This paper demonstrates how gender abuse is not merely restricted to hierarchical gender oppression but also operates within an intersectional framework where gender is intertwined with hierarchical caste exploitation. While revisiting White bourgeois feminism, bell hooks emphasizes the incorporation of different marginal perspectives to make feminism an all-encompassing radical movement, accessible to everyone. Inspired by the lens that hooks uses to interpret Black feminism and the Indian scholars who approach Dalit feminism from an intersectional standpoint, I analyze Sujatha Gidla’s autobiography Ants among Elephants (2017), a family story of a lower-middle-class rural South Indian Dalit woman. I argue for the need to bring different axes of oppression—such as inter-caste and intra-caste dimensions along with linguistic and regional hierarchies—into conversation with each other. The primary focus of my analysis of the autobiography are three topics—the narrative voice, the author’s personal experience, and the intersectional aspect of domination in Dalit women’s experience as recounted in the text. My paper highlights the literary aspect of the text by tracing Dalit rage in the narratorial voice that undercuts the mostly objective family narrative, following hooks’ reconceptualization of Black rage. Dalit representation is shaped and informed by the psychological consequence of internalized inferiority as a result of looking at themselves and being looked at by others only in terms of absence. Bearing in mind that every strand in the interlocked webs of oppression critically informs the other, ignoring any one strand at the cost of another might render the task of liberation truncated and incomplete. This study, therefore, brings to the fore the need to address interlocking strands of oppression if a struggle for the liberation of any marginalized group can have a real impact on society.
"The Other Dimensions of Dalit Oppression: Tracing Intersectionality through Ants among Elephants,"
Journal of International Women's Studies: Vol. 26:
1, Article 2.
Available at: https://vc.bridgew.edu/jiws/vol26/iss1/2