Stories about men

The silence that kills us

Perhaps it isn’t the discomfort of the narrow streets which makes liberty unbearable for us, It isn’t the sharp scents of sweat which disgust us, It isn’t the crowd which suffocates us, In fact, it isn’t the noise, the crowd or the obvious lack of quality in products, It’s the silence.   The unsaid hush when I turn to speak up to the unwanted hands up my clothes, The constant background whistles of frustrated middle-aged men, It’s the toxic masculinity which suffocates us, The vulnerability when your body turns into a canvas, Painted by obnoxious stares, Held by unholy hands.   It’s the desensitisation, the normalisation, the silence, The echoes of shameless name ...

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Promiscuous hypocrisy: “Yaar, she has already slept with me. How can I marry her?”

I casually asked my friend when we met at a coffee shop last week, “So, when are you going to marry her?”   “What do you mean?” My friend was probably not ready for this question. “I mean, when will you marry your girlfriend?” I clarified. He broke into laughter and looked at me as if I had cracked a joke. “Have you gone mad?” He said while controlling his laughter. “But what’s wrong? She is a nice, educated girl and you must also settle down and have a family life now,” I emphasised. “You are probably right about settling down, but it’s not going to be with ...

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Rawalakot, Kashmir is known for its beauty but it should be recognised for its exceptional women

The sound of the phrase, “women are not allowed to work” was so unfamiliar to me, until I reached university. I grew up seeing progressive, working women, like my mother and other relatives, in the society. I am from a small town in Kashmir called Rawalakot, situated in the northern region of Pakistan. This area is known more for its beauty and less for its exceptional women. Women of this area are termed exceptional because despite the existence of an ingrained patriarchal society, they have paved way to be achievers in life. According to the annual socioeconomic report of Kashmir, Azad Jammu Kashmir at ...

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The desi manic pixie: The totka for our men’s failures

While watching an episode of a popular drama ‘Gumrah’ with my mom, I realised our playwriters have created their own desi manic pixie dream girl. And even though I am not a regular drama viewer, I have watched this stereotype illustrated in one way or another in most drama serials (the recent one’s being ‘Gumrah’ and ‘Phir Wohi Mohabbat’) to consider this a problem. Boy, does the public love her! She’s the fodder for more than half of the plays running on our channels. She lives in the fanciful imagination of young and old men (old more so) and sadly, the audience gobbles that trash up ...

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Smoking kills, but so does patriarchy

What is the duty of a good brown woman? For most of our society, it’s ‘upholding traditional values’ – whether it’s the ideal bahu (daughter-in-law) in most TV dramas, desirable conservatism in Bollywood dynamics, or unsolicited advice from politicians. A 2017 Ipsos Global Trends report even reveals that 64% of Indians believe that a woman’s primary role is to be ‘a good mother and wife’. This burden of sanskar (values) and dutifulness then become a tool of oppression, of restriction. On the other hand, men have no such shackles, and end up having a monopoly on the social acceptability of ‘having fun’. There is a systematic curbing of women’s freedom to experience ...

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Mahwish Arshad’s cold-blooded murder puts the killer and women behind bars

“O Mother! Hold me in thy embrace, For it is where no scoundrels roam; ‘tis the safest place, Come wipe my blood away and clutch me to your chest, I toiled the day away and now I wish to rest…” Last year, on our way to Lahore, my mother and I chose to travel through a private transport company bus. A young girl in her early 20s welcomed all passengers on board and started serving people food and drinks. A few minutes later, a group of boys boarded the bus and started signalling to the hostess. Their constant catcalling and bothersome behaviour was ...

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“Dua karo iss dafa beta ho” – Is being a ‘beti’ really the curse it’s made out to be?

Being the fourth daughter my parents were blessed with, I always used to ask them if they had ever wished I had been born a boy. I spent a lot of time wondering if, after having three girls, they were disappointed to see yet another daughter instead of a son. To my relief, my parents always responded to this question with a resounding ‘no’. Rather, they would get surprised and question me instead on the kind of nonsense that fills up my brain with questions such as these.   It is true that I have never felt loved any less by ...

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International Women’s Day: What if women started getting paid for household work?

“So do you work or are you just a housewife?” I remember being asked this question many times by people I was meeting for the first time. I also remember asking other women the same insensitive question, simply because I too, like so many of us, had been conditioned to only value work that gets remuneration in return. Looking back, the years during which I took a hiatus from work as a journalist, because I was looking after a home and my family, were the years I perhaps worked the hardest. Even physically. Imagine for a moment that the women all around us ...

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Why is a Pakistani man’s masculinity so fragile that he can’t handle rejection and resorts to murder?

The scariest possibility of simply expressing your lack of interest in a man may result in – wait for it – your death. Yes, you read that right! This is not even an exaggeration. For many though, this won’t come as a surprise considering the fact that in Pakistan, people reside with extremely conservative mindsets, not to mention the deeply rooted patriarchal cultural that exists here. The misogynistic norms are heavily supported, defended and backed up by this very patriarchal culture. They are contrasted in such a way that gives leverage and power to men to entirely silence (read: ...

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A special place in hell is not enough for women like these

Two or three days ago, a young woman was accosted by an older woman for ‘not wearing appropriate attire’. You can see what the poor young woman was wearing here. Not that that’s important. But, anyway.  This older woman harassed this young lady (who wanted her identity to be protected, so we’ll call her MJ) and continued to touch her despite her requests. She later threatened MJ, stating that she ‘knew her license plate’ and MJ threatened to lodge an FIR against her and eventually the woman’s husband, a seemingly more neutral fellow, managed to get his wife to apologise ...

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