Which Other? An exploration of the British Asian diaspora through Postcolonial and Feminist discourse.
Maya Gadd BA (Hons) Interaction and Moving Image 2014 Joel Karamath & Mark Ingham London College of Communication University of the Arts London
I aim to explore my British Indian heritage through Postcolonial and Feminist theory, while using case studies taken from the world of film.
I would like to thank Mark Ingham for teaching me that writing is something to enjoy and encouraging me to just get on with it; you have succeeded in my education where all others failed. Joel Karamath, for secretly teaching me in the disguise of a friend for three years. Tobias Revell, who told me to write about whatever I bloody well wanted to, otherwise this dissertation would have been somewhat different.
And of course, my family.
Postcolonialism and Representation
The Cultural Other and Bollywood
The Othered Other and Hollywood
Hybridity and British Asian Film
â€œone is not born, but rather becomes, a women. No biological, psychological, or economic fate determines the figure that the human female represents in society; it is civilisation as a whole that produces this creatureâ€?
Simone de Beauvoir
INTRODUCTION The most frequently asked question that I hear, is 'So, where are you from?', I answer London, and the reply is invariably, 'No, where are you really from?'. My Nana1 came to Britain in 1959, a first generation Indian Immigrant, and settled in Southampton. My mother was born in 1966, a second generation British Asian, growing up in an area of poverty and a well formed Indian community. I am the third generation. My father is white British, and I am mixed race and born British. These nuances of the terms that 3 generations of women in my family describe themselves with are very interesting. On one hand, with each new generation my family are more integrated into British society then the last. But on the other, we still define ourselves in terms of difference. The women in my life have been extremely influential, and I hope to use their lives and experiences throughout my dissertation to help explore some of the key issues around ethnicity and gender.
I am specifically writing about the struggle of the 'other', through the frame of feminism, and South Indian immigration. Using Postcolonialist theory to introduce these social constructs, I would like to delve into the problems that women, and immigrants, specifically South Asian might deal with, and therefore British Indian women. There are cross over prejudices in all 'other's, class, race, gender, sexuality, disability, age. I am mirroring myself within this dissertation, and choosing gender and feminism to focus on, within a dissertation that is perhaps a personal journey to 1 Technically grandmother, but her name to me is Nana, and that is how I will refer to her through this dissertation. 5
better understand myself and the women in my family that have been so instrumental in my life. Throughout this dissertation I will also use films of Bollywood and Hollywood as case studies. To understand the idea of representation and how it can influence the lives of many, specifically South Asian British Women. In this dissertation I would like to explore the problems and conflicts that people who have lived their formative years in one country may face when moving to Britain, looking at the pressures and expectations of Asian female immigrants specifically. I would also like to find out how film, and other media outlets, represent British Asian women and the effect of that representation. Every minority is an 'other', a person or a group of people that are different to one that is understood and already known, and is seen as unknown; and therefore a sub category of the greater power. Women are the 'other' in a patriarchal society. immigrants are the 'other', a smaller, lesser known, and less understood group of people that may want to be part of British culture. But if you are an immigrant and a woman, are you an othered other? To answer these questions I will use certain theorists as my main influence and to help my understanding of key concepts. Edward Said was a hugely influential Postcolonial writer and teacher, he was an American born Palestinian Arab, born in Jerusalem. One of his most influential books was 'Orientalism' in 1978, in which he discussed and defined the idea of what Orientalism means and the influence of political constructs on Postcolonialism academically and the displacement of people in the modern age. I have been heavily influenced by Said throughout this dissertation and have analysed his key theories in the hope of understanding Postcolonialism. Frantz Fanon directly links to Said, and is the next great writer and theorist that I use. He was an Algerian
French philosopher, specifically exploring existentialism and Postcolonial cultural consequences, writing in the late 50's and early 60's. Unlike Said's view that knowledge is power, Fanon argues that knowledge and power go hand in hand. He also fails to mention women, much like Said, in his theory of racism and Postcolonialism. Homi Bhabha is the next philosopher of great influence to my dissertation. He is an important figure in contemporary Postcolonial discourse, writing Location of Culture in the early 90's. One of his main concepts is the idea of 'hybridity' or the 'third space'. He has been described to take up the mantle of Edward Said, explaining that the consequences of colonialism is part of modern multicultural society. Marimba Ani is a leading anthropologist in European culture and its effects on the rest of the world. She wrote Yurugu: An Afrikan-Centered Critique of European Cultural Thought and Behavior, in 1994. Her work links with the Postcolonial theorists with the idea of a white supremacy self image, but perhaps changes route, in that she believes that this ideal self image creates boundaries in modern society. Ani links between the idea of the 'other' while immersing these topics within the problems of gender inequality. The next writer that greatly influenced my chapter on feminism is Betty Friedan. She writes from America in the 50's with her book The Feminine Mystique, this went on to influence the second wave of feminism of that time. Her key concepts are the idea of feeling worthless or subservient as a woman. She also deconstructed Freud's penis envy theory. Last in my list of influences is Laura Mulvey. She also deconstructed Freudian theory, but put it back together with a twist. Analysing film, with a new take on film theory, and establishing a coherent argument for the male gaze from a feminist point of view. All of these writers link in their philosophies of the 'other' and 'feminism', and I have used them to
construct and analyse my train of thought through the 'other' and gender inequality within South Asian British culture, onto the representation within film.
In my first chapter I will explore Postcolonialism, and Imperialism, specifically the history of the British Empire and India. I will also introduce the idea of representation as a method of understanding, and the consequent effects it may have. Secondly, I will try to ascertain what 'otherness' is, by looking into the definition of culture and the feeling of being absent from that culture. I will further explore Bollywood, as a link back to India, and how it affects the diasporic communities. This leads me on to my third chapter, the 'othered other' and feminist theory. I want to cross-refer prejudices from cultural otherness to gender inequality, as this is specifically important to me as a mixed race woman. Within this chapter I will look at the film Vertigo, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, specifically at the representation of women in Hollywood. I will also include a short summary on Laura Mulvey's 'male gaze' theory. Lastly, I will explore hybridity as a concept, and whether I believe the term to be negative or positive. taking the film Anita and Me by Metin Huseyi. The author of the original book is Meera Syal, a second generation British Asian.
POSTCOLONIALISM and REPRESENTATION 'The orient is not only adjacent to Europe; it is also the place of Europe's greatest and richest and oldest colonies, the source of its civilisations and languages, its cultural contestant, and one of its deepest and most recurring images of others' Said (2003) p.1. One of the leading figures in Orientalism, Edward Said, defines the word to mean the West's view of the East; this is just a perception. Said goes on to state: 'Orientalism, despite the plethora of disciplines it fostered, could be seen to be what Michel Foucault calls a discourse: a coherent and strongly bounded area of social knowledge, a system of statements by which the world could be known' (2003, p. 53). From this, Orientalism could be seen as an opinion, completely one sided and manifested into a definition; not actively, but passively. Leading on from this, one of Amina Mama2â€™s key ideas is that the West's subjectivity became a powerful hold over the East, 'by the 1930s, the Imperial powers controlled as much as 80 percent of the world. We should not underestimate the institutional power of the discourse...nor should we underestimate the repressive practices that accompanied this global expansion' (1995, p.39). It could be argued that knowledge is power, but often within colonialism it can create a role of a dictator; with an almost God like power over the subaltern3 people, explained here by two social scientists that wrote Global Sociology, Robin Cohen & Paul Kennedy: 'disadvantaged groups are also exposed to forms of discrimination as 2 Mama is a Nigerian-British writer, her main academic writings focusing on feminism and Postcolonialism. 3 Antonio Gramsci defines the word Subaltern as a social group externalised from the ruling power structure. 9
well as to ideologue, culturally dominant values and learning roles that induce them to accept their proper social place, a process known as socialisation' (2000 p.99). Thus, power creates layers and social structures: the powerful, and the non powerful; this is Orientalism, the control and consequently the ownership of whole countries of people through an idea that the West created. The knowledge that the colonised hold is then classed as redundant, or non-Western, and therefore linguistically and practically overlooked. One of the most important consequences of colonialism is the idea that the subaltern then have of themselves; 'although it is generated within the society and cultures of the Colonisers, it becomes that discourse within which the Colonised may also come to see themselvesâ€? (Said, 2003, p. 63). Within the process of colonialism, the indigenous people are indoctrinated, thus allowing them to believe that they will always be lower than the ideal. In the opinion of many Postcolonial theorists4, this will begin a striving for an ideal that they can never attain. Colonies are run through an external economic and political process, which will always benefit the small elite and never the greater majority. According to Said, this knowledge of the Orient also affected the coloniser, Britain: 'As much as the West itself, the Orient is an idea that has a history and a tradition of thought, imagery, and vocabulary that have given it reality and presence in and for the West. The two geographical entities thus support and to an extent reflect each other' (Said, 2003, p.5). Said suggests here that although the power that Britain had over another country was a manifestation of their own ideals, the idea of an Orient changed the way people in 4 Frantz Fanon, Bhabha and Said. 10
Britain thought about themselves, creating an imperialistic point of view. This point of view altered the way that British people viewed immigrants, their own status in the world, and most importantly, the range of influence that they felt was now their undeniable right: â€˜Western cultural institutions are responsible for the creation of those 'others', the Orientals, whose very difference from the Occident helps establish that binary opposition by which Europe's own identity can be established' (Said, 2003, p.63). An example of an institution that supported the ideas of colonisalism was the media, and the way in which it encouraged many immigrants to the United Kingdom for work. This leads me on to the idea of representation. Representation is the portrayal of ideas, or theories through films, media, art and advertising; everything in our society that is a visualisation. Mick Gidley5 states: â€˜the concept of representation as a number of commentators have shown, is fundamental but also highly complex, especially in its relationship to ideas of realism, the sense that some forms, or individual forms, offer better or, as I often said, closer approximations to reality than othersâ€™(Gidley, 1994, p.1) Representation, by definition, is a construct; and therefore it can be manipulated. For example within film, they are one of the most powerful agents of visual stimulation, creating a world in which the spectator can completely lose themselves within a new reality: 'movies make magic. They change things. They take the real and make it into something else right before our eyes...they give the reimagined, reinvented version of the real. It may look like something familiar, but in actuality it is a different universe 5 Professer of American Literature at the University of Leeds 11
from the world of the real.' (hooks, p.1) If films have this power over us, then they are highly important to the society and culture that we live in; they do not just represent, but re represent. The scale in which these representations influence our society is what makes that manipulation something to fear. Secondly, manipulation implies a motive, which is dangerous to the common people; you could describe it as a form of propaganda: Homi Bhabha6 argues that 'colonial power produces the colonized as a fixed reality which is at once an â€œotherâ€? and yet entirely knowable and visible...it employs a system of representation, a regime of truth, that is structurally similar to realism' (Bhabha, 1995, p.76) If reality is not represented, then the representation of reality must be analysed within a coherent discourse to understand it. The Postcolonialist writer, Franz Fanon7, effectively argues in The Wretched Earth the negative impact of representation: â€˜The native is declared insensible to ethics; he represents not only the absence of values, but also the negation of values. He is.... the enemy of values...the absolute evil. He is the corrosive element, destroying all that comes near him; he is the deforming element, disfiguring all that he has to do with beauty and morality; he is the depository of maleficent powers, the unconscious and irretrievable instrument of blind forces...All values, in fact, are irrevocably poisoned and diseased as soon as they are allowed in contact with the colonised race. The customs of the colonised people, their traditions, their myths- above all, their myths- are the very sign of that poverty of 6 Homi Bhabha is a contemporary Postcolonial writer, specifically defining the concept of hybridity. 7 Frantz Fanon was a French Philosopher specialising in Existentialist and Postcolonial theories. 12
spirit and of their constitutional depravityâ€™. (Ani, 1995, p29) The British have historically bombarded and eradicated the values of many cultures all over the world8 because their cultures were ideologically and fundamentally different and therefore seen as wrong. Specifically in India, the British have been part of their history long before the British Raj9: The English East India Company was created in the 1600's. It imported textiles, spices and other goods from India, and eventually took over the ruling of many Indian states from the Mughals, by intensifying and fortifying the harsh taxation through military force. A misogynistic point of view was obtusely encouraged of the Indian people in this time period. My great grandfather ironically worked for the Raj and subsequently designed and engineered the canal network throughout the region of Maharashtra. This allowed my family to become very wealthy and gave my Nana opportunities that she would not have had otherwise10 Postcolonialism is an academic study of the reactions and therefore the consequences of Colonialism, and consequently the critique and discussion of the affect of colonialism on a nation. By re- accounting for the lost histories of imperialist countries, post- colonialism tries to understand why the 'other' was seen as evil, and actively try to regain cultural identities. The struggle that it took for the Indian people to free themselves of an outside rule has changed the whole structure of India, literally, in the religiously implicit split of India and Pakistan. When the British left India in 1947, religion became a catalyst for violence over the chance of power for the Indian people. In my opinion, even when the British left, their legacy continued to 8 See figure 1, page 48 9 Between 1858 and 1947. 10 See figure 2, page 48 13
impact the lives of those in India; the rule and the culture were intertwined in a way that was not conceivable at the time. Colonialism has a highly complex web of outcomes, and can be underestimated in its psychological and physical subjugation. The enticement of the British media, and the promise of jobs in England encouraged Indian men to leave their responsibilities and their families behind, for a better lifestyle, including my Grandfather. Advertising in India, the relationship from the time of the Raj was positively portrayed to encourage this exodus. My Nana came to join her husband, as an Indian woman, she had to make her marriage work or consequently be rejected from her family and seen in disgrace.
THE CULTURAL OTHER and BOLLYWOOD â€˜Moving silence into speech is for the oppressed, the colonized, the exploited, and those who stand and struggle side by side, a gesture of defiance that heals, that makes new life, and new growth possible. It is in that act of speech, of â€œtalking backâ€? that is no gesture of empty words, that is an oppression of moving from object to subject, that is the liberated voice' (hooks, 1995, p.340) bell hooks11, an internationally renowned Postcolonial feminist, argues that European culture creates the 'other' by defining their own culture as primary, and 'the other' as secondary. Western society implies that European culture is not only different from others, but also better than other cultures, so the 'other' is then defined as separate from a European self-image. There are other factors that can play a huge part in displacement, such as the impact of war. Said states that war is directly produced by human beings, yet destroys human beings all over the world, subsequently tearing apart people from all familiar surroundings, that may nourish them. Said's statement reminds us that the unimaginable fear and pain that this must cause cannot help to transition people smoothly into new worlds of thought and tradition. For example, many Sikh families that came to England in the 60's still hold today some of the brutal memories of the massacre at Amritsar. Consequently, despite their transition into a new country those memories, which cannot be wiped away, remain within that 11 Spells her name without capitals, which is a pseudonym for her birth name, Gloria Jean Watkins. 15
culture, and continues to be handed down into future generations; thus perpetuating the principle of 'other'. Daron Acemoglu & James Robinson12 state that history and culture are separate things, but both influence a society. Some culture is institutionally created, while other aspects are socially created. Historical regimes often subjugate and homogenize a people.
My Nana would make her children dress in English clothes13, eat English food and behave a certain way when out at school, the town or the doctors. Subsequently, the opposite would be expected in Indian situations like the temple, Indian family occasions or gatherings. This identity split created very different roles to which my Mum and her brothers had to conform. The female passivity that was highlighted for my Mum was very important within the Indian social situations, in direct contrast to the 'English' situations. Marimba Ani, an anthropologist specialising in European culture, relates to this idea; 'A negative conception of 'other' is the basis upon which European's build their image of other peoples; i.e., the conceptual construct is provided by the nature of their culture, and Europeans create vivid images with which to fill it.' (Ani, 1995, p.279)
Bhabha argues that culture migrates with the person traveling from one country to another; through this process cultural traits inevitably change in reaction to one another, 'The social articulation of difference, from the minority perspective, is a complex, on going negotiation that seeks to authorize cultural hybridises that emerge in moments of historical transformation' (Bhabha,1994, p.2) Negotiation is a key 12 Why Nations Fail, a book determining how societies have failed throughout history through economics and politics. 13 See reference 3, page 49 16
concept; it is critical when different cultures and traditions come into contact. Unfortunately this can be transformed, depending on power dynamics, to mean that the minority group's traditions get categorised as 'other'. Many Postcolonial thinkers, state that 'otherness' is a catalyst for prejudices against the recognition of difference. A nuance of Indian culture is Bollywood, in which new films travel to immigrant societies within Britain almost instantly. Bollywood films are the ultimate movie going experience in India and are widely known as the most popular choice for entertainment across all social and economical borders. They are also extremely influential and spoken in Hindi, the most universal language within the culture of India. Even when Hindi is not understood the musical dancing scenes are inherent in every Bollywood film, as a way to entertain everyone disregarding the spoken language. I will be looking at Bollywood in more detail to try and understand what kind of representation is happening in Indian culture, to thus better understand why South Asian immigrants may create ideals of a home that they may never see again, and thus influence them trying to fit into a new British culture. Bollywood's effect on the diasporic people of India is undeniable, Anthony Alessadrini explains this further: 'despite the physical distance from South Asia, despite the quite material traces of other countries that mark the diasporic subject, a connection is made to a fixed and frozen version of â€œIndiaâ€? via the imagination. This affective, romantic, metonymic connection becomes a consolation for the real, material separation from the homeland. (Alessadrini, 2001, p.316) The power of the emotional link to a person's home nation is amplified within the 17
connection and projection of oneself onto a film's characters and plot; this extenuates the effect that the Bollywood film has on a person, as they are already emotionally viable in relation to a film audience that live in India. 'India may well have the largest expatriate citizenry by the next decade'. (Pandurang14, 2003, p 88) This statement allows for the idea that if Bollywood film does engulf members of the Indian diaspora, that it will start to affect the original purposes and ideals of the Bollywood film making, defended by Alessandrini: 'members of the diaspora have increasingly formed an important part of the primary target audience for the Indian popular film industry'. (Alessandrini, 2001, p.317) Globalisation is coherent to diasporic identity and is what allows for Hindi speaking, Bollywood films to reach the diasporic nations of a country. In some ways, you could argue, that globalisation is what creates and breaks diaspora. The idea of 'home' within Indian diasporic communities is a powerful link with memories or stories that may not still be relevant. Bollywood films enhance that mystical ideal of what their home is. For second generation British Asians who may not have even visited India, the representation of India in Bollywood films is of paramount importance in their perception of their cultural heritage. Said goes on to argue that culture is made up of the ideas, social structures, fashions, characteristics and customs of a people. It is ever changing and creates a self-image for the people that it feeds with ideas. In my opinion, there are two different types of culture, one that is fixed, immutable and perhaps seen as higher, or more highbrow, for example, classical music or fine art. While the alternative is one that is in a constant state of flux, perpetually changing and morphing with trends and influences from the immediate popular opinion. This is where the influence of immigrants make 14 An essay from South Asian Women in the Diaspora. Edited by Puwar, N. and Raghuram, P. (2003) 18
their mark, and it could be argued that it penetrates the youth of the country first, taking the once prejudiced stereotypes in language, fashion and music as one of their own unique forms of anarchy, but ironically push them into the main stream. For example Bhangra music15, is now a popular genre of music. If a person feels part of a group identity, they often feel safer and happier; Said alludes to this by saying: 'nationalism is an assertion of belonging in a place, a people, a heritage. It affirms the home created by a community of language, culture and customs... and just beyond the frontier between “us” and the “outsiders” is the perilous territory of notbelonging' (Said, 1995, p.359). This reading suggests to me that cultural identity is therefore very important to the human psyche. Without one, a person may feel alienated, unsafe, exposed and alone. Consequently, the minority are labeled an 'other' as they are not part of the majority culture. Fanon goes on to suggest that this serves two purposes, one to maintain the power and unity of the culturally identified by regulating the people that are acceptable, and also to make the 'other' something different and unknown and therefore lesser, again fortifying the strength of the culturally satisfied: 'if culture is the combination of motor and mental behavior patterns arising from the encounter of man with nature and with his fellow man, it can be said that racism is indeed a cultural element, there are thus cultures with racism and cultures without racism' (Fanon, 1986, p.19)
15 Originating in India with poor farmers, celebrating the bringing in of crops, and celebrating new life, whether birth or marriage. 19
Racism is everywhere; the negative reaction to the idea of the cultural other. Fear of change, and difference is something ingrained within human instinct from the beginning: 'it is European culture that cannot allow or coexist with 'difference'. Yet paradoxically thrives on itâ€? (Ani, 1995, p.271). The idea put forth by Ani suggests that European culture has been created, because of the lesser known 'other' culture that it holds power over. From a Postcolonial perspective, change and diversity are a positive influence on human life; Bhabha states in The Location of Culture: 'What is theoretically innovative, and politically crucial, is the need to think beyond narratives of originality and initial subjectivities and to focus on those cultural differences. These 'in between' spaces provide the terrain for elaborating strategies of selfhood â€“ singular or communal- that initiate new signs of identity, and innovative sites of collaboration, and contestation, in the act of defining the idea of society itself.' (Bhabha, 1994, p.1) Bhabhaâ€™s theory suggests that the mix of the unknown with the known and therefore the understanding of that unknown is what can create a better civilisation; by putting together dissimilar points of views, ideas and tolerances we could create a more diverse culture within that amalgamation, this could be seen as a plurality or in between space. Scientifically this is already known, genetically we are stronger from a diverse set of parents than if our parents came from the same gene pool16. Cohen & Kennedy argue that culturally and socially this is a different matter. The cultural acceptance of diversity is wrought with prejudices and anxieties that prevent this 16 Famously, a group of Nordic skiers that have extremely thick blood due to homogenisation, are susceptible to heart problems, but are very good at skiing. 20
logical and neutral scientific perspective, 'the creation of strong social bonds is one of the most powerful of human impulses and, as we have seen, an abiding concern for sociologists.' (Cohen & Kennedy, 2000, p.18) For example, when my mother married outside of her culture and race17, this alienated her from everything that she knew and cherished. She was no longer welcome in the homes of her friends and family, due to the fear of the negative influence that she may have on their children. And more importantly, condoning the choices that she had made by marrying my dad, a white British male. From the start of time, humans have created strong tribes of like-minded or similar looking people to live with, we naturally lean towards the protection and familiar of known and understood. 'Europeans identify with those with whom they share a common self image...these characteristics form a national and cultural ethnicity- a concept that combines the cultural-ideological and physical groupings of people' (Ani, 1995, p.408) It is my interpretation that the definition of racism is not just about colour of skin, but it is broader, it should encompass the creation of an ideal self image within a power construct. The beliefs that exist within that power construct become the roots of racism. Leading on from this, I believe, an offshoot of racism is prejudice. For example, Capitalism is part of our culture as it defines our economic, political and social paths. A free market allows huge companies to control and influence the media that then shapes our culture. Marketing and advertising companies have never had so much power over our cultural norms: 'Itâ€™s the media that perpetuate the stereotypes...Subliminally, sell the dream of looking more like your oppressorsâ€™ (Anna 17 See reference 4, page 49 21
Renee is Still Talking, 2013) What we are sold everyday on TV, the internet, magazines, billboards everywhere, becomes what we want, who we want to be and what we want to achieve. This underdog complex is part of a society founded on profit, which is directly affecting the cultural prejudices that our society has. This ongoing affect of the idea of the 'other' is what can be damaging to our society, Audre Lorde who was a Caribbean-American civil rights writer, states: 'institutionalised rejection of difference is an absolute necessity in a profit economy, which needs outsiders as surplus people. As members of that economy we have all been programmed to respond to the human differences between us with fear and loathing and to handle that difference in one of three ways: ignore it, and if that is not possible, copy it if we think it is dominant, or destroy it if we think it is subordinate.' (1995, p.281) Consequently, I think there are real differences between all people, age, gender, sexuality, race: but it is the act of seeing that difference negatively and acting upon that negativity, with constructs of power, that will keep harming society, with racism, war, prejudices and cruelty that we seem incapable of learning from. If we see people as different and can accept that difference with respect and curiosity, we could become more intelligent individuals through shared experiences. Lorde theorises that it is often the 'other' that then revolts and fights for the right to be viewed equal; 'it is the members of the oppressed, objectified groups who are expected to stretch out and bridge the gap between actualities of our lives and consciousness of our oppressor' (Lorde, 1995, p.281) Therefore the cultural expression of the revolt can be seen in the post- colonial movement of cultural expressions of the 'other', which are always a 22
mass or group of people, not singular or secular. After reading and contemplating on these theories and writers on the topic of the cultural other, I have come to think that if, for instance, there were no borders between countries, than migration, immigration, political refugees, and all of the displaced peoples could find homes from all places; as a race of humans, we could try to learn what it is to be connected through all of our similarities, and not our differences: Simone de Beauvoir18 argues that 'the fact that we are human beings is infinitely more important than all the peculiarities that distinguish human beings from one another' (De Beauvoir, 1993, p.764) An interesting concept within the mass migration of Indian People to Britain, is that since they were once ruled by the British Empire, they do not necessarily believe England to be a foreign place. Growing to be part of that culture through systematized oppression, the Indian immigrants were entirely unprepared for the reception they were to have from the British people, who saw them as entirely alien. The political unrest of Pakistan and India in the 1950's caused many people to seek a new life, as well as the more stable economic and educational benefits of England. There is also the Indian Gujarati people from East Africa who already had a predominately positive standing within their society, who moved to England because of political upheaval and violence. In the majority of these cases, the British passport became a symbol of hope and a priceless commodity to own in a chaotic country. The diaspora becomes a uniting factor within the immigrants trying to make a new 18 Simone de Beauvoir was a highly influential French writer, activist and feminist. She wrote The Second Sex in 1949, a text that went on to theorise and help the feminist movement all over the world. 23
home for themselves. The idealisation of a unified 'home' becomes a memory, and like all memories, can be distorted and changed, without real accuracy.
THE OTHERED OTHER and HOLLYWOOD 'A continual pressure exerts itself upon the psyche of a â€œnon whiteâ€? person living within the ubiquitous confines of the west to remould, refashion, paint, refine herself in conformity with the European aesthetic image on what a human being should be.' (Ani, 1995, p.221)
As Ani states, the cultural identity of the 'other' is dependent on the change of cultural perceptions for acceptance. I will now look to feminism, a revolution that has passed, but still has serious issues that remain. If the cultural other is a minority of class, race and ethnic background, than the 'othered' other is the woman within that minority of class, or race. Edward Said and Frantz Fanon, two of the most important post-colonial writers do not mention women in their work; they generalise whole races of people and talk about the problems they faced through racism, immigration and war but never the struggle of a women in a patriarchal society within that race. ' Perhaps the earliest European definition of self and other was as male and female' (Ani, 1995, p.242) Feminism is historically classed in three waves: first wave feminism began in the 19th and early 20th century, mainly concerning the right to vote within middle or upper class white women, creating the Suffragette movement19. Second wave feminism started in the US in the 1960's with Betty Friedan20 as the main protagonist for the 19 See reference 5, page 50 20 Betty Friedan, famous for The Feminine Mystique, written in 1950's America 25
movement, trying to combat cultural and social sexism. Third wave feminism is seen to have started in the 1990's and focuses of the failure of second wave feminism to incorporate the woman from non middle class white backgrounds. Feminism has always been about fighting gender inequality and prejudices: 'Woman, is the victim of no mysterious fatality; the peculiarities that identify her as specifically a woman get their importance from the significance placed upon them. They can be surmounted, in the future, when they are regarded in new perspectives' (De Beavoir, 1993, p.763) As culture moves forward in modernity, so must the fight to change, adapt and recognise the failures from the past, which is what has caused feminism to been documented through the years in waves. As I have explored in chapter 2, the 'Cultural Other', the understanding of what a woman is, and therefore what characteristics are desirable in that woman, come from the culture that woman lives in; Salih writes in Judith Butler: 'Both Butler and de Beauvoir assert that gender is a process which has neither origin nor end, so that it is something that we 'do' rather than 'are'...if gender is a process or a becoming rather than an ontological state of being that one simply is, then what determines what we become, as well as the way in which we become it? To what extent does one choose one's gender?' (2002, pg.46) Specifically looking at Asian to British migration, the cultural identity that a woman from India holds is completely different from the cultural understanding that this women will then have when moving to a new culture. Women are often given specific
roles and characteristics to perform, and if the location or culture changes, then the role will change too. For example, my Nana had to wear English clothes to work, which was a dress, this showed her legs and therefore incredibly embarrassed her every day. This changing of cultures brings about the question of differing cultural representations in India and Britain. I have already explored the influence of Bollywood on diasporic communities, and now I will do the same for Hollywood. Hollywood films could be seen as the pinnacle of modern entertainment, they are not just part of our culture, but a product of it. Many of the films within this style are household names, along with the director and the actors. If this is the case than the impact of these films on our actions and opinions of everyday people are exponential. I will look to Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo, a Hollywood film made in the late 50's. I am using a Hollywood film to further explore the ways in which film may present stereotypes, specifically women. As South Asian immigrants will mix their culture with Britain, what influences may come from Hollywood film. The female lead, Madeleine, is introduced in the film with a discussion about her as a problem between Scottie and her husband. Tania Modleski states that: 'the film first presents the woman as object in a dialogue between men, creating the triangle on which desire so frequently depends' (Modleski, 2005, p.91) By introducing her through a man's point of view Hitchcock is clearly showing us what little power she has as an actual human being, she is brought into existence by men. Women in film are often portrayed as an object of desire, for men21.. Their appearance is just as important as their acting expertise, argued here by De Beauvoir, 'woman, 21 See reference 6, page 50 27
knows that when she is looked at she is not considered apart from her appearance: she is judged, respected, desired' (1993, p.717) This realisation that women are purely their for a man's satisfaction, or entertainment, is degrading and very often completely one sided. I accept that men are often judged on their appearance, but never solely; their intelligence, courage, loyalty and morals are also judged within representation of gender. It is highlighted within film discourse that women can become a currency, they're appearance becomes their value, and they are turned into trophies, for men. Laura Mulvey22 states: 'In a world ordered by sexual imbalance, pleasure in looking has been split between active/male and passive/female. The determining male gaze projects its fantasy onto the female figure, which is styled accordingly. In their traditional exhibitionist role women are simultaneously looked at and displayed, with their appearance coded for strong visual and erotic impact' (2009, p.19) Films reflect the fantasy of men and therefore the relationship between themselves and women projected onto the characters and plot of the film. This is what creates an imbalance of realistic plots in many films and renders the viewer wanting to be someone that is unrealistic. However, women enjoy watching films just as much as men, which means they must identify with the characters just as much as men. Films entertain, and often create fantasies of worlds in which we do not live, but still link the base nature of characters within what we know of our culture and ourselves. Cohen & Kennedy argue that male and females are given cultural roles that are put 22 Mulvey's most influential texts is Visual Please and Narrative Cinema, written in the 70's. 28
forward by the immediate social surroundings, assuming that a man and a women are inherently different beings. My interpretation of this allows for the idea that if women migrating from India are used to a patriarchal society that continuously subjugates them to a realm lower than a man, they may find it easier to settle into the roles that British conform them too, economically. For example, it is a well known idea that cleaners, carers, and other perhaps socially lower jobs is what is expected from immigrants. Men from India, who may be educated or respected within a specific field, may find it much harder to adapt to a job that is below there idea of themselves. This may disrupt their patriarchal ideology and therefore question their own standing in the world. Subsequently, if gender inequality spans all cultures and societies in one way or another, yet will manifest itself differently in British or Indian cultures as culture is always in a state of change and the representation of women in Bollywood films is very different to the opportunities available to Asian women growing up in Britain. If South Asian women moving to England seek jobs for themselves, entering into Western working environments, how does that affect their lives? Hasmita Ramji23 writes here: 'Young British born Gujarati women in Britain seem to be constructing diasporic identities that simultaneously both assert a sense of belonging to the locality in which they have grown up and yet also proclaim a 'difference' that marks the specificity of the experience of being an 'other'' (2003, pg.237).
23 Hasmita Ramji is Lecturer in Sociology in the Department of Sociology at City University. 29
Children, domesticated life and commitments to their home must play a part in decision making, like all women from all over the world; balancing between work and family is a difficult thing to do. Consequently, a split in identity is something inevitable while trying to hold on to two different cultures within one person. Cohen & Kennedy go on to define this idea as Situational Identity, 'individuals may attach themselves to, or withdraw from, any one identity or category in a more fluid way, depending on the context. this is what is called Situational Identity' (2000, p.110) More problems occur when the ideals of one culture do not match the ideals of the culture being integrated into. For example, my Nana had to work in in a factory, twelve hour shifts at a time.24 She was the main provider for her family, but would come home to care for three children and a husband with the same level of expectation as she would have had in India. All domestic duties had to be carried out by her. She went on to instill in her youngest child, her daughter and my mother, that the highest priority in my mother's education was learning the skills necessary to care for her future husband. This cultural belief, that the males in the family are far too important to care for themselves, was carried with her from her cultural home. Thus, homemaking as an entirely female role was perpetuated into the next generation, one that was British/Asian, and part of my mother's upbringing. Careers for women also bring forward the issue of historically famous men. Within Postcolonialism, for example, men still largely dominate the study of the 'other'. Having a history25 full of powerful, influential thinkers, politicians, scholars does not allow for a positive image for young women to aspire to: 'there are great men, but no great women: there are Grand- mothers instead' (Cixous, 1995, p.347) If women 24 Direct result of Thatcher's equal work reform 25 The word 'history' could be seen as 'male' 'story' 30
continue to take the role of a mother and forgo their career, then girls growing up all over the world will not have female role models to look up to, apart from their own mothers and grandmothers. Therefore, if women do not see that they are capable of more than staying at home, then it is much more unlikely that girls growing up will aspire to that path in their life. For example, WAGS are a western cultural phenomenon that have total disregard for personal success through education or moral life decisions. Success through marriage, by the means of the western media is something unique to women within our society. De Beauvoir implies here, that women may find it harder to have the ambition of a career because of social differences: 'The advantage man enjoys, which makes itself felt from his childhood, is that his vocation as a human being in no way runs counter to his destiny as a male... he is not divided. Whereas, it is required of a woman that in order to realise her femininity she must make herself object and prey, which is to say that she must renounce her claims as sovereign subject.' (1993, p.716) This implies that women must choose, and that choice is not always simple. This is something I touched upon within two cultures being brought together in a person: there can be an identity split. motherhood or career is the same mental split. For women to be truly equal their needs to be a way to enable their biology to mother and their ambitions in a world of a career to be able to be realised at the same time. To bring about change, we must try to identify the problems with the current climate of culture. A strong social structure of support for mothers and their families, including a paternal leave for fathers would be the first step. For instance, if maternity leave was 31
divided by household and not by parent, all carers of that child can legitimately and economically raise the said child between all of them, giving women just as much chance in their ambitions as the man that is the father of their child26 In some ways being a women is different in my generation and culture, as British; we have more opportunities in our lives than ever before, we are nearly being paid the same as men, we are able to travel the world and be independent from men without being seen as barren or strange. Our physical make up sets us apart from men when it is now widely accepted that our intellect and curiosity, our brains, are equal to them. In traditional Indian culture, child raising is the ultimate goal and testament that makes a woman a good human being, expanding their family and caring for something other than themselves. However, there is a sense now that staying at home and raising children is a passive role within British society, a role that doesn't connote power or strength: the women in an economic position to take on the role of caregiver and house keeper have a husband that is able to provide and look after his family financially, and therefore be in the dominating role. Freudian theory on women is controversial and has been refuted through history, but is still important to the way that we culturally view women today. Sigmund Freud27 believed that women were passive, inferior, and the best of them could be shaped and moulded to support their husbandâ€™s dominant intelligence. Theorists and philosophers are culturally imprisoned into their immediate surroundings, and the ignorance of that fact is what turns those theories into inequality and prejudices. Freud's theories that were based within a culture that is extinct, makes his theories also extinct without 26 Sweden shares 480 days between the mother and father., in the UK it is almost half of that but only for Maternity leave, Paternity leave is just 14 days. 27 Sigmund Freud, Austrian born, creator of psychoanalysis. 32
adaption to the current cultural climate. Surely the theory of penis envy is outdated and refuted, Friedan argues that women of today are contextually and institutionally different to women living and, therefore influencing, Freud in the time that he was theorising on women. In my understanding of this idea, his theories were based within his time, within the culture that he lived and worked, for example, the Oedipus complex and Western ideas of science and mind. Laura Mulvey28., a contemporary feminist film critic, has taken the ideas of Freud and reconstructed them into a theory about the 'male gaze' within film. She states that there are two different ways in which we view a film: Firstly, we look upon the film and characters with pleasure: 'Freud associated scopophilia (pleasure in looking) with taking other people as objects, subjecting them to a controlling and curious gaze' (Mulvey, 2009, p.17) this affects women within film: 'traditionally women displayed have functioned on two levels: as erotic objects for the characters within the screen story, and erotic object for the spectator within the auditorium.' (Mulvey, 2009, p.20) Secondly, we are narcissistic within our view of the cinema, our ego and self are recognised within the characters and film: 'the cinema satisfies a primordial wish for pleasurable looking, but it also goes further, developing scopophilia in its narcissistic aspect. The conventions of mainstream film focus attention on the human form.' (Mulvey, 2009, p.17) Hence: 'A male movie star's glamorous characteristics are thus not those of the more erotic object of the gaze, but those of the more perfect, more complete, more powerful ideal ego' (Mulvey, 2009, p.21) 28 Mulvey's most influential texts is Visual Please and Narrative Cinema, written in the 70's. 33
My view on this theory is that if we see ourselves within characters and also enjoy looking at characters then the power that men have over women in film is primarily for the enjoyment of a male audience member and self-deprecating for a women. If men are continuously represented as powerful, intelligent and full of destiny, women should not enjoy the film as much as men, or perhaps we are connecting with a passive woman.
HYBRIDITY and BRITISH ASIAN FILM 'It is a truism that, from the beginning, popular Indian films combined the foreign influences of American and European films with elements derived from Indian folk and classical traditions', (Alessandrini p.319)
I have explored the idea of culture, and how Bollywood influences the Indian diasporic. I have also looked into the idea of the 'othered' other and how Hollywood creates stereotypes of women. Now I will turn my attention to the mix of these two concepts, and the idea of 'hybridity' and a British Asian film. British Asian culture is a big part of Britain today and is what I want to understand specifically. Most migrant families from the 1960's move to Britain have now had children in Britain29, these children are second generation British/Asian, being brought up between two cultures and identities. In this chapter I will explore, cultural and racial hybridity. Some would describe the cultural mixing of Britain and India as a 'hybridity', not intended as a reductionary term, but instead as a positive one. This is not always the case, as many critics have argued the complexities of a cultural mix as destructive for the country and the immigrant. From the 1950's to the 1970's approximately 72,000 migrants came to Britain each year. In this time Britain thrived on the cheap labour from immigrant Indians. The Britain/Asian culture that has arisen is one that has been surrounded with paranoia; 'It was Powell's firm belief that mass migration would lead to segregation and ultimately disastrous racial and religious 29 See reference 7, page 51 35
division. The letters of support he received from many Britons far outnumbered the ones chiding him for the speech' (Economic Times, 2013)30. First I will explore some key issues of inequality within Indian culture that are a part of how Indian culture is thus created, and that then may affect British Asian people. Rape in India is a major problem31. In 2012, the rape and death of a young woman on a bus became a national catalyst for protest, and an international shock. There was something different about this case, the victim was culturally acceptable, and educated. 'She was not in a village, nor was she working in a nightclub. She was thus seen as representative in a way that other victims, rightly or wrongly, had never been. Very soon she had been dubbed “Delhi’s daughter” in the media, and thus neatly slotted into one of the three legitimate categories allowed to women in India: mother, spouse or child' (TheHindu.com, 2013) From this we can gather that the change in attitude towards rape in India was partly because of the attention that this incident received globally32. The shock from the international world could be argued to develop from the preconceptions of India. It is the largest democracy in the world, as a country it has gained huge economic power in emerging markets and future development. Power is something that the world understands. In my interpretation, internationally, the rape crisis in India is shocking, as we do not have the same levels of rape crime. However, the fact that we now see 30 From Enoch Powell's speech 'Rivers of Blood' in 1968. 31 The National Crime Records Bureau estimated 24,206 cases of rape in 2011. 32 The attack and her subsequent death shook the country, shone a global spotlight on India's treatment of women and unleashed seething public anger about sexual violence and harassment of women'. (Australia Network News, 2013) 36
India as a global figure within the world creates a new idea of what that country is. India actually has a very high rate of convictions relatively: 'According to the Guardian, just 7% of reported rapes in the UK resulted in convictions during 2011-12. In Sweden, the conviction rate is as low as 10%. France had a conviction rate of 25% in 2006. Poor India, a developing nation with countless challenges, managed an impressive 24.2% conviction rate in 2012' (Time.com, 2013) Another form of inequality is the caste system, it is made up of five layers, the Untouchables (servants), the Sudra (commoners), the Viasya (Merchants/ Landowners) the Kshatriya (warriors) and the Brahmin (priests): it is a cultural hierarchy that creates social structures around shades of colour, economic status and family breeding. This system is outdated, but is still a relevant part of the culture of India today, less so literally, but more in the opportunities available to different families and generations. Cohen & Kennedy define the caste system: 'Associated principally with Hindu India, a caste system involves an inherited status in which occupations are assigned to one of four theoretically impermeable groups' (Cohen & Kennedy, 2000, p.111). In Britain we do not have a caste system, but it can be easily compared to our class system. It could be argued that lower class families, that have had generations of unemployed and poverty stricken people are part of an equivalent caste system in Britain. People from a lower caste may not be able to afford to move countries, as they would not earn enough to pay for the travel or general expenses of setting up home somewhere else. This implies that many of the mass immigrants from India to 37
England came from a higher caste, and therefore privileged background. To highlight the inequalities of the Caste system, in my own cultural heritage, my Nana brought up in a Kahtri caste was extremely privileged, with chauffeurs and servants; she had never dressed herself before moving to England. She moved to England in the footsteps of her husband, but to secure a visa, her family had to put a year's allowance into a British bank account. My Nana was educated up until the age of 16, something extremely rare for a girl at that time, but it was her caste that allowed her that opportunity. When she arrived in England she could read and write English33, something that was an important advantage in becoming part of British culture. Her caste gave her priceless opportunities that were not there for girls growing up in lower castes. The cultural issues from the home nation of migrants living in Britain affects the people now adapting to a new culture, they come from a place where the accepted standards of behavioral norms are different to the country they choose to reside in. Next, I will try to explore the issues around hybridity or second generation British Asians and look to Anita and Me34, a British Asian film. The film follows a young Indian girl growing up in a mining village in the Midlands, in 1972, and the struggles that she faces trying to fit into the culture that surrounds her. Keeshig- Tobias expands on this: 'Stories, you see are not just entertainment. Stories are power. They reflect the deepest, the most intimate perceptions, relationships and attitudes of a people. Stories 33 Also fleunt in Marati, Hindi, Punjabi, Gujrati, Bengali. 34 Directed by Metin Huseyin in 2002, originally from a book of the same title by Meera Syal. 38
show how a people, a culture, thinks' (1997, p71) From Keeshig- Tobias' statement I feel that the representation of Meena's character, and the feeling that she is not part of British culture, for not looking the same way or eating the same foods, is an important reaction to immigration. Meena also feels alienated from Indian culture, not being able to sing and dance like the twins, and feeling inadequate in the eyes of her family. This is a genuinely difficult process of cultural otherness that immigrant communities are challenged with. She is effectively cultureless, not part of either.
Subsequent generation South Asian British people are a 'hybridity' 35; they are the ones that are born and educated in Britain but come from a heritage entirely different. This difference is an interesting idea, as Bhabha discusses: 'the social articulation of difference, from the minority perspective, is a complex, on going negotiation that seeks to authorize cultural hybridities' (1995, p.2) If culture is ever changing and growing, then the people that are molded between more than one, become a hybridity, which connotes a positive thing. However, Bhabha uses the word minority, and that is forever seen as a negative thing within a society where 'normality' makes us feel loved, and safe. Thus, if there is a normality, then there must be an abnormality. Audre Lorde36 states, 'In a society where good is defined in terms of profit rather than in terms of human need, there must always be a group of people, who through systematized
35 See reference 8, page 51 36 An essay from South Asian Women in the Diaspora. Edited by Puwar, N. and Raghuram, P. (2003) 39
oppression, can be made to feel surplus, to occupy the space of the dehumanized inferior' (1995, p.281) The 'dehumanized inferiour' in this case are the hybridities of cultural difference, and that is something that we have been creating for the whole of our existence as humans, not just in British Asian culture. As my mother was growing up, she was not allowed to go to out of hours school functions, like disco's or school trips, or after school activities. This was because she was a girl, and her family did not deem it acceptable to spend time in those environments. What is interesting about this, is the fact that she was not allowed to tell the teachers, she had to pretend to be busy. Her family did not want her school to know that she was culturally different. The differences for second generation British Asians are often recognised negatively and portrayed as a 'problem' for the people that are between two identities, which is the antithesis of Bhabha's idea of 'hybridity': Ali Nobil Ahmed37 states 'Asian youth were assumed to inhabit the uncomfortable space between the minority culture of their immigrant parents at home, and the British culture of the host nation when they entered public spaces such as school and college' (2008, p.72). By marking out a difference between second generation and first also creates a boundary. These conformative ideas about British Asians create stereotypes and lack a sense of understanding that all difference does not cause trouble. For instance, my mum has had opportunities that would have been unacceptable if she had been born in India. She can appreciate both cultures and take the positive from them. Through her education, she has gone on to pursue her ambitions and succeed in the field of education, culminating in becoming one of 500 of Her Majesty's Inspectors of 37 Assistant Professor at Lahore University of Management Sciences 40
education. She has succeeded in an ambition that was inconceivable to my Nana, when moving to this country. On the other hand, some theorists, such as Bhabha have created a special place for the youth of a plural of cultures. Ahmed writing on Bhabha: 'Indeed he asserts that the third, hybrid space in which migrant culture is produced opens up a means of thinking through which we can transcend the Eurocentric norms of progressive time and space. It provides the basis of a radically new, hybrid ontology - the goal of his project: 'We must not merely change the narratives of our histories, but transform our sense of what it means to live, to be, in other times and different spaces, both human and historical.' (Ahmed, 2008, p.73). This implies that the 'third space' is different and special, which yet again creates a boundary of identity between the hybridised and the unhybridised; the British are less of something than the higher hybrids. It is an interesting flip of the minority over the majority. Nonetheless the idea of a 'third space' enforces identity differences and categories. He goes on to say that: 'Surely it is time to confine the term hybrid, with all its reductive racialised premises, to the dustbin of history, where it belongs. Biological determinism did enough damage in its first lifetime. Let us put an end to its continued espousal before it does any more in its second'. ( Ahmed, 2008, p.84) From this we can gather that the term 'hybridity' has mixed connotations, it firstly creates a subcategory or divide between the hybridised and the none, which is integrally bad. But within the context of the time the phrase first started being used, it
was a powerful way in which to give people an identity that they didn't necessarily have before. It seems that we must define every difference within our society, it is a shame that the crossovers that link all 'others', can not be accepted without a boundary around them, linguistically or physically.
CONCLUSION Throughout this dissertation I have tried to combine three generations, and three different types of problems. The first generation, my Nana, and the idea of the cultural other, and how the South Asian Diaspora may feel, also delving into the influence of Bollywood. Next, is my mother, and gender inequality as a whole, but also specifically affecting South Asian women. Hollywood and the idea of the male gaze is something I try to tie in with these ideas. Lastly, the question of hybridity, and the third generation, which is me. I reference Anita and Me, a British Asian film as a point of example to the representation of growing up between two cultures.
I set out to to use a wide range of sources; writers, philosophers, directors and anthropologists. My key influences and the key issues that I have learned from my sources are first Edward Said, who defined the term Orientalism, and went on to explain that the power of a construct; which in reality is only of any value as long as the dominant community exists or believe in it. However, the impact of this can last for generations. Secondly, Homi Bhabha's idea of hybridity which extends boundaries between cultures by promoting the 'third space'; thus diminishing the principle characteristics of the other. I wonder, at the end of this process, whether a new label can change the fundamental principle of the other. Another influential scholar, is Betty Friedan, she broke through the invisible social barriers for American women, and the expectations of women regardless of education to become housewives. Friedan has certainly made my life goals more ambitious. In contrast Laura Mulvey scientifically
unpicked the workings of the roles within films, and went on to define the male gaze, which supports gender stereotypes.
I have learnt that the prejudices towards women and immigrants are slightly different. They have major similarities in the way that society view them, and constructs of normality that define them, but there is a choice for some women to break out of that. There is no choice, being an immigrant, the social constructs are much stronger and inherent within nationalism.
To make a change within society it is far easier to do so as an individual, as a woman, the revolution of feminism has already been achieved, and we now have a choice. For immigrants that revolution has not taken place. The whole of a host country must change it's views for immigrants to have a chance at equality, or the immigrant must bend to the culture of the new country, they must compromise their otherness to conform, rather than break the mould.
Britain is much better off than many countries that still do not have basic freedom of speech, or democracy, or a safe environment to raise children, but that does not mean we can ignore our cultural norms that will continue to 'other' a group or ethnicity. We live in a secular society that connotes power and money with happiness, there will always be an other in that construct. It has been a hundred years since the beginning of the Suffragette movement, and we have taken huge leaps in equalising opportunities for men and women, but society takes along time to change, and maybe
a hundred years is not enough to really understand that human uniqueness should be celebrated.
Representation of society within film and the media is extremely influential. If film represents culture, and culture creates our ideals, then film must directly represent our ideals, re enhancing them, but also having the power to shape them. It has already been seen that we can try to change the negative stereotypes within film, with examples like the Bechdel Test that openly reveals misogynistic films. I wonder whether it is too much to expect films to be an agent of change within a society that is obsessed with profit margins. I have learnt theories and ideas that I had no idea about before this dissertation, and these theories have helped me to understand the human struggle.
I feel that the 'other' will never go away completely, and will just be manifested onto a different group or people, I feel this is what will be continuously detrimental to the progress of humanity; whether it will be institutions and governments or advertising and marketing trends, we allow prejudices to become a reality, often simply through inaction.
I started off this dissertation with the hope of understanding the women in my life, and consequently myself. I have come to realise that the women in my family hold a determined sense of stubborn independence. My Nana, broke through social and economic barriers and worked in a factory, driving forklift trucks as the only woman. Her co-workers and family were disgusted by her arrogance of doing a man's job.
This job enabled her to feed and cloth her three children. Moving on to the 1980's, my mother chose to marry outside the norms of her culture and forgo the support of all the people she knew, thus creating a family based on her own terms and most important of all equality in her relationship with my dad..
I now need to take the lessons from the women in my life and the theorists of the time in order to have the intelligence and ambition to challenge the boundaries of 'other', and become a female role model of the next generation of females, both within my family and the communities that become a part of my life journey.
My own personal determination in life comes from the women in my family.
Reference 1, page 48. Available from: http://www.passimblog.com/poder-en-el-s-xxio-el-riesgo-de-volver-a-1914 Accessed at 26/01/2014 Reference 2, page 48: Family Archive Reference 3, page 49: Family Archive Reference 4, page 49: Family Archive Reference 5, page 50. Available from: http://www.britainmagazine.com/features/history/remarkable-british-women/ Accessed at 26/01/2014 Reference 6, page 50. Available from: http://www.leninimports.com/hitchcock_vertigo_gallery.html Accessed at 26/01/2014 Reference 7, page 51: Family Archive Reference 8, page 51: Family Archive
Map of The British Empire.
My Nana at the age of 16, living in India
My Nana and mother, 1968 4.
My mum and dad on their wedding day, 1987
Suffragette march in London, 1911
John's first view of Madeleine
My Nana and her son, seeing snow for the first time, 1960
My Nana and I, at an Indian religious ceremony, 1993
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