An Open Letter To Freud


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Late Mallika Sengupta was renowned for the political attitude she displayed in her remarkably bold poetry. We reproduce here one of her better known poems in which she confronts Freud about the perceived superiority of men over women.

In man’s body an extra limb
Invested with eternal power, earth’s ownership
According to Mr Freud for lack of it woman is inferior
As an underling she envies man’s virility

Nature is uncaring
Man is uncaring
Children are uncaring
Only Freud cares for women!

Who cares for compassion! Chitrangada? Joan of Arc?
Simone de Beauvoir or dark Draupadi!

“Penis-envy” is a term
Introduced by Mr. Freud
That extra which only man possesses
That’s what diminishes woman
So she is uncertain in childhood
Decorates the Shivalinga with flowers at girlhood
Her playroom is full of dolls and utensils
For it’s said that she is her mother’s replica.

Whereas Rohit rehearses for war
American soldiers in fatigues in his room
Machineguns fusillade tra-ra-ra
As man’s aggressiveness grows in him
If he claws cheeks with sharp nails
Man-child’s extra prowess makes grandmothers beam
That extra bit in his body, that’s the licence
Which will make him the world’s owner.

Rohit will be the owner of which world?
Where Rohita is his partner! Inferior sex!
On galloping horseback with drawn sword
Emperor Rohit will set out to conquer the world
And he will be decked for war by mother, sister, wife
This is just what you wanted, Mr Freud!
If a woman warrior arrives from the opposite side
Will he abandon arms like Bhishma –
“I will not take up arms against women”
Implying woman won’t be allowed to acquire arms –

This is primal man’s sexual politics
Freud, because you belong to the extra-limb group
You assume women are inferior and hence envious!

During my childhood I felt no penis-envy
My identity was complete
Even today I’m a confident, complete woman,
A sensitive dark girl of the Third World
Shall stand against you from today
Who is inferior, who superior, which is more or less –
Who has given you the duty of solving
Such a political debate Mr Freud!!


© 1993, Mallika Sengupta
From: Ardheke Prithivi
Publisher: Ananda Publishers, Kolkata, 1993
© Translation: 2000, Sanjukta Dasgupta
From: Kavya Bharati
Publisher: Madurai, 2000, Number 12

Reproduced in entirety from


Mallika Sengupta was a renowned Bengali poet and a reader in Sociology. She passed away in 2011.

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