Is morality determined by the length of a woman’s blouse?
Over time I have noticed a common trend on Pakistani Facebook pages, especially those of designers and celebrities: crude, caustic and downright hateful slandering of celebrities.
I recently stumbled upon a picture of Humaima Malick looking gorgeous in an elegant Élan ensemble and all I could think of was the talent and beauty that exists in our country. But then I read the bitterest of verbal abuses on the picture, which included:
“She is lookin’ dumb and her makeup is damn worst”
“Kitni ugly hai pata nai kyun uthaya hua hai isko”
“This is behayaee and immoral behaviour”
Apparently, showing inches of your midriff is “immoral” and a bigger issue than dishonesty, breach of rights, self-righteousness and hatred. If a dress were to simply determine how decent or virtuous a person was then one wouldn’t need to develop any virtue at all.
A woman in a scarf is seen as pious and one in a western attire as corrupt; a baseless prejudice that has people believing that morality lies in the length of a woman’s blouse.
Funnily, all of these comments came from women using pseudonyms and pictures of objects or animals in their display pictures. It became apparent that these women were living highly controlled and over-protected lives. Sadly, women living under the strict patriarchal control of their husbands, fathers or brothers are not allowed to wear what they want, go where they want, work where they want and sometimes even marry who they want. Women who demand their basic rights are subjected to abuse and violence; curbing their chances to grow, thrive and survive.
This points to the root issue of the breach of basic human liberties, including self-expression and living in a manner one pleases. Living in the 21st century, where the world is witnessing the discoveries of the first draft of the human genome, Shinya Yamanaka’s induced pluripotent stem cells, Higgs boson at CERN and Photonic molecules at MIT, we are stuck judging women for their choices in dressing.
It is unfortunate because, instead of respecting basic rights, they conveniently bash those who choose to live uninhibited lives. How can women be empowered when the image of an empowered woman becomes a subject to hate? When will women realise that they can only grow if they allow other women to freely express themselves?
Our people need to realise that the country can only progress culturally if we reassess our standards of morality and respect, and appreciate everyone in the same manner. Making an issue out of something so trivial and labelling it immoral would not only disempower women but the entire generations to follow.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.