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Amanpreet Pall Professor Cacoilo Art & Women History November 27, 2012 Gender Equality for Female

Indian Artists

Womenwho are they? What has been and still is expected of them? They are expected to know how to cook, clean, be an obedient wife and loving mother. Always putting others before themselves and their needs coming last. This gender role stereotype has existed for over 500 years not only in America, but in India as well. America has come a long way for womens rights. The Womens Suffrage movement in the 1920s, them finally obtaining the right to vote, being able to own property even if their husbands died, able to dress the way they want in other words a flapper. Then in the 1960s another movement was sparked. A revolution for women to break away from their roles as housewives, perfect mothers, regain more independence in the workforce after they were allowed to join during World War II, then kicked out once men returned from war. Now, when it comes to art, female artists in America can paint freely. Sure they will be criticized and their work may not even be displayed in museums, but they still have the right to paint whatsoever they desire. Unfortunately that privilege is not evident for female artists in India. Even though today women still have the short end of the stick compared to men, women in America have much more freedom and opportunities than their sisters in India. The purpose of this paper is to raise awareness against sexism in India and how female artists should not have any restrictions to what they can and cannot paint. Culturally, India is still very old fashioned and for a woman to take a stand can not only be dangerous and ruin not only

her honor, but her familys as well. Why should that matter? The answer is not clear other than honor has more power than anything else in this culture; it has been instilled in Indian people, especially women to uphold. Uphold not only their own but their families as well. Indian art created by female artists has always been depicted in a gender constricted viewpoint. The paintings typically show a woman or women in a kitchen, village or sitting in a position of modesty. Basically, these three themes are present everywhere in many paintings by female artists in India. The character(s) are always submissive, never in a stance of power or exuberating strength in any form. It shows a docile creature ready to do anything asked of her. Yes, creature, cows are treated better than women in some places of India. A woman has never been considered of an equal to a man. She is just a child-bearing machine to continue that mans name and patriarch. Unfair, of course it is, and now it is time to break this barrier of sexism and gender inequality. To break free from this barb-wired cage of succumbing to societys expectations, fear of being criticized or shunned from the community, always being treated as second class and no longer being suppressed to the demands and stereotypes of what a woman should be. In this case an Indian woman. A famous female artist said this regarding her unique artwork, since it was not the typical painting created by women described earlier. This figure was of course of the Indian woman who lives close to Earth, takes life as it comes, keeps her concerns and convictions to herself yet survives and the world continues in her continuity-Gogi Saroj Pal. Why should a woman just survive the world, why not change it. A simple painting can cause a media frenzy, a powerful speech can start a movement, yes it is a huge step to go against a norm but if women in America can do it, so can the women in India. Many female artists have been prosecuted, killed, raped and forced to hide away from society due to them not

painting proper paintings. Why can a nude be painted of a woman by a man but not a woman? Here the differences begin. Male Indian artists have much more freedom and opportunities than their female counterparts. They barely, if any, receive criticism for their work and do not have to fear if they will taint their honor. Whereas women have always had to suppress their inner artist to conform to societys demands and knew what was expected of them. Men also do not have to worry about being jailed, being attacked physically and can paint whatever they desire. Even though there have been female presidents in India, women holding other major political and non-political positions, women are still are treated as inferior beings. Even the female politicians act submissive, docile and praise the need to be a mother, wife, homemaker while balancing it out with work. They are doing this, rather than instilling hope, change and equality for women within India. This is a sad sight to see, and heart breaking knowledge to know. Being an Indian woman myself, I am a new hybrid of a generation in America that has to balance the freedom of an American woman and restriction of an Indian woman. Despite the freedom I have in this opportunistic country, my life is still bound to the fundamental and traditional values of the Indian culture. In this paper I have poured my heart out and my views on sexism and gender inequality that not only everyday Indian women face, but Indian female artists. I am thankful for being a woman that has experienced two cultures side-by-side for it has helped shape my ideals and principles more. I have always possessed a passion for this topic in general and have kept bound to silence, but now it is free to countless eyes and hopefully ears. I want people not only to read and see what I have wrote, but hear my exasperation for change and the need for equality for women not only in India but for women around the world.