Stories about gender stereotypes

From ‘possessed’ to the ‘crazy ex’, do Bollywood horror movies have a gender stereotype problem?

Bollywood cannot be credited with producing the most sensitive of films, and although there has been a welcome change in the recent past, there is still a long way to go in terms of appropriate and sensitive representation across genres. While genres such as romance and comedy are actively dissected regarding how they often portray skewed gender relations on screen, one genre which probably needs to be spoken more about is that of Bollywood horror films. The roots of horror as a genre in mainstream Indian cinema can be traced back to the Ramsay family production during the latter half of the ...

Read Full Post

Because smoking damages a man’s lungs and ruins a woman’s honour

While universities around the world are trying to promote freedom of expression and invest in the development of their students, in the case of Pakistan, higher education institutions are stifling debate, cracking down on any independent thought and churning out automatons by the hundreds. For instance, they are more focused on wasting paper with unoriginal research papers, as former students of University of Engineering and Technology (UET) were recently caught plagiarising a whole paper verbatim and almost got away with having it published. International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI) has stopped its students from celebrating Pakhtun culture day, while Punjab University arrested ...

Read Full Post

With ‘Motorcycle Girl’ and #GirlsOnBikes, Pakistani women take a spin at reclaiming public spaces

Adnan Sarwar, the famed director cum musician of the biographical sports film Shah (2015), is back to mesmerise filmgoers with another biopic – Motorcycle Girl. This time, he dramatises the life of a young Pakistani woman whose real life motorcycle adventures were highlighted across the globe, and played a significant role in breaking the stereotypes surrounding women in a conservative society. Although, Sarwar’s directorial debut Shah, based on life-story of Olympian boxer, Hussain Shah, who won the bronze medal in the 1988 Summer Olympics, received mixed reviews upon its release in Pakistan, his latest venture has been much anticipated. Produced by Jami, ...

Read Full Post

A woman covered with a dupatta, unlike the covered lollipop, will never be covered enough

As I strolled out of Emporium Mall the other day and waited for my car, a street urchin approached me. Assuming she was going to ask for some money, I pretended not to see her, but then she did something shockingly out of the ordinary – she adjusted the dupatta on my chest, draping it in a manner so that my entire chest was now covered by a sheet of cloth. “Baaji, kitni pyari ho (you’re so pretty), but it doesn’t look good na”, she said, pointing to the men standing nearby. “All the brothers are looking at you. Look even I have my dupatta on ...

Read Full Post

Anushka Sharma, Alia Bhatt, Sridevi – Is there a void beyond the L-word in Bollywood?

Once he gets over how annoying she is, in every second shot, he stares at her as if to uncover her hidden magic, her power of bewitchment, her secret ability to make the ground shift beneath his feet. As he keeps up his pontification about how she must protect her virginal, doe-eyed, wild-haired self from his big bad sex-riddled being, she mocks him before sunset, and hugs him tighter than a cross-stitch at night. His discovery of good facets of his sinful soul is the culmination of her airy comments, her clueless maiden act, and her demure body trying to ...

Read Full Post

When models are seen and treated as professional hangers, and young impressionable girls want to be just like them

The fashion industry is a confusing place. On one hand, it empowers women by employing them, giving them space in the public sphere and by creating an area ruled by women. On the other hand, while it does all those wonderful things, it also puts women in the public eye (literally) in order to be judged and scrutinized. In order for models to stay in the modelling business, they have to isolate themselves from their desires, especially if their desire is to have the food of their choice. The obsession with being a size zero has spiralled out of control. Being slim and skinny ...

Read Full Post

You killed her… the strong, independent woman and her voice along with it

I recently came across an article that brought up some thoughts about being a woman in Pakistan. The following is the said article: There are girls out there who think they are the moral police of our society. They are the ones that pick and choose when they want to be feminists. The ones that believe it is their right to tell others what to think or feel. Why? Why do you think it is your duty to define what’s right or wrong? If you’re telling someone not to get “physically attached” before their nikkah, you’re barking up the wrong tree. A tree that ...

Read Full Post

Dear sexist men, your privileged gender is not an outcome of your “biological” qualities, but of social conditioning

Recently, I wrote an article based on two recent videos which went viral. The main idea behind the article was to showcase two outstanding individuals who challenged gender stereotypes instead of conforming to society’s prescribed gender roles, going on to live their individual dreams. For me, these individuals are heroes and, in fact, trailblazers as they have challenged socially constructed stereotypes. These stereotypes play a large role in determining what is expected of men and women from society. By spelling out these expectations and enforcing them through upbringing and cultural norms, men and women are often regimented into different roles and hence, destinies. These different roles also largely account ...

Read Full Post

When our commercials think domestic violence is funny, how can we expect society to take it seriously?

For the second time in only a few months, several of us (hopefully millions) are baffled with the ‘sense of humour’ of the artists and creative people of our country. First, the horrendous joke about child molestation at the Hum Awards, and now the extremely offensive TV commercial talking about beating up (dhulai kerdi) your wife. If you found the advertisement funny, then let me warn you, either this blog is going to alter your patriarchal (slightly misogynistic) mind-set or it will deeply offend you. In both cases, I hope it will start a healthy discussion as to why several people deemed it acceptable ...

Read Full Post

Presenting, Pakistan’s Social Media Awards for 2016!

Nobody does crazy like Pakistan. In 2016, the world lost their collective cool and Pakistan was put on the crazy back burner. But that does not mean we didn’t have our moments. It is time to acknowledge those moments. The strangest out of all the weird stories, the most real-fake news, as well as the funniest – let’s honour the best. Presenting, the Social Media Awards for 2016! From sacrificing goats before flying planes to kabootar agents, from stationary dharnas to mankind’s angels, from chai walas to Momina; these are my favourite stories from last year. The time for politics is over; we are in the age of the celebrity – Donald Trump is president. The victor of the 2018 ...

Read Full Post