I’ve refrained from blogging for a while because I felt as if I was lapsing into a routine about ranting on feminist issues. Speaking for women’s rights is a great thing; becoming a serial ranter is not. But I absolutely must share this with the general public, its a conversation I had with a girl on my Facebook, and I think its a classic example of the submissive mentality that women in Pakistan suffer from.

R: (Facebook status update) “Yes, I’m a female. I push doors that clearly say PULL. I laugh harder when I try to explain why I’m laughing. I walk into a room and forget why I was there. I count on my fingers. I hide pain from my loved ones. I say it is a long story, when it really is not, just to get out of having to tell it. I cry a lot more than you think I do. I care about people who don’t care about me. I am strong because I have to be, not because I want to be. I listen to you, even when you don’t listen to me. And a hug will always help. Yes, I am a Female, and i am proud of it! ♥ Re-post if you’re a female and proud of it.”

Me: Wow, so you’re proud to fulfil every single negative stereotype there is about women in a society that is strongly, determinedly patriarchal? One giant step backward for every single Pakistani feminist risking everything to ensure that morons like you receive their rights.

R: (deletes my comment, posts on wall) Everyone has their own opinions and you should learn to respect that. I hope you understand what I mean.

Me: (on her wall) Why? I don’t agree with your opinion, nor do I respect it. There’s nothing to respect about being proud of amnesia and counting on your fingers childishly, which aren’t particularly positive traits. While you may own up to them yourself you really shouldn’t generalise them for the female sex, which suffers from enough negative generalisations already. In fact, pretty much all the things on that list are fairly negative traits. Why would anyone be proud of them? And even if you are, good for you, but please don’t say or even think that they apply to a larger population. Positivity about being female is good, but can be derived from much more flattering traits, such as the fact that we suffer so bloody much in society but we’re still on our feet and fighting – our courage in the face of adversity, our determination to achieve rights long denied, our tenacity in the face of adverse circumstances so severe in some places that women might as well be a different caste. And lastly, as a feminist, I reserve the right to call out both men and women for promoting sexist, negative stereotypes of women, and that too on a public forum.

(less than 24 hours, R deletes me)

Honestly, I don’t even know what to say anymore. How can a woman degrade herself so easily? How can a woman mock herself? How can a woman percieve herself as flawed, full of negative stereotypes, and accept it as part of being female?

Women are strong.

They’re smart.

They’re brave.

They’re talented.

They have the ability to suffer the worst things in life, and still remain strong and brave.

Women can work. They can vote. They can sue anyone who harasses them in the workplace. They can fight for justice if they are abused in any way. They can sleep easier knowing their rapist is behind bars. They can choose whether they want to give birth or abort. They can and will have financial rights. They can get married on their own conditions. They can attain as much education as they want. They can become doctors, teachers, lawyers, writers, social workers, businesswomen, entrepreneurs, heck, they can actually pursue any career that men pursue! Gadzooks! They can fight sexism and challenge misogynist perceptions about women as the weak, inferior sex every single day because guess what? Believing that is as ridiculous as well, believing that faeries live in the sky.

And if you need further proof, lets take a glance at history, and present-day, and see some of the women that defy cultural and social stereotypes to become great people.

Susan B. Anthony. “Men, their rights, and nothing more, women, their rights, and nothing less”. Among other things, the Susan B. Anthony became the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution, allowing women the right vote, as well as being an abolitionist.

Simone de Beauvoir: Feminist, philosopher, and writer. Interestingly, in her book “The Second Sex”, Simone discusses how men stereotype women and thus organize society into a patriarchy.

Marie Curie: First women to win a Nobel Prize, first person to win two Nobel Prizes.

Margaret Fuller: Journalist, critic, women’s right advocate, author of the first American text on feminism.

Helen Keller: Deaf, blind, and dumb, Helen still lived a remarkable life as a prominent socialist and suffragette.

Rosa Parks: In 1955, as Rosa Parks tiredly made her way home in a bus, a white man told her to  give up her seat for him, since as a white man, he had superiority over the black Rosa Parks. Rosa refuses. And so began the American Civil Rights Movement, which resulted in African-Americans receiving the same civil rights as any white citizen of the United States.

Eleanor Roosevelt: Writer, chairman of the UN Commission on Human Rights, co-founder of Freedom House.

Gloria Steinem: American writer, journalist, and feminist, who has written in support of reproductive freedom, a term she coined, created awareness about genital mutilation, advocates same-sex marriage, and supported the Equal Rights Amendment.

Harriet Beecher Stowe: Writer of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, she was referred to jokingly by Abraham Lincoln as “the little lady that started the Civil War”.

Nabiha Meher Sheikh: Blogger, writer, teacher, feminist, activist, and one of my idols.

Sherry Rehman: Journalist, politician, and current Pakistani ambassador to the United States, and a strong advocate of women’s rights in Pakistan.

Naseem Hamid: First woman to win the South Asian Federation Games 100 mile sprint in its entire history. at the age of 22, no less.

Sana Bucha: Journalist and anchor for Geo News “Lekin”.

Ayesha Siddiqua: Journalist, writer, military analyst, and visiting scholar at John Hopkins University.

Tehmina Durrani: Writer and social worker, author of My Feudal Lord,  works for rehabilitation of abused women.

Bilquis Edhi: Humanitarian and social worker. Wife of Abdul Sattar Edhi.

Asma Jahangir: Lawyer, president of Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan, human rights activist, advocate for minority rights, author if several publications as well as two books.

Nefer Sehgal: Photographer for the Express Tribune, Nefer has dodged bullets, played arcade games at Lyari, traveled to Badin, and… you know what, a couple of lines won’t do her justice.

Aamina Jahangir: An entrepreneur at the age of 17, today at 21, Aamina is a savvy businesswomen, and on her way to opening her very own cafe/bakery. At 21. Yes, you heard that right. 21. That’s how old she is. You know how old she was when she started running  her own business? 17. When she was still at school.

Some of the women on the latter half of the list are friends, or at least people I know. That doesn’t create a bias, it gives me firsthand insight into what incredible women they all are.

So a little postscript to R, who inspired this blogpost: While you’re busy giggling over how silly and inferior and stupid and ditzy you are, rest assured; there are plenty of women to prove how wrong idiots like you are.


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