Women as progenitors of culture: A study of select novels in English and Indian society in general
Dr. Sonika Sethi
From times immemorial, probably from the Paleolithic age to Neolithic age to the establishment of modern civilization, women have been the forbearers of culture. When man was still a hunter or when he learnt the art of growing crops and developed an agrarian society, women due to a number of reasons, stayed behind to look after the household activities and raise children. It was while undertaking domestic responsibilities that women embarked upon the art of storytelling, folk tales, folk songs and folk dances. Culture, until it was represented in the Oral tradition, was more or less a domain of the women. But with the advent of the written form of culture, women took a backseat and the reins passed over to the men who propagated the concept of “writing with the phallus”. Culture like many other fields became the dominance of men and women were relegated in the subordinate position. Men became the torch bearers and pushed women to the backdrop thus negating their role in the culture formation. However, a close look at the oral tradition of culture and the study of folk songs and dances is proof enough to establish that women have been the progenitors of culture. A simple example from our own culture reminds us that women have always been master story-tellers. Whoever heard of “Dada/Nana ki Kahaniyan”. We always say, “Dadi/Nani Maa ki Kahaniyan”. Similarly, “Dadi Ma ke Nuskhe” is a much prevalent term as women have lived in close communion with nature and have known the medicinal value of the common ingredients available in and around the house. Many such examples can be culled out from our very own Indian culture which shall be discussed in detail in the paper that follows.