Separatist Feminism : A Study of the Female Community in Chitra Divakaruni’s The Mistress of Spices

Aparupa Mookherjee

Abstract


Feminist Separatism is a form of sisterhood that adopts a radical view of the society . Separatist Feminist communities are associations of women who abstain from heterosexual relationships , and are informed by an ideology that  is marked by a complete dismissal of patriarchal structures . Marilyn Frye describes separatist feminism as “separation of various sorts or modes from men and from institutions , relationships ,, roles and activities that are male-defined ,, male dominated , and operating for the benefit of males and the maintenance of male privilege – this separation being initiated or maintained at will , by women” . Literary portrayals of utopian separatism can be found in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Herland  (1915) , Sarah Hall’s Daughters of the North (2007) and Joanna Russ’s The Female Man . Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni , an acclaimed writer of the Indian diaspora in the USA has explored female bonding in its varied forms in her fiction . Her debut novel The Mistress of Spices from 1997 encapsulates the essence of feminist separatism in the portrayal of the all female commune of the spice island .

This paper seeks to examine the nature of bonding that exists among the women  trainees at the spice island . The analysis would incorporate how the female community works as an autonomous unit to invalidate all gender binaries .


Keywords


Feminist Separatism , sisterhood , patriarchal , diaspora , female bonding , gender binaries

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