She eliminated gender discrimination by eliminating the opposite gender, her sons

Published: August 24, 2015

Brittany Pilkington sits in Bellefontaine Municipal Court, after the 23-year-old mother was charged with murdering her three young sons.

A recent piece of news making headlines across the globe is the murder of three sons by their mother in Chicago. The mother went on a blood-soaked rampage because her husband chose to give more attention to their sons rather than their daughter.

The motherly instinct within her sparked and she sought to protect her daughter from a lifetime of patriarchal subjugation and castigation, by choosing to eliminate the threat completely.

This incident highlights two important perspectives on the prevalent gender discrimination and the lengths people go through for equality.

Firstly, given that the mother felt strongly about the discrimination against her daughter, killing her sons in order to break the ‘shackles of patriarchy’ was not the answer. In fact, it is the vilest act a human being can commit. Gender discrimination is a sad fact, but the answer does not lie in tilting the blame towards innocent young children who have played no role in exacerbating the situation.

Secondly, gender discrimination is a much deeper issue that cannot, and should not, be resolved by picking an axe, pun intended, with the men in society. It is the psyche and norms within society that need to be changed via education, awareness and open-mindedness, rather than heinous crimes that send shudders down one’s spine.

Unfortunately, we are born and bred in a culture where the chicken pieces and glasses of pure cow’s milk are reserved for the son or the husband, and where good education is a privilege reserved for males. In Pakistan, gender equality is a notion curtailed to textbooks and individuals, termed as ‘westernised, pseudo liberals’. There are tons of typical aunties out there, babbling about their sons’ 2:1 results, but are completely fine with marrying their daughter right after she completes her A’ Levels! Being a male, though no accomplishment in any sense of the word, is a get-out-of-jail-free card, which is used on such a regular basis that we as a society have become immune to.

Sons are given preference, irrespective of whether they are the first born or fifth born. Women, whether from the elite class, educated background or from the lowest socio-economic echelons of society, continue to churn out daughters until their prized possession, i.e. their son, enters into the world. As soon as he roars his manly cry, the entire family swoons over this little trophy who has been born and shall raise the family’s prestige.

Eighteen years down the lane, he still possesses the same limbs and the same mental faculties as his sister. What families don’t realise is that their prodigal son is just as much a hero as their daughter, if only given an iota of a chance to blossom into her potential. Moreover, it is a puzzling fact that we often hear statements such as ‘girls mature faster than boys’ and ‘girls are smarter than boys because they work harder’, yet in most families males are prioritised over females.

A huge part of the patriarchal problem rampant within our society boils down to gender role socialisation, which was waxed eloquent by the sociologist Emile Durkheim. The reason why some mothers place daughters in second place, irrespective of being women themselves, is because that is the culture and social milieu within which they have been raised.

From familial norms to castigating a woman and a man within traditional roles on TV dramas and films, a woman is subconsciously fed to believe that she is biologically inferior. Books such as ‘Peter and Jane’ continue to be taught in kindergartens all across Pakistan, which define stereotypical roles for girls and boys by depicting Jane in a dress playing with her dolls in doors, whilst Peter is in jeans climbing trees and helping his dad wash the car outside.

Despite hailing from an educated background, I grew up watching my friend’s mother give birth to one daughter after another, in the hopes of fulfilling her mother-in-law’s dream of having a grandson. In my own family, restraining the female within the shadows of patriarchy has never been the case. I have grown up with a grandmother who did her PhD despite having four children, a mother who finished her Masters before accepting any proposals and a father who fought tooth and nail with our relatives to treat the son and daughter equally by sending both of them away from home for education.

This is not to wax eloquent about certain families whilst ridiculing others, but to highlight the need for us to move beyond gender discrimination and start treating both the sexes equally. And for this, both men and women have to assist one another; men need to give women the space to perform, whereas women need to stop victimising themselves in the name of gender.

Again, it is important to reiterate that the issue cannot be solved by tilting the blame onto men. It is a psychological problem that influences the way we perceive the world around us; both men and women are equal players within the game of gender discrimination. And taking innocent lives in the name of protection is never the answer to anything.

Shanza Faiq

Shanza Faiq

The author is a student at LUMS, studying LAW with the hopes of making Pakistan a better place; one argument at a time. She tweets @shanzaf.

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

  • Faraz Talat

    And now, we wait patiently for the comments that it’s all feminists’ fault for speaking up against gender inequality.Recommend

  • Muhammad Akbar

    ok, you got a news to post anti men stuff.Recommend

  • Critical

    Wow,Feminists are very “interesting”…..They just want to twist and turn every single thing they get into a feminist agenda….

    This case was clearly a case of a mentally disturbed woman who imagined things and took an extreme step….

    Now what do you want us to do??? Kill all male child to ensure better treatment for female children???Recommend

  • Sal

    so the article moved for condemning the mother from killing 3 sons to blaming everything on men. Nicely done.Recommend

  • Mehreen Yousaf

    I don’t think this was an attempt at creating gender equality. The choice of words for the article’s title are poor thought out indeed, bordering on sick. The lady obviously wasn’t in her right state of mind. The defendant’s justification for a crime does not automatically become the reason the crime was committed.

  • Critically Honest

    Everything hasn’t been blamed on men. Do read the first line of the last paragraph.Recommend

  • Critically Honest

    Hahhahahah exactlyRecommend

  • C.M.H

    While there is no denying the fact that gender inequality is prevalent in societies yet it is disturbing to hear that this is the stance hardcore feminists are working towards. It feels like the human race is trying to go back to the dark ages again.
    Men and women, both are human beings and with that similarity both should look out for the rights of each other and strive to make this world a better place for both, not a prison for one and a palace for the other.Recommend

  • PlainOldTruth

    Social constructionist superstition is held by many beyond the typical Marxism-influenced feminist.Recommend

  • PlainOldTruth

    Here is a recent article on female serial killers that sheds some light on public misperceptions about female aggression and female criminality: “An Uncensored Eye on Evil: Candice DeLong Unflinchingly Takes on Deadly Women” on Female Serial Killer Index (blog), Aug 8, 2015

  • Critically Honest

    The article’s title isn’t meant to be taken literally. Sick or not, barbaric acts in lieu of patriarchy are committed everywhere. About time the real issue is highlighted. Mental abnormalities are stemmed not just from nature, but nurture too.Recommend

  • Critically Honest

    Time for the anti-feminist critics to start rallying against the article. Good piece of writing, opens one’s eyes towards a reality we take for granted.Recommend

  • Chopra TP

    Feminist theory has many flaws e.g the insistent theories about patriarchy scheming against the women about anything & everything in the times gone by and now. In reality many of the gender roles and limitations were borne out of a symbiotic relationship between men and women. Men and women have different strengths and in a harsher time the only way to survive was if everyone focuses on their strengths and divide the labor in most effective way. Now with the luxury of modern technology to make life easier some of those roles and limitations that had become institutionalized look oppressive to Women. As a result many feminists lash out at male species as a whole. This unfortunate women is an extreme example of Feminism turned to Male hatred gone way-2 too far.Recommend

  • Critically Honest

    Brilliantly written piece, really loved it. About time someone highlighted this issue again, has died down lately. Good use of english. Express Tribune needs such writersRecommend

  • How does this have anything to do with gender equality, resistance to patriarchy, and the feminist movement in general? The woman was clearly mentally disturbed and her poor children paid the price for it. Pretending that this incident can be the basis of a serious conversation on gender imbalance is either foolish or disingenuous.Recommend

  • Aaliya

    Ehh this woman was mentally ill. It’s clearly obvious. Her crimes had little to do with gender discrimination and everything to do with her illness rendering everything stated in this article as a moot argument. Recommend

  • Naeem

    These days every Tom, Dick and Herry is writing nonsense and ET is publishing.

    Dear author,

    Are you trying to justify a crime in the name of gender discrimination!!

    This is not a case of gender discrimination! its simply a case of heinous crime done probably out of Mental disorder!

    People who are fighting gender discrimination are doing a good noble job, please don’t insult them by equating their work with criminal acts.Recommend

  • Salma

    Misleadig to the core. Motherly instincts exploded to cause the death of her own flesh and blood? Most incredible statement that can be made. Shanza, if you wish to be read, pleas be credible. If you wish to be credible, please pause before you dash off to write a blog of this kind.Recommend

  • ABC

    So tomorrow if I kill someone I will say, its due to gender discrimination of male members of society. Writer seriously needs to see a psychologistRecommend

  • truth

    Poorly written article .. Mental Sickness and Retardation linked to gender discrimination that too connoted with a Father’s love for his sons. A sickened preamble selected in an attempt to stand out…Recommend

  • Ahmed Ali

    It’s not wrong for a parent to develop a stronger predilection for some children than others. I have witnessed it many families. Fathers loving daughters more, mothers loving sons more. Why do you want to vilify that poor man for loving his sons more?Recommend

  • Syeda Ali

    Thanks for sharing. This is so tragic!! :-(Recommend

  • Critically Honest

    “motherly instincts” was used as a form of sarcasm. The whole article is loaded with sarcasm, that must is pretty obvious. If YOU wish to be credible, please pause and read in between the lines.Recommend

  • Critically Honest

    People need to understand the sarcasm behind the article, when using words such as ‘motherly instincts’ etc.Recommend

  • Rasetsu

    Whoever this author is, needs to have a mental evaluation. Justifying murder, by stating it was a preventative action against discrimination?

    Under the same line of reasoning, a guy should be able to kill his child’s mother, to prevent paying child support.

  • “in lieu of” doesn’t mean what you think it means.Recommend

  • Seems like you missed the glaring problem with how this article gratuitously implicates feminism in something completely unrelated.Recommend

  • Jennifer Ricketts

    The writer of this article needs to do some research. This happened in Ohio, not Chicago. And the mother didn’t go on a “blood soaked rampage.” She allegedly suffocated her three sons on three different days over the course of 13 months. Recommend

  • Sundas Rashid

    love your wicked ways:DRecommend