Kindness and care are replaced with power and command. People look for somebody who knowingly or unknowingly takes the reins into his hands. In this scenario Anoma Janadare, the famous actress and a committed feminist launched the English version of her book Punarukthi, a few weeks ago. At this occasion, chaired by the veteran film director Sumithra Peiris, interesting speeches were made by radical film maker Manohan Nanayakkara and feminist teacher Kanzul Sirdous.
Anoma says this book was written to tell her own story; but as I understand it is the story of a female rebel challenging the male chauvinist world and it could take place anywhere in the world. Names and sites could change but the basic human conflicts and contradictions are the same. Hence it is relevant to all. As a male I am also an accused, as the challenge exposed in her book is so general. It covers both the main and the marginal. What a male may consider as marginal and unimportant, in this male-dominated world, is generally removed from the agenda; but it may not be so.
Several male critics have dismissed this book as an assortment of episodes of a private conflict which lacks any political or social substance. However I see the human drama related in this book as an opportunity to discuss the problem of human intimacy which constantly raises complex ethical problems. It is easy, with time and effort, to detach the private details, to clear and separate the essential human problem and discuss it in a universal framework. It is not necessary to let down any side.
Anoma, in a certain sense, is a rebel without a cause. But I believe all rebels are of that kind. Rebel, taken in the most general sense, acts driven by a feeling of injustice.
It is only in the unfolding of the rebellion that one could understand the exact condition that created the sense of injustice. It needs social and philosophical analysis to understand the exact nature of the injustice.
For example consider this particular problem in the socio-political domain. It is easy to claim Wjeweera and Prabhakaran were terrorists and dismiss their roles in the respective rebellions as unimportant and meaningless.
But that does not remove the responsibility to understand the socio-political repression that created these rebels. One may consider this as a harsh and extremist example. No I do not think so; because male chauvinism could be as hard as racism and national oppression.
Capitalism removed ancestral family bondage leaving men and women to decide how to live together. Laws and social security are there, but intimacy is considered to be a private affair. But no amount of laws and social security can remove the biological disparity included in the agreement.
As Evelyn Reed says it was the woman who led the human, to come out of the animal kingdom as an intelligent conscious being. Woman by risking her life for the feeble helpless infant, who needs several years of constant attention, brought social bondages into the process of reproduction.
Woman got her close female relations to help her out, and finally got a man with an intimate love affair, to create a community for the brainy child to grow up. Thus the women created the human society with intimate relationships. Engels was right when he declared that early human societies were managed by women and there mother culture dominated. In such a society woman cannot get isolated and pushed into despair.
Technology and growth of industry displaced the matriarchic societies and we arrived in the modern capitalist world. With modern technology women can come out of all problems of motherhood and be equal to men. Is that correct? I doubt it.
Anoma sets a discussion through her own story. We can make it the beginning of a discourse into the complex problem of men and women coming together to be a special working unit.
In such a discourse individuals are not important. We have to look in to the universal problem presented through her own story as a rebel undefeated.