Hindu Women and the Power of Ideology

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Why, as Dhruvarajan asks, do most rural Hindu women continue to accept, sometimes even cherish, household arrangements that humiliate, dominate, and depersonalize them? According to Dhruvarajan, the Indian patriarchy successfully socializes millions of females into emulating pativratya--the doctrine of total devotion to one's husband when married and obeisance to male dominance when not married...What distinguishes Dhruvarajan's work from similar studies is her meticulous ethnography of household life as a blueprint for life cycles ruled by traditional sex-role relationships. In her analysis of 46 Kannada-speaking Brahmin and Vokkaliga families of a south Indian village, Dhruvarajan weaves a tight tapestry from colorful undercurrents of everyday rural life evident only to a participant observer. Choice A poignant case study of the way in which ideology, religion, and social structure have converged to subjugate women. The author demonstrates how this blatantly patriarchal society is justified by an ideology, 'Pativratya,' which holds that a woman's spiritual salvation depends upon her total devotion, service, and subordination to her husband. A revealing and fascinating book for feminists, scholars and students of religion and Indian culture. Vanaja Dhruvarajan is Professor of Sociology at the University of Winnipeg, Manitoba, and also teaches Women's Studies. She is particularly familiar with her subject as she was born and raised in India.