Hypocrisy thy name is Humsafar, Umme Kulsoom, Durr-e-shahwar

Published: June 12, 2012

Cynical stereotypes about women in Pakistani dramas sicken me. PHOTO: PUBLICITY

With the surging number of private television channels and the freedom given to the media, the Pakistani entertainment industry has progressed tremendously in providing entertainment to its viewers through dramas, talk shows and even trendy morning shows.

However, after watching numerous Pakistani dramas for a final paper for my Gender Studies course at Mount Holyoke College, I was sickened by the cynical stereotypes about religion and gender roles being enforced in sugar-coated ways through most of these dramas to a society that’s still  seeped in conservative dogmas.

Most of these dramas objectify women as weak and helpless. Not only are women continuously illustrated as sacrificing machines who bear all the abuse, blame and humiliation because that is expected of a ‘good’ Pakistani woman — brilliantly delivered through the drama “Humsafar” — but these dramas enforce how significant religion is in determining a woman’s integrity, as portrayed in the drama “Umme Kulsoom”.

It’s interesting to notice the hypocrisy in these dramas as they conveniently evade putting men through the religious lens, not even showing them practise religion, whereas a woman with her head covered or head bowed on the prayer mat makes up for an ideal poster for the promotion of these dramas.

Furthermore, presenting working women as the cause of marriage failures and poor mothers is another latest trend in many Pakistani dramas, for instance, “Durr-e-shahwar“. The extremely conceited and negative character of Fareeda, an NGO worker, in “Humsafar” is another example of the horrible picture that propagates the negative concoctions associated with female NGO workers in our society. These dramas may or may not directly blame working women but their representations, coated with much emotion and bias, enforce stereotypes that we need to move away from.

Besides the banal illustrations of religion and gender roles, several other aspects of a lot of these dramas don’t sit well with our society and its dynamics.

It is important for the Pakistani drama industry to abandon the depictions of patriarchal norms and other biased normalisations because most of the Pakistani audience is too naive and unaware to understand the assumptions, generalisations and reinforcements underlying these representations.

Read more by Komal here.

Do you think Pakistani dramas depict working women in a negative light?

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Komal Ali

Komal Ali

Born and raised in Pakistan, Komal Ali is an International Relations major and Law and Public Policy nexus minor at Mount Holyoke College. She is currently doing a Pre-Law certificate at University of Amsterdam. She tweets at @komalali92 (twitter.com/Komalali92)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • donku

    “Most of these dramas objectify women as weak and helpless.”

    women are in fact weak and helpless in front of men. whats wrong in that??? Recommend

  • Arif

    Amazing piece! Recommend

  • Mr A.

    So was it an abstract of your course project or what? Should I come back to read after watching these dramas?? Because article does not make any sense for thhose who aren’t drama addicts.. :SRecommend

  • Ruba

    well but this is a what a typical Pakistani woman is.A middle class woman is like that.She has to make sacrifices to keep her realtionship strong.In durre shehwar shehawar sacrifices herself but look what she gets.She is the top most priority of her husband eventually.Her husband values her more than their children.Same goes with humsafar Khirad gets right place eventually.it is said that if end is well all is well.I think apart from few dramas now pakistani channels are depicting reality based stories.This is all what happens in our country.Recommend

  • SaQiB

    Useless article… nothing new in it………. the same centuries old stereotype claims………. Recommend

  • Ali

    And bashing super hit dramas just to seek attention is an even bigger hypocrisy.Recommend

  • Kanwal

    Its highly probable you grew up in Pakistan. Did nt you? About everything is wrong about women being helpless and weak before men. We have nt got enough strong women, and thats precisely why our men are not strong. Recommend

  • Stalker

    I just watch dramas because the actresses are now hotter than ever before :DRecommend

  • Ebtesam

    @ Kanwal! I totally agree with you!Recommend

  • geeko

    Honestly, if you look at every single cultural mass-production object through the feminist lenses, even Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs would be a subtle form of patriarchal oppression through imaginative inhibition and whatnot : I think that these dramas are indeed showing it, but as a simple mirror of reality and not a propaganda-machine for misogynistic symbols – that’s how it is in Pakistan until today, and someone actually got the message that one of them (read @Ruba) showed it not to perrenise the social repression of women, but to actually transcend it.

    I’m perhaps “… too naive and unaware to understand the assumptions, generalisations and reinforcements underlying these representations”, but I do believe that you’re over-reading it.
    Cinema, music, … are just the cultural translation of our sociological condition, if we want to change how women are portrayed in the dramas, we have first to do “in real life” (to empower them.)Recommend

  • Nayab

    Your article is soo naive!. Yes those things are real.Recommend

  • Hadia

    ‘Criticism for the sake of criticism’ thy name is ET blog.Recommend

  • Sid

    useless article, dramas were really good & depict the problems in our society….Recommend

  • murtaz jaffry

    these plays targets lower middle class girl , who is helpless and useless both because she has no educatoin and reads crap romance and belives in cindrela story . such girls really hate strong women. to sell their product to certain conumer these plays targets her weaknesses …..and suceedRecommend

  • fawad

    i beg to differ pakistani women are not weak to men. in fact i think pakistani women are a lot stronger than men for one thing its not easy being a woman in a society where a woman is expected to play the roles of a caring mother, a loyal wife and a loving daughter. second of all i dont think its wrong for a drama to portray a woman being islamic and praying because a woaman is the binding force in a family if she adopts an islamic lifestyle she can persuade the entire family to practise islam properly.Recommend

  • ak

    if u particularly talking about durre shahwar in that era women was treated like this even by the other women (saas ) and those mama’s boys . if you ask your mother she will tell you such kind of stories exist and woman is not weak but just compromise cz of her parens for her kids and top most cz of the norms and values of our society.Recommend

  • rida

    please dont be a hater and write such articles down…good pakistani dramas show us the reality…its true that women are still weak and helpless in front of men in Pakistan…thats the MAJORITY..sure there are alota women who are strong and go shoulder to shoulder with men but thats a minority in Pakistan. Also these dramas show us the importance of our religion our customs and our traditions that alot of people now have forgotten and trying to follow the western culture. these dramas help us revive that feeling that was long gone. Humsafar was based on the theme that men usually dont trust their wives and trust their mothers more….which is wrong and this freaking HAPPENS everywhere….not just Pakistan..that was whole point of that drama i guess…and they never really mentoned that FAREEDA was bad because she was a working women…she was just evil…it can be an women…be it working or a housewife…any woman is capable of doing such thing and it showed what happems to her in the end.
    FINALLY PAKISTANI MEDIA IS REACHING THE LEVEL IT SHOULD BE AT AND ITS DOING A PRETTY GOOD JOB SO PLEASE DONT WRITE USELESS ARTICLES AND CRITICIZE.INSTEAD WE SHOULD ALL BE PROUD…..when was the last time you guys saw a pakistani t.v drama having its screening of its last episode at hotels and resturaunts making it big internationally??? ………………YEAH EXACTLY. ….ppshhh haters. Recommend

  • smssr84

    I think you forgot to watch Rog!.. Where the man prayed madly to hide his sins!

    plus you seriously need to come out of your studies and see what actually is happening in our society!… What is been shown in Dur-e-Shahwar, happened in our family friend’s home, who otherwise were “modern” & “educated”!… so I say you need to do a little more research… not by watching dramas, but by actually going into the society and doing surveys!Recommend

  • http://somereasonsomerhyme.blogspot.com TM

    “Furthermore, presenting working women as the cause of marriage failures and poor mothers is another latest trend in many Pakistani dramas, for instance, “Durr-e-shahwar“. “

    that’s the LAST thing the drama shows…it indeed shows the problems faced by women in Pakistan from two different eras…but no part of it ever says that working women are bad mothers/wives or whatever…

    “The extremely conceited and negative character of Fareeda, an NGO worker, in “Humsafar” is another example of the horrible picture that propagates the negative concoctions associated with female NGO workers in our society.”

    no doubt, fareeda’s character was pathetic and evil…it had nothing do to with her NGO. although i agree humsafar did show a terrible side that women are so dependent on men…which is truly wrong.

    with due respect…its great that u focus on this issue n give it importance…are u sure u watched these dramas properly before writing this blogpost?Recommend

  • Confused

    Well, it sells to people while not causing any controversy. To be honest though, you need not look at TV dramas to see gender discrimination, they exist because of it. Get that straightened out (don’t ask me how to do that, I don’t know) and your dramas will follow. Recommend

  • adeel samuel

    literature is the reflection of the society…..thats all they can do….they need ratings…Recommend

  • the verdict

    @Sid: so true
    @Ali: thumbs up!
    @TM : I AGREE!
    @komal: if you are doing gender studies, (which i frankly believe you aren’t) because truth be told, durr -e-shewar has not even aired it’s last episode and you are being the jury here?.the core of the drama, is about how a girl back in her 70’s and 80’s would hand their degrees in kitchen, because of parental pressure!! durr-e-shewar goes on to promote that one of the two partners should compromise. so what exactly is wrong with that?? may i ask? and if neither of them do, im sorry to point out it does lead to a divorce.(take note:divorce rates have risen and our society still holds the stigma. so if the drama potrays a woman’s hardships on how she makes into her partners life and teaches her daughter to do so.what exactly is wrong with that?? i would tell my daughter the same thing
    Talking about humsafar here, it was a fresh blow in the face of all depression that surrounds us, if u ask me im more appreciative of my own husband, so he isnt the cutsey mr asher, however 2 years down a marriage, all romance is gone(personal experience).as doctors both of us didnt have muych time in our hands, humsafar did make a change. regardless of miss fareda
    if you want to resign yourself from all senses succumb to indian soap operas. we are popular for our dramas. quit lying to urself, pakistani media has made hits which have been popular around the world. we desis show it like it is! you want to talk about dramas ok heres a watch for you missy : see meri zaat zarr a e benishan! a woman’s journey in a patriarchal system who makes way to her own dependant life.and she does so too in a spiritual way! it sheds light on people who was her mother in law, that hypocriacy among islam is hown in this world! also watch dastaan, its a depressive drama but shows how much much our country has went through and what pakistan has become. point to be noted: every actor in the drama who did the role(minor or major) did it so only after they read the novel and the smallest roles were played by the biggest star

    the next time you want to say that drams are potraying women as distressed, depressed souls snap back to reality! there will always be a true point underlined!Recommend

  • relatable

    @Kanwal: i agree with u on donku
    @Arif: puhleez!
    @donku: wow! chauvinist much?
    @Sid: aweome
    @rida: couldnt have put it better myself
    @smssr84: i know!! bullseye

    ET Please can you stop with such blogs being published? please…..let me go through an entire list here
    messiah : a psyoctic man marries a normal women who were in love. reality: when in the world do you know that a man is psycotic…a hooligan…or his life dependancy is on pills? can anybody ever figure that one out? doubtfull. the other way a moronic female is choosing to be with a guy below her status. she is no distressed poor soul whose afraid of islam. in either case….the drama is disturbing. yes. will i watch it? no.
    durre shewar is a drama which shows my own familys strory! working girls do get blamed, they are strong headed. what did u want her to do? hang her degree in the kitchen? she got divorced. its a painful proceedure,

  • shan

    Take some Media Studies, Literary Theory and Writing courses while you’re there, too!

  • Munir

    Since when dramas are real depiction, look at soap opers, hollywood movies, tv serials, every media depcits societies differently, it is not exact reflection of life, it s always an exagerated version of life.Recommend

  • r.sheikh

    Komal unfortunately what we have on tv nowadays is what I call the ‘digest galore’. All the women writers writing for the telly nowadays are regulars at these digests. And because of a dearth of good writers we’re now stuck with these archaic, half baked, regressive philosophies– as if we need to regress any further as a society!Recommend

  • Tayyaba Khan

    Durre Shahwar is a very good drama. Have you not listened the script (especially the conversation of a father with his daughter) carefully?? The lessons of patience, calmness and determination given by father to his daughter in hard time of her life are worth listening and pondering upon. 

    This drama took me back in PTV’s era and also recalled Deputy Nazir Ahmed’s “Akberi and Asghari”. Very well written drama, I must say!

    It’s good to criticize but before doing that make sure that you’ve covered all the aspects of what you are going to criticize.Recommend

  • http://www.zealforwriting.blogspot.com Sarah B. Haider

    However, after watching numerous Pakistani dramas for a final paper for my Gender Studies course at Mount Holyoke College, I was sickened by the cynical stereotypes about religion and gender roles being enforced in sugar-coated ways through most of these dramas to a society that’s still seeped in conservative dogmas

    What was the need to mention it here?
    Overall, good read.Recommend

  • Amadeus

    Respect. Real good stuff – finally someone writes against the crap and stereotypes on television. Also try watching random ‘morning shows’ to understand how such stereotypes are propagated LIVE on a DAILY basis – watch at your own peril. The idiot box is truly idiot in this part of the world. Recommend

  • sherrry

    you dont have any problems with these dramas , you have problem with religion like most of the so called liberals.
    think again n ask your self Recommend

  • Xefi

    Dear Express!!

    We like you. But if your dramas are not getting enough praise as like HUM, stop criticising the good stuff…..and work even hard…This is sick article…Totally.Recommend

  • Mina


  • Mina

    N, nice articleRecommend

  • Adnan

    Below to below average article! Komal you have got good writing skills, we would appreciate if you’d utilize them somewhere else.Recommend

  • Uzair

    I completely agree with the author, humsafar was a sickening confirmation of the patriarchal attitude of our society, and the majority of the comments on this post only further validate how much this misogyny and patriarchy is embedded in our mindsets, even among women.

    These dramas all show (not commenting on durr-e-shawar since I believe it is actually attempting to highlight injustices against women, not condone them) that a good woman is one who is totally dependent on a man, and who does not dare go against him, and that it is perfectly all right for the husband to behave in an irrational manner and to question his wife’s fidelity without much need for trust or introspection. Pathetic dramas and pathetic defenders of said dramas!Recommend

  • rubab21

    Great article! Living outside Pakistan, I saw Humsafar on youtube, far removed from the crazed fandom that existed when the show was being aired back home. The very obvious patriarchal nuances in the show were quite apalling ´to me as well and to see how popular the show got :/ I’m sure so many people didn’t even notice such things sadly.Recommend

  • Maheen

    Studying in the States, especially at the university you have mentioned has automatically placed you among the rich elite of our country. Hence i do not expect you to understand or relate to the reality of these serials. Enjoy living in your world, away from the bitter truth and the tragic lives of the majority of the population.Recommend

  • ana

    while i appreciate this article, the comments show that women have themselves accepted their lowly position….dramas should reflect what happens in society but it should also educate people…as far as Durre Shahwar is concerned, she compromises but she still snubs her husband whenever she gets the chance….

    secondly you missed on how our dramas show men slapping their wives for a slight argument and how they encourage polygamy…..Recommend

  • Parvez

    The fact remains that the daily lives of most and also our political structure revolves around the patriarchal system. If TV dramas highlight this, they are trying to portray a reality. It is up to viewer to decide how he/she absorbs this. To think that the Pakistani audience is, to quote you, ‘too naive and unaware to understand……..’ is condescending and just not correct. Recommend

  • Arsalan

    ms. komal ali – this is just brlliant!! one of the best reads thus far on this website.

    dont take the general ‘comments’ to heart. where it is “oh so very clear” what your point is, unfortunately, the average reader will not be able to see through to it, hence you will notice a lot of hate comments. the topic is nothing that i would pay much attention to, however, the sequential thought process on display, and its resultant effects, discussed in this read, are absolutely undeniable, and it is extremely difficult to use ‘words’ to explain.

    it is, at the very least, applaudible, and, at best, an articulate display of “cause and affect”. just brilliant.

    note to the average reader: the article has nothing to do with religion nor cultures or society, but the depiction that these dramas create of these things – religion, culture and society – which in turn have a direct impact on our daily lives. whatever is portrayed by the media, in whatever shape or form, moulds the psyche of the ‘watcher’ – which would be us. what we see, as being gradually acceptable by the society, which is dictated by the media, is what we practise in life.

    through such a, so-called, irrelevant subject, YOU have identified the biggest issue of our society – which is that we are ‘followers’ and not ‘thinkers’.

    BRAVO and KUDOS!! Recommend

  • Myeda Syed

    When I was a student of Masscommunication,I also studied various Pakistani dramas and my analysis was the same, that women are portrayed as hapless beings who have no control over their lives.Ten years down the road,now as a mother and a wife and having given up my career just for the sake of my family,I have realized that more often than not,a woman makes her own choices.Sometimes just for the sake of her parents happiness,sometimes for the sake of her children and sometimes just to keep together the fabric of the family structure.The writer’s analysis is true for her age,her circumstances and may be for the sicoal class that she belongs to.Humsafar was a hit drama,it was not about helplessness of a woman,it was about relationships,trust and love,and it was a novel.
    As far as Dur-e-Shahwar is concerned,each dialogue,every word,every emotion is so true to the real life.DES suffered not becuse she was made to,she did it to keep the family intact.She was from an affluent background,she left her in-laws once and she had a choice of not going back,but sanity prevailed and she did.If I had watched this drama ten year ago,I would have cringed and said that why doesn;t she leave Mansoor and start a new life.But not anymore,having experienced the life up close,I can bet that a woman has more power then she can ever imagine.She has the power to change hearts and minds(as happened in DES). In the end it is all about how one perceives the content that is being aired,for me Duur-e-Shawar is not just a drama,it is about being a real woman who is emotionally and mentally so strong and who can change the world around her.
    I would request the writer to study American dramas and soaps as well,women have unbridled freedom in that society but how often are they portrayed as women of substance,majority of the movies,soaps and dramas just show them as sex objects and eye candies.
    And what is wrong if a woman is shown praying to Allah,faith is what keeps the world going.Offcourse atheists would disagree,but that is another debate.

  • donku


    i don’t agree. the world is run by men, women only make this world interesting enough for men to work more hard. Giving birth is a natural phenomenon, don’t take it to your credit as if you had a choice in that. Tell me who mothered Eisenstein, Newton, Galileo, Kepler, Tesla, Maxwell, Edison, Aristotle, Da vinci, Bell, Boyal, Pascal etc. do you even know their mothers name.

    world is full of strong men(now and than in history), these men made the world as we see it today. not by Paris Hilton, Brittany Spears, kim kardashian or all of their sort.

    if women were running the world, we still would have been in stone. So, stop being a whiner all the time, accept yourself as a weaker gender and lets work together to make this world peaceful.Recommend

  • Fatima Awan

    I am only going to talk about durr e shehwar, the play in no way says that working women are failures at being good wives or mothers, anyone who has actually watched the whole serial till now would know better. It really gets to me when people pass judgments on serials without actually following them or trying to understand what the play actually has to say. And yes the ending ought to put an end to this very useless discussion. And even if Shandana quits her job to make her marriage work, i hope that the majority of the people out there are wise enough to look at the bigger picture! And stereotypes do exist in every society! I honestly feel you wrote this article after reading a few articles about these shows rather than basing your opinion on ur own judgement.Recommend

  • http://somereasonsomerhyme.blogspot.com TM

    @Fatima Awan:

    i couldn’t agree more!!! that drama is absolutely brilliant!!!Recommend

  • Intelektual

    The steroetypes exist because of a reason ! People relate to them because they hav had witnessed those things happning to them or smeone else ! And they show that marriages fail due to high level of involvement of Saas’ in someone elses business ! it shows the good and the bad guys both are the women in 75% of the cases ! Men are either too weak to stand up for the right or they simply dont care !
    The fact that you dont have a problem with thses sterotypes existing in real life but with watching them on TV is annoying and wierd !
    Women are impowered !! Where have u been living visit the 95% of populace in the under-belly of the city where the inspiration of these drama’s came from !
    Humsafar was a classic ‘Fairy Tale’ if u have a problem with that u dont know entertainment !Recommend

  • Kosar

    Agreed with writer. i believe that there is much need of writing on thses kind of issues related to gender. Media is exposing alot of stereotypes which should be changed now. there should be positive portraal of women and working women to encourage making lives better in this recession.Recommend

  • not impressed

    oh my god how many times are we going to have to hear the same college paper s***again and againRecommend

  • Fatima

    @Myeda Syed: Totally agree with you! Recommend

  • http://whhhh.com Yuuuuu

    only illiterate women are helpless in front of men. Recommend

  • Clarus

    i was assuming this article would include some whining about Pakistani men but surprisingly the writer does’nt conclude it the way every female blogger is doing by stating that Pakistani society is male dominated with chauvinism at its peak and men are responsible for every bad in this society and so should also be responsible for the contents of these dramas.Recommend

  • khizra naseem

    no,you are totally wrong..it’s quite disgusting that pakistani media never appreciates the positive work…our channels and writers would love to promote and encourage indian films..but never use a single word of appreciation for some pakistani’s work just because that work is portrayed by some other channel..moreover,coming towards humsafar,i totally disagree with you as humsafar showed positive messages like evev after so bad asher did not leave her mother,the love of father for daughter,the compromise for their child’s happy future.all these dramas divulged the real MAN …how creul a man is…but still our society does not take a stand for these situations..he is a man ,so hi is allowed to do ANYTHING…these dramas depicted that a man never tries to save a relation..it’s always a woman..moreover,they showed how things get better if we don’t loose patience and our dignity rather than fighting all the time..and your article is quite disappointing..because you are not ready to see the positive picture.Recommend

  • fariha

    Serials like Dur-e-Shahwar and Humsafar present stories to which everybody in Pakistan can relate to ,but that doesn’t mean that the writers intend to promote oppression of women by writing such stories.. These serials show our culture and they are in fact thought-provoking, they make us question norms of our society. Mostly these serials are about individual choices of people about their lives, they do not promote women as underdogs, they represent common Pakistani women and the moral lesson behind every drama is quiet obvious.Recommend

  • Pmem

    Has it ever occurred to you to condone research? Have you heard of Cleopatra, Joan of Arc, Queen Elizabeth, Rani of Jhansi? How about you stop blatantly labeling yourself as superior when you probably don’t have anything more to show for it than any other woman.Recommend

  • anam

    You can’t base your article on three drama. There are plenty of dramas which show the quite opposite – For example, Mora Piya shows the woman as a much much stronger character than her husband even after going through such a traumatic experience. She is able to move past it, she is able to raise her head and walk, and she is able to raise her son. Also, dramas like Daam show a strong, educated woman letting go of her past and moving on to bigger better things – achieving her dream, becoming educated, and working in a new environment – again demonstrating a strong Pakistani woman character. You also have dramas like Maat, where the character Saman did sit at home all day and couldn’t raise her son, while Aimen was a school teacher and was able to raise him and balance life just perfectly. While I understand where you’re disappointment in Pakistani television is stemming from, and yes at times they do portray women as weaker, or just pathetic, but you have to look at both ends of the picture and base your judgements off of a variety of dramas, not just a few selections of your choice. Recommend

  • fawad

    thats far from the truth i have seen women who had graduated frm some of pakistan’s best colleges but ended up being victims helplessness infront of their spouses so education has nothing to do with this Recommend

  • http://whhhh.com Yuuuuu

    omg, your words clearly show how uneducated you areRecommend

  • Male Chauvinist

    Where women are weak physically, they make up for it by being more than strong in character. Men have the emotional range of a teaspoon, atleast those who are not ogling other men do. You are giving the views of a typical frustrated young woman, thinking she understands best what this world is like. Why does every argument out of a woman who thinks she is even moderately educated be a whine about the lack of empowered females? What is power to you? Women are supposed to be the sense of the society. A very famous quote reads that in a society where the women are empowered and the males not, that society has lost hope. You can count this one as the ranting of a male chauvinist, but these were the words of Salahuddin Ayyubi. Contrary to popular belief, a woman’s work is not in the kitchen, but managing the household. Men are good to keep a hold on the house, but will mostly lead it to ruin if they start managing it. Everything has balance. Everything was built in pairs. One has to manage the affairs of the household while the other has to manage the affairs of the world. It is obvious as to who is suited better for each task. If both manage the affairs of the world, the household suffers, if both start managing the house, it will surely lead to ruin. Either way, the boat won’t sail for long. This is why divorces have risen. Ask yourselves, were women not content back in the 60’s or 70’s? An MBA or another degree is not the measure of education. I have heard more profound words from an educated illiterate than I would ever hope to hear from an educated snob. Women have a right to equality, not to equal rights. If you believe so, then try taking on the labourious work in your household. You will soon find out which gender is better suited to which tasks. Recommend

  • Saher

    The writer has succeeded in achieving her purpose of writing this blog /article or a dear diary story(refer:To the College name) by gaining way too much attention.Those who say these dramas depict nothing but weaker woman are in fact unaware of the past/present scenario of this country.Step in Lady,plenty of world to see while sat in Pakistan only.Wake up and face the reality because what these dramas depict is the true picture.Recommend

  • Pmem

    @Male Chauvinist:
    Thanks for your baseless assumptions. Feminisim has existed since SOCIETY has existed. Were women happy in the 60’s and 70’s? NO. They have not been happy since before the 1800s. Have you heard of Kate Chopin?
    I never once said empowerment is getting a degree. What is empowerment to me? I’m not asking for the right to take my “husband’s role of earning an income” while my husband raises our offspring. I’m asking for the right to make an equal wage to a man in my same position. I’m asking for the right to be judged by my merit/talents/intellect rather than my appearance. I’m asking for the right to be taken seriously in society, and not just seriously “for a woman”.
    Also women are not ALL physically inferior to men. While that is the common stereotype there are women who are stronger than their male peers. Basing your male superiority on a false assumption makes your entire rebuke moot. Please don’t challenge my intellect and argument– which wasn’t even as radical as you made it out to be– on my GENDER ( AN UNCONTROLLABLE GENETIC PRODUCT). For the record, I did not even support this article to begin with. The author clearly read too in to it, criticizing just for the sake of criticizing. But reading the blatantly sexist comments, like yours, led me to comment myself. Recommend

  • Pmem

    @Male Chauvinist:
    One more thing, since the world is apparently run by men, I suppose that’s why we live in a Utopia, right? I mean only men can handle world affairs properly. There’s no wars, poverty, or disease, right? Again, I’m not for one second saying the world would be better off with only women leading it…IM NOT ASKING FOR MATRIARCHY…but please don’t make overly generalized, ignorant statements reeking of conjecture. Recommend

  • anony

    @Myeda Syed, right on!

    I wholeheartedly disagree with the writer. I do hope the writer will mature up out of her current state, which from this piece certainly appears to be too naive and unaware to understand the assumptions, generalisations and reinforcements underlying the Anglo-American “Gender Studies” phenomenon.

    Dear Komal, I am a graduate degree-holding and working woman who sees nothing but strength portrayed in the women in Durr-e-Shahwar and Humsafar. These women are absolutely not weak and feeble, they are powerful. They work in the department of emotions, of personal influence, of the Home – that fundamental part of human existence on which an entire society is built. One at which the man is often incompetent. Also, women ARE physically weaker than men. Sorry, these are not stereotypes, but psychological and biological realities.

    I do agree that we need more exposure to “pious” men as well in our dramas. However, rather than showing women as weak, I believe the depiction of women’s problems also serves to point out the flaws in the men (although how many men watch these, I wonder).

    The rate of divorces in Pakistan HAS risen greatly. We certainly need media ventures that solve these problems, and not aggravate them. Teaching human psychology, patience, self-sacrifice, dealing delicately with various types of personalities, and reliance on God, faith, hope, optimism – do you have a better solution to our societal problems?

    Since you appear to be a skeptical who is probably willing to question whatever you see and read, please question your Gender Studies at Mount Holyoke. Even far greater names like Stanford and Harvard are known for propagating their twisted ideologies. Yale University Press has a history of fraudulent publications.

    It is incredibly anti-feminist to deny woman her God-given beauty and strength of character, and to transform her into a machine that must be in perpetual competition with the male. Such an attitude implicitly assumes that men ARE superior, and ARE models that women should strive to emulate.

    The Islamic tradition honors the woman’s unique DIFFERENCES from men. It honors the unparalleled and time-honored reality of motherhood – an undeniably difficult and beautiful job that no man on the planet has the capacity to assume. This trend of celebrating “working women” and insisting that she compete with men, and on looking down on the “housewife” – these disturbing reversals of nature have in fact reduced the importance of motherhood and consequently deprived children of their birthright of motherly love, and have left them to be brought up by maids, heartless teachers, the television, or their peers.

    I am glad dramas like these are coming up.

    Rather than displaying a working woman in a negative way, Durr-e-Shahwar took the necessary step of bashing the pointless and cruel stereotypes that have begun in Pakistan – those of assuming that “house-making”, or being a “housewife” is somehow less demanding, less intellectual, less respectable, and simply inferior to getting paid for working. It makes the effort to celebrate the woman at home, who happens to be a gigantic majority of females in Pakistan, my dear writer. Humsafar also shows nothing against working women.

    Perhaps you are forgetting that the heroine of Humsafar both worked and studied for a graduate degree. I, for one, was thoroughly satisfied with the realistic portrayal of Farida. In my own exposure, plenty of these NGOs are in fact hypocritical organizations. Not all, of course. But enough to deserve a finger pointed at them, for the benefit of our own people.

    I hope that in time you realize the wisdoms and long term benefits in the lessons of patience and in the strength of character assumed by some of the female roles in these dramas.Recommend

  • Angelah

    a good research should have done before writing such article.. because what i think of these dramas is totally opposite than what u have written. If you are saying that Pakistani dramas are depicting weak women then i guess u need to re-watch humsafar because as far as i noticed Khirad her self bore all the complications and raised her daughter .. while her husband was enjoying the luxuries of life.. I dun think that these dramas are depicting weakness of women instead they are showing what really happens in this society and what is needed to be learned by todays womenRecommend

  • Muhammad Khan

    wow….you really need help, you know that?….life’s not exactly a wrestling match….Recommend

  • fizzah

    it doesnt just happen in Pakistan, u name any country and it all happens everywhere….its just that we can see them because we have been seeing all this stufff!!!!Recommend

  • Big Rizvi

    … And then they portray the female villains as westernized working women who wear jeans and t-shirts, shows how narrow-mind and backward our society is. Tsk, tsk. Recommend

  • Fatirah

    I believe the thing that we need to realize here is that in-equality is the beauty of every relation that Almighty has created in this universe and dependency rather than being an ignominy is like that seemingly worthless piece of thread which you inevitably need to tie an inflated balloon and without which all balloons(all relations) would eventually go flat. Just like silkworms who need white mulberry leaves to weave into silk cocoons and thus keep the silk industry running, all life partners need patience, understanding, fidelity and co-operation of their spouse to keep intact the institution of marriage. While reiterating the fact that I do not believe in the farce of gender equality propagated by some imprudent feminists, I affirm my unshakable faith in justice and balanced proportionate contribution of both partners towards maintaining a marriage. Men and women despite being in-equals in strength and thought patterns deserve each other’s full respect; men not giving respect to women running their homes aren’t entitled to their wives’ respect for earning for the family. The serial DeS, far from projecting any stereotypical image imparts the message of giving your marriage as equal an importance, time and chance as your job or parents.The character Shandana spoils her marriage n’ suffers not because of being a working-woman but because of her incorrigibly adamant, self-willed, self-indulgent attitude. All those who put her job on the blame need to re-view the serial and get the gist of the drama before labelling it a stereotypical, anti-working-women and patriarchy promoting programme. On the other hand, the serial Humsafar highlighted the evils seeding from misunderstanding and was based on the universal theme of fight of good and evil; I fail to understand how the traditional cladding of the heroine can transmit the themes of patriarchy and utter feminine submissiveness? and what else do you expect a woman to be other than a sacrificing mother? or being a doting mother a custom limited to our part of the world only? your labels Ms. Komal are very appropriate but labelling so very in-exact that I seriously suspect your arrant idiotic improvisation to be an effort of defaming the said channel or you would have mentioned serials like ‘kash mein teri beti na hoti’ and ‘mera saeen’…..they would have been more apposite targets of your labels.Recommend

  • Shyam


    Tell me who mothered Eisenstein, Newton, Galileo, Kepler, Tesla, Maxwell, Edison, Aristotle, Da vinci, Bell, Boyal, Pascal etc. do you even know their mothers name.

    No, but then we can always google out their mother’s name but we can never say for sure who their fathers wereRecommend

  • tj

    The best part about humsafr was tht it showd brilliant strength in khirad, when she was mistreated by her husband,” me usko is kabil bhi nhi smjhti k use koi sfai dun” this is the strength women need to have, if a man trashes you for watever reason,u shdnt think tht ur life is over and u need to run back to him, she refused to live with him even when given a choice, and yes i have seen numerous instances where gao ki lrki was preferred to an educated girl just cz she was in the family, this is really how our society is.Recommend

  • MAS


    You dont need to watch these dramas. you should watch sahir lodhi showRecommend

  • Muhammad Tahir Younus

    Feminist Article indeed. You have some ideals, same is the case with Pakistani society. These traditions, values have much utility in our society, and are adhered to because of this utility. Had you been a middle class muslim pakistani girl, you may have had some experiences enlightening you with the wisdom and practicalities of these values. Mere declaring these values and traditions patriarchal and dogmatic in a sweeping statement won’t help any good purpose.Recommend

  • http://Karachi. Farah Kamal

    @Maheen: a terrible judgement, I know Komal personally am her mentor, she is far from being rich. And that is your typical linear thinking wave that made you come to a conclusion. Komal is in USA on a scholarship, and comes from a very middle class completely non elite family. She is brilliant she worked hard and instead of labeling her, you including many like you try to work hard and be someone instead of lame criticizing. Recommend

  • S

    Thank-you SO MUCH for writing this. Such drama’s are absolutely ridiculous, Durre-Shahwar just made me wanna break the TV. I mean what the hell were they trying to tell? That women who bear everything live happily ever after?Recommend

  • imran

    “because most of the Pakistani audience is too naive and unaware to understand the assumptions, generalisations and reinforcements underlying these representations.” (Komal Ali)

    When an educated illiterate says these lines, and give a conclusion about the Pakistani Audience it feels really cheap. A bit of study does not make you superior on thoughts to the society. Pakistani society and culture is one of the strongest among the world.Recommend

  • http://nil muhammad altaf

    beside religious obligation on women role in society at large and brought up responsibility of children at home put female gender at higher position in society and almost all religions. Islam has given women a very significant and dominant role to play in home for children brought up and that why in one hadith , MUHAMMAD PBUH prefer mothers three times than fathers.
    the stereotype social set in Pakistan is not based on religion so blaming Islam for the upsets happens in daily lives in Pakistan should not be correlate to the religion at all. the women in houses are maltreated due to lack of religious and contemporary modern education .
    most of the time in journals and research studies west picture in term of female rights are luminously portrayed which is against the reality . those who have been to western countries or spent some time with western people know at well the the gender victimization at every of female life. in the name of liberalism and modern democratic ethos , female right has been severely sabotaged in western civilization giving birth to different social problems; like family separation , divorce , children psychological frustration, homophobia .Recommend

  • Imran Sadaf

    The writer has miserably failed to understand the jist of above dramas, ET is publishing every TOm ,dick and Harry in the name of Freedom of speech. Recommend

  • iram

    useless artical.actually these drama shows real problem of our society.Recommend

  • Saqib

    In my younger days, in my arrogance, I would have agreed with you. But just like comments from a lady above, I have also grown more mature. Instead of the question you posed, a more relevant question would have been: how many of these thinkers and scientists did NOT have a mother? Probably none. I see my wife fuss over my children every day, about their meals, whether they have finished their homework, etc. It is the nagging and fussing of a mother that plays a big role in the eventual success of their sons. So, don’t be like the writer of the article and view the world through single colored lens. The battle of the sexes is as old as humanity. And I would venture that, except for extreme cases of male chauvinism or militant feminism, both sexes are in perfect harmony for the success of mankind.Recommend

  • Hina Shaukat

    Looks like the writer has been away from Pakistan for a very long time and is not aware of how things are back home. Dramas are a depiction of the way things are in a society. They don’t make any decisions for you but show you aspects that exist which you may not have considered. Dramas make you think and as a result if an individual feels, he/she can bring changes in whatever way he would like.

    All the dramas that the writer has mentioned have only shown what actually exists in our society. Dur e Shawar had in no way shown that working women cause their homes to be broken. They merely showed that women these days feel that if they are working, it’s a big favour that they are doing and in return they tend to ignore their household responsibilities. This is quite true and the drama only showed what is happening these days.

    It’s merely a difference of opinion and I don’t agree with the writer’s opinion. I feel Pakistani dramas are doing great these days and very meaningful and true to life dramas are being shown these days.Recommend

  • Rumi

    Your article does not make any sense.Pakistani dramas are really rocking.They portray whatever is going around us…Recommend