“It’s somewhat depressing to think about it that way,” Mody said. “What I think mitigates against that feeling of depression is that we do also have young people — young women, young men — who have more designated spaces like having a gender-and-women studies program in the university.”
These programs did not exist when Mody was at Smith.
“So the growth of women’s studies, gender-and-women studies and gender-and-sexuality studies in university departments is one measure of the space that has been gained in order to talk about and think about these things,” she said.
During winter break, Mody met with colleagues at the University of Hyderabad. She was in flight to India during the gang rape of the 23-year-old woman, a physiotherapy intern, in New Delhi.
“When you look at the kinds of events that are still happening in society, it reminds you of how far we have to go in terms of actually accomplishing the conditions,” Mody said.
Friedan was on a personal journey, and her book received a lot of critique.
“She was talking to these women of privilege, and she was not looking at the conditions that constructed the privilege,” Mody said.
“So today, we are trying to look at the performance of gender as something that is constructed within that context but that also provides us with a realm in which to act and to become more and more conscious of how we choose to act within that realm,” Mody said.
“But ... not losing touch with all the aspects of that context that ... constrain our possibilities as well as, sometimes, provide them.”
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