Stories about women

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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Jeez woman! Just take the compliment!

I remember the last time I met with a close female friend whom I hadn’t seen in a while. I greeted her with a warm smile and complimented her for being in great shape. Instead of accepting my compliment, she responded by saying, “No, I need to lose some weight.” I wonder why accepting a genuine compliment is so difficult for women nowadays? Why can’t they just say, “Thank you, so sweet of you”, and reciprocate the compliment? Instead, their usual response is blushing, looking away, losing the ability to articulate their thoughts or shaking their head in disagreement, even where ...

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Can someone please stop Sheikh Rasheed from talking?

Can somebody stop Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad from spluttering venom, please? I am sure ‘somebody’ could positively do that! While social media is rife with news of Reham Khan’s book launching around elections time, there is a social media battle of verbal abuses going on between Reham and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders and followers  – the latter accusing her of their leader’s character assassination, who is at the moment focused on elections to become the next prime minister of Pakistan. After celebrity-turned-analyst Hamza Ali Abbasi claimed that Reham was being backed by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Sheikh thought it was the ...

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Why our mosque culture needs to change: An open letter to Masjid Aunties

Dear Masjid Aunties, It’s common for you to undermine people who don’t meet your religious standards, especially in a place of worship. Converts get pulled out of prayer by the arm for not praying with an abaya. Women are publicly shamed and bashed for not wearing the hijab correctly. If someone doesn’t regularly go to the mosque, they’re looked down upon. It’s sad, but it’s a rampant issue in the women’s section of the masjid (mosque). Informing someone about something advised against is fine, but please, do so respectfully. Women at the mosque judge and gossip amongst themselves. This mentality can be ...

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Given its stellar cast, Ocean’s 8 is not the masterpiece one would expect

While Hollywood has always been very fond of remakes and spinoffs, it has more recently developed a fascination with female-centred continuations of beloved cinematic adventures and established franchises. From the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot to the upcoming The Expendabelles, The Hustle and The Rocketeers, several female-led reimagining are bringing old tales back to the big screen with a new twist. An example of this phenomenon currently in cinemas is, of course, the much-talked-about Ocean’s 8, the all-female spin-off from Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s trilogy. The action-comedy is centred on the character of Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) – the younger sister of the (probably) late Danny Ocean – who is trying to pull off ...

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The woman with hands of gold

I always gushed about how my Mother’s hands were beautiful; though, all wonder had ceased as I realised… Her hands tenderly held my vulnerable self as I opened my eyes in this big-bad world; her face comforted me, there was an angel in this world Allah had sent me down to, I was in safe hands. Her hands determinedly raised me to my tiny feet, every time I fell to the ground in the attempt to walk; her will to support me still gives me strength from then till today. Her hands would swiftly push my swing as she pointed towards the ...

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100 is a ‘century’, not a tournament!

Pink balls, day-night Tests, four-day Tests. I thought they liked to tinker with Test cricket only, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. A few months back, there was a 10-10 tournament in the UAE; not to mention a tournament played on ice in freezing temperature somewhere in Europe. And now, it’s the ‘100 balls’ proposed tournament in England. Who would’ve thought that cricket administrators would toy with the shortest and the most ‘lucrative’ format, the T20. There is a misconception that T20 came into being in 2000s. The T20 format has a history, of course not as rich as ODI and ...

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With ‘Motorcycle Girl’ and #GirlsOnBikes, Pakistani women take a spin at reclaiming public spaces

Adnan Sarwar, the famed director cum musician of the biographical sports film Shah (2015), is back to mesmerise filmgoers with another biopic – Motorcycle Girl. This time, he dramatises the life of a young Pakistani woman whose real life motorcycle adventures were highlighted across the globe, and played a significant role in breaking the stereotypes surrounding women in a conservative society. Although, Sarwar’s directorial debut Shah, based on life-story of Olympian boxer, Hussain Shah, who won the bronze medal in the 1988 Summer Olympics, received mixed reviews upon its release in Pakistan, his latest venture has been much anticipated. Produced by Jami, ...

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When you don’t wear makeup to work and get asked, “beemar ho?”

I rarely wear makeup to work. Most days, I wear none. Not even BB cream, or eyeliner, or even a basic sort of lipstick. I don’t wear makeup, and I get asked about it, every single day. “Kya hua, kisi se larayi hui hai?” (What happened, have you had a fight with someone?) “Thori si lipstick tou laga lo, acha lagta hai.” (Put some lipstick on at least, it looks nice.) “You don’t want people to think you don’t care about your appearance.” “Listen, women should put some effort into their looks. Istarah achi image thori jaata hai.” (Otherwise it doesn’t present a good image.) “Dekho; presentation ...

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“Dua karo iss dafa beta ho” – Is being a ‘beti’ really the curse it’s made out to be?

Being the fourth daughter my parents were blessed with, I always used to ask them if they had ever wished I had been born a boy. I spent a lot of time wondering if, after having three girls, they were disappointed to see yet another daughter instead of a son. To my relief, my parents always responded to this question with a resounding ‘no’. Rather, they would get surprised and question me instead on the kind of nonsense that fills up my brain with questions such as these.   It is true that I have never felt loved any less by ...

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