Indrani Mitra, Mount St. Mary’s University
Vol. 29, No. 2 (Fall 2010), 311-329
This article explores the conditions that make possible or impossible the articulation of homoerotic desire in the texts of two Muslim women writers, Ismat Chughtai’s “The Quilt” and Alifa Rifaat’s “My World of the Unknown.” Despite the homophobia written into colonial and nationalist discourses, Chughtai’s feminist voice is enabled by a particularly secular and progressive cultural moment in India in the 1940s. Rifaat, on the other hand, speaks out of a deep inner commitment to her faith as well as under the external pressures generated by a radical cultural climate and its effect on gender roles. Both women are ultimately unable to fully privilege homoerotic desire. The argument in this paper explores how far the texts take us, the manner in which each engages the teachings and traditions of the faith, and where, because of internal and external pressures, the writing must stop.