Rejecting the Phallus

Understanding Ismat Chughtai’s Works with Respect to Gender and Sexuality

  • Azra Minaz Mukadam Mithibai College
Keywords: Urdu literature, Phallocentrism, Sexuality, Medusa, Feminism


Indian Urdu novelist, short story writer, and filmmaker Ismat Chughtai wrote comprehensively on themes of female sexuality and its unabashed expression. All of her short stories introduce the reader to a patriarchal world where women find their own unique way of expressing themselves dissimilar to that of the phallocentric expectation. French feminist writer, poet, playwright, philosopher and literary critic Hélène Cixous states in her essay The Laugh of the Medusa that when a woman is sexually liberated, she is able to express herself freely through her writing. This paper aims to study three of Chughtai’s major works from her short story collection The Quilt: Stories under Cixous’ critical lens and infers that Chughtai sexually liberates the female characters she writes in order to express them freely thereby breaking her writing away from the phallocentric ideals.


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Author Biography

Azra Minaz Mukadam, Mithibai College

Azra Minaz Mukadam is a writer, poet and critical theory enthusiast who finds writing inspiration in everything around her. She believes that discourse is the first step towards change and makes sure she is vocal about issues that matter.


1. Chughtai, Ismat. "Gainda." The Quilt: Stories. n.d.
2. Chughtai, Ismat. "The Mole (Til)." The Quilt: Stories. n.d.
3. Chughtai, Ismat. "The Quilt (Lihaf)." The Quilt: Stories. n.d.
4. Cixous, Hélène. "The Laugh of the Medusa." (1975).
How to Cite
Mukadam, A. “Rejecting the Phallus”. Contemporary Literary Review India, Vol. 10, no. 2, May 2023, pp. 1-8,
Research Papers