The ‘place’ for women is not just ‘the kitchen’

Published: March 14, 2014

One doesn’t have to advocate ‘feminism’ or ‘masculinity’ to believe in gender equality – this only gives birth to more sexism. PHOTO: AFP

The term ‘male-dominated society’ does not mean (against common misconception) the subjugation of women to physical violence or having biases towards them. However, to say that it is nothing will also be a gross understatement. The term basically means an opportunity to attest and exhibit supremacy, in any form. Even a demeaning nod at the idea of an achievement by the opposite gender is as derogatory as the worst form of it may be.

One doesn’t have to advocate ‘feminism’ or ‘masculinity’ to believe in gender equality – this only gives birth to more sexism.

Sexism, like racism, should not be tolerated in society and be chastised. It is a typical patriarchal mentality of a backward feudal society dominated by the thoughts of old dogmas. Even in the Western world, where women are playing a role towards the development of their nations alongside men, especially in the field of science, technology and literature, this menace prevails.

The dilemma prone to our part of the world is that the benighted class, having sheer confidence in their ignorance, would bandwagon this issue on the basis of religion. And that too on the basis of Islam – which is perhaps the only religion that accords the utmost respect for the opposite gender.

Religion does not always seek logic, but if someone remains adamant, here’s one for them. I shall restrict myself to the divine examples from Islam’s glorious history.

One of the women during the Holy Prophet’s (pbuh) time, Hazrat Nusaybah bint Ka’ab (RA), also known as Umm-e-Umara, not only took an active part in many battles but defended the Prophet (pbuh) and struck fatal blows to the opponents with her sword and arrows in the battle of Uhud, when many archers had left the crucial and tactical position. Umm-e-Umara, whom the Prophet (pbuh) observed to be a better fighter than many men, was fierce in the battles and even lost one of her hands.

Hazrat Fatima (RA), the Prophet’s (pbuh) daughter, in the battle of Khyber, ticketed many non-believers to hell with a mere tent pole. Clearly, women are more than capable of doing anything they set their minds to.

I’ve been getting a lot of comments recently, one of which read,

“Why would our Air Force even hand over a multi-million dollar fighter jet to a girl, huh?”

Well brother, Ayesha Farooq earned her wings, can fly double the speed of sound and bomb the heck out to surgical precision – the mere sound of which would make you wet your chauvinistic pants.

Ayesha Farooq, 26, Pakistan’s only female war-ready fighter pilot, smiles during an interview with Reuters at Mushaf base in Sargodha on June 6, 2013. Photo: Reuters

The women of the North are not naïve of their potential and are contributing towards the evolution of the country. They are aware of the challenges such bigoted psyches pose and are eager to render this untrue, merely by their aptitude.

Samina Baig, from Hunza, has reiterated this very fact by surmounting the world’s highest peak, Mount Everest, being the first Pakistani woman and third woman globally.

Samina Baig, the first Pakistani woman climber to summit the world’s highest peak Mount Everest. Photo: AFP

Three young, determined girls hailing from different parts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) are undergoing their training in Pakistan Air Force to join the elite force as pilots. This does not only put to rest the vague notion about the women of the North but also acts as a beacon of hope for all those willing to strive for the best.

The mere fact that these women come from conservative Pakhtun backgrounds contradicts any excuse used to defend Afridi saying he came from such a background and hence has this mindset.

Photo: ISPR/File

I, myself, belong to the North of Pakistan, widely rendered as one of the most conservative areas and hereby shun this generalisation, for I am sure, this generation knows the difference between values and conservatism. We honour the former and rebel against the latter. This partisanship, hence, is only a product of the pseudo pride and selfdom, which must be cured in time lest we should lag behind in the comity of nations.

Respect begets respect. The ‘place’ for women is not ‘the kitchen’ only. You never can dictate a favour you were getting in the first place. If this doesn’t sum it up; probably nothing will, for there is no cure to narcissistic chauvinism.

Riz H

Riz H

The writer is Pakistan based adrenaline aficionado and he tweets as @RizTheWhiz (

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

  • KB

    No absolutely not blatantly ‘sexism’ although the wider point is still valid. To jump up and down about ludicrous stuff like being able to play cricket is superimposing a western paradigm of ‘morality’ upon the perfection of a divine ideology…. The system which claims to put men and women on an equal footing is the biggest joke that mankind has seen and, unfortunately due to the often perverse situations that women have found themselves in over the centuries, they have ‘settled’ for this as a standard and measure of success. So, whilst that comment was obviously made in jest, for anyone to think that Pakistani women playing cricket is somehow a tangible measure of achievement is distorted. Elevate mankind to real success rather than this phoney illusion. Islam is the only system which is not ‘sexist’.Recommend

  • Unknown

    Is he policy maker? Does his opinion matter other than on cricket? Everyone knows he is pathan and belong to tableegi jammat, All of them have typical mindset and will reply same. Then why media is asking this question from him? why not from Prime Minister etc. ? Prime Minister opinion matters not afridi’s one in women right laws implementation. Leave Afridi for cricket only please till he join politics then you should ask him these questions. If you ask a engineering question from a medical doctor, what will he reply? Same case here.Recommend

  • Talwaar

    Shahid Afridi is right. The place of a women is in the house. Isn’t it telling that after Kahadja (r.a) not a single of Muhammad’s wives worked outside the house? The only reason Khadija (r.a) was a working woman, because she did that before the advent of the message of Islam. According to Islam, Afridi is right.Recommend

  • Hasan

    Well written and agreed!
    Looking at the problem from another perspective: how can one expect a nation to progress when 51% of it’s population is not allowed to contribute to it’s progress and is just expected to make ’round rotis’?!?!

    There has been an immense amount of discussion on this topic in recent times, which is a marked increase from a few years ago. I expect that things would improve slowly, gradually, already I can see Pakistani women venturing out of their supposed abode, ‘the kitchen’.

    On a lighter note, I also do not understand why women are supposed to be the cooks? One hears that the best chefs are usually men! *cough, cough* plot twist! :PRecommend

  • Fahad Mustafa

    Per Islamic Teachings This is the duty of Man to provide Shelter and Food to his woman. Man is responsible to earn for living for his family (Wife and Children) whereas Woman is responsible to take care of Home. Allah has made Man more Strong and Powerful then Woman because he is to earn. Isn’t this the enough justification for ignorants to understand ? This is not the rocket science that one can not understand.Recommend

  • Supriya Arcot

    Ufff children FGS , Afridi is not a politician. He need not run after the public vote and be correct all the time. I personally like the fresh and frank way in which he is speaking his mind without calculating and measuring his words for ‘acceptance’ by the general public. BTW cooking and cleaning is very much a kind of ‘contributing’ to the national economy.Recommend

  • Hammad Mian

    Further Info for Writer: Hazrat Nusaybah didn’t take part in the Battle of Uhad as a warrior. He intention was to provide water to the soldiers but later circumstances compelled her to hold a swrod in her hand. Moreover there is no single evidence that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) ordered any woman to fight in the battles.

    Hazrat Khadija did business before Islam but after getting married to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) she only focused on her children and home.Recommend

  • Spock

    Well he is Afridi, no one takes him seriously.Recommend

  • Sahrish Ahmad Gul

    She continued to work even after she had converted to Islam. Interestingly, her income was the major source of funding for the Islamic cause through its most difficult days. She was the first one to convert to Islam.
    When she had first proposed, Prophet Muhammad have had some reservations because he was ready to support a wife and a family. Her money had been used to run their house.
    When things were difficult for Islam in his earliest days, she would use the money she had been earning for free slaves, feed the poor Muslims, and finance the mission generally.Recommend

  • Sahrish Ahmad Gul

    Their marriage was such a beautiful example of what it feels like to be in a ego-free relationship, where husband and wife love each other and work together to make things happen for them.
    There is reason Allah made her the first convert to Islam. There was a lesson in it.Recommend

  • Sahrish Ahmad Gul

    The author had mentioned the example of Umm-e-Umara in the following words:

    “One of the women during the Holy Prophet’s (pbuh) time, Hazrat Nusaybah bint Ka’ab (RA),
    also known as Umm-e-Umara, not only took an active part in many battles
    but defended the Prophet (pbuh) and struck fatal blows to the opponents
    with her sword and arrows in the battle of Uhud, when many archers had
    left the crucial and tactical position.”

    She was admired for her skills even by the Prophet. And she took part in many battles not just the ones in which there was shortage of men.Recommend

  • khan

    Never forget what our religion tells us Mr Riz and top of that what was the question when he made that statement?? So rather than writing this big column and posting few pictures you should kept that question in your mind. That is why they said not everyone can write

  • Hasan

    Women has to be modest because of our Islamic values and on the other hand female are doing great job in so many fields. women aren’t just daughters sisters or mothers they are gynecologists, nurses, teachers, Aalima, social workers and so on. so when one is willing to serve with modesty then no one shoud lock them in he houseRecommend

  • Queen

    Your opinion reflects the mindset of 99 percent males present in our society who twist religion according to their wishes but fail to follow Islam when it comes to giving rights to others. It would be good if you can recall the example set by Khawlah Bint Al-Azwar (RA). Khawlah (RA) was trained by her brother on all arts of swordsmanship and she became a perfect knight. In the battle of Ajnadin, not far from Jerusalem, her brother lost his
    spear, fell from his horse, and was taken prisoner. Khawlah (RA) donned a male
    knight’s attire, took her arms and rode her mare through the Roman
    ranks, using her sword skillfully against whoever tried to stop her. The
    Muslim soldiers, and their leader Khalid bin Waleed (RA), watched her with great
    admiration, presuming that she was a man.

    So next time bro, don’t twist what Islam has taught us about women. Islam has given women complete rights equal to that of men, something which has not been given by any other religion in the world.

    And yes, kindly note that our Prophet (SAW) did not stop Khadija (RA) from doing her business and trade. No man can force a woman to work and similarly no man can force a woman to stop working either.Recommend

  • baig

    there is more then enough authentic Islamic literature there and waiting to take a look at ,stating that the natural and better place of woman is in the house. ( i am talking only in the context of the blog title).if you bring Islam in the context please go on and do a little research. If you are prepare to overlook the teachings then do as you wish.

    yes i can state many glorious example of the sahabia apart from these but they were in the time of need . our favourite junaid jamsheed in his early interviews talk about that he research for over 9 years and failed to find something permitting the music. so little research in this context would not do any harm for all of us.Recommend

  • abhi

    You need not to be a politician to say some encouraging word for a women cricket team, you just need to be a nice human being and consider women as human too.Recommend

  • Sahrish Ahmad Gul

    She had a home before converting to Islam. She had children from her first two marriages, and also children with Prophet Muhammad. Contrary to what you are stating, I am sure she must have been concentrating well on her business and family alike before converting to Islam. There was a reason Prophet Muhammad was so fond of her.

    She was the first convert to Islam, and the owner of a flourishing business. Money from which helped the Islamic cause during its toughest days. She had survived 10 years after Prophet hood. When the Islamic community was boycotted in 619 AD, she maintained it by providing food and financial help.

    Before the boycott, she would free the slaves by paying ransom to their owner through her money, and also would feed the Muslim Community.

    Holy Prophet had to face even more difficulties after she died. Many people with drew their support and deserted him because apparently, they were supporting him just because Hazrat Khadija was a woman of influence.

    Had she left her business and become a stay-at-home mom, it would not have been possible for her to help so many Muslim financially while they were persecuted for following Islam. Prophet Muhammad was not financially stable. Her earnings through those difficult days saved the Islamic Cause.Recommend

  • Sahrish Ahmad Gul

    Your argument is that women are predisposed to take care of home and children, and men are more fitted to do the jobs outside the house. In answer to that I would respectfully like to state some facts:
    1. The first convert of Islam was a business woman, who had continued to work after converting and lend support to the Islamic cause financially and by using her influence.
    2. If women are more suited for the homemaking jobs, then she would not be flourishing in every profession like they are flourishing in right now.
    3. There are more women enrolled in many universities – both public and private – than men. Let’s assume that these universities admit students on merit and do not have preference for enrolling females, then these women must have what it takes intellectually to make it into these universities.
    4. The fourth point is quite personal but when I compare my mother and father, I think my father has better understanding of children, and my mother is more suited to manage the ruthless affairs of the outside world.Recommend

  • Sahrish Ahmad Gul

    Please do share your examples with usRecommend

  • Reddy

    is that the same islamic literature which floated a lullaby earth is flat, mountains act as pillars on earth to support the fragile sky …ya ..islamic literature is full of it …but i rest my case thereRecommend

  • Muhammad Bilal

    I have read this kind of article in dawn just after leaked video. Is this a copy/inspiration.Recommend

  • Sonia K

    Most men commenting are either using the age old methods. …. this is said in this way in the teaching of Islam….. without any support for what they are saying and why they are saying so….. WHY should a woman stay at home when she is at par or even excels you in intelligence or skill… it could be mechanics, electronics or even business… Allah doesn’t state anywhere in the Quran that we gave man and woman different sets of brains… just a different set of hormones which gives a man more strength…. but DOESN’T AFFECT THE BRAIN FACULTY…. so if women in your household are better than you and it makes you feel good to put them down…. then it is a man’s sensibility that is questionable…. not a woman’s place in the world!Recommend

  • HB

    “”WHY should a woman stay at home when she is at par or even excels you in intelligence or skil”

    The prophet in his own words:

    Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri

    The Prophet said, “Isn’t the witness of a woman equal to half of that of a man?” The women said, “Yes.” He said, “This is because of the deficiency of a woman’s mind.”

    There are more less flattering ahadith about women being the majority in Hell, correlated by their lack of intelligence.Recommend

  • Sonia K

    Women go to hell coz of lower intelligence ….. that is really news to me …. coz I thought it was coz of making a wrong path… which has nothing to do with intelligence. … coz if being righteous and intelligent were equivalent then we would be leading at science or the Americans would have sucked at science. ….
    The so -called deficiency of a woman TESTIFYING in COURT ONLY…. and in NO OTHER SPHERE OF LIFE….. is proof enough why it was kept in the first place…… women in those times were not lawyers …. and didn’t have knowledge of law …. very few ran their own businesses and due to the period of jahiliya…… were set back…. to save them from humiliation of giving a wrong testimony and to allow the court to get a clearer picture…. it was made mandatory. …… not because she had a deficiency of intelligence or skill….
    Kindly learn the context of the hadith too….Recommend

  • Gurion

    Cherry-pick a odd example out of a few centuries of history and then strut around as if you have proven something!Recommend

  • Tahera

    Mr. Afridi may be good in sports but his arrogant, chauvinist and demeaning views about women are an utter DISGRACE to the nation!!! I wish I would have the chance to tell him this personally, I feel ashamed that he is a Pakistani! And for all those who defend his opinions as freedom of speech, to criticise him for this mindset to the best of my ability is my freedom of speech!Recommend

  • Queen

    Contrary to the popular belief about “strutting”, I think it is wise to correct someone if he/she is misquoting religion in order prove his/her level of knowledge about sensitive religious issues. I guess, even “cherry-picking an odd example out of a few centuries of history” requires some research in Islamic history.Recommend

  • true version

    Dis is the most ridiculous comment I hv ever read in my whole lifeRecommend

  • true version

    In dis present world, human strength is not imp but human intelligence and hard workness.Recommend

  • Akmal

    Please Leave Afridi alone…It was his point of view which you can disagree with, he didn’t make it a national policy that you are making such niose…Recommend