Of Marginalized Women & Power

Since the time of Aristophanes, women and power have had a conflict of interest seldom portrayed with a semblance of verisimilitude. Despite great legerity of mind, an unparalleled command over self, or phenomenal leadership skills, women have been treated as komoidoumenoi ( Aristophanes’ “Lysistrata”) or simply an object of ridicule ( Aeschylus’s “The Suppliants”). Ironically, these are works that were considered to be most feminist in their respective eras.

bell hooks defines feminism as a conscious effort to end “sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression”. However, she also notes the various barriers, i.e., the presence of inter sectional feminism, that turns even women patriarchal and that race ( In India: Caste) could often be excluded in the search for feminism to define a certain community’s humiliation and oppression.

Even though my knowledge lacks in several facets, I wanted to bring forth a few works by women who have been marginalized throughout History. Whether it is Black women in contemporary culture or Dalit women writing of their woes, their journey to mainstream media has been the most exigent. If we were to believe what Lacan had said about women being the “Other” in a patriarchal language, we should also consider that the language does not do justice to their toils.

Here are some women who have been subjected to unrelenting persecution, but still powered through and unlearned the oppression:

  1. Billie Holiday: Pioneering feminist blues, Holiday is an icon worthy of emulation

2. Shantabai Kamble
{The Kaleidoscopic Story Of My Life (1983): “The labour of the entire family was paid for in the form of Bhakris (pieces of bread), which the
yesker had to go and collect from house to house every evening.”}

Dalit History Month – Remembering Shantabai Krishnaji Kamble | Velivada

3. Nina Simone: If you’ve heard her singing “I’m a Queen”. You will know how a single sentence can become the means to an entire lesson in communication

Nina Simone quote...LOVE her!! | Nina simone quotes, Nina simone, Woman  quotes

4. Gogu Shyamala: The epitome of Dev or Dasi, Gogu Shyamala highlights the exacerbating crises of Dalit women hose tales have been washed away throughout History. For the simple act of speaking up, her mother was beaten, and reprimanded with, “You’ve learnt to talk! What? Have I seen everything? How do I know what you have done?” 

Father May Be an Elephant and Mother Only a Small Basket, But... by Gogu  Shyamala

5. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (We Should All Be Feminists: 2014)

Favorite Quote: “The Problem with Gender is it prescribes what we should be rather than recognizing how we are”


6. Germaine Greer: A radical feminist calling for a revolution that serves (collaterally) as a festival for the oppressed.

Favorite Quote: Every woman knows that, regardless of all her other achievements, she is a failure if she is not beautiful.”

43 Best Germaine Greer... Australian feminist author images | Germaine greer,  Greer, Feminist

7. Savitribai Phule: No list of women in power is complete without her. She is an inspiration eons after her death. Her words ” The Future Belongs to Us” resounds even today

savitribai_phule hashtag on Twitter

66 thoughts on “Of Marginalized Women & Power

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