Review of The Other Woman

REVIEW : 23/01/22 THE OTHER WOMAN presented by Monica Das

In order to make the abysmal statistics on the status of women in India widely
known, there could be no better way than through stories, said Monica Das. There is
a pun on the word ‘other’ in the title of Das’s anthology The Other Woman, as man
considers himself complete, and women less than complete, so ‘other’. The
expression had first been used, said Das, by Simone de Beauvoir, French feminist
and author of The Second Sex. Men see themselves as subject and women as
object. Thus, women find themselves in a vulnerable position in patriarchal society.
When girls enter into marriage while still under-age, their vulnerability only increases
severely, she emphasized.

She read out extracts from two stories in her collection: “Chinta” by Mahasweta Devi
and “The Offspring” by Indira Goswami and also recited a poem by Sarojini Naidu.
All of these demonstrated the weakness of the position of a woman in inevitably
patriarchal communities.

A lively discussion followed, that brought out not only women’s obvious vulnerability,
but how women deal with their lot, how they manage to create space for themselves
in order to survive and often subvert the very patriarchal system that puts them there
in the first place. In “The Offspring” Damayanti appears to be the victim but emerges
as the winner. In the almost macabre scene where Pitambar digs up his buried child
(or rather foetus, since it was prematurely aborted) in order to touch, if only once, the
child he had fathered highlights the man’s pathetic need for validating his

The discussion referred to the status of women in different parts of India, the multi-
dimensional layers of women’s problems, women as inadvertent propagators of
patriarchy, how urban women, both poor and wealthy, are better off than their rural
counterparts and finally how both men and women need to work together to create

awareness of this problem. Above all, what is necessary is the sensitization of men.

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