Stories about sexism

Why do her clothes matter?

The only thing we know about First Lady Michelle Obama’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia is that she wore no headscarf. She and her husband, President Barack Obama, probably discussed many worthy issues with the new Saudi King, Salman bin Abdul-Aziz, but to the Western media, what mattered most was what Michelle Obama wore. The First Lady wore a long sleeved shirt and pants but no scarf upon arrival at the airport in Riyadh. Her unveiled dress code sparked controversy on social media almost instantly and Twitter was flooded with tweets about Michelle’s dress code. Sure, it was an official trip for the First ...

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This is no longer a ‘Goray rang ka zamana’

“Goray rang ka zamana kabhi hoga na purana. Gori darr tujhe kiska hai? Tera tou rang gora hai!” (It is the era of fair complexions, this era will never get old. What are you afraid of girl? Your complexion is fair!) More than two decades ago, this song was sung by a popular Pakistani band called Vital Signs; a super hit of its time. In the song, the lyricist highlighted a popular notion that has been haunting the subcontinent for ages. The sad truth: A woman has nothing to be worried about if she’s fair. While many shrug this off as ‘a piece of entertainment’, the lyrics portray ...

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Progress of female players – Asking for a “twirl” instead of talent

Eugenie Bouchard, famously known as Genie Bouchard, won her second match after defeating Kiki Bertens in straight sets in the Australian Open. She is considered to be a rising star in the world of tennis world, being the first Canadian to reach the finals of Grand Slam and is currently ranked world number seven. But something strange happened when in an after match interview. Right when we were expecting professional questions about the game and her plans for the upcoming matches, the Wimbledon runner-up was asked to “twirl” by the interviewer to show off her outfit. The seventh seed was taken ...

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Does Pakistan’s media encourage sexism?

The recent controversy surrounding Junaid Jamshed has dominated social media over the weekend. The matter is between him and God; I am in no position to comment on the apology or the blasphemy issue at all. Maybe this incident will open a conversation about the blasphemy laws in Pakistan. However, I am surprised at the lack of a conversation around the casual sexist remarks passed by public personalities in the media in Pakistan. Junaid Jamshed has previously suggested that men should not teach their wives how to drive. In response to the recent controversy, Aamir Liaquat responded in kind with comments about Junaid Jamshed’s mother. We live ...

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Our honour was saved

I am a woman, But you could give me any name.   I am Bhavna; They named me desire. How ironic! Small desires I had, Sipping some wine and Seeing a beach. My love became my bane My rebellion, my curse. I challenged their honour So, something had to be done. They strangled my wishes And cremated my dreams.   I am Farzana; I carved a life And fought for it. They pelted my choice, They battered my soul, Their honour survived But my baby died.   I am the letter peeping through brackets; Reported often in the news, Shrouded in sheen, meem, kaaf, My story ensues.   I am the nanhi kali violated; They talk about in the news, My name is hushed, My identity draped, But we must thank our lucky stars, Our honour is ...

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In defence of the ‘fat person’ sitting next to you on a plane

The hardest thing to do is to empathise with a person who is causing you inconvenience; to contain your righteous anger, with a self-reminder that the person doesn’t intend to bother you, and is probably as uneasy about the situation as you are. Some time ago, Rich Wisken wrote an acerbic letter to the airline company, Jetstar, complaining about being made to sit next to an obese gentleman on a flight from Perth to Sydney. He’d spent the duration of his flight periodically arguing with the flight-attendants, and heaping insults on the passenger next to him. In his letter to the company, he referred to ...

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In defence of Bilawal’s vocal cords

Let’s face it; there may be legitimate complaints out there to lodge against Bilawal Bhutto as an emerging politician. An allegedly ‘girly’ voice does not qualify as a ‘legitimate’ political complaint, or even as a ‘harmless’ joke. The things that make us laugh make a statement about us and how we perceive the world. Consider the anatomy of an ‘insult’, and the part of it that actually causes the sting. Why is it insulting to Photoshop a detested politician’s face onto the body of a mule, but not the body of a lion? Because the mule, in our perspective, is a lowly being, ...

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Today, let’s celebrate Malala Yousafzai

“Live, Malala!” I remember seeing this line somewhere on social media when Malala was shot. I remember sitting anxiously, watching the television, while channels aired the live coverage of Malala being shifted to a hospital in England for treatment. I remember the moment I found out that she was shot. I couldn’t believe my ears. I couldn’t believe the news. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. October 09, 2012 – almost exactly two years ago, she was returning from school when a masked gunman had asked her name and shot her at point blank range thrice. Thrice. She was just 14. There were many ...

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The Goodwill Ambassadors – Shining brighter than ever

For a moment, I felt star-struck, as Alicia Keys entered the room bustling with journalists from world over. We, a varied group of journalists, had been invited by the United Nations Foundation (UNF) to report on and learn from the experience of being in the United Nations (UN) Headquarters in New York for the UN General Assembly and the Climate Summit 2014. All of us are fans of the many celebrities that we saw all around us in those few days. But once done with the initial gushing and surreal feeling of being in the presence of “stars”, we not ...

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Elliot Rodger: A product of the US government’s incompetence?

“You don’t think it’ll happen to your child, until it does.” This is what Richard Martinez stated in a press conference, despairing over the loss of his 20-year-old son, Christopher Martinez. A deranged individual – Elliot Rodger – who sought revenge from female university students for rejecting him, instigated a ruthless shooting spree on the streets of California, killing six people in cold blood, before committing suicide himself. To the sons and daughters of the ill-fated families, may their souls rest in eternal peace. These victims were unreasonably deprived of their right to live; they were killed without any reason. And their ...

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