Dear Imran Khan, please use your mind before you use your tongue. Sincerely, feminism

Published: June 22, 2018
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From Imran’s comments, it’s pretty obvious that he doesn’t know – or knows extremely little – about what feminism actually means.

“I disagree with the feminist movement that has degraded the role of a mother,” said Imran Khan.

Wait… what?!

That was my initial reaction when Imran’s words flashed on the news website. I blinked in confusion and re-read the words, thinking I may have misread them due to tiredness or lack of sleep. But no. There it was, as clear as rain – feminism apparently “degraded” motherhood.

Like most people who took to social media to protest how shocked and disgusted they were, I sighed in frustration and rolled my eyes at the mere ignorance of this man and decided to write this piece. Imran is a former cricket captain and has now turned into a politician, and has this “divine” interpretation of a vision of a ‘Naya Pakistan’ where the government will be cleaned up in 100 days, millions of jobs will be created in five years’ time, along with world-class schools and hospitals being built.

Never mind the big plans for Naya Pakistan, Imran. Pick up a dictionary, look under F for the word feminism and fix your ignorance!

“The advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.”

“A range of political movements, ideologies and social movements that share a common goal: to define, establish and achieve political, economic, personal and social equality of sexes”.

Feminist movements have campaigned and continue to campaign for women rights, including the right to vote, to hold public office, to work, to earn fair wages or equal pay, to own property, to receive education, to enter contracts, to have equal rights within marriage, and to have maternity leave. Feminists have also worked to ensure access to legal abortions and social integration, and to protect women and girls from rape, sexual harassment and domestic violence. Changes in dress and acceptable physical activity have often been part of feminist movements.

From Imran’s comments, it’s pretty obvious that he doesn’t know – or knows extremely little – about what feminism actually means. Born, brought up, living and working in the UK, I’ve experienced some of the aforementioned privileges that feminists have worked tirelessly hard to achieve. I was able to vote as soon as I turned 18 and had a voice about how things ought to be run in politics and in my country. That was due to the suffragettes – feminists who worked and struggled hard to earn us females that right.

I am able to own property in my name and receive an education just as much as the men do, and that came along due to the feminists’ hard work in the English law. I am able to enter contracts and have equal rights to my partner within a marital relationship because of feminism. Most of all, I was able to take a year off work – and get paid for it as well – and go on maternity leave so I could spend time with my child and care for her. And that was due to feminism!

So, how on earth is feminism “degrading” to a mother when things like maternity leave were made possible because of this very movement?

Ironically, as he claims that feminism is ‘degrading’ mothers, his comments are degrading to women (not just mothers) and everyone who dreams of a world where men and women are equal. Dreams of equality do not damage humanity. What is, however, even more degrading is that this same man also opposed the Protection of Women Against Violence Bill along with his party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). Someone who so openly demonised a movement that has always safeguarded the rights of women has also played his part in further deteriorating the status of women in Pakistan. Should women not be protected if they are suffering abuse and violence? Is that not against motherhood?

As a Pakistani girl, I have witnessed many accounts of violence where women are vulnerable to abuse. A man who dreams of creating a ‘new Pakistan’ by creating jobs, schools and hospitals could begin a ‘new Pakistan’ by doing the right thing and avoid ‘degrading’ attitudes and words such as these.

If Imran’s words have established anything, it has confirmed that he isn’t the right person to comment on feminism and womanhood. It just goes to show how much more development his mind needs to go through before he can develop the maturity and the intellectual ability to comment on things like motherhood. Just because he can talk a ‘good talk’ – like a typical politician – doesn’t mean he has the right to make insulting comments like these.

Before making huge assumptions about ‘feminism’ and how ‘degrading’ it can be, people like Imran need to educate themselves about topics about feminism and womanhood. Use your mind before you use your tongue, as one wise person advised. Rather than making big promises about cleaning up government and world-class schools and hospitals, maybe get the simple, basic and most important things right.

It is imperative that Imran, before being a politician, practices being a decent human being first!

aneka.chohan

Aneka Chohan

The author is a freelance journalist and human rights activist. She tweets as @anekachohan (twitter.com/anekachohan)

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