Stories about patriarchy

From bhaiya to saiyaan: The dangers of cousin marriages

I was surfing through the channels when I came across a TV serial, Mein Maa Nahi Banna Chahti (I don’t want to be a mother). I was able to grasp bits and pieces of the story – the heroine liked another man but her father coerced her into marrying her phuppo’s (paternal aunt) son. The phuppo, meanwhile, desperately wanted a male heir. The storyline was repetitive and regressive but I stuck around for a few more episodes, and I am grateful that I did, because the drama tackles a crucial issue – genetic abnormalities in children born in cousin marriages. Before pseudo theologians and geneticists come after me with ...

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“Khud khana garam karlo” – Pakistani men’s kryptonite

There is very little doubt that the #MeToo socio-political statements on the internet are among the most powerful ones in recent history. Spreading virtually across the entire globe, the online movement has gathered its fair share of attention in Pakistan too and thankfully so. The recent Aurat March was proof of this movement affecting this country. What began as a protest against sexual misconduct, has now raged into something much bigger. It holds even more meaning in countries such as Pakistan, since not only is sexual misconduct ripe here, the country is still home to an extremely patriarchal society. The Aurat ...

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To the women of Pakistan: Get out there, march and reclaim your space!

For this year’s International Women’s Day, Pakistani women from Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad have decided to stick it out together, get out on the streets of their respective cities, and march to reclaim their space in the public sphere. The event, called the Aurat March, is planned and organised entirely by a diverse group of women belonging to different ethnicities, classes and sections of our society. The march itself is not linked to a particular organisation, nor is it initiated or funded by any political parties or groups, and all women (and men) are welcome! #AuratMarch 4pm 8th March 2018. ...

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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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The Pakistani male conundrum: If you date a girl, don’t marry her

“Yaar ab aisi larki se shaadi thori karsaktay hain!” (One cannot possibly marry such a girl!) “Yaar wo Sunni hai or mein Shia; meray ghar walay kabhi nahi manein gay.” (She is a Sunni and I am a Shia; my family will never agree.) “Aisi larkian toh sirf time pass hoti hain; shaadi thori kartay hain in say.” (Such girls are there for fun, to pass the time only; you are not supposed to marry them.) “Ammi abbu nahi manein gay. Wo hamari zaat ki nahi hai.” (My mom and dad won’t agree. She doesn’t belong to our caste.) These comments, unsurprisingly, came from some of my very ...

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Why are Iranian women protesting against the hijab now?

Religious freedom has been a pipe dream for years now, especially for women, who are subjected to male dominants in this society. A major portion of the woman population has embraced this situation as a norm and continues to cultivate it within the minds of their young girls as well, others, however, have not. They have strived and fought for basic rights, such as education, health, the right to vote and the liberty to go out unaccompanied. While the tide of feminism and many socialist organisations have washed part of the misogyny that exists in numerous societies, there is still ...

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I boycotted IoBM’s convocation because of its prevalent misogyny and commercialisation

It was a day I wanted to dedicate to my parents; a day which would have made me realise that I am a normal person – a knowledge seeker who loved to study and who managed to not get the label of a ‘drop out’. It was a day which would have amassed all the bits of happiness from the six years of exhaustive struggle of getting a university education, finally making me smile cheerfully. But no, I had to stand by the principles I had learnt all these years, while studying independently as well as at my college, and ...

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Our reaction to Muniba Mazari vs Khurram Shahzad is proof that in Pakistan, we’ll believe any allegation as long as it’s against a woman

It is almost frightening to see how we are left with only a few role models now. Some have died, some were killed, and others have their status hanging in between. Passing away is not always physical – sometimes heroes suffer what can be termed as a metaphorical death.  In Pakistan, our society is so strictly patriarchal that even having a female boss can be problematic, let alone a female role model. Working women will perhaps corroborate that it can be difficult for their male colleagues to accept a woman as their boss. Gossip about the boss is always stronger ...

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My feminism does not teach me to hate men

I was waiting to board a bus to Boston to attend a Model United Nations (MUN) conference, when one of my fellow teammates enquired about my undergraduate major. I excitedly and proudly exclaimed, “Gender, sexuality and women’s studies!” Considering that I was the only women’s studies major among the many political science majors, I took pride in that little piece of diversity that set me apart from the rest. Surprised at my response, she asked me, “On a scale of one to 10, how big of a feminist are you?” Assuming that she was joking, I let out a laugh, until I saw a serious ...

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Why hypermasculinity is ruining the boys and men of today

My little brother and I have always been close, even when we were little babies. I’ve watched him grow from a chubby, cuddly little toddler to a tanned, jaunty middle school boy. As he matures in this world, I sometimes get the urge to protect him from the harsh aspects of reality. Realistically, this is impossible. No matter how much I want to consider him as my “little kitty”, I know that I can’t shelter him from all the horrible things in the world, like pain or injustice. It bothers me to no end that he will, if he hasn’t ...

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