Published: 2015 by Zubaan Publishers
No. of Pages: 162 pages
Genre: Autobiography (with part fiction in the form of an anthology)
Subthemes: Feminism, Gender discrimination, Everyday experiences
Timeline: 21st Century
Illustrated mostly in a comical style, Drawing the Line: Indian Women Fight Back is an autobiographical anthology which combines the experience of women as a “woman” in everyday life. With an exciting introduction of- ‘It’s a wonderful time to be a feminist with greedy eyes’- the book broaches the everyday instances of sexism and ambition attenuation women are often subjected to.
Largely extending the most important debate around this everyday sexism which is always lurking inside everyday incidents, the book works on multiple layers, sometimes with a comical tone, and at other times with a satirical or a philosophical tone. This approach handles the subject more effervescently than a traditional anthology, as the sequence in which stories have been arranged makes them resonate strongly with the reader.
Most importantly, this take is vivacious, cleverly compiled and talks in a language where it doesn’t sensationalize anything, in fact, the stories, as well as the chronology, is self-aware of what it wants to achieve- emphasizing on everyday sexism effectively. Visuals are striking and range from line patterns highly reminiscent of a comic book to that of a graphic novel.
What must not be mistaken here is, the graphic novel does talk about everyday experiences but is not limited to it. In one story titled The Poet, Sharmila, we get to explore the story of Irom Sharmila through the eyes of the author, Ita Mehrotra.
If Harini Kanan’s That’s not Fair tackles the issue of skin tone in a serious manner, Bhavana Singh’s Melanin voices its opinions through satire. A similar range of narrative can be seen in various other themes, Reshu Singh’s The Photo, Soumya Menon’s An Ideal Girl, and Angela Ferraro’s Ladies Please Excuse bring out casually accepted forms of sexism. Soumya’s take, however, is nostalgia-inducing as it does so by parodying the Ideal Boy posters one could easily locate in a stationery shop in the 90’s.
Stories like Diti Mistry’s Mumbai Local, Priyanka Kumar’s Ever After, Neelima P. Aryan’s The Prey, explore another set of everyday experiences. While Deepani Seth’s The Walk, Vidyun Sabhaney’s Broken Lines have strikingly strong philosophical undercurrents and give the reader a larger sense of “space”.
Kaveri Gopal Krishnan’s instructional satire Basic Space feels highly reminiscent of An Ideal Girl and Melanin from the same anthology and makes up for a wonderful read. Hemvathy Guha’s Asha, Now, on the other hand, strikes the reader with its beautiful illustrations and a highly important storyline, which shouldn’t be revealed in the analysis. Ending with Samidha Gunjal’s inspiring take Someday on eve-teasing, the book convincingly delivers on the exciting on the one-line introduction, in the beginning, It’s a wonderful time to be a feminist with greedy eyes!
The stories are largely comical in their style and follow basic comic symbolism according to the issues they represent. Often the subjects are exaggerated in their representation for a satirical dimension the author wants to convey.
Soumya Menon’s An Ideal Girl is a direct parody of the popular Ideal Boy posters which can still be found on in some stationery shops. The symbolism here highly mimics the internet language.
Priyanka Kumar’s Even After uses circular and unending patterns to highlight thought process and the discord in the thought process. A highly imaginative piece, it relies on the exaggerated artwork more than text.
Deepani Seth’s The Walk juxtaposes the central character with extremely large surroundings and streets replete with charcoal-based art to show irrelevance and both coherence in every day lives. Vidyun Sabhaney’s Broken Lines feels highly reminiscent of the charcoal aspect of The Walk.
The art in Hemvathy Guha’s Asha, Now is hauntingly effective with the serious theme, as it uses the symbolism of faceless figures to highlight the issue of incestuous sexual abuse.
An example of exaggeration and use of mythical figures to highlight strength can be seen in Samidha Gunjal’s Someday.