Stories about patriarchy

Counselling survivors of rape: “Who will marry me if I’m not a virgin?”

It’s not easy to live life after being robbed of your sense of safety. The pain is multiplied when it reminds you of the helplessness you experienced. You cannot tell apart the physical hurt from the emotional and no amount of reassurance is enough when you know that no one can empathise with what you have been through. You find no comfort in their concern and the shoulders offered to lean on can never be enough. You’re startled by the touch of even your loved ones and it takes a great deal of time to remember that touch was ...

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Procreation as a form of oppression: Why I don’t want to have any children

I have always been repelled by the idea of having kids of my own. It has always felt like too much responsibility for a non-committal person like myself. However, many of my friends seem puzzled by this decision of mine. “But you treat children as a therapist, and you’re quite good with them! What’s the problem then?” they ask. But does someone have to hate children in order to not want to give birth to them? You can be exceptionally good with kids and still not want any of your own. However, it’s always hard not to notice the look ...

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K-P’s decision to segregate all-girls’ school isn’t just regressive, it is unconstitutional

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Chief Minister Mahmood Khan has ‘barred’ entry of men, even male parliamentarians, on all-girls’ school premises, even for school events. Moreover, his government has also banned any sort of media coverage of all-girls’ school activities and events. So if a female student tops the board exams or invents a new device, she can devalue it herself. Makes the job easier. No male minister, MNA, MPA or official will be allowed to enter in Girls School for any event as chief guest. All schools are bound to invite only female chief guests in KPK. #NayaPakistan #KPKUpdates pic.twitter.com/zmWCRN7KEG — Syed Kausar ...

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Like father, like son: The abusive and helpless sons of battered mothers

She was in her 90s and her sons had brought her in to get treatment for her depression. As her life unfolded with each therapy session, I got accustomed to her life of long-term abuse at the hands of her husband and in-laws. This was all she could talk about. As we further progressed in therapy, she narrated how her sons were terrified of watching her suffer abuse at the hands of their father. One of her sons was scarred for life with severe anger management issues, while the other had a deep sense of inferiority complex despite accomplishing so much ...

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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 ...

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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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The fault in our minds: Bushra Maneka’s attire is her business and choice, and hers alone

While Pakistan’s political fate is changing, the people of this nation believe there is something more important that needs to be focused on. Yes, unfortunately, that topic is Bushra Maneka’s choice of attire. This is not the first time that women’s choice of clothing has become a hot topic of discussion. As a confused country, it seems as though we are never content with anything. When Mahira Khan was spotted in a backless dress with Ranbir Kapoor, people bashed her for wearing a revealing outfit. And here we are, a year later, and we still cannot seem to decide whether ...

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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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Ali Begum: A symbol of grit and perseverance making history in a no woman’s land

While there is no denying the fact that the expertise and contributions of men and women alike are sine qua non (essential) for the establishment of a prosperous and progressive society, it is also a grim and acrimonious reality that women in the tribal areas of Pakistan are excluded from the decision-making and nation-building processes. This callous attitude towards women is leading us nowhere. Notwithstanding our patriarchal and ultra-conservative society where gender discrimination and a misogynistic mindset still prevail, there is a valiant and indomitable woman who is defying the stereotypes of a male-dominated tribal society. Ali Begum, a woman who not ...

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