Stories about sexism

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 ...

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Is there place for a Pakistani girl applying to universities in Trump’s America?

This election has been unprecedented and historic on all accounts, and I’m not talking about the obvious surface-level facts – Hillary Clinton being the first ever female nominee of a major party, or Donald Trump ascending to the office of the presidency with no political experience whatsoever. No, I’m talking about the rhetoric that has fuelled this campaign – the personal attacks, the hatred, the misogyny, the sexism, the lies, the scandal – which both, the right and left, agree on.  I could go into all the reasons – and there are many – of why this election turned out ...

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Have Muslim countries failed its women due to religious orthodoxy?

A few months ago, when Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy won her Oscar, I got into a heated argument with one of my friends. His contention was that people like her were ‘maligning’ the image of Pakistan by unnecessarily inflating some isolated incidents. In his opinion, her efforts were just creating negative stereotypical images of Pakistan and which made ‘enemies’ of Pakistan feel comfortable in their hate. In his opinion, Pakistan’s gender related issues were not systemic and were blown out of proportion. “It is just a tiny minority which is indulging in honour killings and it is unfair to present Pakistan in such a negative light”, he argued. Is he ...

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We’re celebrating Pakistan’s Independence Day, but are we really independent?

On August 11, 1947, a newly-formed Pakistan held its first parliamentary session. The purpose was to draft a constitution. During this session, Pakistan’s founding father Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah famously reaffirmed the pluralistic values the new nation had been founding declaring: “You are free, you are free to go to your temples; you are free to go to your mosques or any other place of worship in the state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the state.” This year will mark the nation’s 69th year ...

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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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What’s so obscene about QMobile’s ad, Pakistan?

QMobile recently made an ad that has everyone in Pakistan talking about it. Strangely enough, mostly for good reasons this time. The ad is about a girl called Sara who wishes to pursue her dreams of playing cricket. Like many in our society who feel a girl’s place should be at home, Sara’s father refuses to support her and says “ladkiyan cricket nahin khelti” (girls don’t play cricket) making it clear that cricket is a “man’s” sport. To this day, potential in-laws look for an educated girl to wed their son, so that she can be domesticated as a homemaker. No ...

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Mommy tips: How to raise a mini activist

When we hear the word “activist”, we immediately think of khadi clad, jhola carrying men and women braving water cannons and lathi charges. But an activist is one who campaigns for social change of any kind, someone who identifies the rot in society and speaks about it. There are various degrees of activism and similarly various ways of showing dissent. Thomas Jefferson said, “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism” and any thriving society needs such voices. Such conscientious persons are not born but raised. One might feel that preteens are too young to grapple the socio-political dynamics of a complex society, ...

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Whether the victim is a man or woman, acid attacks are no laughing matter

A terrible incident took place in Multan a few days ago when a young person was attacked with acid, suffering burns on over 50 per cent of their body. Usually – as much as 80 per cent, in fact – when an acid attack takes place in the country, the victim is a woman. In this case, though, the genders were reversed. The victim, a 24-year-old man, had been invited over by a 36-year-old woman to her house. I am sure there is more to it than this, but the woman, who apparently was already married and the mother of ...

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Is battling women harassment a man’s duty as well?

A woman clambers aboard a crowded coach, negotiates her way through the jostling throng of people and manages to find a seat. She plumps herself on the vacant place and clenches her hand around her purse. You are sitting on the opposite seat that directly faces her. However, as she fishes out a ballpoint from her purse and begins writing in her notebook, you treat her like just another stranger on the bus, trying to make her way home. Minutes later, something stirs within you. A deep disgust wells up in your heart as you notice a man sitting next to ...

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Women are not meat: Nando’s ad makes me sick to the stomach

“Don’t whistle… don’t objectify me.” “Don’t make me just about tits and a**.” “Don’t try to touch me.” These are the most common things women think, or say, when catcalled at by men. The underlying message is that women are a heart, a mind, a person, a will, a personality, a consciousness… and not just a piece of meat. Not just a rack of breasts, not just a fine piece of booty, not just a pair of legs, not just the sum of her hot parts. Not. A. Piece. Of. Meat. And yet, the latest advertisement by Nando’s India, the popular global chicken restaurant ...

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