In One Amazing Thing, Divakaruni explores the meanings and implications of womanhood in a society divided by social class, gender, and race. Gender issues, including sexual harassment and socioeconomic limitations, cannot be easily separated from social, economic, political, social, religious, and cultural systems and practices…
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In One Amazing Thing, Divakaruni argues that gender discrimination produces women who are unhappy with themselves and their lives because of the gender norms and expectations that hinder them from developing their abilities and taking risks for their loved ones. Womanhood does not necessarily mean personhood, and without personhood, happiness and self-development are elusive.
Gender discrimination, despite state policies that promote gender sensitivity and equality, manifests through gender norms, including son preference. In “Explaining Son Preference in Rural India: The Independent Role of Structural versus Individual Factors,” Pande and Astone studied the reasons for son preference in rural India. They concentrated on son preference as an effect of interest, and they theorized that a person’s son preference is a product of a complex process that the society, the household, and the individual factors shape. They investigate these factors that affected son preference from the late 1980s and early 1990s. Their sampling included 50,136 ever-married women. Findings showed that social norms, household and individual factors impact the decision to prefer sons over daughters. The same practice is evident in One Amazing Thing. Mohit’s parents do not want him to marry a Chinese woman, whom they think does not deserve to marry an affluent rich Indian man. Their preference for the son superseded their preference for their son’s happiness.
Gender discrimination produces unfair gender norms and expectations that delimit women’s capacity for self-development. Mrs. Pritchett wants to feel loved, but she feels it is too late for she married a self-centered man who is unaware of her needs as a woman. She has not developed her personhood because of her restrictions as a woman. Mangalam experiences sexual harassment, though this gives her power over a life of poverty. Nevertheless, her experience shows that because she is poor and a woman, she cannot attain the kind of life she wants to have. Sexual harassment is common in patriarchal countries (Gupta 95).
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