Does Pakistan’s media encourage sexism?

Published: December 8, 2014

It would be hard to blame it on any specific instance but these statements simply perpetuate the gender hegemony present in our society. PHOTO: REUTERS/ FILE

The recent controversy surrounding Junaid Jamshed has dominated social media over the weekend. The matter is between him and God; I am in no position to comment on the apology or the blasphemy issue at all. Maybe this incident will open a conversation about the blasphemy laws in Pakistan. However, I am surprised at the lack of a conversation around the casual sexist remarks passed by public personalities in the media in Pakistan.

Junaid Jamshed has previously suggested that men should not teach their wives how to drive. In response to the recent controversy, Aamir Liaquat responded in kind with comments about Junaid Jamshed’s mother. We live in a country where the most common abusive words involve a person’s mother and sister.

There are numerous instances of casual sexism in our media that we largely ignore, or accept. Shahid Afridi might as well have said that women belong in the kitchen when he was asked about the girls’ cricket trials in Peshawar. Our most famous stage show, Baqra Kistoon Par, opens with a joke about Umar Sharif tying the woman to the house instead of the cow. Shaikh Rasheed repeatedly ridicules Bilawal Bhutto for being feminine. Rana Sanaullah appeared on television defending the son of a MNA, accused of rape, by putting the blame on the girl for willingly being in a room with the man.

When Jasmeen Manzoor tweeted about being in a meeting with Zardari, Abid Sher Ali responded with a

“Are u alone :-)”