Stories about stereotyping

A patwari and youthia walk into a dhaba…

Or any place that serves a karak chai for that matter. The humdrum chatter at the venue drowns out any prospect of awkward silence. The two engage in conventional small talk as they await the chai that arrives shortly. From there, it’s all tea-dunked biscuits and fun until the conversation inevitably steers towards politics. All it takes is one comment critical of the current administration and one in rebuttal before the two simultaneously yell “patwari”, “youthia”. They storm off in their respective directions as the remaining chai turns just as cold. It is deeply disconcerting to witness a similar attitude of swift stereotyping and disengagement in ...

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The problem lies not within the Pepsi advertisement but with us

Maybe Kendell Jenner and the marketing department at Pepsi could have gotten away with their new advertisement if they had decided to air it on April 1st instead of April 4th. The backlash it received was enormous. So what exactly happened there? Well, it was just another company using several attractive people of different cultures and creed to sell their product. Was it something that has never happened before? Of course not! All corporate set-ups, industries and businesses have done this countless times. Then why has it become a matter of offence and a subject of absolute ridicule? The answer is one word ...

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I confess, I thought she was a nanny too…

It is only human to make mistakes, but we have made certain errors a part of our daily pattern. One such plague, ‘stereotyping’, is a widespread problem in many societies. We are fed certain ideas by our surroundings and lifestyle which become an inherent part of our nature and are unintentionally voiced out when there is a situation. I am guilty of it too. When the BBC Dad video went viral and I had the first glimpse of it on my Facebook timeline, I laughed and shared it with my friends with the comment, “The nanny will be in big trouble now”. The ...

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No maulana sahib, women are not “only fit to deliver children”

For a long time now, religious preachers have had a stereotypical approach towards the role of women in our society. They have managed to successfully influence the masses in South Asia with myopic notions confining women to household chores in light of theologically conservative interpretations. Theocracy provides a platform to patriarchal ideologies, be it tacitly or blatantly. People attach sentiments to matters which are related to religion, although they are mere ideas preached by people wearing the garb of religion. This has been the case since decades and it plays a huge role in encouraging views that are against female emancipation. A ...

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Racing towards prejudice: “Those Muslim terrorists are killing innocent people…”

“Those Muslim terrorists are killing innocent people…” I don’t even remember the rest of his sentence. Those words stunned me for a minute. But even as my ears started ringing, I took a couple of deep breaths telling myself,  “He doesn’t know what he is talking about. There is no use pointing out his poor choice of words.” It is ironic that this happened in a class where our 73-year-old African-American Professor, himself a victim of racism, had been teaching us how to recognise the various forms of racism in America that are present even today. “I just want to share an observation”, ...

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An ‘Islamic Halloween costume’? Really, Walmart?

Dear Walmart, I liked you. I really did. Your prices are decent and I occasionally made a run to you when other stores in the area were closed, because of your late hours of operation. You were convenient and I really liked that about you. However, it came to my attention a couple of days ago that you tried to sell a Halloween costume depicting an ‘old Pashtun Papa’, full with a beige-coloured parthog and kameez, turban and a long fake, grey beard. Photo: Walmart.com Really, Walmart? Tasteless much? I’ve realised that you have now taken down that ‘costume’, apologised, and tried to ...

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A Muslim’s open letter to Bill Maher

Dear Bill (I hope you don’t mind if I call you Bill because it’s the nicest word I can use to describe you at this point), We get it. You are an aggressive atheist, you abhor religions. For you, it is fashionable to be controversial. Being edgy is part of your job description. Congratulations, you are now so edgy that Bill O’Reilly of Fox News agrees with your views. ‘Bill the Liberal’ and ‘Bill the Conservative’ have now found common ground – Islamophobic bigotry. Let me ask you, Bill, are you back-paddling out of the muddy creek you created on your HBO show, Real Time with Bill Maher, last weekend with ...

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Zero Dark Thirty: Disgusting misrepresentations and false stereotypes

The hype surrounding the movie Zero Dark Thirty has found space into every conversation; be it in classes or at dinners. Everyone seems to have an opinion about one or the other aspect of it; while some people argue it is a very well made movie, there are many others who view the legitimacy of the plot and implications of the movie very sceptically. Zero Dark Thirty is a historical drama about the CIA’s hunt for the top al Qaeda leaders, primarily Osama bin Laden. The movie has been nominated for five Oscars and is a Hollywood blockbuster. A majority of the ...

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Is smoking banned for women in Pakistan?

“Isn’t smoking for women banned in Islam?” asked a friend from the UK. “Are you allowed to smoke in Pakistan, being a woman?” Many times, women in this great nation come across such questions. Having attempted to clear these misconceptions a number of times, it was only pragmatic, if not necessary, to search for the root cause of these misgivings. Is Islam being hijacked by our cultures, traditions and social norms? My answer, plainly, was, “No, smoking is not banned for women in Pakistan.” With his flabbergasted look, I realised that my answer did not pacify the curiosity of this media-influenced gentleman. Smoking in ...

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Discrimination is not funny

This past year has been a year of travelling. I have been to three countries in Europe, two in the Middle East and two in Asia. The hardest part about travelling? It is not getting accustomed to different kinds of foods or customs that are so alien to my own. In fact, it has nothing to do with getting to know other cultures. The hardest part about travelling is seeing how people view my own race, culture and nationality. I am sure many Pakistanis can relate to this. In fact, on all my trips this year, I travelled with Pakistani friends. ...

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