India’s winter of discontent: Some feminist dilemmas in the wake of a rape (2013) is an article about the news-making Delhi rape case of December 2012. However, this article looks at the feminist response to rape and sexual assault and the dilemmas that it brings. Even though the authors talk about India, these narratives are very similar to the narratives of women of color universally.
One of the major foci of the authors is to examine how the rape victim Jyoti Pandey’s identity shaped her rape into an international focus-grabbing incident. Further, the authors look at various aspects related to the aftermath of this rape namely the unhealthy relationship between feminism and censorship, demands for corporal punishment, the state as actor, narrow definition of rape, reliance on the law, building transnational sovereignty and the polarized images of the victim and the rapist.
The authors discuss and struggle with the dilemmas mentioned above. Jyoti Pandey was a 23-year-old physiotherapy student who belonged to an upper class, upper-caste urban family. This drew the empathies of the people who have political and media voices: the elite. These urban, upper class, upper caste elites could identify with Jyoti and hence her rape caused an outrage led to widespread protests all over India. Outpour of emotions by the elite caused an exceptionalizing effect on the history of rape. She was made out to be the only woman who has gone through a brutal rape while in reality adivasi (tribal) and lower caste women suffer horrifying rapes almost everyday. Their screams were not heard by the urban elite and their stories did not make it to international news. This incident erased the painful history of rape in India and all the work many feminists did in order to keep the women’s movement going and help out these rural women to recover from the tragic incidents. As the rich urban New Delhi dweller marched with their candles to historical monuments, the authors of the article wondered if it takes an upper class woman’s rape to draw the world attention to violence against women. It is easy to make connections with what we read in our class. Women of color are often seen as violable to the dominant group and their rape is often not seen as legitimate since their bodies are considered to be already polluted.
The authors discuss the intersectionality of the rural lower caste women who face moral judgments from the society because of their lower status. The authors give many examples of such incidents in the article. While the authors do not explicitly mention these concepts but women’s oppression and patriarchal domination is the backbone of rape that is being discussed. In the patriarchal society, women are seen as the property of men to defile and to violate. The author writes about the Hindu radical conservative group that wants to control women’s sexuality. The law furthers this concept of control over women’s sexuality by using the virgin/whore dichotomy. In...