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This story has been submitted by Zaroya Amjad.
On occasions, I feel like this entire debate on feminism in Pakistan has gotten us hardly anywhere. When I am a subject of catcallers, harassers, men taking no as a yes; when I witness khandan kay baray [elders of the family] forcing their orthodox traditions on the females; or when aunties pressurizing young girls to get married. I feel this way!
However, emotions usually take a turn. When? Just when I read an essay published in a newspaper by a young female writer on “Womanhood in Pakistan;” or when I spoke to the youngest female TEDx speaker of Pakistan. It made my heart filled with sheer joy.
I genuinely felt proud because these are the women who are breaking barricades. They are destroying the very notion of women as meek and fragile creatures; undeserving of the CEO positions or not capable enough to stand equal to men in every field.
For me, to be a woman in Pakistan is to be stared at while I smoke a cigarette with friends. It’s me being considered as a rebel for inducing self-love. It’s even me being made fun of while driving to the nearest grocery store for running some errands.
Sometimes it’s being called as a liberal or a kafir or even behaya woman for being open, vocal, and blunt about the bitter realities of the society in my writings.
It’s also being considered as a lesbian for showering way too much love to my female friends. But it’s also being considered as a “slut” for having male friends or wearing the clothes of my own choice. Being a woman is simply less of being a human being and more of being a society’s puppet.
When the “Churails” season got banned, I lost all hope for this society where people can’t stand the truth. Nobody wants women’s empowerment. People just like the idea of a strong woman in an H&Ms blazer suit and tie-dyed hair. When they about her thoughts openly, preaching self-love and independence. Nobody can stand such a woman walking on the streets minding her own business.
The debate about women smoking or wearing sleeveless is similar to the one if a veil is compulsory in Islam or not. The answer is simple, it’s a female’s own choice.
Edward Bond believes that religion has nothing to do with society; it’s a personal matter. Morality is what is social and what society should be most concerned about. Surprisingly, contemporary Pakistani society is not willing to accept this fact.
Pakistan is a place that is often labeled as a breeding ground for extremism and violence. Religion is the trump card which the majority plays to counter every corrupt behavior and argument. There is indecency in how a male gazes at a female body while she stands there buying her grocery; he would trace her face, the color of her lips, and the curve of her back, like a trophy.
This leads me to the very concept of “trophy wife,” which is prevalent in the subcontinent. The idea of a woman’s merit being judged by her beauty and the success of the man she is married to is bizarre. Howsoever, this is the impression which the male members of our society usually revere.
It’s a simple argument, why can a woman not do as she pleases? The males can, definitely they do. What could be so wrong with the idea of a female walking home safe, or being a successful woman, or even not being forced into marriages? Ask your female friend, sister, daughter, any close relative when was the last time she was catcalled; the answers will astonish you.
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