Doing Gender Differently
Nyla Ali Khan
ACCIDENTAL FEMINISM: GENDER PARITY AND SELECTIVE MOBILITY AMONG INDIA’S PROFESSIONAL ELITE by Swethaa S. Ballakrishnen Princeton University Press, 2021, 288 pp., $ 27.95/ £ 22.00
September 2021, volume 45, No 9

In contemporary Indian and Pakistani societies, the question of the role of the woman in the nationalist scenario remains a vexed one. Ann McClintock observes about the role of the woman in the developing world, ‘Excluded from direct action as national citizens, women are subsumed symbolically into the national body politic as its boundary and metaphoric limit.’

Having been raised in India in the 1970s and the 1980s, I was intensely aware of a deeply entrenched gender hierarchy in South Asia. At the time, traditional gender roles were rarely questioned and discriminatory practices in personal and professional realms were legitimized by cultural and religious discourse. I remember being perturbed by regressive cultural practices in my neck of the woods, which did not enjoy religious sanction, but were clothed in sanctimonious platitudes in order to render them invincible.

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