I’ve blogged previously about how most girls in my school wound up getting married at 17 or 18. A month or so back, I was digging up my old tenth grade Islamiat notes for references since I was writing an article on Islamic society for a class assignment of sorts. (long story there) I was struck by the content of those notes, and how absolutely wrong they were, which got me reminiscing about other aspects of my experiences in school.

Throughout my middle school and high school years, as we approached our teens, obviously, some teachers felt a need to talk to us about being girls. That isn’t really something bad, I can understand their concerns. But what bothered me, I guess even then, was what they talked to us about.

We used to have a lecture every year that all students from grades 6-10 had to attend, about the female body, delivered by representatives of Always. It was cool when we were 12, not so much when we were 15,  but we suffered our way through it. After the lecture, teachers would always ask us what we thought, what we learnt, answer our jokes and mockeries (lets face it, we were 15, we’d experienced being girls ffs, what else was there to learn?)

In one grade, one student got annoyed and said, “Why don’t guys get these sort of lectures, we’re so sick of hearing the same thing!” The teacher gave a vague reference to male puberty being different, and then launched into a lecture about how its important to learn what it is to be a girl, because as a woman, we would bear children, and it was our responsibility to keep our home, to have a welcoming atmosphere for when our husbands got home, how we must make sure we cook good food, keep the house clean, take care of the children, and more importantly, how it is our responsibility to procreate as women. The last was insinuated in such a way as to imply that if we did not take care of our health, we might have health issues and would not be able to live up to our responsibility of procreating. In other words, it was our fault. One girl said, “Yeah what about the men, they should take care of the kids too, what do they do?” the teacher explained that it was the men’s reponsibility to earn a living, and that the woman’s place was at home with her children.

In another incident, our tenth grade physics teacher lost his shit and screamed loudly at one girl because she told him the bell had rung and the period had ended. She did it because he himself had told us he was hard of hearing, and that we had to tell him whenever the bell rang. It was terrifying, to say the least. He was a tall guy, and we were all 15 year old girls. Imagine watching a grown man shouting so loudly that his voice echoed throughout the halls. We had a rough time concentrating in the next class because we were all so shaken up; the girl who got yelled at cried, she was a timid thing as it was, and in her place, I would’ve done the same thing.

Now this teacher, under the pretext of having trouble hearing us, would always stand extremely close, bend and shove his face closer than was necessary, and ask us to repeat whatever we’d said. What was really curious is the fact that he could hear whispering all the way in the very back row, despite being hard of hearing. Curiouser was how some girls, he could hear perfectly fine, but the pretty ones, he always had trouble hearing. We complained. Several times. No good came of it. The girl who got yelled at, brought in her father and elder brother to complain. The result? The teacher would constantly taunt her, making comments such as “If I scold you, you’ll bring your father to complain as well” to other girls, or when he was passing out our checked exams, he would throw the paper at her rather than handing it. He even did it to me once, I don’t even remember what I’d done because I was the epitome of a meek, respectful child in school. (Explanation: I listened to my father a lot more than I do now. :D)

One lecture I remember vividly was given by our teacher in tenth grade. I don’t recall precisely what the lecture was about. What I do remember is something she said at one point; “Could you go outside your house and stand on the street at 10:00pm? I’d like to see you try it,  being all alone without someone else in a dark street, it isn’t that easy.” The implication was obviously this; as women, we could not stand alone, not even on a street. Metaphorically, she was saying that it was very difficult to do anything in life alone, without a man standing by your side.

Back to the notes that prompted this blog. The controversial 2:223 was quoted, from Surah Baqrah stating that “women are like your fields, you may go them as you wish.”

Now I have my own issues with religion, but I will never, ever support misrepresentation of any religion at all. That quote is interpreted to mean that men can marry women if they so wish, and maintain relations with them/have a family with them etc. In other words, I suppose its discouraging premarital relations, and its telling men to maintain a healthy relationship. Personally, I support that. Not the monogamy or marriage thing of course, fuck no, but the healthy relationship part. After all, a farmer can’t plow another man’s fields, he can only plow his own fields. I’m not going to comment on the whole “oh so women are dirt fields are they!” debate because there’s a logical argument, and then there’s just nitpicking for the sake of nitpicking.

But. BUT. In my notes, I had written the explanation of this quote, as presented by my teacher. The explanation ran along the lines of “Men have every claim to women and if they choose a woman to marry, then she is theirs to do with as they please. In addition, a man has ownership over his woman and she is his property just like a field is a farmer’s property.”

Do I even need to say anything about this? The explanation itself is enough, what more could I possibly say? At the tender age of 15, I learned that when I marry, I become the property of my husband, whose word is law.

This chapter, btw, was about ayeli zindagi or familial life. Further in my notes was the sub-heading baqaye nasl-e-insani. In this charming little paragraphs I learned that the relationship between a husband and a wife has been established solely for the purpose of procreation, and that this system will continue on till Judgment Day. I’m grateful to my school and my teacher for making sure that I knew my only purpose in the world was to be a hole for some man to use under the name of religion and sprout out his spawn, whether I liked it or not.

Then comes the lovely sub-heading titled protection of respect/dignity. Here, my teacher dictated a paragraph about how the specific purpose of ayeli zindagi is the safeguarding of dignity and respect, and that upon marriage, a man builds a fortress and the woman is in charge of safeguarding said fortress. I’m so happy I’ll be locked up in someone’s fortress one day, whether I like it or not!

What’s amusing is that in the headings about love and understanding  and living in comfort, there’s only a couple of lines and the same short quote for both. The former stated that the relationship between man and wife is to promote love and understanding, so we live in a peaceful society. The latter states that the purpose of ayeli zindagi  is that all the members of the family can live in comfort and share emotional and financial comfort with each other. the way I see it, these headings should’ve been expanded on, but they weren’t. Because if they were, we wouldn’t grow up thinking that we’re nothing more than babymakers, and that we do not belong to ourselves, but to others. The one quote given in both these headings was Allah has created pairs of you from amongst yourselves so you may find peace with them.

Would it really have been so difficult to expand on that quote? To teach young, impressionable teenagers that their God doesn’t want them to be alone, He doesn’t want them to struggle to make ends meet, He doesn’t want them to be lonely, and for that purpose He has established the institution of marriage. I don’t agree with the concept of marriage, not by a long shot; but the idea of there being someone out there for all of us cause God wills it so is just… sweet.

But that isn’t what we were taught. We were taught that we were property. We were taught that we must safeguard our man’s fortress. We were taught that men have the right to do to us as they will. We were taught that we have no independence, no freedom, no free will, and that everything we do, must be dictated by our men, as Allah commands.

We were taught our place, and this is the place that Pakistani society gives us. It is the place that so many of us fight to break away from every single day. It is the place that far too many girls believe is all there is to life. It is the place that our traditional patriarchal ideals would have us conform to, because there is no space in our society for a woman who can think for herself.

After all, if a woman thinks for herself, she might not want children, or feel like making dinner, or doing the laundry, or Allah forbid! She might want to go outside and WORK!

  1. Imaan says:

    Sister I dont know which school you went to but they did a terrible job in corrupting in your mind.

    • Ghausia says:

      It was a pretty third-grade school. I’m fortunate that my parents give the utmost importance to education, so what they couldn’t give us in terms of good aschooling, they made up for creating a scholarly atmosphere at home.

      My mind hasn’t been corrupted because of that, but plenty of girls there came from small backgrounds where no one cared about education other than a tool for getting a good rishta since “matric pass larki hai”. They’ve been screwed up for sure.

  2. Imaan says:

    what peeli building school was this? I think you should inform other people so they dont send their children there.

    • Ghausia says:

      Its a private school, it was started by one of the biggest intellectual and literary personalities of Karachi, at one time, Sadequain roamed the halls of the college giving away free miniatures to the students, the Prince of the Netherlands visited us. But our principal passed away when I was in third grade, and our excellent scores died with her as well. The replacement is this fat stuckup bitch who can’t stop worrying about her TRC or living it up in London long enough to look after matters at the school, sigh.

  3. Monasha says:

    every single one of your posts is full of you whining about things. Is there anything good happening in your life?
    My life is this, my life is that, you are always crying in every one of your posts.
    You have a problem with every thing! Why is that so? can you explain?

    • Ghausia says:

      I don’t ‘whine’ about my life. I write about the things which I perceive to be wrong in our society and in the world. I’m sorry you think writing about such issues is whining, but no one forced you to read my blog, did they?

  4. Monasha says:

    so according to you everything in the society is wrong and you are like a super hero who can save the world?
    I have been a follower of your blogs for a long time but your posts keep on getting whinier day by day. Is something bothering you? Mood swings?

    • Ghausia says:

      You don’t have to be a superhero to want to point out the evils within traditions and customs. Some people just, you know, care enough to want to point it out.

  5. Monasha says:

    so according to you everything in the society is wrong? nothing positive for you to talk about?

    • Ghausia says:

      Well I have made positive posts about India but judging by your comments I’m certain you’re of the mentality that India is the evil non-Muslim mulk. -_-

  6. Monasha says:

    i get it, u are a judgemental little school girl!
    What makes you think i would think of India that way?
    my point is you only see the negatives in your society, nothing good is happening, the mullahs are beating their women, you have people getting shot near your house, female students molested by teachers and so on. You are an elite who cant see all of this happening. You even have a problem with any small positive that may be there in the society.
    Good you talk of the positives in India but that is only because you have never been there. I fortunately or unfortunately have been to India and the condition is shittier than ours.

    • Ghausia says:

      Why am I an elite? Because I like India, eh? I’m far from ity actually, just a common middle-class girl.

      I write about things I feel strongly about. Do you want me to write about lollipops an candycanes? What’s the point in that?

      I’m not going to make up false happy stories just to pander to your or anyone else’s whims. Don’t like, don’t read it, its that simple.

      PS: If you’ve really been following my blogs which I know you haven’t, since I’m certain you came here from Munazza’s Facebook, you’d know that I actually have written a lot of positive blogs. -_-

  7. Monasha says:

    calling you an elite was just part of the example i quoted. Why r u so defensive?
    How can you feel strongly about things happening in a place which you havent even visited referring to India? are you easily influenced by the media?
    And see posting about problems doesnt really help till you give a solution unless of course you only care about the hits on your blog.
    the people who read your blogs already know of the problem and enough people have highlighted it already. What they fail to do though is post a solution. Pointing out problems is easy, giving a solution is the real problem.
    False happy stories? i would again say that you like to see hits on your page because you want to be number one when it comes to highlighting a controvery.
    And no i do not know who munazza is and i kid you not i dont think we would have common friends on facebook and if you doubt that then you can search me up and see.

    • Ghausia says:

      I’m not getting defensive, I just think its very rude to start labeling people as elite because of the opinions they have. You don’t seem to have a very good opinion of me as it is, so I don’t mind telling you this, but I’ve made the same assumption as you did once before, about a guy who not only was far from elite, but was also a really nice, decent guy. I’m friends with him now because he’s such a good guy. Even though he went to an elite school and is studying abroad.

      I get very few hits on my blog. 🙂 Want me to post my site stats? Or email them to you?

      I don’t highlight issues, I give my opinions on them. Simple. I see or experience things, I feel strongly about them, and I blog about them because writing is an outlet for me, and a lot of people who think similarly do so as well.

      I don’t particularly care about searching you up(plus I need to go get ready for Eid family dinner :D) I’m pretty sure you’re one of her friends, since you happen to be commenting on the blog that she posted on her profile. 🙂

      And I don’t really think I write about controversial things, unless you have the narrowminded thinking that being a feminist or being irreligious is akin to being controversial. On the contrary, I actually refrain from major political or religious debates here; the few times I have written on such topics, its been a locked entry, shared with select blogging buddies of mine. 🙂

  8. Monasha says:

    i really didnt make any assumption about you just saw a lot of negative blogs from you.
    oh hello little girl you forgot to the respond to my comment of not giving a solution to problems you focus on.
    Donr worry i am least bothered about the stats.
    You can always respond after coming back i want to know why you dont give a solution for all the problems you focus on.
    Its easy to point fingers but not so easy giving solutions, is it?

    • Ghausia says:

      Well, if you’d really been following my blogs like you claimed, then how have you missed my random non-serious blogs?

      I should tell you that its hard to consider you anything but a troll of Munazza’s when you keep taking that little girl tone with me. For one thing, its an extremely lame insult. For another, like I said, just proving my point.

      Oh? You’re least bothered about my stats? But you mentioned the hits on my blog twice in one comment. Gawrsh, I’m just so confused now!

      Re: the solutions. Weren’t you the one bitching at me for having a superhero complex? You just want me to reaffirm that accusation and thus, you’re attempting to provoke me, sweetheart I’ve dealt with worst degrees of trolls than you. Unfortunately for you, I don’t think I’m all-powerful, on the contrary, I consider myself to be a nobody. What your typical Pakistani mentality sees as pointing fingers is actually shedding light on issues some people might not be aware of. Oh, but that isn’t true! you protest. Everyone knows this! you claim. Sorry honey, but you’re wrong. It was after I realized that some things, people didn’t really think about, that I started writing about such issues so if they ever stumbled here, they’d get to know.

      My blog’s always open for discussion and debate. I’m always up for a healthy discourse. If anyone wants to talk about an issue with me, the comments section is there for such a purpose, because who knows, maybe we might be able to figure such things out and find a solution. At least talking about it is better than ignoring it or not knowing a problem exists. But of course your typical desi mentality has you thinking, oh what’s the point of just talking, what’s the point of tweeting or blogging about it, you’re not DOING anything, etc. because you don’t have the brains to comprehend that talking about an issue is just the first step towards working to eliminate problems.

      I’d be nicer to you if I didn’t know who sent you, or that you’re a troll in a flimsy disguise. Deny it all you want, I know the truth.

  9. tayyabaadnan says:

    I will be honest, I really don’t know what to make of this blog.
    One minute I am staring at the screen, my head nodding in agreement in increasing intensity and the very next I am just sitting there my jaw dropping open, horrified at what I am reading.
    Having said that, I want to assure you of just one thing, I am not a troll. I will try to comment and point out a few things without trying to sound harsh, but well, if I do end up sounding mean, I apologize in advance.
    Now that I am done overacting, here’s what I think:

    i) You probably shouldn’t have quoted that verse from the Qura’n. It would have been easy to work your way around it had you tried. You don’t want comments dealing with religion on this blog, but that can happen only when you choose to leave religion out of your posts too.

    ii) I laughed like a maniac on this paragraph: ‘Would it really have been so difficult to expand on that quote?…’ You really think that’s what they were doing? Seriously? Unfortunately for you I can pretty much guess the school because I am an ex too and you know what? Our teacher didn’t give a rat’s ass about Islam. I am no one to judge, but her demeanor reflected just the kind of person she was. They weren’t instilling anything in us. They were just teaching it for the sake of giving us ‘good looking’ notes in black and blue so that their students land the highest number of A-1s. Islam? Pfft. No. I am pretty confident no one sat down and discussed exactly the kind of notes one should make to corrupt the minds of innocent 15 year olds’ minds so that they are submissive to their husbands in the long run.
    Sounds like one of those ridiculous conspiracy theories to me.

    iii) The ‘fat stuckup bitch’ that you referred to shares your opinions on feminism and liberalism. She has been working on eradicating all traces of our school having any um, ‘narrow-minded’ rituals. I don’t support her, I immensely dislike her, but…just wanted to point it out to you.

    I’ll probably enjoy cupcakes with you if we ever bump into each other. Honestly, you seem like a nice person.
    Have a good day.

    • Ghausia says:

      a) I’m sorry, who died and made you queen of the world, that you think you had the right to tell anyone what they should and shouldn’t write? Its called freedom of speech. Look it up.

      b) A teacher’s responsibility isn’t just to ‘give great notes’, but to educate. And when you have an Islamiat teacher, the responsibility falls heavier on such teachers because they’re teaching children about religion. Let me give you an example, one of the teachers did a little play in the assembly once, I can’t remember the theme at all, but in the play the younger sister was talking extremely rudely to her elder sibling, I remember that later, our class teacher told us that there was a furor in the staff room because of the theme of that play. Why you might ask? Because the teacher was telling the students that its perfectly okay, even funny to yell at your elder siblings and talk like a jerk to them. Hmm, but I thought all he was supposed to do was provide kickass notes…

      Our society is laced with such a high degree of patriarchy that we do not think twice before promoting the concepts of male superiority and dominance because we consider it to be perfectly acceptable. It is THAT acceptance due to which a teacher does not think twice before giving notes that support such ideas. Moreover, such notes are actually giving incorrect interpretations about religion. I pity you if you think that what you learn at school doesn’t affect your mentality.

      c) Regarding the fat stuckup bitch, I refuse to comment because anything I say would just hint at her identity, and in case you, the non-troll, and the rest of the trolls charging over here calling me filth and grime or saying I’ve earned God’s hatred haven’t noticed, I didn’t name the school. So before everyone (not you obviously) boohoos over how I’m besmirching the school’s oh-so-pristine reputation, please do note that I have never mentioned which school I went to online, mainly to avoid the typical “ohhh a girl’s school girl!” stereotype, and secondly, due to the reason that I’ve always been frank about the shit that I experienced.

      I truly appreciate the civility of your comment. On any other blog, I would’ve been less harsh, but I’ve actually received a couple of death threats for writing this from nutcases (please note the beautiful irony, in an attempt to defend their beloved school, they threaten me driving home my point that it was shite, instead of being civil like you) so any reply to anyone on this blog is going to be a heated one.

      The cupcakes sound like an excellent idea. 😀

      Once again, much appreciative of the civility in this. Thank you. 🙂

      • tayyabaadnan says:

        a) Um yeah, I regretted having written the first point the moment I posted the comment.

        b) Difference of opinion. I’d shut up.

        c) I just thought you’d give her credit for at least trying to bring up the students in a liberal-cum-feminist way. (From what I’ve collected so far from the blog, it seems you want just that.)

        I appreciate that you appreciated the civility in the comment.

        You deserve cupcakes for being patient with the nutcases you mentioned. I’ll TCS some to you when I am rich, okay?

        • Ghausia says:

          I figured you would. 🙂

          I do not think she’s bringing them up that way at all. In fact, let me tell you something Tayyaba, the girl who started this uproar in the first place, she herself has bitched about the headmistress several times to me. Just highlighting her hypocrisy. 🙂

          lol at the appreciating the appreciation. 😀

          haha that’s very kind of you. If I wasn’t a fat greedy child, I’d share my cookies with you. Just got them from The Cakery, its like biting into a piece of chocolate chip cloud. 😀

          Stick around on my blog, I like talking to civil people with a different point of view. 😉

  10. mybloodyvalentine says:

    Nicely written but i disagree with a few points especially after looking at the comments here.
    I dont want to fight or anything its just that freedom of speech in no way means you throw the book of responsibility right out of the window.
    Also, if you believe in freedom of speech why do you get offended with the comments that come your way following the same freedom of speech route that you talk about.
    I tend to agree with most of the blog especially because i went to such a school to but its your over dramatic response to the comments is what i am scared of.

    ps: you get frustrated easily.

    • Ghausia says:

      Your screen name. Jensen Ackles fan? 😀

      The reason I’m being a complete bitch on this particular blog is because my so-called ‘friend’ who likes telling me how much she loves me got this blog viral and now her nutcase friends are giving me death threats.

      Explain to me how I’ve ‘thrown the book of responsibility out the window’ please. Have I named the school? The principal? The teachers? I could. I have not made up a single fact in this, and there’s a classroom of 20+ students who can corraborate my story, and tell even more stories that have slipped my mind.

      I did not mention any names because it would be akin to libel for me, truth or not. I have not done so, because whatever that whore might say, this wannabe journalist has strict ethical principles that she does her best to follow.

      Pardon me for being frustrated, but I can’t really dance around in glee when someone tells me I should die because I’m just a frustrated lesbian or that I should be killed for pretending to be irreligious, or worse, that they can get my phone number and tell my mother my asliyat. Yeah, sorry, I can’t really be mellow regarding such comments.

      Like I told Tayyaba, on any other blog, I’d have been a lot more calmer responding to the comments. Most of them are from the girls at that school pretending to be someone else, or leaving vile threats. So yeah, toodle away all you want sweetheart, but I don’t really care how frustrated you think I am because YOU are not the one being threatened.

  11. mybloodyvalentine says:

    “The controversial 2:223 was quoted, from Surah Baqrah stating that “women are like your fields, you may go them as you wish.”
    this my dear has to come under irresponsibility. You never really quoted the actual ayat to clarify. You started off with your own interpretation of the religion and your problems with it. People who are not Muslim wont know your much about Islam but this out of context quotation by your teacher has been highlighted in a manner that it would make the readers believe that we subdue our women!

    Sorry if i call you paranoid but how can you be so sure that these comments are coming from people you know could be different people.

    Again, my opinion dont get hyper!

    • Ghausia says:

      I really don’t understand what you’re saying. :S The ayat number I quoted IS the ayat my teacher quoted… seriously I’m a bit confused. Re: the second part of your statement, please do re-read that part slowly so you don’t miss anything, as you can see I highlighted the meaning i.e. subdued women and clarified that this interpretation was incorrect, and highlighted the monogamy aspect (skipped out on the other aspect because its only inviting abuse from Islam-bashers.) Moreover, I have also clarified that this entire interpretation of women serving the mighty men and their fortress is incorrect.

      If someone is irreligious, that doesn’t automatically make them public enemy #1 of Islam. 🙂 Some people may not like organized religion, but would still respect the religion you know. I’m sure its easy to believe that I’m some bitch who whines about how evil Islam is, because its harder to swallow the truth, i.e. though I have my issues with it, I still defend it, and when possible, clarify misinterpretations that disrespect the essence of its teachings. 🙂

      You can say my interpretation is irresponsible, but I could say the same about a conservative’s interpretation. sorry, I’m a liberal, that’s how I see things.

      Um, I know its them because I went to school with them? I KNOW them? I can track them on FB to confirm they’re school students? Still want to call me paranoid, or willing to accept your mistake and apologize? 😛

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