The First-Generation Feminists on Sex, Contraception, and Self-building

[This is an excerpt from my article titled ‘The Malayalee sexual revolution: Sex, ‘liberation’ and family planning in Keralam’, Contributions to Indian Sociology 39,3 , 2005.]

….  From the late 19th century, disapproval of artificial contraception was often linked to anxieties in Malayalee society about realising the ideal modern Self against older socio-economic and cultural orders.  In turn, the project of modern Self-building was seen to be dependent on attaining a high degree of self-discipline, expressed, in particular, in sexual self-restraint (Devika 1999). The idea that vigorous sexual desire was pathological, the conviction that sexual self-control was central to Self-building, and the fear that artificial contraception would open up a Pandora’s Box of sexual chaos, were notions that were frequently voiced in the Malayalee public sphere from the 1930s onwards when artificial contraception began to be discussed. Continue reading “The First-Generation Feminists on Sex, Contraception, and Self-building”

Lust for Life: Desire in Lalitambika Antarjanam’s Writings

[This is an excerpt from my essay in Sexualities published by Women Unlimited, New Delhi and edited by Nivedita Menon]

‘Ormayude Appurattu’29 (On the Far Side of Memory) belongs to the above-mentioned group of Antarjanam’s texts that re-visions the Masculine and the Feminine and their commingling. A mere biological event — the union of the sperm and the egg in human procreation — is transformed into nothing less than what appears to be the eternal drama of the union of Feminine and Masculine. The breathless, rapturous narration captures the agony and the ecstasy of the sperm on its journey towards the womb. The sperm, springing to life, moves, propelled by desire-as-trshna. Continue reading “Lust for Life: Desire in Lalitambika Antarjanam’s Writings”