An Alternate Moral Order

  • Usha Menon


This chapter recapitulates some of the data presented in earlier chapters in order to construct a representation of Odia Hindu women that while ethnographically valid diverges quite substantially from other, more commonly available representations of Hindu women. These representations tend to portray Hindu women either as passive victims or as subversive rebels. This chapter suggests that both these representations are perhaps the result of a bias in favor of liberal values such as individual liberty or gender equality, and therefore, not entirely valid—because these Hindu women do not necessarily subscribe to these liberal values. If, however, one were to adopt the moral perspective of the Odia Hindu women who participated in the study, then a very different picture emerges—these women are neither passive victims nor subversive rebels; instead, they are active upholders of a moral order very different from that exemplified by liberalism, a moral order in which self-control, self-discipline, loyalty, patronage, protection, and the ability to defer or even subordinate personal gratification are prized moral goods.


Conjugal Family Senior Woman Passive Victim English Medium Education Hindu Woman 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Balakrishnan, R. (1994). The social context of sex selection and the logic of abortion in India. In G. Sen & R. C. Snow (Eds.), Power and decision: The social role of reproduction. Boston: Harvard Center for Population and Developmental Studies.Google Scholar
  2. Bennett, L. (1983). Dangerous wives and sacred sisters: Social and symbolic roles of high-caste women in Nepal. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Das, V. (1976). Indian women: Work, status and power. In B. R. Nanda (Ed.), Indian women: From purdah to modernity. New Delhi: Vikas Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  4. Derné, S. (1994). Hindu men talk about controlling women: Cultural ideas as a tool of the powerful. Sociological Perspectives, 37(2), 203–227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Dhruvarajan, V. (1988). Hindu women and the power of ideology. Granby: Bergin and Harvey.Google Scholar
  6. Fruzzetti, L. (1982). The gift of a virgin. Rutgers: The State University of New Jersey Press.Google Scholar
  7. Gilligan, C. (1993). In a different voice. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Hauser, B. (2008). How to fast for a good husband? Reflections on ritual imitation and embodiment in Orissa (India). In A. Henn & K.-P. Koepping (Eds.), Rituals in an unstable world (pp. 227–245). Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  9. Hauser, B. (2010). Performative constructions of female identity at a Hindu ritual: Some thoughts on the agentive dimension. In A. Hoffmann & E. Peeren (Eds.), Representation matters: (Re)articulating collective identities in a postcolonial world (pp. 207–221). Amsterdam: Rodopi.Google Scholar
  10. Haynes, D., & Prakash, G. (Eds.). (1991). Contesting power: Resistance and everyday social relations in South Asia. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Hochschild, A. (2003). The commercialization of intimate life: Notes from home and work. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  12. Honig, B. (1999). My culture made me do it. In J. Cohen, M. Howard, & M. C. Nussbaum (Eds.), Is multiculturalism bad for women? (pp. 35–40). Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Hsu, F. L. K. (1971). Hypothesis on kinship and culture. In F. L. K. Hsu (Ed.), Kinship and culture. Chicago: Aldine Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  14. Jacobson, D. (1982). Studying the changing roles of women in rural India. Signs, 8(1), 132–137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Jain, D., & Bannerjee, N. (Eds.). (1985). Tyranny of the household: Investigative essays on women’s work. New Delhi: Shakti Books.Google Scholar
  16. Jeffrey, P. (1998). Agency, activism and agendas. In P. Jeffrey & A. Basu (Eds.), Appropriating gender (pp. 221–243). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  17. Jeffrey, P., & Basu, A. (Eds.). (1998). Appropriating gender. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  18. Jeffrey, P., Jeffrey, R., & Lyons, A. (Eds.). (1988). Labour pains and labour power: Women and childbearing in India. London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  19. Kakar, S. (1978). The inner world: A psycho-analytic study of childhood and society in India. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Kakar, S. (1982). Shamans, mystics and doctors. New York: Knopf.Google Scholar
  21. Kinsley, D. R. (1993). Hinduism, a cultural perspective. Upper Saddle River: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  22. Kishwar, M. (1990, November–December) Why I m not a feminist. Manushi, 61, 5.Google Scholar
  23. Kondos, V. (1989). Subjection and domicile: Some problematic issues relating to high caste Nepalese women. In J. N. Gray & D. J. Mearns (Eds.), Society from the inside out. New Delhi: Sage.Google Scholar
  24. Lamb, S. (1997). The making and unmaking of persons: Notes on aging and gender in north India. Ethos, 25(3), 279–302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lamb, S. (2000). White saris, sweet mangoes. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Liddle, J., & Joshi, R. (1986). Daughters of independence: Gender, caste and class in India. London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  27. Madan, T. N. (1987). Non-renunciation. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Marglin, F. A. (1985a). Wives of the god-king: The rituals of the devadasis of Puri. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Marglin, F. A. (1985b). Female sexuality in the Hindu world. In C. Buchanan & M. Miles (Eds.), Immaculate and powerful: The female in sacred image and social reality (pp. 39–60). Boston: Beacon.Google Scholar
  30. Menon, U., & Shweder, R. A. (1998). The return of the ‘White Man’s Burden’: The encounter between the moral discourse of anthropology and the domestic life of Oriya women. In R. A. Shweder (Ed.), Welcome to midlife! (and other cultural fictions) (pp. 139–188). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  31. Minturn, L. (1993). Sita’s daughters: Coming out of Purdah. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Mohanty, C. T. (1988). Under Western eyes: Feminist scholarship and colonial discourses. Feminist Review, 30, 61–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Narayanan, V. (1998). Women of power in the Hindu tradition. In A. Sharma & K. Young (Eds.), Feminism and world religions (pp. 25–77). Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  34. Okin, S. (1999). Is multiculturalism bad for women? Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Papanek, H., & Minault, G. (Eds.). (1982). Separate worlds: Studies of purdah in South Asia. New Delhi: Chanakya Publications.Google Scholar
  36. Parekh, B. (1999). A varied moral world. In J. Cohen, M. Howard, & M. C. Nussbaum (Eds.), Is multiculturalism bad for women? (pp. 69–75). Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  37. Parish, S. (1994). Moral knowing in a Hindu sacred city: An exploration of mind, emotion, and self. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  38. Raheja, G., & Gold, A. (1994). Listen to the heron’s words. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  39. Rajan, R. S. (1993). Real and imagined women: Gender, culture and postcolonialism. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Reynolds, H. (1980). The auspicious married woman. In S. S. Wadley (Ed.), The powers of Tamil women. Syracuse: Maxwell school of Citizenship and Public Affairs.Google Scholar
  41. Roy, M. (1975). Bengali women. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  42. Sangari, K., & Vaid, S. (Eds.). (1989). Recasting women: Essays in colonial history. New Delhi: Kali for Women.Google Scholar
  43. Sarkar, T., & Butalia, U. (1995). Women and right-wing movements: Indian experiences. London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  44. Scott, J. C. (1985). Weapons of the weak: Everyday forms of resistance. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  45. Sen, N. D. (1999). The wind beneath my wings. Indian Journal of Gender Studies, 6, 221–239.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Seymour, S. (1983). Household structure and status and expressions of affect in India. Ethos, 11(4), 263–277.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Seymour, S. (1999). Women, family and childcare in India. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  48. Sharma, U. (1980). Women, work and property in North-West India. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.Google Scholar
  49. Tokita-Tanabe, Y. (1999). Body, self and agency of women in contemporary Orissa. Unpublished PhD dissertation submitted at the University of Tokyo. Retrieved July 22, 2012, from
  50. Vatuk, S. (1975). The aging woman in India: Self-perceptions and changing roles. In A. de Souza (Ed.), Women in contemporary India and South Asia (pp. 142–163). New Delhi: Manohar Publications.Google Scholar
  51. Vatuk, S. (1987). Power, authority and autonomy across the life course. In P. Hocking (Ed.), Essays in honor of David G. Mandelbaum (pp. 23–44). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  52. Vatuk, S. (1990). “To be a burden on others”: Dependency anxiety among the elderly in India. In O. M. Lynch (Ed.), Divine passions: The social construction of emotion in India (pp. 64–88). Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  53. von Stietencron, H. (1978). The advent of Visnuism in Orissa: An outline of its history according to archaeological and epigraphical sources from the Gupta period up to 1135. A. D. In A. Eschmann, H. Kulke, & G. C. Tripathi (Eds.), Cult of Jagannath and the regional tradition of Orissa (pp. 1–30). New Delhi: Manohar.Google Scholar
  54. Wadley, S. (1980). Hindu women’s family and household rites in north India. In N. A. Falk & R. Gross (Eds.), Unspoken worlds: Women’s religious lives in non-Western cultures (pp. 94–110). New York: Harper and Row.Google Scholar
  55. Wadley, S., & Jacobson, D. (Eds.). (1992). Women in India: Two perspectives. New Delhi: Manohar Publications.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer India 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Usha Menon
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Culture and CommunicationDrexel UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA

Personalised recommendations