In Pakistan, does #MeToo come with a desi tarka?

Published: May 19, 2018
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I can’t help but wonder if this cultural shift and our crafty nature has created a “ready, fire, aim” mentality. PHOTO: EXPRESS TRIBUNE

The #MeToo campaign was initiated by activist Tarana Burke, after she had a conversation with a 13-year-old girl who opened up to her about sexual abuse. 

The victim: A 13-year-old girl. 

The purpose: To give her a voice

The concept was to create awareness, and give a platform to the victims when their vulnerability had been taken advantage of. This was sexual assault, a highly sensitive matter.

The international movement was bound to come home one day, and of course, in a country where the Chinese don’t recognise their own Manchurian and where pizza has seekh kebab layered over it, we gave the #MeToo movement a desi “tarka”.

Belonging to the social media generaion, I see manipulation of every kind on a daily basis. The internet audience is lazy, easily blinded by emotional fury, and devoid of any sense of justice. As I scroll through the recent and ongoing controversy circling the web – Meesha Shafi and Ali Zafar – I can’t help but wonder if this cultural shift and our crafty nature has created a “ready, fire, aim” mentality.

It is a basic axiom of our culture that women must always be believed, and that they never make false accusations. This is classic totalitarianism, which is a favourite amongst many radical feminists. Using the armed AK-47 that is social media, the greatest perk this movement offers is unaccountability.

Men are guilty without being given a chance to respond or defend themselves. The moment an upload is complete and the first “like” is hit, they are put in the exact same category as “sex offenders”. This has become a dogpile where anybody can insert a hashtag, name a person they don’t like for whatever reason, and shame them publicly. The accused remains guilty, until proven to be guiltier.

I am a woman.

We lie.

Especially when it suits us.

Rape is a crime, and so is sexual harassment. But what started as a cause for the supressed has now become a weapon for the manipulative.

Zainab Ansari was a victim – she was powerless. But if educated, successful women like Shafi don’t know what to do if somebody touches them without their consent, and have to wait for an “appropriate time” to come out with their allegations, then there is no hope for those women who are less powerful or lack agency.

If we believe we will never suffer backlash, then sadly we are mistaken. Ambitious women scare men. Period. Men have always needed a reason to ensure women are never equally successful. And now, we are giving them a motive. We are making men afraid to interact with women in an office environment, to give them a compliment at the workplace, or to even be caught alone in an elevator.

The gender discrimination in turn will be unprecedented. The tapes of time will be rewound to the middle ages in terms of patriarchal dominance. This will result in a domino effect, disastrously decreasing the already depleting career opportunities for women.

We think we can play dirty and win. We cannot.

Sooner or later, we will all sit down at a banquet of consequences cooked by a few nearsighted, opportunistic women. And it won’t be a tasty meal for any of us.

The #MeToo movement should have been about giving women the courage to be their best selves and to compete, interact and associate with men on an equal footing – not to embed ourselves in their subconscious as a time bomb, waiting to explode.

We – the internet jury, judge and executioners – need to remember: The villain doesn’t always wear a suit.

Shamael Fraz

Shamael Fraz

The author is an entrepreneur, a social media influencer, a voracious reader and a passionate writer. She can be a coffee snob, with sarcasm as her loyal side kick.

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

  • Salman Khalid

    To the point , well written.

    Finally someone spoke for the men.

    Can’t find more blogs by this writer can someone help in that regard.Recommend

  • Sohail Ahmad

    I strongly believe this movement is based on humanity . “The international movement was bound to come home one day, and of course, in a country where the Chinese don’t recognise their own Manchurian and where pizza has seekh kebab layered over it, we gave the #MeToo movement a desi “tarka”. Such statements seems a joke to victims and their families who suffered and are suffering. The social media is a strong tool for those who cannot raise their voice in mainstream media and its impact is changing rapidly. Women is most vulnerable here and in other parts of the world. Rape and sexual harassment cases are very hard to prove even in the first world.Your writing style is good but please think twice before making sarcastic comments !Recommend

  • Sadia

    Spot on. Period. I am glad someone had the courage to write this.Recommend

  • Anoop Tahir

    Totally agree that #MeToo movement is about giving courage to women to be their best selves not to exceute & backlash people on social media.

    Very well written Shamael.
    Looking forward to morRecommend

  • Dee kay

    Finally someone wrote on issue as a human, not as a man or woman. That is probably why this makes sense.Recommend

  • Sadia

    You may be right about the particular comment, but the point of the article here stands strong. Have you thought about what happens to men who become victims of false accusations, charged in the court of social media, careers ruined, isolated by their own people, looked upon with disdain all their lives? The metoo movement has a strong purpose to it but let’s not forget that just because something is hard to prove, the accused be sentenced automatically by a mob mentality.Recommend

  • Mazhar Hayat

    Couldn’t agree more. I’ve always felt it in same sense but was afraid to share being a male. But you’ve nailed it. False accusations are never a support in the long run.
    Well written and balanced viewpoint. Haven’t I already expressed how interesting your write ups are. Keep Writing.Recommend

  • Mahira khawar

    very well written!!! Finally someone is looking at the other side of the coin!!!Recommend

  • Noor Fatima

    Beautifully written. I’m in awe!Recommend

  • Shamael Fraz

    Thank you.Recommend

  • Farhan

    Your entitlement and desire for censorship is part of the problem. Too many people want other people to stop asking questions and guilt trip them with plight of victims.

    The place where we stop asking questions and simply take whatever is given to us is where extremism startsRecommend

  • Khurram Syed

    To be honest, this #MeToo thing is a double edged sword, that can slice either side of the gender depending upon the social norms & religious affiliation of the ppl in community in focus. Through western lense it could be an effort to make masculine gender realise to behave according to liberal values ( which are seen normally quite blurred frankly in different setups at different times) but on the other hand it will be a very little effect (to be honest perhaps none) on our eastern society where religion is a focal point that drives the genders behaviour towards each other although it is another debatable how things can be improved to keep the men under civilised line. Definitely this #MeToo won’t.Recommend

  • Habiba Hisham

    Agreed with you!Recommend

  • Najam

    This is an amazing argument referring towards the amount of responsibility we must show towards such sensitive issues. Truthful and honest questions to both sides of the world, the one who are domesticated such issues for their personal or shortsighted interest and the other who are probably taking part, knowingly or unknowingly, in bringing biased and discriminated behaviors towards women.Recommend

  • Ammarah Khan

    Couldn’t have been said better than this! Ready, fire, aim depicts the marginalized approach of a crowded class where every window is narrowed down to a mirror and every mirror in a showcase. What made me bound to read till end is the power of the discourse!
    Much appreciated!Recommend

  • Misbah Farooq

    This article is kind of everything people are really divided upon. Even though i dont think its possible for any woman to be more balanced about the subject than this write up. It speaks the truth, clearly, logically about both sides. Both sides can be wrong, both sides can be right. Being a male or a female shouldn’t get u sympathies or support.
    Being truthful should.Recommend

  • Zakaria Bajwa

    At least someone from our society doesn’t live in the state of oblivion!Recommend

  • Saman Arshad

    I Literally was looking for someone to be up on the other side of the coin too and Here you are , Doing a Perfect Justice with what was needed on the issue.
    An Unprejudiced Review by an extremely Impartial person, I strongly Reckon.
    May Your Pen keep Writing. Ameen.Recommend

  • Sadia Awais

    Welldone Shamael … brilliantly written… bravo
    .. u hv power in ur words… looking fwd to read more from u 👏👏👏Recommend

  • Sidra

    It’s brave for a woman to write this, but being a woman shouldn’t hold you back from being fair.
    People lie irrespective of gender.
    Men lie and women lie too.
    Great read. Hope to read more from you.Recommend

  • Uzi

    Please avoid the paternalistic attitude. The writer has exercised her freedom to express her views. Write an article to counter the arguments in a scholarly way rather than reprimanding the writer.Recommend

  • Muneera Batool Hashmi

    #metoo has been about women calling men out and as a consequence we are going to invite backlash from many conservative males. That’s inevitable. But does that mean that we should become silent? NO! If we won’t get jobs because of patriarchy fearing women as a time bomb then we will create our own jobs. We don’t need men to steer our path. We can steer our path ourselves. Women have always been threatening some men and that should NEVER stop us from making sure that our voice is heard.Recommend

  • Kalim

    Good article. Some people have hijacked the “me too” movement for their personal gains and the noble cause behind it being forgotten.Recommend

  • Sabeeha M

    You penned down the feelings of a large majority. These questions regarding social media have left us puzzled too, the trendsetters and the followers , both seem to be lost, glad someone had the courgaey to voice this.Recommend

  • Kashif ch

    Can not agree to everything it says but have to admit that the writing is top notch .. very nicely written ..looking forward to more write upsRecommend

  • Shamael Fraz

    Muneera thank you for your comment. Appreciate you taking the time out to read the article.

    Feminism doesn’t means we become inversely sexist. It is about fairness. As humans. Not gender based.

    I never asked anyone to stay quiet about a genuine issue. My blog is all about raising a voice, only not crying wolf.

    If we have the opportunity and medium to raise a voice, we should use it wisely.Recommend

  • Waqas

    Great, excellent readRecommend

  • farhan

    clearly you demonstrate why we men have insecurities with women(so called empowered) like you..Just prove a man guilty without any fact.. no logic..only emotions..emotional rants dont win logical arguments(which the writer clearly made), bravo to her.Recommend

  • Shamael Fraz

    Thank you.

    When all is said and done, truth should be the victor, irrespective of gender.Recommend

  • AJ

    A quite interesting readRecommend

  • Hasan

    #Metoo has come to India, but not Pakistan. We are no angels. Shame on us for not being honest.Recommend