As we see through this issue of In Plainspeak, stories have in them the power of exposing brutal truths about society and therefore also bring with them the possibility of reform, change, and hope, and when not possible, temporarily escaping into other worlds.
Undoubtedly, LGBTQ+ literature and writing in India has witnessed an ‘explosion’ in the past two decades, and the trends in contemporary publication promise consistent growth in the future too. However, issues of queer representation in existing literature, and especially contemporary literature, need to be continually invested in, for literature is a key marker of society’s outlook on and reception of such sensitive subjects as homosexuality and ‘queer’-ness
Though writing about feminism and being in a position to voice out one’s opinions about the injustices and inequities that continue to exist in society is still relevant, times are also changing as we begin to understand intersectionality as an all-inclusive concept and the positions we speak from.
We need more spaces for marginalized people to express themselves. Although pop culture and mainstream media have yet to feature the diversity and representation we crave, fan fiction can help to fill in those gaps. And that is nothing short of feminist.
Manto’s writings reflected both his own context and more. His stories dealt with eternal issues like love, deceit, pain, friendship and materialism. They also dealt with the specificity of national liberation movements, partition and the class-caste-religion matrix influencing human relationships in the particular context of South Asia.
The Handmaid’s Tale leads one to re-examine these two forms of social hierarchy that women have to navigate: one where they apparently have equal sexual rights as men but have to bear most of the brunt of unwanted pregnancies, reproductive burdens and the like, and the other extreme where their decisions including those about sexual identity and procreation are institutionalised and they are robbed of all agency and autonomy.