Feminism in India: Reflections from the Ground
Surabhika Maheshwari
LIES OUR MOTHERS TOLD US: THE INDIAN WOMAN’S BURDEN by Nilanjana Bhowmick Aleph Book Company, 2023, 243 pp., 699.00
February 2023, volume 47, No 2

The issue of gender in India is a complicated one—a society that is marked by a dividual sense of individuality—the ‘woman’ may find herself diluted in the various roles and versions that threaten to drown her and her voice, and surely even her desire. The struggle for being acceptable, needed, and valued may be so intense that it is seen to be bargained for one’s own sense of self. It is going to be difficult to review a feminist writing without bringing in all the other authors who have so prolifically written on the subject, but I am going to stick to the book at hand. A deep dive into exploring and exposing gender disparities, Lies Our Mothers Told Us: The Indian Woman’s Burden is a lucid presentation of facts capturing obvious and subtle gender-based inequalities, an attack on the society that accepts and perpetuates it, a catharsis of a ‘privileged’ educated woman who struggles to carve an equitable world and a stock check of progress, if any, made in the gender equality department. Bhowmick presents and interprets available data, quotes primary and secondary sources, weaving a compelling case for the reader to sit up and take notice of the ‘lies’ that women are brought up with and the ‘lies’ that get passed off as usual, normal, obvious, ‘lies’ that due to their constant repetition may be mistaken for truth! Situating herself at the core of the inquiry, the author sharply critiques the ‘superwoman’ that is most often celebrated.

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