PTI Must Disown Its Supporters Using Gender Slurs Against Women Journalists

PTI Must Disown Its Supporters Using Gender Slurs Against Women Journalists
Mehmal Sarfraz has put it out as plainly as possible in her tweet. To keep your senses under control at such times of chaos and frenzy is the essence of humanity and Ms Sarfraz has done it.

Gender slurs have always been considered a favored tool of propaganda because the appeal of sexism in the society. Unfortunately, all political parties in Pakistan have suffered this propaganda warfare but have seemingly not been able to lay down this weapon, perhaps because of its capacity to attract maximum attention in a short span of time.

This, however, remains a fact that no party has ever used sexism as massively as the Pakistan Tahreek-i-Insaaf (PTI). It was amazing to see the likes of Anwar Lodhi trying to draw a causal relationship between the storm of gender slurs that women are facing for differing with government’s actions on social media and some lightly slang tweets of Ms Sarfraz. Other PTI supporters keep on repeating the spurious logic that Mr Lodhi and others set for them to follow and gain their political and gender gratification.

Ample evidence in both classic and modern media research is available to prove that the gratification the masses draw from media is false to a great extent. Political leaders have to compromise service delivery and quality of social welfare while pursuing their urge to get popular.

Imran Khan, no doubt, has become a popular leader. The sad part of the reality is that popular leaders are unable to think beyond themselves and end up being reduced to prisoners of their extended egos.

It is hard for them to understand that reality cannot be created on media and any labored attempts on doing so enhance the gulf between the government and the masses.

It has happened in the case of Pakistan. Due to swearing and hate-mongering, it had become hard to generate any informed debate on social media before election. An army of trolls will waylay you if you try not to draw in the line. When you examine their social media accounts, you will find that hardly a hundred people follow them whereas they follow thousands, giving strength to the conclusions that they are on some kind of assignment.

There has been a sharp rise in gender slurs after induction of the PTI social media team in the Information Ministry, though it might be a coincidence and these two developments might not be interlinked. A special Rs43 million Digital Media Wing (DMW) was recently created in the cash-starved ministry that has shown to door to very lowly-paid contract employees to lessen its expenses.

I have never met Ms Sarfraz but she is a symbol for all powerful women against whom gender is used as a weapon as otherwise their rivals cannot beat them. Recently, a group of women journalists have also got together to convey their concerns on attack on them on the basis of their gender.

The authorities concerned should take up these complaints seriously and fix the responsibility.

Hassan Shahzad teaches media at public and private universities and regularly writes for Islamabad pages of The News. He holds a PhD in media studies.