Sorry Bilawal, Pakistan’s misogyny will always confuse sensitivity with femininity

Published: October 31, 2016
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Bilawal is someone whom many of the urban middle class hate and their way of showing their hatred is by associating him with females and hence with the transgender community and gays. PHOTO: SCREENSHOT

“Aur tu aur Billo Rani bheebol rahi hai. Asif Zardari sahib, itna haram kamaia aap ne, thora sa Bilawal per lagain aur us ka technical masla theek karain.”

(Now even Billo Rani is speaking. Asif Zardari, please devote some of your illegal wealth towards rectifying Bilawal’s technical problem).

“Mein ne siyasat mein naheen aana, kyon ke Sheikh Rashid mujhe har roz gandy gandy messages karta hai.”

(I don’t want to come into politics because Sheikh Rashid sends me dirty texts every day.

The first of the above is an excerpt from Sheikh Rasheed’s speech in 2014, and the latter is one of the Facebook memes I have seen in the past few days which refer to Bilawal and mock his supposed lack of masculinity after he recently visited the Quetta massacre victims and cried.

I can also cite many dubbing videos which convey the same message that he is not masculine and therefore not fit to lead our “macho” nation.

Bilawal is someone whom many of the urban middle class hate and their way of showing their hatred is by associating him with females and hence with the transgender community and gays. I don’t know whether it humiliates him but it surely does reveal our society’s collective misogyny and homophobia.

In our culture, misogyny is deeply rooted and at times expresses itself in seemingly ‘humorous’ forms. For example, when we want to put a guy to shame, we doubt his masculinity and try to equate him to a female or simply call him a transgender.

Masculinity has become associated with bravery, intelligence, and some kind of superiority and thus when we want to appreciate some individual due to these perceived qualities, we call him a real man. In fact this kind of mind-set has become so common that at times when we want to appreciate bravery of a woman, we try equating her to a man. For example, many a time, I have heard people saying that a particular woman has more ‘balls’ than everyone else. This statement, though apparently appreciative of the woman in question, nevertheless is an outcome of the culture which equates so called better qualities like valour with masculine physical attributes.

Likewise, when we want to ridicule a man, the ‘best’ way to do so is to call him a ‘sissy’ or effeminate. Thus feminising becomes a way to insult a man because at a collective level, misogyny reigns supreme. And this misogyny is also expressed at a political level.

Right now, this is what I am observing with respect to Bilawal Bhutto. Many, particularly from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), are making fun of him and calling him a lady boy, a transgender, and a homosexual because of the alleged effeminacy. It shows problem at two interrelated levels. Firstly, it is somehow or the other considered degrading for a male to resemble a woman even remotely; secondly, if he resembles one, then he is a homosexual, which again is in some form or the other considered disgusting in our collective mind-set. Misogyny blends with homophobic behaviour to show acute contempt for the individual whom we dislike.

  • mohan

    Sindhi are basically neighbors of Gujarati, Rajasthanis & Punjabi’s, a strong business communities, but why Sindhis have failed in Pakistan? Because of Politicians. Instead of asking US for Refinery Pakistani Politicians are asking Arms, Big Project of China is going on but not even 10% of raw materials used of manufactured in Pakistan. For eg. Bridges, Cement factories & Iron & Steel factories should be set up in Sindh & give opportunity to Sindhi community get more employment & good education to their children. Instead of Thinking & Development of Sindh provision Mr.
    Bilawal Bhutto is more interested in Indian Kashmir & Kashmirs.Recommend

  • M. S. Chaudhry

    Sheikh Rasheed has said far worse things about Imran Khan but thanks to our short memories, we have forgotten them. So, we will forget this too. Bilawal has taken a firm stand against extremism and terrorism which distinguishes his from rest. He must always stand tall and face consequences head on.Recommend

  • Concerned

    Dont have a problem with him crying because its feminine, its natural but if its genuine then it should be done in private, not on TV and twitter.
    I have a problem because this is the beginning of another sympathy vote campaign to show him as an “victim” ahead of the next elections.
    Recommend

  • lk

    Raza Habib, I totally agree with your views. Bilawal is one brave man, and as for his personal life, that is his business and no one else’s. That he broke down shows he has empathy for the suffering of others, especially as he is a victim of terrorism himself as he pointed out. Our obsession of being chauvinist shows ignorance sadly.Recommend

  • Sumbal

    Couldn’t agree more. Thank you for writing this.Recommend

  • Faiz Ahmed

    Because when a kid died in front of his protocol ……. He is nothing less then his fatherRecommend

  • Akbar

    People’s opinions on political parties extend to their leadership. If PPP wasnt so corrupt, or if it actively swayed away from Zardari, people would be more forgiving of Bilawal’s mannerisms.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Bilawal can cry, laugh, sing , talk and it would matter not ….. but the fact that he is unable to get out from under his father’s reputation. Recommend

  • MR.X

    Should never make fun of anyone who cries for his loved ones..
    PS:Feministy is associated with sensitivty ,ask any psychologist.Recommend

  • Nasir Jadran

    Raza Habib has written well. “It is okay to be critical of a party and its stances but there is a line beyond which criticism is no longer criticism and ventures into irrational hatred and of the sort which is misogynous in essence”. The mindset we live in this world needs thorough reformation.Recommend

  • Blue eyes

    Bilawal zardari is son of zardari not a Bhutto & In Pak & Sindhi culture boys don’t add their mother’s name .Traditionally, the Bhuttos’ are ZA Bhuto(Jr), Fatima both children of a Bhutto, Murtaza People have yet to know the hand behind the killing of Murtaza Bhutto & his sister. PPP of today is not the one of the Bhuttos’ while the writer assumes it as such..Recommend

  • Najeeb Shah

    No thanks, there is a set standard of masculinity and we dont need to be apologetic for it. Recommend

  • MR.X

    spot on..women femsplaining masculinity to us..Men are less sensitive everyone knows that..they want men to become a bunch of pansies so we can bow to them..Recommend

  • farhan

    they want to control our behavior ,these feminists..of course masculine men are less sensitiveRecommend

  • Yasir

    THANK YOU!!!Recommend

  • Salim Alvi

    What is in the name? Iqbal Lahori was Cashmeri Bramhin Sapru Srinagari a generation or two back. Same is true about Jinnahbhai. Few generations back Hariyanwi Rajput Bhutto were not even Sindhi. Jawaharlal Cashmeri was Gazi not a Pandit two generations back.Recommend

  • Salma

    it also shows a sick mind set – a deprived society after all what they like imran for mainly for his macho looks. There is no cure for this nit even education but to their dussapointment poor love bilawal so their distorted minds can support sheikh rashid who sets masculine standards for them. Recommend