Harsimran Gill on Tehelka Blog (Feb 19, 2013)
My mother once said to me: “mullu mela selai vizhundhaalum, selai mela mullu vizhundhaalum, kizhiyaradhu selai than“. (Whether a sari falls on a thorn or a thorn falls on a sari, it’s the sari that is torn in the end). I’ve heard several stories that perpetuate this theory too.
In this blog for Tehelka, Harsimran Gill goes through folk tales from across the country to draw this common thread of misogynist tendencies among them.
AK Ramanujan, scholar of Indian literature and an expert in folk tales classified them along certain themes, including male-centric and female-centric stories. The former feature women as props, objects to be acquired, irrelevant to the story, other than as an object of desire; a shrew-like spouse to be tolerated. One of the most common themes in folktales across India is that of a king who comes across a woman, and struck with infatuation, proceeds to carry her off as a bride (often abducting her through deceit). His abducted bride though is almost always certain to fall ‘in love’ with him…
It is the female- centric stories however, that pose a more interesting challenge…They may be helpless victims making the best of their miserable lives to be ultimately saved only by supernatural intervention…The main purpose of the heroine appears to be rescuing men – fathers and husbands who ill-treated them once.