How Feminism Remains Most Misunderstood Term In Pakistan
Qurratulain Zehra argues that regardless of what feminism actually is, it is a largely misunderstood term in Pakistan where the masses assume it to be merely a source of strife
Feminism has always been a conundrum for most people in this country, and when people like Rehman conspire to add fuel to it, things take no time to get uglier.
I’m a feminist and my journey towards acknowledging myself as a feminist is pretty amusing. I was just another half-baked Pakistani girl — way too reluctant to call myself a feminist albeit I was a dyed-in-the-wool feminist from the beginning. But look at the irony, I was the last one to realise it in my circle. I was hesitant because of my hidden desire to appease the society that is surely phobic of the term ‘feminism’.
The society that I grew up in is so unfamiliar with what feminism actually is. Some people on purpose have tried to paint it as an evil thing that always galvanised women into hating men. Those naive people, who are way too lazy to dig deep into feminism and its quintessence, buy it without giving it enough thought because it is easy and untiring.
On the contrary, It sounds a bit toilsome to study and comprehend it — after all who’s willing to work this hard just to understand something that sounds alien in the first place? Rest assured, those pot-bellied uncles and aunties watching TV don’t care a tiny bit when it comes to shedding their prejudice of feminism. They just crinkle their noses hearing about feminism as if it makes every bone of their cringe.
Feminism has been portrayed as something that goes against men, and wrongly so. Hold your horses before you start believing this hearsay. There’s a little rectification that needs to be done here. Feminism neither stands against men nor women; it has nothing to see with any gender so to say.
As an ideologue, I see feminism as something that flies in the face of patriarchy and not men. Patriarchy is a system that is equally and unequivocally harmful to all genders. Men and women both suffer at the hands of patriarchy, and some of them are way too unlucky to even realise it.
Let me have the gumption to say, that the patriarchal system gives a lot of undue advantages to women, and it deprives men of a host of things they’re otherwise entitled to. Men cannot be weak, men cannot cry, men cannot be survivors of domestic violence, men cannot be anything except masculine and brawny. This is how a patriarchal system defines a man.
Feminism isn’t a fight for getting an edge over one gender, it is a fight for equality, and equality is every human’s basic right. Now, you can either be brave enough to talk about this right of yours, or you can keep complying with the societal norms killing your inner voice. The choice is yours.
Regardless of what feminism actually is, it is a largely misunderstood term in this country where the masses assume it to be merely a source of strife. It’s people like Khalilur Rehman who delude these masses into thinking ill of feminism. These anti-feminism zealots work very hard to disseminate false fear of feminism, and they do not even mind publicizing their misogyny.
The way Rehman spoke in a plethora of interviews after deriding Marvi Sarmad every which way, he revealed himself as a misogynist and he didn’t even bother to sugarcoat his misogyny. He has long been sharing his venomous thoughts on feminism and a spat with Marvi Sarmad just opened new doors for him. He got bestowed with more opportunities to lambaste feminism — something he knows nothing about but cares to castigate.
I, via different social media platforms, have seen his thoughts taking root in our society. I have been confronted by a lot of people who want women’s rights but not feminism; now this seems to be a huge contradiction; these people refute themselves so naively. All these people have never read anything about feminism, they just preferred to believe in what they heard from the grapevine because it didn’t ask them to retire from their sloth and mug up on actual feminism.
I don’t blame Khalilur Rehman, I think he needs to be sent to some rehab centre — he is just sick and needs help. I’d prefer to lay it at the door of the mainstream media of this country. When media channels, for the sake of ratings and stuff, stoop so low that they keep bringing people like Khalilur Rehman to surface — they are the ones sowing seeds of misogyny in this deeply ignorant and nonchalant society. They are the real culprits who aid and abet these petty discussions every now and then.
I have witnessed misogyny ascending in our society amid the rise of Rehman. He became a hero for all those who were closeted-misogynists until recently. After seeing him defending his stupidity barefaced, they also mustered the courage to publicize their bias towards the female gender. And, all credit goes to our media that left no stone unturned in making a sick guy look like a reasonable man with some real concern.