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No longer good girls: sexual transgressions in Indian women's writings

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Indian women's writing in English has long depicted Indian women as victims of society, whose rights are routinely exploited and whose welfare and happiness are commonly sacrificed for the good of their families and communities. The literature has often depicted the women as complicit, accepting and upholding the definition of a good woman as one who is faithful, virtuous, self-effacing and obedient. This definition is also one the women instil in their daughters, thus reinforcing this code of ethics. This article observes that there is a tide running contrary to this and that there is a new breed of women in twenty-first century Indian literary fiction in English: women who are single and married, working and non-working, middle and upper-middle class and wives and mothers, who are no longer prepared to be ‘good girls’. These women knowingly, thoughtfully and successfully defy societal conventions to have pre and extramarital affairs, divorces and even custody battles for children, without shame, guilt, dire consequences or even societal condemnation. This article argues that these writings represent a quietly radical departure from the conventional depictions of the roles, expectations and morals of middle-class urban twenty-first century Indian women.
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Keywords: Indian women writers; Nuevas Mujeres Indias; autonomía sexual; modernidad; modernity; mujeres escritoras indias; new Indian women; sexual autonomy

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Geography, Geology and the Environment, Keele University, Newcastle-under-Lyme, ST5 5BG, UK

Publication date: March 16, 2014

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