Why Pakistani men need to learn the art of ‘keeping it in their pants’

Published: April 19, 2018
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A man in Lahore was masturbating openly in the streets while looking at a school bus full of teenage girls.

I came across a Facebook post recently which made me question the way this society thinks and functions, and raises multiple red flags about the way we live. A man in Lahore can masturbate openly in the streets while looking at a school bus full of teenage girls, and there is no mention of it anywhere. However, when a Facebook post in response to it tries to highlight the problem at hand, the fragile male egos of Pakistani men are immediately threatened.

FLASHING, SEXUAL HARASSMENT incident: Today a friend in lahore was in her university van. The van had stopped to wait…

Posted by Pakistan Speaks on Monday, April 9, 2018

There were several problematic comments on the post, but the one that took the cake was,

Mera jism, meri marzi.”

(My body, my choice.)

This is a clear reference to the Aurat March held at Frere Hall on International Women’s Day to mark all the struggles Pakistani women go through.

This comment was supposed to “protect” the man’s “right” to his body. According to multiple people on that post, they should be allowed this right, just as “desi liberals” and “fake feminists” want bodily rights for themselves.

Well, let me break it to you. A man doing such an act anywhere is unacceptable. It is not the protection of some right to allow anyone to behave this way. By making women uncomfortable and making them feel public spaces are only for men, such people are not only trying to find shameful and disgusting ways of reiterating patriarchy, but are also trying to instil fear into the minds of women.

Another comment on the Facebook post, a comment with thousands of likes, said,

“Next the feminists will say ‘we will also do this to show you equality’.”

Why do people feel the need to shame women? While the post and picture at hand were condemning such shameful acts in public spaces, people grabbed it as an opportunity to oppress women further. They take the man’s offence lightly and all but run to uphold their masculinity. This idea that masculinity needs to be reiterated and reminded constantly is toxic for the country.

While “mera jism, meri marzi” was an Aurat March slogan, aimed at protecting women’s rights and protest against oppression, it is now being used casually as a tool to mock women on online forums, as if to say these incidents are the ‘result’ of such freedom. And these men with their inflated egos, how would they behave had a woman of their family been subjected to such a sight? Would the comedy, mockery and profanity still have been acceptable? Would the comments have been appropriate then?

What upsets me the most is that I have to draw the aforementioned analogy in order to instil the intensity of such events in men. Is the “what if it was your mother or sister” argument absolutely necessary to awaken humanity and respect inside such men? Perhaps it is true that Pakistani men only understand atrocities when thinking of them with their mothers or sisters in mind.

Why can this not be counted as understood rights and wrongs? No matter what the argument or the context, some things are inherently wrong, and this is one of them. A man masturbating in broad daylight in one of the biggest cities in the country is not acceptable. Never. Not here, not anywhere.

Unfortunately, this incident isn’t the only one. A rickshaw driver in Lahore was filmed doing the same thing while looking at two girls at the front gate of Punjab University. Imagine, walking out of your university and experiencing this, would it not traumatise anyone? How do you think these women felt? Or how traumatised they were?

Everyday on front gates of Punjab university Lahore specially gate #15, girls are being harassed. Guards and every person who belongs to this university is silent on this serious issue. Everyday when girls leave university they have to face this. This is shameful and unacceptable. It's an humble request to each and everyone kindly take action against this so our sisters dont have to face this everyday.

Posted by Pendu Production on Friday, April 6, 2018

It is hypocritical how a man can go around flashing his private parts but a woman has to be covered from head to toe. How is it that women are never to discuss their monthly menstrual cycle, never to reveal their bra strap, and are always to stay concealed to stay protected?

Such acts are also forms of structural violence, where men abuse their status and use it to oppress and scare women. It is an offence of the law, and simultaneously, is also a show of power by highlighting that the very streets women walk on are not safe for them. It is only safe for men, who have the ability to ride motorbikes or rickshaws and stop them mid-road to flash their private parts at a bunch of  girls, without any fear of accountability. The very fear driving women to cover their head, their chest and their legs is wildly absent in men.

A woman in Pakistan has zero autonomy over her body. She has to behave a certain way, dress a certain way and appear a certain way, while men are free from such chains. Why are these acts only associated with women? Men roam these streets free of blame and when confronted with a problem, rather than accepting inherent flaws in society, they defend such acts. A Pakistani man can enjoy privileges few women can even touch. The gender gap in the country has led to women being pushed further down the spiral of oppression, and while events such as these violate multiple rights of the girls involved, no voices are raised for them.

To all the men who just need an excuse to make a point to the ‘feminists’ they hate with a passion, this is not a battle between feminists and others, and even if it is, both sides should not sway from the main point, that women need to be respected and they need to be treated like equal citizens.

These issues are so stigmatised in the society that merely discussing it raises eyebrows. Women aren’t allowed to discuss this openly, for fear of backlash. These issues need to be addressed before they make way into our daily lives. If a rickshaw driver and a man on a bike on the street can masturbate openly, who is to say one of us won’t walk out of work or university and find ourselves as the next victim too?

While women cover sanitary napkins in brown paper bags even in the darkest of nights, men can carry their body around with pride and take their genitals out freely; this streak of imbalance needs to change for women to actually reclaim public spaces and basic rights.

Or who knows, we may have to rewind back to the Suffrage Movement.

Warda Imran

Warda Imran

The author is an aspiring journalist and intersectional feminist. She aims on traveling the world, loves film analysis, comics, and commenting on social issues. She tweets @wisheikh (twitter.com/wisheikh)

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

  • AAM

    Such acts done by men any where are totally disgusting, against the morale values and unacceptable. I highly condemn such acts by men doing it in front of females. But on the other hand some females also should adhere to proper clothing and coverings. If such acts by men makes female uncomfortable then the type of clothing wore by some female also make men uncomfortable. Please see it on both perspectives.Recommend

  • UMER RAFI

    Disgusting, totally disgusting and I will confess that this is not a rare sight as well. In metro, in local transport, in markets, you can see these colossal monsters everywhere. I am embarrassed, ashamed and I feel sorry for the lady there.Recommend

  • Shahzeb

    very well written and logical piece. need more writers like you!!Recommend

  • Shah (Berlin)

    This is definitely the most disgusting thing being done. And I also agree the comments like “mera jism meri marzi” dont fit at all !!! I personally feel there is a fight between “Feminist” and “anti-feminist” which is not addressing the real topic. Feminist in some point dont focus on female rights rather an absurd comparison with male. The response from the male are more pathetic which justifies such acts. I guess we need to address “serious” and “real” problems like rape, blaming victim, masturbating in public and domestic violence. Rather than discussing ” I can warm my food myself”…!!!Recommend

  • Shah (Berlin)

    THE SAME NON SENSE APPROACH! They should cover themselves..There are kids being raped and you think they were not covered. A NO is a NO even if that is said by a prostitute…PERIOD and yes I am a male myselfRecommend

  • Mai

    If certain clothing makes men uncomfortable, that’s a completely different story. Look away, engage with a different task. Do not whip out your genitalia.
    It seems to me, the men are getting a little TOO comfortable in such cases. Sick.Recommend

  • Mehreen Chandan

    Are you justifying such shameful acts? You need to get educated.Recommend

  • Farukh Riaz Gondal

    I’m really shocked to see all these disgusting things happened to female students. People like these two animals have no moral and social values, and they also have no regard for their sisters and mothers.there is dire need for females specially student to become more strong for their own survival in this stigmatized society.Recommend

  • Baba

    Bad Generalization.Recommend

  • Mohsin

    Classic “blame the victim” mentality. You need to grow up.Recommend

  • Israr Khan

    Mentally sick and wild. Their genitals must be chopped off. Honestly how sick is that? Height of immorality.Recommend

  • Amir

    don’t know why the author is comparing these uneducated men in society with respectable men in Pakistan. Though this is shocking article and I felt the same embarrassment as being a citizen of this country as these countrymen are bringing disgrace to my country.
    While writing this article author can highlight uneducated men / rickshaw drivers should learn to keep in their pants rather than bringing bad name to whole country and projecting it to all Pakistani men. These guys should be punished with their genitals ripped off from their body rather than being famed by these articles. And articles should portray a man in XYZ road got his genitals chopped off while flashing in public. Recommend

  • Abdul Moiz Qureshi

    While patriarchy is a major problem in Pakistan, I highly doubt any but the mentally challenged would engage in open masturbation. If this man’s family or friends were to find out this behavior, it would bring great shame to him, though definitely it would not be as devastating to him as if he were a woman, in which case he would probably be killed :(Recommend

  • Hamza Khan

    Well this is totally disgusting and disturbing, I’m a guy and I’ve been sexually harrased multiple times,like the bus conductor would try to grab my private parts , it happens with men too, nobody believes us, all I’ve gotten is that you look so gay that even the bus conductors tryna smash you.Recommend

  • Danish

    Media is at fault too. Why to propagate this kind of filth. Why to post this filthy video in your news item?Recommend

  • Ravian

    The man is clearly visible and recognisable, why can’t police take a “sou moto” action against him and make an example of him? You can’t expect teenage girls to be pursuing this with the law.Recommend

  • Hey! You!

    So, women are supposed to look away when men make them uncomfortable but its completely ok for men to carry out their dirty deeds?

    The girls were teenagers and wearing uniforms. There were nothing provocative. Some men are just disgusting freaks.Recommend

  • Sharmeen Aziz

    We are a sexually frustrated society, we know its wrong but hey we are a hypocrite nation and we dont care about other people feelings.Recommend

  • Ghessan

    there will always be a so called male ego that will be hurt if you challenge such people. they cannot be cured for the best, the only way out is give better education to the children, only then and that next generation could make a change. we have to work really hard and for long to make a change. but the sad thing is we have not yet started.Recommend

  • Musharaf Baig

    RIP our society and its moral existenceRecommend

  • Zohaib

    So you mean to say that men, in spite of the differentiation God has given us between right and wrong, don’t even have enough control over their lust that if they see a woman who is not dressed appropriately according to them, will always get aroused and do something like this? Are you talking about human males or animals like dogs? As a fellow human male, I refuse to associate with this animalistic mindset and way of thinking and acting. Doesn’t the Holy Book tell men to lower their gaze first before telling women to cover their ornaments?
    Recommend

  • razzaq shamshuddin

    As Muslims, this renders a person unclean—technically his next visit to the masjid
    is a no go area. until he has cleansed himself.
    this happening in a predominantly Muslim country speaks volumes about the attendance at mosques with this preoccupation in “release”-that not privately, but in full view of femalesRecommend

  • Faiqa Yasmin

    Lack of education? Sure?Recommend

  • Sharmeen Aziz

    If you are uncomfortable problem is with you not with female, sick mentality is the reason. If your argument is right he should have stopped when the girl sitting in front or the two ladies that came had “Proper Clothing” as per your evaluation.Recommend

  • Muhammad Rizwan

    Agreed, but why you said Pakistani men only? This is occurring across the globe, so you might be unknowingly addressing them also . Think Big!Recommend

  • peter pan

    This can happen only in Punjab!!!!!Recommend

  • Saeed Ansari

    There are two kinds of education
    One starts at your home
    other from educational insitutions …
    One should get both to address such matters .
    Also strong punishments should be given if you provide strong proves like this …Recommend

  • Dara

    Such mentally retarded people are in every society but its shameful that we too are not devoid of such anomalies. such acts should be sent and showed to the person’s family so that they are shamed and don’t repeat it again .
    At the same time These lines need careful evaluation, ” It is hypocritical how a man can go around flashing his private parts but a woman has to be covered from head to toe. How is it that women are never to discuss their monthly menstrual cycle, never to reveal their bra strap, and are always to stay concealed to stay protected? ”
    If we are going to publicize all these personal or at least gender specific matters, we are not doing it right way. A man and women body are unique to each gender and must not be flashed be it gratifying for self or others. women and men both must respect society when out in public and society must be honored more than the individuals otherwise soon we will be in total waste where human rights are destroying the society.Recommend

  • gp65

    Uh – no. In US you can be arrested for flashing. Growing up in India, I have never seen this.Recommend

  • Xahid

    when you see them, hit them with a stone. you can’t ignore it.Recommend

  • waqas

    Writer is so confused because when women has right to wear & do do whatever she want without hurt the freedom of anybody else then Men has not same right to wear & to do whatever he wants?? How riksha driver or motorcyclist hurting the freedom of anybody else? If you want Freedom of Expression in your society then you have to deal with all until someone hurt other. Comparison should be apple to apple the one who account account Riskshaw driver has also right to comment on Women Feminism thought & if one not concerned about other then everyone has right to do whatever he wants.Recommend

  • Dante

    Because growing up in India, you have seen much more heinous crimes. This is just a walk in the park by comparison.Recommend

  • gp65

    No, I have not. Rape per 1000 in India is not even among top 50 countries. The reason these things are reported so widely in India is because people consider them unacceptable. Also there are no laws in India (such as requiring evidence of 4 good Muslim men ) to prove rape which would be impossible for most women to prove and thereby suppress reporting of rape.Recommend

  • Patwari

    gp65, pleaseeese! There is a limit to how patriotic and nationalist you can be.
    “these things reported widely in Hindustan because people consider them
    unacceptable.”… So by your logic, they are acceptable in Mali? Austria?
    Bhutan? Or, not given much traction? Just a ho hum attitude there?
    Only in sanctimonious, self righteous, shining, rising Bharat does it get on everybody and his brother’s radar? They collectively rise up, with pitchforks, shovels, spades, and start marching towards Delhi.
    There was no need to bring up a religious/mullah angle to rape. And how
    two dozen witnesses are needed. That does not happen anymore.
    Do remember, Hindustan is squarely divided right now, over the horrific rape of a Muslim girl. They have managed to insert religion into this affair.
    Looks like the bad guys are going to win, again. Thanks to the anti Muslim
    hate and rhetoric peddled by Modi Sarkar.Recommend

  • fae

    Have you lost it? They have the freedom to masturbate in front of children?Recommend

  • fae

    so reading this is gonna make people wanna do it even more? wow u are stupidRecommend

  • Saadi

    What is “Mera jism, meri marzi”? Is this not a Muslim country and are we not supposed to behave in a decent manner? Are we not supposed to practice modesty? Any idiot of a male who says this needs to get his head checked. Someone should remind him to try this “Mera jism, meri marzi” in front of his own sister or mother. Had a normal male Pakistani seen this chap on the motorbike doing what he is, he would have received the kicking of his life.Recommend

  • Saadi

    Mai is saying the “men” should look away, not the women.Recommend

  • Saadi

    Nonsense! Two separate issues. This guy on the motorcycle is mentally sick. The poor school girls are wearing their school uniforms (in all likelihood shalwar kameez with a dupatta!). If this moron can find sexuality even in that then the problem is with him. Don’t fall back to the silly defense of “well women should cover themselves too”. This is not one of those situations.Recommend

  • Saadi

    I hate to say this, either you are mentally challenged or your sense of decency is way off. “How riksha driver or motorcyclist hurting the freedom of anybody else?” He is committing a sin, an indecent and immoral act (forbidden by Pakistani and the Islamic law) so where do you get off claiming “how is this hurting the freedom of anybody else?” Is it not our freedom to have our mothers and sisters go about their business without some infatuated, sick male exposing himself to them? Khuda ka wastaa, aqal istamal karo!Recommend

  • Saadi

    gp, just because you have not seen it does not mean that it does not and has not happened in India. Just recently a woman was raped by a man openly in India with nobody stepping in to help! Get off your silly tribalism.Recommend

  • Muhammad Rizwan

    Dude grow up and learn to accept, if you didn’t saw that doesn’t mean it didn’t happened in the country of your origin.Recommend

  • sheran khan

    and what about the sleeve less culture and skin tight clothing norm on woman nowadays??
    I have seen with my eyes how much disgusting the dressing of our women have become specially so called broad minded once. the women here are aslo sexually frustrated as men. Laws have to made for both modesty and harassment.
    I say First wear proper clothes then blame men.Recommend