chapter  3
24 Pages

Multiple patriarchies: Politics, power and masculinity

One aim of the book, as I pointed out earlier, is to capture varied nuances of gender-based oppression during the period of the Naxalbari movement. This being so, it is important to contextualise the blanket term ‘women participants’ within their specific locations. Women’s advantages and constraints in political participation are largely determined by the pressures and pulls of their immediate contexts. Several indicators mark women’s symbolic and corporal existence, which position them at different locations within the spectrum of agency and victimhood. Apart from the regular categories of caste and class that map gender across the social topography there are several other factors involved in deciding the dynamics of gender politics, namely, the rural-urban division, differentiated access to education, the sexual division of labour and cultural representation. In a movement such as Naxalbari, where the gaps between rural and urban, peasantry and intelligentsia, party and people were being consciously negotiated, these categories were in a state of flux. Women’s role and participation in the movement continuously interrogated the accepted moorings of these categories and, at the same time, the patriarchal forces within the movement either resisted or ignored such challenges. The tension remained implicit as the movement did not address the issue of gender unequivocally.