“I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is:  I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a door mat or a prostitute. ”

Rebecca West.

I’ve never understood the rationale behind it, but I’ve always been referred to as the ‘gharilo’ type. It’s pretty baffling because I’m far from it. Maybe it’s because my family’s so conservative and traditional that it makes me the ‘mummy daddy’ type. Maybe it’s because I’ve been cooking since I was about 8 or 9. Be that as it may, it’s a stupid stereotype and one I’ve always hated.

However, due to this misconception, I’d often draw the ire of feminists telling me I was shackling myself by cooking and I was too subservient to men and needed to stand up to my father and his patriarchal values. Due to a few random experiences along this vein, I had an abhorrence of feminists. All I want is to cook myself or my family a meal, do we really need to psychoanalyze that?

But within the past year or so, I’ve realized that I do have a lot of strong feminist ideals. I actually had no idea that some of my beliefs constituted as feminist, to be honest, maybe it’s stupid of me but I don’t sit and think about why I think what I think. And as someone with strong feminist beliefs, I am apparently a constantly PMSing nutcase.

A blog I wrote previously about my school- a school which remained unnamed by the way, because I did not feel it ethical to name it- garnered me a lot of criticism from old classmates. I was bombarded with abuse and death threats. And one comment in particular stood out; “You think you’re so smart well my school taught us to be good girls, not feminists like you.” So apparently, feminists that speak up on your behalf, enabling you to attend universities and mingle with boys are the wrong kind of women?

Yesterday, a guy on my timeline tweeted about how there weren’t girls on Twitter because 140 word limits were too small for them. It’s an offensive thing to say, stereotyping women as airheaded chatterboxes, and I called him out on it. He responded with statements about how such women need to be controlled, and that they should’ve been smacked when they were little. Later on he claimed he meant such kids should’ve been smacked, not girls, if you really want to believe him. Obviously, I told him off. He then went on to bitch about me to his female friends, who flocked to his defense and they all sat and mocked the crazy chick who was probably on her  period. (I’m awara because he said hormonal issues like a good little boy, and I’m being blunt and using bad words like period.)

The pathetic part is that all these people are studying at one of the top medical universities in the city. These girls are Pakistani women, who have access to higher level education, who can mingle with boys, who can have guy friends, and yet, these girls are the ones who were making statements such as “she should meet that girl from our uni, they can make their so-called women’s right group”.

These so-called women’s rights groups are why you’re in a medical university. If these women did not speak out for you, who would? The men, rooted in their traditions of patriarchy? The women, standing in their kitchens because they don’t know they deserve better? Because of women who constantly break boundaries and just by their very existence, prove the worth of women, who by example, show that women deserve equal opportunities and rights, we now live in a society where at least a minute percentage of women have some sort of freedom.

It’s so much fun to roam around at night with guys and not be beaten for dishonoring your family. It’s wonderful to wear jeans without censure. It’s fortunate that you get to study as much as you want without anyone trying to take that right from you. It’s great to be able to have the freedom to make your own choices in life. It’s great that you are allowed to actually work, and to have a career, and to not have a life that’s confined to cooking and taking care of the children.

But when the time comes to think, your mind shuts down. When the time comes to recognize why you have such a great life, you instead, revert to mocking the very people who made it possible for you to have that life. You mock them, censure them, call them insane, say they’re surely on their period, mock their attempts to provide equal rights for women.

We live in a society where we ridicule women, and then exclaim, “Take it easy, don’t get hyper it was just a joke!” We stereotype women as vapid chatterboxes but it’s all just in harmless fun. We state that girls who use slang should’ve been smacked when they were little, and then try to pretend we meant all kids, not just girls. And what’s worse, we live in a society where we support misogyny, the ridiculing of women, where we agree with men and mock anyone who dares to have a strong-minded opinion as a nutcase.

Is it so insane to stick up for my own sex? Is it so crazy that I want women to be on equal footing with men? Am I really just some loony who should be institutionalized? Sometimes, I feel like I have no other solution other than screaming long and hard every time I encounter such parhaylikhay jahils. Men shun me and those like me, women mock us and consider us unnatural- my previous blog had one girl calling me a frustrated lesbian- and where does that leave us? In the institution for women with independent minds and strong opinions, being taught how to submit to a man that can control us.

(Title of my blog lovingly adapted from Helen Ruddy’s song, “I Am Woman.”)

  1. While I understand your frustration at running into nut-cases. (you have the ability to run into a lot of them, I must say). Tell what’s wrong in being not able to sum up your statements in 140 characters? The nutcase who said it aside, is there something inherently condescending in this statement?

    I have a friend, well had a friend, who teaches feminism at a renown college in the US. When she and I would talk, she would always stereotype both men and women. Not in a condescending way of course.

    I agree with the blog by the way. Hypocrisy is at an all time high here.

    • Ghausia says:

      The implication that women are vapid airheads that do nothing but gab away is offensive and only add to the ideas of their worthlessness and inability to contribute in any field.

      Stereotyping isn’t okay in any case. You’re esentially supporting the concept of seeing every woman from an exaggerated, generalized point of view.

  2. The problem is the contemporary mindset regarding feminists. Even abroad the general opinion seems to be “you feminists have gotten all you want, why are you still whining?”. Add to the unfounded ideas that all feminists are really only butch lesbians who want to dominate men and make them slaves, and you have it. We are annoying at best, a threat to the safety of men at worst.

    This tends to ignore the persisting dismal conditions and mounds of statistics regarding thereof that exist and that lay bare the false claim that women have acheived equality. They haven’t. We feminists are as much necessary in today’s world as fifty years ago.

    • Ghausia says:

      Forget the world, lets look within Pakistan. More than majority of the female population in Pakistan have any rights, in fact they don’t even have any concept that they have rights. They actually believe that they are inferior. And yet, women from privileged backgrounds, with all the facilities of the world, can’t appreciate efforts to provide every woman in the country with the same opportunities.

  3. ezuhaib says:

    Yeah… most people defend their stereotypes by the notorious “It’s just for fun” argument. Its only when they’re themselves targeted by some stereotype that they realize how difficult is it to tolerate one. Try saying something like “All men are egotistic” or “All medical students are shitheads” and see how funny they get. Oh, and of course they’ll still not learn a lesson.

  4. Taimur says:

    “Why don’t you just shut up and make me a sandwich?”

    ^ I never got that. And if I remark on it, all I hear is ‘Dude, it’s just a satirical joke, ’cause you know women were holed up in kitchens before and now…’. I mean it’s obvious they’re joking, but there is something funny about it? Do we start jokes on ethnicity, cause you know they were discriminated and all before and now…?

    I don’t know, I think that women’s perceptions have been polarized now. You have one side that instead of respecting trophy women up like ceramic tableware, all perfect images and embroidery like they want ’em.

    On the other hand you have people who think that having a carefree attitude towards women is enough. Instead of not making any differences b/w gender, they would just regard it as a ‘no-go or else she’ll get pissed’ area.

    Neither side has respect. Neither side has any idea that respect is needed here, and never cares.

    And, unfortunately, some outspoken ‘feminists’ don’t take it like they are supposed to. And now it’s only a matter of appeasing them instead of actually looking into the root of matters.

    I wish I had any solutions in mind, but I don’t. Just remain a crazy woman until hopefully the girls start to get it in their head? Or make men jokes :/

    • Ghausia says:

      Wait are you referring to me as an outspoken feminist? :S

      Also, hiiiii. *waves shyly* Are you here in pursuit of my number again?

      PS: The heaven track is now my meditation track.

      • Taimur says:

        Nope, I am referring to angry females who get appeased by superficial consolations, and that ‘things are better now’. And that’s what made feminists get the stereotypical image of whiners.

        Like you said, cooking or wearing traditional ‘decent’ clothes or being timid does not fully represent sexism. These are just cultural trappings that could be enjoyed by men or women. But there is a bigger picture that we should worry about. Decades of trophy-wiving have made women consider themselves inferior to men in a areas of life that in this day and age should not be acceptable.

        We aren’t hunter-gatherers anymore, just because you’re physiologically stronger doesn’t mean I can’t put a bullet in your head. Figuratively speaking.

        *waves back* not really, I was bored and landed up on your blog. Plus, I also wanted to ask if the 6LA8 article got published or not. ^_^

        we got a new album coming up, probably this month. It’s ‘a lovely, dreamy, hazy album’ according to our band manager, so you’ll have nicer tracks to listen to soon.

        • Ghausia says:

          Even the matter oh phsysiological strength is just another case of creation inferiority I think, history shows us time and time again of female warriors, and I don’t mean the Amazons either. It doesn’t matter what gender you are, personally, even though I’m very unfit, I know for a fact that I can hold my own in a fight with a guy any day. But, of course, this is Pakistan, and there’s no place for strong women here.

          Ohhh it was supposed to be published in the September issue but they’re merging it with the October issue, I actually asked my friend day before yesterday about it and she told me. Your manager is always drunk on your music. 😀 btw its ironic you wandered by yesterday cause day before that, a friend was listening to my heaven track and asking if we could use it in our class projects, we all have to make a short film, I told her I’d ask you and let her know, I was hoping to use the tracks in my movie too. 😛 Oh wait, so you’re NOT here for my number? *balls up pharra with number on it and sadly trashes it*

          • Taimur says:

            Pakistan does have strong women, notably due to gigantic male egos that they have to cope with. It’s just that they don’t realize they don’t have to live is old sexist norms. The net is a good place to start venting your frustrations, for one, and to find like-minded people that might be very supportive of your ideas. It’s not as isolated a world as it used to be.

            Nice. Feel free to use any of our music wherever, as soundtracks or to remix etc, as long as you or whoever wants to use it acknowledge us somewhere, credits ya jo bhi.

            One can also use our newer, unreleased tracks if he/she wants to, just mail at 6la8pk@gmail.com and we’ll help them out. Or we can make exclusive stuff if there is a need for it (and we feel like it).

            Nofil Naqvi used us here too http://gawaahi.org/2011/09/17/lyari-expressway/ ^_^ Admittedly I can’t find the 6la8 acknowledgement, but it does show up on 6la8 searches so it’s probably there :/

            How many pharras have gone into your trash by now btw ?

            • Ghausia says:

              Sometimes I feel like the internet is too much my sanctuary, its kind of sad when I think about how many friends I’ve made online as compared to real life. ^_^

              Yes obviously you’ll be credited. 😀 Awesome I’ll let my friend know and will do my best to find a scene in my film that fits your music. 😀 I don’t see you credited in the video though, not even in the description. Didn’t you say anything to those guys?

              Sigh. Just this one pharra. 😦 I made it as soon as you first commented here, but now, it looks like my first and last pharra was never needed in the first place! *weeps*

              • Taimur says:

                Well I just asked nofil to use us if he wishes. He mails me whenever he uses us in his video ^_^ so it doesn’t really matter.

                *new album release excitement*

                • Ghausia says:

                  But still, wouldn’t you like to have your name credited, so you get more publicity that way?

                  Ohhh, where is it where is it where is itttt I’m so excited! Here, have a pharra to celebrate. *retrieves pharra from trashcan and crosss fingers*

                  • Taimur says:

                    Yep. I recall he did credit it (or rather Naveen Naqvi, who news-reported in it, but I can’t see it anymore. I dunno. Edited out, maybe?

                    Here too

                    It’ll be out in a week or so, just wrapping it up. Here’s one of the songs. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cIR3yX0A8Kc

                    aww, okay pharra dhl karogi?

                    • Ghausia says:

                      There its credited. Cool. 😀

                      omg spoiler alert! Hayeeee!!!! HAYEEEE!!!!!!! *swoons* Err, translation of the poem please? *wanders off to google it*

                      homg! Did you just ask me for a pharra?! Hayeeee! Shumaila, dekho shameshame baatein kar raha hai pher se! 😀

  5. Taimur says:

    It’s out! Sort of, http://www.6la8.com
    btw, the magazine you did our review for, was it blah! ?

    • Ghausia says:

      Shumaila sent me the present you sent my way! I shall offer my pharra with great joy now. 😀

      Yes, it was blah! why? Is it out?

      That poem is very pretty btw. 😀

      • Taimur says:

        no. like, go to our fb page.

        • Ghausia says:

          Saw that. Oddness. I think maybe, they’re pulling my review and running an interview with you guys for next month’s issue? Which would be wonderful! Oh sucks if they pull my thing, but still, you guys get something bigger yayyy!!! (Also I was going to check with my magazine’s editor if I could interview you, so, you know, I’m inclined to childishly yell cheatercock at blah!) 😛

  6. Taimur says:

    Well their interview is supposed to be on the November issue while yours was October no? Besides, I can’t message this person on fb for some reason. They think i’m a spammer.

    • Ghausia says:

      Yeah, but I can’t imagine them doing my review in October and then an interview in the next issue, sigh. Or maybe they will, though I’m not getting my hopes up. haha no it isn’t that, Facebook settings are really screwed up these days, messages never show up anymore. So no, not you. 😀

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