Authors Name: 
Amanda Sheppard
University: 
University of St. Andrews
Category: 
Politics & International Relations
Highly commended

Using discourse analysis, critically evaluate the portrayal of gender, specifically of the politically violent women, in 'The Terrorist'.

This essay uses discourse analysis to evaluate the way in which women are portrayed in Santosh Sivan's film, 'The Terrorist'. Adopting discourse analysis as a methodological technique brings to the fore the subvertion of gendered norms and the fluid and dynamic nature of gender discourse. Moreover, this essay has sought to contextualise the portrayal of politically violent women in 'The Terrorist' within dominant theoretical insights and real-life situations, including the assassination of Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, upon which the film is loosely based. Malli, the politically violent female character, is 'masculinised' through various techniques throughout the film. However, a discourse analysis reveals that 'masculinisation' in a male-oriented system does not lead to gender equality. The portrayal of gender within the film demonstrates the way in which conventional, stereotypical understandings of gender are initially challenged, only to be reinforced later in the film. Ultimately, discourse analysis as a theoretical tool can be used to provide invaluable insight into the denial of agency to politically violent actors, particularly in analyses of politically violent women.