Stories about gender bias

What is the older generation’s obsession with the word ‘compromise’ when it comes to marriage?

Marriage has too many complicated stereotypes attached to it. The more obvious ones include what the rishta aunties say all the time: “Apki beti khana pakati hai?” (“Does your daughter cook?”) “Apki beti lambi hai?” (“Is your daughter tall?”) “Apki beti ziyada umer mein bari tou nahi?” (“Your daughter isn’t too old, is she?”) “Apki beti zeyada tou parhi likhi nahi hai?” (“Your daughter isn’t ‘too educated’, is she?”) The aunties want their sons to be the ones who run the show — the girl shouldn’t be too smart, too educated. She has to be just the right amount of literate. Also, she should definitely know how to cook ...

Read Full Post

“May God bless you with a son” – But what if I don’t want one?

When I was expecting my first child, the occurrence itself was immensely exciting, hence pondering over the gender of my baby didn’t seem important at that time. However, others were more concerned about the gender, thus I would come across common remarks such as, “Allah (SWT) beta hi dai ga.” (God will bless you with a son.) Nonetheless, I would ignore such comments and tell myself that sons are typically perceived to be more precious than daughters by such people, thus they wish accordingly for others. But they didn’t have to say it to my face as it put me under bizarre pressure of giving birth ...

Read Full Post

So what if Reham Khan is divorced?

There are occasions when the misogyny and gender-bias that exists in Pakistan becomes more obvious than ever. Imran Khan’s wedding to Reham Khan has been one such occasion that has brought to light the underlying and inherent concept that an “honourable woman” needs to have certain pre-requisites. On the top of that list is this: she must not be a divorcee. For most men of Pakistan, even the so-called educated ones, the only women of honour are their own mothers, sisters, wives and daughters. Any other woman’s repute, especially that of a divorced woman, is something they can plunder, especially if she ...

Read Full Post

Real men do(n’t) cry

He was sharing some of his deepest secrets about his childhood; his fears, his regrets, his loss – of a loved one, of dreams, of time lost that could have been utilised better, of a life that could have been. I witnessed this man break some barriers in those moments as he dared to bare his soul, something men in our society are not taught to do. But most importantly, this man dared to cry, that too in front of a woman. In those moments, I saw bravery. Because he kept saying, “See? I’m crying. I didn’t even know I could cry ...

Read Full Post

#WhyIStayed: Understanding why women stay with abusive husbands

When the disturbing video of National Football League (NFL) star, Ray Rice, beating up his wife in an elevator, after knocking her unconscious and dragging her out, surfaced in the media the harrowing narrative of domestic violence remerged with all its might and force. And the news of Janay Rice lashing out at the media for releasing the video and advising the media to mind its own business made her look like an even bigger culprit than her husband. It’s a common example of how the victim is demonised and morphed instantly into a culprit, if she does not fit our tailored standard of sham ...

Read Full Post

Throwing ‘like a girl’ is not an insult!

If you haven’t seen the new advertisement from the Procter and Gamble-owned Always, then you need to see it. This advert, which explores what it means to do something ‘like a girl’, topped the Campaign Viral Chart, bumping Activia’s Shakira video off the first place. It has been shared 536,519 times in the last few days, and it is definitely something everyone should watch. Directed by the award winning filmmaker, Lauren Greenfield, who also directed the famous documentary, The Queen of Versailles, this commercial begins with a bunch of grownups entering the studio and being asked to demonstrate how to run, fight and ...

Read Full Post

6 do’s and don’ts for Pakistani husbands

It isn’t often I feel the urge to write a long winded response to a fellow blogger’s work; however, this is one of those instances. Before I begin, I want to make it clear that I mean no disrespect to the author of “13 ‘Do-Nots’ housewives can wave goodbye to in 2014” and “14 ‘Dos’ for die-hard housewives in 2014“, nor do I intend any insult. I would simply like to share my two cents. While I feel the topic on marriage has been ‘done to death’, after reading two consecutive articles centered on what a wife should and shouldn’t do, ...

Read Full Post

‘Re-virginising’ in a tube: ‘Purity’ for sale at Pakistani pharmacies

A few months ago, I noticed pharmacies in Karachi were carrying topical cures for lost virginity, “re-virginising” in a tube. These over-the-counter fixes were everywhere – counters in large supermarkets, small pharmacies acting as corner shops – hard to miss once you knew it was out there. One of the names is hard to forget, ‘B-Virgin’, the package displaying a youthful girl smiling at white flowers. I admit there is the potential for dark humour given the name; instead it just makes me very sad. This is the message we are giving our girls, our women. “Don’t be true to yourself; instead invest, medicate and ...

Read Full Post

Fatwas against science and semantics

Pakistan is a strange country. Considering the fact that 70% of the population comprises of youth, there is no Council of Youth Affairs to safe guard their rights. A great majority of the population has no access to health and reproductive facilities but there is also no council working to ensure that people of Pakistan should be provided with basic healthcare. On the other hand, a good 97% of the population follows some kind of Islam or the other but the country still needs multiple councils and other bodies to safeguard the religion. Two such bodies – Federal Shariat ...

Read Full Post

Men: a different breed

Cruelty knows no bounds and all we humans suffer. The fairer sex is mostly the one who suffers the cruel death that takes the final breath away. Be it Indian Nirbhaya or South African Reeva. Some men, like Nirbhaya’s boyfriend, are perfect examples of tragic Hamlets in our midst, while others like Oscar Pistorius, the double amputee track star, are like Shakespeare’s outright cruel Othello! Whatever the case may be, when we talk of men, we end up defining them as a different breed altogether, a breed if not confusing like the fairer sex, is at times, considered more violent and ...

Read Full Post