays
Keywords:Patriarchy, Male Gaze, Masculinity, Femininity, Female Gaze, Anti-male Discourse
Gaze, as defined by Oxford Advance learner’s Dictionary, “is an interested steady look at something or somebody” (642). The privilege of gazing presupposes or attributes some power in the onlookers. So, gaze is an expression of power, a way of looking, a point of view or a medium to establish and extend dominance. In a patriarchal set-up of society, the role of the onlooker is played most of the times by males, and according to Laura Mulvey, women are generally made to appear as the visual sex objects of male desire and pleasure. Here, my question is, do the females dare to return the male gaze in one way or another?
I want to dwell upon the possibility of a reversed or altered picture of male gaze in the context of Tendulkar’s plays. So, let the females be the gazers and males be the gazed in the context of Tendulkar’s selected plays and let me make an attempt to study certain male characters as looked by certain female figures. Champa and Laxmi in Sakharam Binder, Leela Benare and Mrs. Kashikar in Silence! the Court is in Session and Sarita and Kamala in Kamala represent a polarity of ‘female eyes’. Champa, Leela Benare, and Sarita take guts to have a gaze at the body, activity, and position of their chauvinistic male counterparts and often, put a question mark to the so-called vanity of masculinity. But Laxmi, Mrs. Kashikar, and Kamala look at men in the way men want to be looked at with all of his power over them. In view of the above, I shall try to show whether there is a scope for an active female gaze? If yes, to what extent? Do they transgress their traditional roles imposed on them in returning the male gaze and open up a space for anti-male discourse?
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Tendulkar, Vijay. “The Play is the Thing.” Sri Ram Memorial Lecture X. Sri Ram Centre For Performing Arts, 1997.
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