Never accept culture on its face value! It is because culture carries with it both retrogressive and progressive values. Progressive values of culture can cause development of society; but retrogressive elements of culture can play role against development and that is what has happened in case of folk literature. Various forms of folk literature have depicted many an instances of gender inequality, gender discrimination and have undermined the status of women in society.
The book ‘Women in Folk Literature: Exposition of their Status through Gender Lenses’ is the result of my prolonged research and thinking and a record of the presence of gender inequality in folk literature in general and folk songs, fairy tales and folk tales, proverbs and riddles in particular.
I have noticed that most of the discussion on folk literature is presented from uncritical entertainment viewpoint. Most of the folklorists have very carefully avoided the discussion of retrogressive features of the various forms of folk literature. Society is the maker of culture and on the other hand culture also reconstructs society. In terms of such mutual interaction between society and culture, the identification of the retrogressive features of folk literature and the sociological observation and reassessment of their origin, evolution and social influence is urgently needed and should be an important cultural agenda of the day.
Everybody, especially women love to hear, read and perform various rites like vow-rhymes, folk songs and thereby want to get innocent pleasure; but the hidden messages of gender inequality extended in different shades and layers of these various forms of folk literature affect their innocent mind and direct them towards gender socialization by indoctrinating them in the ideology of masculinity and femininity. So, it is high time to unmask the actual objectives of folk literature and to assess them from a critical approach through gender lenses especially.