Discourse, Power and Symbolic Elites
Critical discourse studies are especially interested in the abuse of power, that is, in the illegal ways discourse is controlled and how the public mind is discursively managed by the symbolic elites. The beliefs, knowledge and attitudes of citizens are controlled against their best interests, and in the best interest of those in power. This does not necessarily involve horrible threats or manipulation. Rather, the most influential forms of discursive mind control are subtle and indirect, and therefore hard to identify, to resist or to criticize. This is why we need sophisticated discourse analysis in order to critically examine these forms of language use and communication.
Power is usually associated with people who control more scarce social, political or economic resources than others. Powerful people have more money and property, are more famous or make more decisions about more people. Especially influential in modern societies is the symbolic power of those who control information, communication and knowledge.
One of these symbolic resources is the access to, and control over public discourses, such as the discourses of politics, the mass media, education, science, literature or the bureaucracy. It is therefore a major task of critical discourse studies to closely examine how the symbolic elites exercise, and sometimes abuse of, their discursive and communicative power.
Fundamental is the role of discourse in the formation and transformation of knowledge, beliefs, emotions, opinions, attitudes and ideologies. In other words, those who control public discourse indirectly control the public mind. It is this triangulation between discourse, cognition and society that is one of the main tasks of critical discourse studies.
The exercise of power in society may be more or less authentic. In critical discourse studies we are especially interested in the abuse of power. In this way, the beliefs, the knowledge and the attitudes of citizens are controlled against their best interests, and in the best interest of those in power. This is why we need sophisticated discourse analysis in order to critically examine these forms of language use and communication.
Control of Context
If the social power of the symbolic elites is defined first of all by their privileged access to public discourse, we first need to examine these forms of access.
The context of discourse is the way the participants define the relevant social dimensions of the communicative situation, such as the setting (time, place), participants (their social identities, roles and relationships), the ongoing social acts accomplished by the discourse, as well as the intentions and the knowledge of the participants. Such contexts influence discourse in such a way that it is appropriate in the communicative situation. For instance, people who write news reports do so as the journalists, in a specific location, at a specific time and before a specific deadline, for a specific public with a specific knowledge, and they do so with the goal to inform the readers about recent events, and from the perspective of a specific professional and social ideology.
The symbolic elites control the context of discourse, and hence indirectly discourse itself, if they decide who may speak or write, as what, to whom, when and where, and with what intentions and goals. It is a professor and not a student who decides about the setting of a class or an exam. It is the judge who decides who may or must take the floor in court, and whether as counsel, defendant or witness. It is the editor who decides who will be interviewed and cited in the press, and these will be mostly the other symbolic elites, that is, mostly white, middle-class white men in superior positions, and not women, elderly people, children, black or indigenous people, working-class people, or immigrants. In sum, who controls the context largely controls the text. Those elites are most powerful who control most contexts of most influential public discourse.
Controlling the text
Topics: The topics of discourse feature the most important information of the text. They are what the text is globally about. Such topics typically are expressed in the headlines and the leads, and are best memorized by the media users. Who controls the topics of public discourse controls what people think about and talk about, often even independently of the experiences on the interests of the citizens, as we now from the prominence in political and media discourse of topics related to Iraq, terrorism or immigration. Thus, there is a correlation between the prominence of topics in the mass media and what citizens in polls tell they are worried about.
Local meanings: Global meanings control local meanings of discourse. So, in a news report on a terrorist attack, we may expect local meanings about armed aggression, bombs, victims, terrorists (typically Arabs or Muslims, because armed aggression of our people are not called terrorism). Besides these topic-controlled local meanings, there are many other aspects of the meaning of sentences that are crucial for our understanding and that may be controlled by the symbolic elites. Among many other aspects of discourse semantics, metaphors are particularly powerful to express and shape the way we think, as is typically the case in the description of the arrival of immigrants in terms of waves, in other words, as menacing large amounts of water in which we may drown.
Syntax: Even the formal structure of sentences may play a role in the way the symbolic elites represent events or actions in public discourse. Thus, we typically may encounter a nominalization such as discrimination without reading who actually does the discriminating. In the same way, a headline with a passive sentence such as Demonstrators killed may not tell us that it was the police who did so, thus playing down the role of ‘our’ police. Again we see that the structure of discourse may emphasize the bad actions of others, and deemphasize the bad actions of our own people.
Global formats: Not only the local forms of syntax, but also the global formats of discourse genres may be relevant in the way meaning or information is conveyed to the citizens. One way is to tell about events, and another way is to argue in favour or against an opinion. Indeed, such arguments may feature fallacies that may manipulate the way citizens make up their mind about a public issue.
Rhetoric: It is typically with these rhetorical means that we may exaggerate or mitigate how we speak about people, as we know from the use of hyperboles and euphemisms. And again, the negative things of ‘Others’ are typically exaggerated by hyperboles, whereas ‘Our’ negative things tend to be formulated as euphemisms.
We see that there are many ways the symbolic elites may shape discourse in a way that reflects their view of public events and their interests. At all levels of public discourse we find more or less subtle ways the ideologies, goals and interests of the elites are implicated according to the general strategy of emphasizing our good things and their bad things, and deemphasizing our bad things and their good things.
Cognition: The control of public discourse by the elites would hardly be a problem if such a discourse wouldn’t have any influence on the citizens. And it is true that people are not automatically and directly influenced by what they read, hear or see in the mass media. They already have their own ideologies, attitudes, and opinions about many public issues, and these will decisively influence the way they read, understand and accept or reject the facts or opinions they are confronted with in public discourse. In other words, the autonomy of more or less independent, well-informed, intelligent citizens is crucial in the critical way they may evaluate and if necessary resist persuasive public discourse.
Context models: Context models play a crucial role in communication. The context models of discourse producers control how discourse is adapted to the communicative situation. The same is true for the context models of the readers or viewers of public discourse. They tend to adapt what they read, understand and memorize on the one hand to what they think are the intentions of the speakers or writers, but on the other hand they adapt what they read and understand to their own current goals are, knowledge, opinion, attitudes, and ideologies of interests. It is also for this reason that discourse does not automatically cause specific interpretations.
In other words, even before starting to read or hear the first words of discourse, recipients already have construed a partial context model that will influence and guide the way they are going to read, listen to, and understand the discourse in which they now participate. During the interpretation of discourse, they will then further elaborate the context model.
Mental models are assumed to be stored in so-called episodic memory, which is the part of long-term memory in which people represent their autobiographical, personal experiences. If we recall something of our past, we search and activate a mental model of our episodic memory. These mental models not only feature what happened or what we did, but also our opinions and emotions about what happened. So, they are not objective representations of what happened but essentially personal and subjective, although they have a social basis because also the interpretation of situations, events or actions is of course related to general knowledge we share with other people of our culture or community.
Context models are not the only models involved in the production and comprehension of discourse. Language users also construe mental models of the situations, events or actions the discourse refers to, what it is about. Indeed, to understand and to interpret a discourse is to construe a mental model of the event situation referred to. Whereas context models may be called pragmatic, events models may be called semantic.
Also event models are subjective, as is any interpretation of discourse. We may read about the economic crisis in the newspaper, and not only interpret what the news report is about, but also may associate these events with our personal opinion or even with an emotion.
One of the major aims of all communication is to make sure that recipients understand what speakers or writers mean. In other words, this involves that they form the mental model the speaker or the writer prefers.
We here are at the heart of what we described as mind control, namely the discursive control of the mental models of the recipients of public discourse. As soon as such discourse is able to manage the mental models of citizens about public events, the symbolic elites have reached one of their main communicative goals.
In order to influence both the context models and the event models of the recipients, the producers of public discourse must make sure to organize their discourse in a way that most likely shapes the mental models of citizens in the way the symbolic elites prefer. As we have seen above, they will typically do so by dealing with the most influential topics, the most persuasive arguments, or the most impressive rhetoric at all levels of discourse.
As such, this is no problem, since we all communicate with the intention that people understand what we say and what we mean. This is also true for public discourse. However, as soon as these mental models reflect the way the symbolic elites want us to interpret what happens in the world, such models may of course be biased. And if they are biased in the interest of the symbolic elites, and against the interests of the citizens, information or persuasion may turn into manipulation. This is typically the case, for instance, in news reports about immigration, in which the arrival of a group of immigrants may be represented as a threat, or in which culturally different behaviour of immigrants is represented as deviant and hence as problematic.
Mental models are subjective representations of unique events. Much communication and discourse, however, is not limited to inform or manipulate the recipients about single events. As is the case in educational discourse, also many other discourses aim to influence our knowledge more generally. This is what we call learning. Reading a newspaper, watching television, or reading a novel also involves learning about the world in general, and not just about single events. It is in this way that discourse is also crucial in the formation of our general knowledge. One of the ways this happens is by the generalization of mental models. By reading or listening to news stories about Iraq, people more generally learn more about war, bombs, terrorism and counterterrorism, about the Middle East, about United States, and so on. And vice versa, we only are able to understand discourse, and hence to construe mental models of events in the world, if we already have vast amounts of knowledge. This also allows discourse to be implicit and incomplete, because language users know that recipients can infer missing information from their world knowledge. Discourses are like icebergs, of which typically only new information tends to be expressed, whereas most presupposed or implied information remains invisible in the text — although it is of course present in the mental model of the text.
Education, information, persuasion and manipulation, among other forms of discursive communication, thus involve the formation and transformation of general, socially shared representations such as knowledge, for instance through the generalization of mental models. Again, this may typically involve the kind of knowledge as preferred by the symbolic elites, and this will generally be knowledge that is not inconsistent with its interests.
Attitudes and Ideologies
Public discourse often is not limited to the communication of preferred knowledge. We not only have knowledge about the world, but crucially also have personal opinions about what happens in the world, as we have seen in the formation of mental models. If these opinions are shared by many people, and if they are about important issues in social life, we speak about attitudes, for instance about abortion, euthanasia, the economic crisis, or immigration, among a host of other attitudes.
If the symbolic elites are able to form the attitudes of the citizens about crucial social issues, they do not need to influence each and every mental model about each event, because the citizens will form each new mental model about an issue according to their more general, and more fundamental, attitudes.
Finally, even these attitudes are not the ultimate and basic goals of discourse and communication. It would be even more efficient if we not only influence the attitudes of people, but rather their more general ideologies. So, if we are able to gradually influence citizens to construe, for instance, a neo-liberal ideology, which in turn organizes many attitudes about the market, jobs, the relations between the state and business enterprises, we efficiently control a vast amount of mental models about specific events in society.
In other words, ideological control is the essential goal of many forms of public discourse. Once we are able to form and confirm the ideologies of people, we indirectly control the formation of new attitudes, and these attitudes will in turn influence the formation of mental models. These mental models are crucial in the production and understanding of discourse, and more in general for the management of every day interaction.
We now have come full circle of the process of discursive power, beginning with the power of the symbolic elites to control the context of discourse production, which controls the forms and content of discourse, which controls the mental models of interpretation, which finally control and are controlled by underlying, socially shared knowledge, attitudes, and ideologies, which again influence people’s conduct and hence their discourse.
Discourse, power and legitimacy
It must be repeated that ideological control is not necessarily bad. Most of us educate our children in such a way that they have democratic ideologies. We have all been influenced by many messages that have re-educated us to become ecologically more conscious citizens. We may want to contribute to the formation of a feminist view of gender relationships, or maybe of a more socially conscious ideology about class. We educate our students with our ideological views about scientific research. And so on.
For the same reasons, not all actions, discourse and ideological control of the symbolic elites should be seen as essentially negative. The problem, rather, is when the discursive power of the symbolic elites is abused of against the best interests of the citizens, and in the best interests of the elites themselves. We here touch upon the fundamental question of legitimacy and enter into the area specifically studied by critical discourse analysts.
It is not easy to distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate uses of discursive power. When exactly is the influence of a professor on her students beneficial to the students and when does manipulation start? The same can be asked about politicians holding speeches in Parliament, journalists informing the public, or business companies advertising their services or other products. It is probably not too cynical to assume that most discourse and communication is primarily self-serving. Most of us, in most situations, will try to persuade others to think and do as we like. The same is obviously true for the symbolic elites, and hence the difference between legitimate and illegitimate control of context, text and mind is probably quite fuzzy.
Let me give a concrete example from my own research on racism and discourse. Newspapers daily inform about the arrival of new immigrants. We know that these news reports have quite generally led to negative attitudes about immigrants and immigration, and even to more fundamental racist ideologies among many white Europeans. Journalists most likely will deny that their coverage is to blame for this development. They will claim that they only report the facts, or they blame politicians who take advantage of immigration to propagate racist attitudes. So, when is reporting about new immigrants a legitimate form of information, and when is it an illegitimate, even racist practice of manipulating the attitudes of the citizens?
A critical discourse analysis of such media coverage will point out that such news reports are seldom neutral, let alone objective, descriptions of the facts. Headlines, metaphors, adjectives and many other ways in which immigrants or their arrival are described express and convey, sometimes quite subtly, negative opinions and attitudes about the Others. Immigration typically is represented as a problem (that is, a problem for Us and not primarily for Them), metaphorically couched in terms such as waves and avalanches, and rhetorically emphasized by a daily number game of specifying how many new people have arrived. For comparison, think of the way the arrival of tourists is usually covered, namely rather as an economic boon for the country. Although most economic analyses of immigration has shown that the contributions of immigrants to our economy are fundamental, it is striking that as soon as poor immigrants especially from non-European countries arrive, they tend to be represented in negative terms.
And once immigrants are ‘here,’ negative coverage doesn’t stop. Because then we read news reports and opinion articles about problems of integration, differences of language or religion, different cultural habits, and other aspects that somehow seem to bother us. A crucial example is the media treatment of the use of the hijab (head scarf) by some Muslim women. Suddenly many of our symbolic elites, also and even on the left, are suddenly seriously worried about this major threat to our culture or about the male domination of women, sometimes even without realizing the continued domination of women in our own societies.
On the other hand, the real problems of immigrants themselves are hardly dealt with in the press, such as the many forms of every day prejudice, discrimination and racism, the endless harassment by the police and bureaucrats, the red tape of many papers that have to be shown, the serious problems of learning another language, trying to find a decent job, having to accept a lower wage than autochthonous workers, being treated with suspicion in shops, having to raise children in such an unwelcome environment, and so on, and so on. This daily life of immigrants and minorities is not what we daily read about. These are facts. And these facts we do not read about. So, the least we can say is that the coverage is biased, self-centred, incomplete and often negative. If the same is true in much political discourse about immigration, and if such political discourse reaches the citizens, often again through mass media that are not very critical of such political discourse, we are entitled to conclude that this dominant discourse conditions the formation of ethnic prejudices and racist ideologies among the population at large. And since such attitudes and ideologies demonstrably are in our best interests, namely to maintain white European control over our societies, and against the best interests of the newcomers, we must conclude that such discourse is illegitimate.
Many other examples of illegitimate discursive domination may be given, for example in the way textbooks express and communicate dominant ideologies, how poor people in the world are ignored in virtually all dominant discourse, how women continue to be stereotyped in many forms of text and image, and how the mass media give preferential access to the symbolic elites are not to many others.
Critical discourse studies aim to examine these illegitimate discursive practices as forms of social and political domination. It is our goal to provide more insight into the subtle ways power may be discursively reproduced in society, with the hope that such critical analyses will contribute to the resistance against such forms of discursive domination.
The main tenets of CDA
1. CDA addresses social problems
2. Power relations are discursive
3. Discourse constitutes society and culture
4. Discourse does ideological work
5. Discourse is historical
6. The link between text and society is mediated
7. Discourse analysis is interpretative and explanatory
8. Discourse is a form of social action.
“Why Feminism is not widely accepted in Bangladesh”
Feminism is a movement that demands the right of women to have political, social, and economic equality with men. It is a discourse that involves various movements, theories, and philosophies which are concerned with the issue of gender difference, advocate equality for women, and campaign for women’s rights and interests. According to Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan, the history of feminism can be divided into three waves. The first wave was in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the second was in the 1960s and 1970s and the third extends from the 1990s to the present. Feminist theory emerged from these feminist movements. It is manifest in a variety of disciplines such as feminist geography, feminist history and feminist literary criticism.
Bangladesh is a small country with a large population. Approximately 93 percent people are religious including 80 percent Muslims. The term feminism appears to mass people in a misconception. Instead of social workers, feminist are commonly known as atheist, anti-religious, anti-social customs and an agendum to break family system. In this paper I will try to find out the reasons of this misunderstanding.
Feminism is a very common theme in Bengali literature. Many literary works created that have the feminist subject matter like the rule of patriarchal society, oppression on female, rape, child marriage, dowry, double standard for female etc. Rabindranath Tagore, Sharath chandra Chattopadhyay, Kazi Nazrul Islam, Begum Rokeya, Ashapurna Debi, Tarashankar Bandopadhyay, Manik bandopadhyay, SomoreshMajumder, Sunil Gangopadhyay, Humayun Ahmed, Imdadul Haque Milon and many more male and female writers have writen many literary works where they show social, political, economic, religious oppression against women. The writings of these writers worked for female rights. Some writings worked as revolution. Like Begum Rokeya;s Sultana;s Dream, Imdadul Haque milon;s Nurjahan, Bankim Chandra’s Kapalkundala, Rabindranath Tagore’s Cintrongoda, most of the novels of Sharath chandra Chattopadhyay, Ashapurna Devi’s famous trilogy Prothom Protishruti(1965), Subornolota(1967), and Bokul Kotha(1974), Anjon Dutto’s Nilonjona and many more literary works have talked about female rights and raised voices against oppression against women. There are many popular feminists characters like Dipaboli, Madhobilota, Sultana, Rajlakshmi that embody real female characters in Bengali literature. Many women accept these characters as their idols and want to be like them. Although the application of feminism is accepted by all class and religious people but they don’t think that feminists workers activities are these sorts of works. Unfortunately the general people think Toslima Nasrin is the icon of feminism. Toslima Nasrin is also feminist but not only feminist writer. Some of her writing may support the third wave of feminism that demands the right of lesbianism, bisexuality, and much more freedom of female. This is supported by Toslima Nasrin’s writing in some context. Making it as a big issue, the people who are anti-feminist or extreme religious try to make feminists as supporters of Toslima Nasrin. Some of her (Toslima Nasrin) writings criticize existing religious and social customs of Bangladesh. Though those criticisms are not related to feminism but some wicked people mixed up those with feminism. These sorts of discussions take a large place in print and electronic media, social networks as well. As a result mass people have a negative concept about feminism. Some celebrities, writers who seem to be feminists skip to introduce themselves as feminists. It may be from the fear of losing popularity.
The second wave of feminism is the most popular feminist movement than rest of two. This movement wants female social, economic rights and raised strong voice against any sort of oppression on women (Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan). Most of the feminists supports and works for this movement. This movement carries the real meaning of feminism. The third wave of feminism deals with lesbianism and homosexuality. Lesbianism is forbidden in Islam and other religion as well. In Bangladesh most of the Muslims are concerned of this law of Islam. For this reason when they find someone who seeks the right of Lesbians or homosexuals they think the person as an anti-Islamic.
In Bangladesh the feminist’s movement most commonly is criticized because of some writers who represent their identity as atheists or secularists or agonist more than as feminists. Their writing starts with the oppression on women then it turns into the criticism of religion. Some people use their feminists’ works to get political benefits. The opposite people who hold the opposite political view mix up their political anger with the feminism.
Some people, who think themselves feminists but not know the main aim of feminism bring some problems for the feminism. They often try to establish that some customs and culture that are well established in society are burdens for women. For example; Hijab is popular in Islamic custom. Banning Hijab cannot bring any welfare for women. In some case Hijab can increase women’s repetition. Saying against Hijab is not feminism. But it is a general idea that feminism is against Hijab. This idea also decreases the fame of feminism.
In Bangladesh, Women & Children Repression Prevention Act 2000 considered as one the most effective law addressing violence against women. This Act contains severe provisions for prevention of offences related to oppression on women and children trafficking and kidnapping of children and woman, rape, death resulting from rape and dower, sexual harassment etc. However, Women & Children Repression Prevention Act 2000 is seriously been misused from the time of its enactment. This law is been used as an instrument of humiliation, extortion and harassment. Not only the rate of conviction in the cases regarding violence against women and children is very low, it has also failed to usher in the expected results in punishing actual criminals for committing violence against women.
The abuse of this law has a very adverse impact on our legal system. Many innocent people are suffering for this law. At the same time, it is facilitating further malpractices in the legal system. It has caused loss of substantial resources of the state and society as good amounts of working hours are spent by the complaints or informants, police, jail personnel, judges and the support personnel and staff of the courts, lawyers. Friends and relatives of the accused, victims and witnesses and their associated costs and expenditures are also a factor to consider regarding misuse of resources. Thousands of innocent persons have been into the jailed for many months, including scores of older men, women and children. Even organizations working for women’s rights acknowledge that, plaintiffs who are aggrieved with minor conjugal issues misusing this law. Ultimately, this situation deprives everyone from the possibilities of remedies. Women often file false graver allegations against their husbands or convinced by their lawyers to do so although the conjugal issues may not be that much serious. If proved guilty, that innocent husband receives conviction; but if proved innocent, the aggrieved women lose the chances of reconciliation.
Recently Haji Selim, one of the renowened Parlament members, spoke againt women and child right law. Accoding to Haji Selim “Many men suffer from harassment, intimidation, blackmail and much else. So there should be a law to protect them,” Selim told it in the Parliament. Bangladesh’s Prevention of Women and Children Repression Act 2000 provides for punishment for making false allegations under Section 17 of the law.
The misuse of ‘Women & Children Repression Prevention Act 2000’ makes feminists works a little bit hard. This law was established because of feminists’ demand. The law has active role to decrease oppression on women, acid throwing, dowry, rape, child marriage and other mental and physical torture on female. But some bad people use this law to attack their opposition. The misuse of this law happens for the fault of law enforces organizations and mal politics but feminism has to carry the disputation of this misuse. General people think this law is responsible for breaking the family system of Bangladesh. As this law is the result of feminist movement. So culprit is the feminist movement.
There are many feminist activities that are known as social welfare activities. Movement against Dowry, acid throwing, child abuse, rape, mental and physical torture on women, eve teasing these all are feminist activities. Feminism demands female rights. These activities also demand females’ rights. These activities are very popular in Bangladesh. Because of these activities the women of Bangladesh are enjoying their lives as male does. Now a day’s girls are going to school, college and universities as boys go. This scenery was not seen twenty or thirty years ago. Acid throwing is almost abolished from Bangladesh. But it was a big problem in Bangladesh before five to ten years back. Child marriage, family torture, and eve teasing are also decreasing. This situation has not come in a day. Many feminists have worked for bringing this situation. The problem is that the workers are not working this by the name of ‘feminism’ banner. For this the works and activists are popular but the word ‘Feminism’ has not got that much recognition.
There is an ideological conflict among feminists in Bangladesh. The people who work for feminism are divided into many political or ideological groups although their activities are the same to establish women rights in the society. Some of them think that Islam has all sorts of rights for women. Islam itself is a feminist religion. Islamic feminism is concerned with the role of women in Islam and aims for the full equality of all Muslims, regardless of gender, in public and private life. Islamic feminists advocate women’s rights, gender equality, and social justice grounded in an Islamic framework. Although rooted in Islam, the movement’s pioneers have also utilized secular and Western feminist discourses and recognize the role of Islamic feminism as part of an integrated global feminist movement. Advocates of the movement seek to highlight the deeply rooted teachings of equality in the Quran and encourage a questioning of the patriarchal interpretation of Islamic teaching through the Quran, hadith (sayings of Muhammad), and sharia (law) towards the creation of a more equal and just society. Establishing Islam in country will ensure female rights. Secularist feminist activists think total opposite of this. They try to establish that religious society is a burden for women’s rights. Like this Marxist, Atheist, Nationalist and other ideological people try to establish feminism from their own ideology. Different wicked political or religious groups take this advantage. They try to spread propaganda to gain their own benefits. Finally the mass people get the message that feminism is bad.
Barbara Smith, a renowned black feminist, calls for a redefinition of the goals of the women’s movement and for an autonomous black feminist movement. The western women movement’s aim and demands are formed according to their women’s needs. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, an Indian feminist, also claims that the feminism that is formed for the need of western females is not able to realize Indian women’s reality. Bangladeshi women are also different from other country. The atmospheres, the culture, the land where they live in are definitely different from western countries. Having different environment, culture, religion the mental and physical tortures that our females face are also different. Because of these differences our feminists have to come in a same platform. Some of Islamic feminists think Islamic feminism can solve all the problem of female. Some feminists think Marxist feminism is important for Bangladesh. Other think only western feminism is essential in Bangladesh. Leaving these ideas if our feminists can establish a new Bangladeshi feminism that only thinks and forms to ensure our women’s rights will be perfect for Bangladesh.
The women should write about themselves. According to Helene Cixous, women are afraid to write in a world that is controlled by patriarchy. Language plays an active role in creating ‘reality’. Using language differently can produce different ‘realities’. She realizes the language of literature that has formed by men is an active creator of women’s oppression. She invites women to write in their own form. The male writers can never write about female perfectly. In Bangladesh female writers are very few. Most of them are not thinking from their female point of view. They have not yet established a writing era for their own. They may follow other male writers. There are many actresses in Bangla media but only one or two female director can be found. A film director or producers has the power of crating formation or ideology of a film. For these reasons feminism is not running according to females’ way.
It is clear from Feminist Laura Mulvey’s article “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema (1975)” that feminism is against showing female body in films and media. Female should not be used for the satisfaction of male gaze. In Bangladesh, the popular print and electronic Medias, which are supposed to be the representative of feminism, have failed to spread this idea. Instead of standing against male gaze it is claimed that the popular Medias are trying to show female body in their media for a commercial purpose. Now-a-days media is a means of huge business. They deal with many people to increase their TRP. In the occasions that are related to feminism like Women’s day, Mother’s day etc. the medias print and telecast some famous feminist like Sultana Kamal, Selima Rahman, Begum Rokeya and many more writers’ interview, article, poem, story etc. This does not mean that the owners of the Medias are feminists. But the anti-feminist people spared the idea that the media owners are feminists. They are engaging to bring our women from the house to the light of mass medias to show their (our women) bodies. This sex appealing activities always go against feminism in Bangladesh although it is an anti-feminist activity.
Feminist activities are popular but not the word feminism as much. It happens because of misunderstanding. The mass people even some educated people don’t know the real meaning of feminism. The word ‘feminism’ does not get much media coverage. Moreover many feminist activities are not recognized as feminist activities rather social activities. This concept will be clear to the mass people very soon with the increasing of educated people and positive practices of feminism.
Rivkin , Julie and Ryan, Michael; Introduction: “Feminist Paradigms”
Mulvey, Laura. “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema, 1975.”
Spivak, Chakravorty, Gayatri. A critique of postcolonial reason, Chapter 3, “Can the Subaltern Speak? ” 1999.
Cixous, Hélène. The Laugh of the Medusa, 1975.
Smith, Barbara “Toward a Black Feminist Criticism”, 1982.
Dashgupto, Shomita(2008). Feminism in Bangla literature (Bangla Sahitte Naribadi Vabona)
http://archive.thedailystar.net/ Saturday, March 23, 2013
The Life of a Garment Worker
A garment worker passes a very busy day. She has no time to stand and stare. The amount of money she earns a day enables her only to keep her body and soul together. A garment worker has to get up early in the morning because she must arrive at the factory in time. After having her breakfast she sets out for her factory where she works. Often she goes to the factory on foot. Before 8 am she has to enter her
workplace. She takes her lunch in the factory. The factory authority does not provide lunch to the garment workers. So she has to bring her lunch with her form outside or the house she lives in. It is very unfair that a garment worker has often no fixed hours of working. She has to work from 8 to 12 hours during her working day. It is a matter of regret that a garment worker does not get due salary. Her monthly income is 800-1200 taka. It is very low to lead her life. But she contributes much to our economy. The garment sector earns a lot of foreign currency. Her working place is unhealthy. In most garment factories, the working conditions, safely standards and general treatment of workers are quite dissatisfactory. She face physical and mental abuses at her workplace and everywhere. She is a centre of vulgar joke and slang on the streets. Her workmates are equally abusive and never produce a good word for her. A garment worker does not have unlimited exception. She wants to maintain herself and her family, bring up her children and give some education to the. Finally we cannot but respect a garment worker who serves her country with low salary. Her living standard should be improved and this can be done easily with bit sympathy of the authority.
In the first stanza the speaker describes a time when he meandered over the valleys and hills, “lonely as a cloud.” Finally, he came across a crowd of daffodils stretching out over almost everything he could see, “fluttering and dancing in the breeze”:
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
In the second stanza the speaker goes into more detail about the daffodils. They reminded him of the Milky Way, because there were so many flowers packed together that they seemed to be never-ending. The speaker guesses that there were ten thousand daffodils, which were “Tossing their heads in sprightly dance”:
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
In the third stanza the speaker compares the waves of the lake to the waves of daffodils and decides that even though the lake is “sparkling,” the daffodils win because they have more “glee.” He then comments that he, like any other poet, could not help but be happy “in such a jocund company.” He looked at the scene for a long time, but while he was there he was unable to understand what he had gained from the experience:
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed–and gazed–but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
In the fourth and final stanza the poet describes what he gained from the experience. Afterwards, when he was lonely or feeling “pensive,” he could remember the daffodils, seeing them with his “inward eye,” and be content:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
“I wandered lonely as a cloud” takes place in the Lake District of Northern England. The area is famous for its hundreds of lakes, gorgeous expanses of springtime daffodils, and for being home to the “Lakeland Poets”: William Wordsworth, Samuel Coleridge, and Robert Southey.
This poem, obviously inspired by Wordsworth’s stomping grounds, is well-loved because of its simple yet beautiful rhythms and rhymes, and its rather sentimental topic. The poem consists of four six-line stanzas, each of which follow an ababcc rhyme scheme and are written in iambic tetrameter, giving the poem a subtle back-and-forth motion that recalls swaying daffodils.
By comparing himself to a cloud in the first line of the poem, the speaker signifies his close identification with the nature that surrounds him. He also demonstrates this connection by personifying the daffodils several times, even calling them a “crowd” as if they are a group of people.
The idea of remembering the beauty of nature even when not in its presence appears in several of Wordsworth’s later poems, including “Tintern Abbey,” “Ode; Intimations of Immortality,” and “The Solitary Reaper.” Even though the speaker is unable to appreciate the memory he is creating as he stands in the field, he later realizes the worth that it takes on in sad and lonely moments.
The Value of Time
Time is the most valuable thing in our life. Our life is the sum total of hours, days, months and years. Our life is short but art is long. So, to kill time is to shorten life.
Time flies very fast none can stop it. It is the most precious thing on earth. If we lose wealth or health, we can get if back but lost time can never come back. There is a proverb, “Time and tide waits for none.” Time is money. If we spend our time in vain, it will bring distress in our life. So, the value of time is very great.
Success in life depends on the proper use of time. Our life is very short. But within this short time we have to do various duties. If we leave any work for tomorrow, it may happen that it earn sufferings. All the great men of the world have used their time properly. So, they are famous in history. A man, who wastes his time idly, can never shine in life. He always behinds. He will suffer a miserable life.
The idle can not achieve anything in life. For them, life is long and time goes very slowly. They find sufficient time to waste time Idleness is the root of all evils. An idle brain is the devil’s workshop. When they are in troubles, they find none to save them from utter ruination. They do not even live long.
Proper use of time makes a man great. It is a touch stone of life. We must not defer anything. To make our life meaningful, we must make the best use of time.
Spring in Bangladesh
Bangladesh is a play ground of nature decorated with six seasons. These six seasons come one after another with their full diversity. Spring is the last and the most beautiful of all seasons. It is called the king of seasons.
Spring comes with her lovely appearance after winter. The Bengali months of ‘Falgoon’ and ‘Chaitra’ comprise the season of spring. It lasts for two months only.
Spring is the season of flowers and new leaves. Various kinds of flowers bloom in this season. Lifeless trees put on new leaves. So, the fields and meadows become green. Bees are busy in gathering honey. The butterfly is on its colourful wings. It flies from flower to flower in this season.
This is the season when gentle breeze comes from the south and refreshes our body and mind. Spring is the season of songs and merriment. Even it makes the birds exceeding and cheerful. So, they sing in the fullness of their hearts. Bees hum and cuckoos sing in joy.
It is also a season of fruits. Mangoes and Jackfruits are main fruits of this season. Besides, black-berry, lichi, water-melon, papaya and apple are found in this time.
For its sweet scented flowers, songs of birds and gentle breeze, vividness spring is called the ‘Rituraj’.
The spring is the very sweet season. It is rich in colour, beauty and Music. So, everybody likes it very much.
My Favorite Hobby
Hobby is an interesting quest other than one’s main occupation. It is usually followed during leisure. It does not bring money but it brings immense pleasures and joys to us. It is necessary to make our life enjoyable and cheerful. Without it life becomes dull and monotonous.
Different persons have different choices. Some choose gardening, some like drawing picture, some like painting; while other like rearing birds or catching fish, collecting stamps and so on. But whatever be the hobby, it has its own values. A person chooses his hobby according to his own linking. I am a student of class IX. Like others, I have also my hobby and it is gardening.
One may wonder why I should give time and energy to such an unproductive work. One may say it is a mere waste of time and energy. I do not feel or think it so. The one or two hours that I spend in my garden are not lost. It strengthens my body and refreshes my mind. Every day in the morning I feel a great pleasure when I see my garden adorned with flowers. The flowers in the garden look like stars in the sky. I am charmed at their beauty and my heart dances with joy when they tossing their heads in gentle breeze. At night when the sweet scent of flowers comes into my room with air, it makes me very happy and fills up mind with heavenly peace. That is why; I choose gardening as my hobby. No other hobby can afford me more pleasure than it.
My garden is in front of our house. Everybody in the afternoon I go to my garden with a spade or hoe and work there. I usually turn or dig the earth and make it fit for planting flower plants. I also pull out weeds and grasses from the garden. I have put a fence around it so that cattle or naughty children cannot do any harm to the plants. I water the plants every day in the afternoon. I have all kinds of flower-plants in my garden such as rose, chameli, shefali, sunflower, dahlia, beli etc.
A hobby gives pleasure as well as instruction. It makes a man active and strong. A man who has a hobby does not spend his spare time in idleness. He engages himself in some useful works. It increases one’s knowledge too. If he likes gardening, he will have to know something about the flowers and plant life. Working in the garden is also a sort of physical exercise which improves his health. It gives joy to the man who owns it as well as to others who see it. The hobby occupies his mind so much so that it leaves hardly any room for evil thoughts to grow and thrive in mind.
Gardening as a hobby is really a great source of joy and pleasure. It makes our body strong and mind cheerful. It gladdens our mind and purifies our soul. The original parents of mankind in their innocent state perhaps placed for this very reason in the Garden of Eden.
Pahela Baishakh is a part and parcel of Bangle culture. It is the first day of Bengali Calendar year. The people of Bangladesh observe the day with great festivities. The Baishakhi Mela is also celebrated with great festivals and it is perhaps the largest festival of Bangle culture.
People from all walks of life celebrate the festival in joyous mood. Urban people try to keep a while away from their blind impression of western culture and tend to be a Bangle at least this day. Similarly, the people of village pass the day meeting one another, giving and receiving invitations, enjoying music etc. They also observe the day by acting local performers and doing many other festive deeds.
Usually on Pohela Boishaka, the home is thoroughly washed and cleaned; people bathe early in the morning and dress in fine clothes. They spend much of the day visiting relatives, friends, and neighbours and going to fair. Fairs are arranged in many parts of the country. Various agricultural products, traditional handicrafts, toys, cosmetics, as well as various kinds of food and sweets are sold at these fairs. The fair also provide with singers, dancers and traditional plays and songs. Horse races, bull races, bull fights, cockfights, flying pigeons, boat racing were once popular. In the rural area, generally the fair is held in the open place or on the bank of a river or a canal.
Businessmen open new books of account this very day which is known as Halkhata. The traders and the shopkeepers offer sweets to their customers. They try to complete their old dealings and open new accounts. Thus Pahela Baishakh comes every year with great joy and delight.
In Dhaka city, the Ramna Batamul is the center around which New Year celebration has spread around the city and gradually across the country. This festival contains exhibition, music, poetry, crafts, photography, theatre etc. in the urban area.
Pohela Boishakh connects all ethnic Bengalis irrespective of religious and regional differences. Generally, it is a national holiday celebrated around April 14 according to the official amended calendar designed by the Bangla Academy.
Jute is a kind of fiber which is obtained from the bark of a plant called jute plants. It grows from six to twelve feet high and it is our main cash crop.
Jute grows Low and plain land. Bangladesh is the store-house of jute. In our country it grows well in the districts of Mymensingh, Faridpur Pabna, Bogura, Rajshahi, Rangpur, Comilla, etc. Jute is also grown in India, Thailand and china. About 8o% jute of the world grows in Bangladesh.
Farmers plough and manure in their land well. Then they sow seeds in March or April. Jute plants grow within a week. Plants become mature in four or five months.
Jute plants are cut down in July and august. Then they are kept under water to rot. After a few days, fiber is taken from their sticks. Next they are washed in clean water and dried up in the sun. Thus jute becomes ready to sale.
Jute is very useful to us. Different types of mats, ropes, painters, brush, false hair and great variety of our domestic use are made from jute. The sticks are used as fuel. We use the tender leaves of jute plant as vegetables.
Jute plays an important role in our economy. It earns a lot of foreign exchange. So it is called the golden fiber of Bangladesh.
The relationship between language and culture is profoundly entrenched. Language is the oral expression of culture. Culture is the particular custom, beliefs and ideas of a particular community. For example: Eskimos have many different terms for snow. There are nuances that make each one different. But we know one or two words concerning snow.
According to Sapir (1921), “language is a purely human and non-instinctive method of communicating ideas, emotions and desire by means of voluntarily produced symbols.” Language is a part of culture and a part of human behavior.
Language and Culture are two different entities. Culture is a specific set of practices, customs, ideas, and beliefs which make a particular society different from other societies. On the other hand, language is means of communication. It is usually verbal. Language can also be visual (symbols, signs) or semiotics (hand or body gestures).
The cultures possessed by urban peoples are different from rural people. Depending on their culture their language definitely is different. There are different social groups. These groups have some different cultures. The culture of lower class people and the culture of upper class or middle class are not the same and their languages are also not the same.
The village people regularly deal with farming, cattle, crops, fishing, afternoon gossiping and so on. On the other hand, urban people deal with office, business, transport, client, party, restaurant and so on. These are the activities that create different atmospheres and culture. Depending on these different cultures different languages also establish in city and village.
Different professional’s people also hold different languages. A university teachers’ culture is surely different from a businessman. A teacher’s activities move around his/her learning and teaching. Oppositely, a businessman’s activities move around his/her staff, profits, and clients and so on. These two professionals can be graduated from the same institution; their home district can be also same. But after spending two years in their own professions if we consider their language we can notice some particular differences. These differences can be semantically, lexically and both. It happens because of different culture that rooted from their professions.
The words of a language are influenced by its culture. In western they use the word “Uncle” to mean any sort of uncle. But in our culture there are many types of uncles like fraternal, maternal and many more. We use different words to mean them like “Mama”, “Kaka” etc.
The acceptability of words and language is different from language to language. It is also for culture. In our culture, if anyone calls someone “Tui” who is elder than the people who calls, it will not be acceptable. But in western the pronoun “You” is for younger, elder, and same age.
The word “Oviman” in Bengali language has no translation in English language because this term is not present in western culture. If they (British people) want to borrow this word into their language they have to borrow this culture also. Otherwise they cannot interpret this word in their language.
Language is heavily influenced by culture – as cultures come up with new ideas, they develop language components to express those ideas. The reverse is also true: the limits of a language can define what is expressible in a culture. Language and culture are linked up. Language is a major component and supporter of culture as well as a primary tool for transferring message, which is inextricably bound with culture. Learning a second language also involves learning a second culture. On the other hand, language is influenced and shaped by culture. It reflects culture.
Sapir, Edward (1921). Language: An introduction to the study of speech. New York: Harcourt, Brace and company. ISBN 4-87187-529-6. ASIN: B000NGWX8I.