Urban Women Rebels: Voices of Dissent in Urdu Popular Fiction(W-92)

Urban Women Rebels: Voices of Dissent in Urdu Popular Fiction(W-92)

Publication details

  • Thursday | 01 Jul, 2004
  • Kiran Nazir Ahmed
  • Working Papers
  • 37
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Kiran Nazir Ahmed 2004 The purpose of my paper is to bring forth and highlight, ‘alternative’ stories, written predominantly by and for women, that are published in Urdu popular digests. This is a particular narrative of dissent which questions socially constituted ideals for women, deals with ‘serious’ issues such as the value of women’s economic empowerment, preference for sons over daughters and child sexual abuse. I do not make the claim that (a) popular digests for women have become progressive and there is a ‘revolution’ of sorts taking place in them. Instead, I assert that (b) all the stories printed in these digests do not propagate socially constituted ideals, ‘voices of dissent’ are also present. Therefore the conception of women’s popular digests in Urdu, as only catering to a demand for easy reading and reinforcing the gender status quo is not true. I have divided this paper into six sections. The first section puts the paper in context by portraying the significance of this topic. The second section illustrates the hierarchical distinction between literature and popular literature. The third section examines the two studies that have been conducted on Urdu popular fiction for women. It concludes that they only portray the majority viewpoints, minority viewpoints are ignored. The fourth section presents a brief historical background of women’s digests. The fifth section discusses the viewpoints of the editors of the two publications selected for this paper. The last section presents extracts from stories, which depict women’s recognition of injustice and a questioning of socially constituted ideals.