Archive for the ‘Feminism’ Category

The co-opting of social justice issues by capitalist actors is nothing new; from body positivity in Dove ads, to female empowerment ads by large multi-national corporations, from Jennifer Lawrence to Wonder Woman, we’re painfully familiar with how our emotions and our lives are exploited for capitalist profit. But when I saw Sanam Saeed talking about how she doesn’t agree with bra-burning or unshaved underarms, I wondered if this was a case of yet another celebrity co-opting feminism to market her film, or just the story of an extremely privileged woman, utterly divorced of women’s realities in her own country and who once claimed that feminism was overrated, and yet was strangely aware of the need for better representation of women in the media and had begun to identify herself as a feminist. As fallacious as her claims about feminism and equality were, I still felt that she and Aamina Sheikh meant it when they said their characters in Cake were feminist, which was why I decided to watch the movie and see for myself.

I didn’t love the movie, but I didn’t hate it either. I liked some parts, I hated some parts, I was incredulous at some parts at the sheer privilege dripping off the screen. I don’t believe in romance but I’m a sucker for it anyway, so Romeo quietly sitting and reading with Zareen immediately won me over. But possibly by sheer accident, there were some things the movie gets right.

The script was stunted and awkward in parts; a friend pointed out that it sounded like it was written in English and then translated to Urdu, and the English sub-titles actually read better than the spoken dialogue. It also seemed like whoever wrote the script had a vague idea of what a relationship between two sisters is like. Despite the awkwardness though, the chemistry between Zareen and Zara isn’t that bad. You can easily see Zara in real-life younger sisters, the child constantly trying to be affectionate but pettishly irritated by the older sister’s dismissive attitude, or trying to pretend like they aren’t spoiled because the elder siblings resent them for it. You can see the older daughter left behind at home in Zareen, burdened with so much care-work and emotional labour, proud of herself for maintaining the responsibility her siblings cannot, but hating them for not sharing her burden. What I particularly loved is how the brother is absent even when he is there, or how Zareen and Zara gang up on him; the sibling rivalry and camaraderie was pretty well-done despite the hiccups in dialogue.

The mother’s role however, is hardly feminist; she’s reduced to a wife deeply in love with her husband. Oh, and she loves wigs and music, but the wig might just be a fetish for her husband, and not something she herself enjoys. The woman spends half of the movie in a coma, and the other half demonstrating affection for her husband. Somebody call the writers and tell them 2018 called, since they’re clearly stuck in the past. It’s surprising that you have two strong, fierce, angry women who’ll brook no nonsense from anyone, and yet see no reflection of this in their mother. Women like Zareen and Zara don’t just spring up out of thin air, but you never see that same ferocity or independence in their mother. This is particularly disappointing as the one scene where she isn’t utterly devoted to her husband, is a scene where she tells him that a mysterious decision he made in the past was wrong. This made me wonder how many other times she’s quietly disagreed with her husband, and how much their relationship dynamics would change in such an interaction.

I highly doubt the writers, or anyone on the film crew, knows the concept of female rage in feminism. That’s a terribly condescending statement, but female rage is a concept which isn’t very mainstream unless you’re part of online feminist discourses where the subject might come up. But why would it be mainstream? After all, it serves to overturn the status quo, and mainstream feminism, liberal feminism, choice feminism, all spout slogans of empowerment and produce feel-good ads without actually challenging structural oppression like the capitalist patriarchy.

To break it down, the concept of female rage is this; women are taught to be soft and gentle, sweet and compassionate, but never angry. It’s a negative emotion for us, so we’re told us to keep our voices low, our words gentle and non-provocative. On the other hand, boys aren’t discouraged from being loud and rowdy, and men are expected to be angry. If my driver yells at someone who’s crashed into our car, he’s being a man, but if I yell at the person myself, I’m told to “please be quiet and go back to your car,” and then ignored in favour of shouting at my driver. That isn’t hypothetical, it’s an actual situation, one I’ve been through countless times.

You see the critique of female anger in stereotypes of the angry feminist, who is caricatured as being angry and confrontational for no apparent reason. We’re afraid to own that anger because we’re trying to be good feminists who are calm, and reasonable, and gentle, like a woman must be. I remember hearing men criticise Asma Jahangir, and their major contention with her was that she was “rude” because she shouted a lot; in comparison, my mother greatly admired her for never being afraid to speak up.

But then again, my mother, like many women, is familiar with the frustration of suppressing your anger at a shitty lot in life, and turning it into calm understanding and life lessons about a world where the odds are rarely in our favour.

So it was a refreshing surprise to see the glimmerings of female rage in Zareen; “oh look, here comes the fancy financial professional,” she sneers at her sister, the sister who got to follow her dreams while Zareen is supervising a household. Zara doesn’t understand why Zareen is constantly snapping at her but how could she? She got to have everything, while Zareen was left to sacrifice her dreams and shoulder responsibility. When Zara tries to help her sister change a tire, Zareen isn’t just refusing her help because she can do it herself, she’s refusing help because she’s angry at her sister for being absent for years, for being absent for many other flat tires which she had to fix on her own. My favorite part is when her father calls her bitter, and she reacts with anger and disbelief, or when she vents to her siblings, telling them that they both got to follow their dreams while she was left to be squashed by family responsibilities. Zareen is absolutely furious, and she keeps it hidden underneath years of “good breeding” so it makes sense that she reaches her tipping point when her siblings come traipsing home to be utterly useless, as always.

The film was touted for looking at ageing parents, but I had little sympathy for the father. The sweet doddering old fool routine didn’t fool this feminist; this is a cunning man who manipulated many people, including a poor Christian boy (more on that in a bit) as well as own daughter; in fact, he is the reason there is a wall between Zara and Zarene in the first place. I’ve seen it in my family, in other families, even in the field research that my organisation conducts; sisters are frequently each other’s greatest allies especially in their homes. But this man pressures his daughter to keep secrets from her little sister, to lie to her about her boyfriend, and who would know better than Zareen how hurt Zara was that her boyfriend didn’t wait for her to come home? So it is absolutely audacious for him to play the part of a sad, wronged, abandoned father who is perplexed by his daughter’s anger and says, “This daughter of mine, who carries so much bitterness inside her” and Zareen’s disbelief is completely warranted; as she reminds her father a few minutes later, she did everything he asked of her.

Before I dive into the Romeo storyline, I’ll pause for a moment to talk about feminism. I was derisive about choice and liberal feminism earlier, and here’s why; liberal feminism focuses on “creating equal opportunities” for women, without reckoning with the patriarchal institutions and structures in which those opportunities are being created. For example, a liberal feminist would say, 50% of medical school seats should be for girls, but the same liberal feminist would sorrow over med school graduates getting married and not practicing medicine, without doing anything to change to mindsets or the practical hurdles which prevent women from practicing medicine. Choice feminism will bullshit about a woman’s right to choice, and deem those choices beyond questioning which inherently goes against feminism’s basic tenets; to question our choices and decisions through a critical feminist lens. Liberal feminism and choice feminism are thus not intersectional; giving a 50% quota in med school is fantastic, but when the Christian community is deprived of equal opportunities in education, when social attitudes towards the minority community are discriminatory, how can they possibly have equal access to opportunity? That’s where the intersectional approach comes in; to look at women’s issues as connected with various oppressive institutions. This means that many issues which may seem disconnected from women are in fact, women’s issues- climate change is a women’s issue, migration is a women’s issue, class politics is a women’s issue because the way women’s lives are impacted by inequality and injustice goes far beyond “lacking empowerment.”  If feminism is the pursuit of equality, it is equality for all, not just women, not just heterosexual women, not just women born with a vagina, but all people.

And that is why the treatment of Romeo, and Zara’s accident, is flawed and anti-feminist. Minority rights are a feminist issue, and the politics of power between a poor Christian boy, and a wealthy landed Muslim family are treated with a clear privileged gaze; Romeo’s father served the family for years, therefore, Romeo, out of gratitude for his father’s employment, and having spent his life around the family, feels that they are his family too.

Family doesn’t throw you under the bus, or in Romeo’s case, lets you take the fall for someone else and rot in jail for four years. Not functional families, at least.

A rich girl runs over a poor boy on her family’s lands and kills him. Her family ships her off to London (how damned convenient) and tries to pay hush money to the child’s family in the form of Diyat. The family refuses and demands justice (as well they should!) so Romeo takes the blame for Zara, the poor little rich girl who simply must not know that she’s murdered a child, and he goes to jail. When Zara asks him why, he tells her that her family is like family to him. Her father tells her that Romeo himself volunteered to go to jail.

How convenient for an elite land-owning Muslim man to have a Christian servant whose son feels indebted to him, and will thus internalise that debt into a sense of escalated servitude to the family. Not once are the power dynamics challenged in this film; not once does anyone tell the doddering old fool, “Baba how could you let Romeo go to jail? He’s a minority, he’s poor, of course he feels like he owes us a debt because we provided his father with gainful employment! He’s not making a choice for us, he feels obligated to serve us in any way possible!”

Romeo’s lack of privilege is also treated poorly; Zareen teases him for having holey socks, and when he brushes it off with a joke about living life fully by feeling the breeze on his toes, we see Zareen cutting holes in her socks as well. It’s not cute or romantic, it’s repulsive; Zareen is a princess living inside a bubble of wealth and privilege, why else would she actually comment on someone having holes in their socks? Especially when she knows that someone lacks her wealth and prestige? The only time when she’s called out on her class privilege is when Romeo tells her she’s ashamed of their relationship, but we never see her own up to her own class bias.

Speaking of socio-economic class privilege, I can’t be the only one bored of seeing a rich family wail on about how their lives have been impacted by a spoiled princess murdering a poor child. We do see Zara going to the family to make amends towards the end; it’s a bit of a saving grace for a movie which otherwise focused on the wealthy and powerful family, whereas the people most affected were completely absently from the narrative. But even that saving grace fails to salvage the film from being utterly elitist; I’m disinterested in rich girls throwing eggs at judgmental aunties, and far more interested in seeing how those with privilege impact the working class.

Cake isn’t a feminist film. It has elements of feminism in it, sure, but I refuse to call it feminist for its flawed power dynamics and mistreatment of minority characters. And let me be absolutely clear, it isn’t feminist to smoke cigarettes or go out at night. Choice feminism would say it’s feminist because you’re exercising your right to choose to smoke, but choice feminism is utterly idiotic and useless. If you’re so empowered, smoke in front of your parents, wear sleeveless in front of your parents, hold hands with a boy in front of your parents, otherwise, don’t call it feminism or empowerment. And aren’t there better ways to be empowered? More fruitful ways even?

Back in 2015 when I was attending the Sangat course, Kamla Bhasin talked to us about internalised misogyny. I had an enlightening discussion afterwards with her, when I told her that I wore certain outfits because it made me feel powerful to wear something which I knew I wasn’t allowed to do. Kamla Di pointed out that I could wear a plunging neckline if I wanted to, I had the right to do so, but if I were to call it a feminist choice because I can be sexy, that’s flawed because I’m pandering to the same sexist objectification of women’s bodies which as a feminist, I stand against. Why don’t you learn to drive and go places on your own? Isn’t that feminist and empowering too? She asked me.

Climate change and ending pollution is a women’s issue as well, so I see nothing empowering about smoking, in secret or otherwise, when there are studies showing that smoking contributes more to air pollution than cars do. Smoke that damned cigarette but don’t call it feminism or empowerment. Call it choice but don’t call it a feminist choice, because that’s not what it is.

As far as Aamina Sheikh and Sanam Saeed’s misconceptions about feminism are concerned, I already tweeted Sanam Saeed about it. I hope she listens, because I have no interest in bullying or mocking anyone, it’s completely counter-productive. I would rather help people learn and understand. After all, the biggest complaint women my age have against senior feminists is that they don’t listen to us, trivialise our experiences and knowledge, behave like a sorority, and aren’t willing to actually teach us. We can’t repeat that same behaviour with others, not if we want to work towards sustainable change.

I know it is frustrating to see women co-opting a movement for justice and equality, and trivialising it to stereotypes which have no basis in actual facts, but I would much rather try to talk to them and include them in feminist discussions, than to vilify them. Because what if they aren’t actually using the feminism card to market their film and actually do want to do more to change women’s lives? Should we really lose two allies, even if they’re incredibly privileged and hideously, grossly misinformed to the point that we’re resisting the urge to tear out our hair in frustration over that utterly ridiculous HSY interview? Whether our numbers are few or many, it would be a failure on our part to alienate someone who wants to be part of the movement.

 

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I used to be a pretty normal girl. Quite geeky, not very fashionable or stylish, or interested in it to be honest, but still fond of bright colours and nail polish. I liked boys. I had a poster of Orlando Bloom, another one of Buffy and Angel and Spike and Cordelia. I watched Star Plus and Gossip Girl and One Tree Hill and 90210.

Then I made the fatal mistake of learning about feminism. What was worst though, is the fact that I actually agreed with a lot of what I read. To my horror, I found myself taking up that dreaded mantle, and calling myself The F-Word: Feminist.

And that is the moment when Feminism ruined my life.

No more did I go into bro mode around guys and objectify women. No, now I bristle at men who constantly have nothing to discuss other than so-and-so hot girls. No more did I make fun of girls wearing capris in university with the guys; I started telling them to mind their own goddamned business and take care of their lothario-like dressing first. Heck, even a mild “bachi” from a guy, designed simply to infantilize women and make them weak and helpless beings in need of protection like a child, reeking of pedophilia, makes me angry! No more did I crack crass rape jokes; I started to tell people to knock it off when they spoke of “raping” someone’s Facebook wall, telling them that it was wrong to do so. I mean, GOD! The context, right? The context is all that matters when making light of the violation of a person’s body and the trauma associated with that incident.

When guys try to pick up the check for me, I get angry. If they pull out a chair for me, I’m offended. If a guy gives up his seat to me, I push him back down and tell him I’m fine with standing. If a guy lets me cut in line simply because of my gender, I’m actually upset about it! Seriously, what is wrong with me? So what if chivalry is misogynist in nature? Other women who pander to patriarchy and internalize misogyny are perfectly happy to be reduced to weak helpless creatures, pretending that they’re weak by virtue of being a woman, and they’re perfectly happy doing so, so why can’t I do the same?

I mean seriously, I’ve gotten so uptight and high maintenance, that if anyone, male or female, says “women have their roles and men have theirs” I actually start going on about how gender is a social and cultural construct. How. Fucking. BORING. I mean, who cares what science or sociology or theory or logic says? Personal, limited opinions and subjective experiences are ALL that matter when it comes to making an informed decision!

Heck, I used to be sweet and romantic, thinking about prince charmings and knights in shining armour. Now, I’m anti-marriage and anti-relationships. Heck, I write about why Disney princesses and traditional faerietales center around the concept of female morality and controlling female sexuality. Who CARES as long as there’s a beautiful princess involved, right? And its messed up my love life. I’m so indifferent to guys when they try to flirt with me because I’m a feminist. And this is the rare occasions when guys actually do flirt with me. Because who wants to hit on a bitch of a feminazi, right? As if it wasn’t bad enough that I’m fat and short, instead of tall and thin and leggy like glossy magazines, the fashion industry, and the capitalist patriarchy tell me I’m supposed to. Plus, I recently chopped off my beautiful, impossible to manage long locks for a shorter haircut, which, to make matters worse, makes me look like a “butch lesbian” and you know how awful it is to look “butch” you know. I mean again, never mind that gender is a social construct, that sexual binaries are stupid, who wants to hear any of that when they’re flirting with someone, right?

I lost my best friend because of feminism. He meant the world to me. He literally was my whole world. One day, he jokingly called me a slut. Loser that I am, I actually got offended. I mean, obviously, OBVIOUSLY he meant it fondly. Clearly, he was saying it out of pride, since I used to be the innocent, naïve sort and changed a lot over the years. And what did I do? I hung up on him in anger. And that was it. That was the moment our friendship started to unravel. That was the day we died.

Simply because I couldn’t tolerate my friend calling me a slut.

Now, look at me. I’m all alone on a Friday night, sad and lonely for my own reasons. On a normal day, I’m fierce and assertive and though I have a timid, not-confrontational nature, I’m driven to stand up for myself and for others, when I see someone being sexist or misogynist. I talk about boring things like the patriarchy, instead of flipping my hair and tilting my head with those slightly widened eyes that slays them every time (evidently, the usage of the word “slay” demonstrates how much I date… not) and giving a fake laugh to make the guy think I’m adorable. I refuse to watch Bollywood because of the rampant stereotypical misogyny and sexual exploitation in every movie.  I have intelligent conversations with people about male privilege and FEMEN and rape apologia. I don’t even listen to rap music anymore! So what if it’s homophobic and offensive? Normal people don’t have a problem with it, so why do I have to try to be different and cool?

So what if I’m intelligent and more aware of social issues and more knowledgeable than the average person? The average person gets laid more than me, after all. The average person is liked at parties. The average person is happier living in their privileged bubble because they’re just ignorant and uninformed about, well, quite a bit, if not everything. Sure, I still dress in bright colours and I still like boys and nail polish and of course, there’s nothing wrong with any of that. But hey, what’s the point of putting on nail polish when no guy is interested in seeing how pretty and delicate my weak feminine hands are, and thus liking how I appeal to his chivalrous side by appealing to his masculinity and boosting his ego by looking like a soft, small thing that must be protected? Obviously, no amount of nail polish or eyeliner can mask the stench of bored indifference, that reek of feminism, that distinct air of “I like you but really, I couldn’t care less because my existence does not revolve around being a man’s property and my happiness is not dependent on the attention men give me, or in conforming to the gender-specific behaviours of a patriarchal society. Your mother would possibly be scandalized that I even exist. I’m never going to procreate. Marriage is a problematic concept.” I mean sure, there are men whose mothers wouldn’t be scandalized but actually adore me, and there are male feminists who seek out feminist partners but hey, those ones get snapped up by the other feminists quite quickly, seeing as they’re an unfortunate rarity in a place like Pakistan.

And this is why feminism has ruined my life. If I could go back, would I change any of it? Stay uninformed, making rape jokes, calling feminists butch lesbians, using gender-specific slurs, objectifying women, and just being an offensive douchebag in general?

Fuck, no.

Paul: Holly. I’m not gonna let you do this I’m in love with you.

Holly: So what?

Paul: So what? So plenty! You belong to me!

Holly: No. People don’t belong to people.

Paul: Of course they do!

Holly: I’m not gonna let anyone put me in a cage.

Paul: I don’t wanna put you in a cage, I wanna love you!

Holly: The same thing!

I officially no longer know anyone who is not single, like me. There’s something wrong with me.

And not because I’m single. And not because I don’t have a love-life. And not because I’m not in a relationship.

It’s because I want none of the above.

I’ve tried to rationalize it, to understand it. But there’s nothing that has traumatized me. It’s not cynicism. It’s not bitterness. It’s not even disinterest. It’s just something I don’t want or need.

Do I want a relationship for the companionship? No, not really. Other people exhaust me. Even going out with my family is sometimes difficult, because I would much rather stay in my room and read a book or chat with a friend online or watch a TV show.  Meeting friends leaves me emotionally drained, no matter how much fun I have. Socializing panics me, and the nervous hyper energy that results gives the illusion of gregariousness. So no, I’m rather fond of the idea of moving into my very own apartment, living completely on my own some magical day.

So I need a relationship for love? Absolutely not. I’ve made the mistake of centering myself, my life, my personality, my whole being around individual people, attaching all importance to them, and falling apart the second my relationship with those people frayed. It took a lot of hard work to realize and understand that for every single person I lose in my life, there are so many people remaining who love me and would do anything for me that I shouldn’t even feel the loss of that one person. Sure, those people are friends, family, children, cats. But love is love, no matter what. The form changes, but the substance remains. I need love and affection, in no specific form precisely.

And it certainly doesn’t give me happiness. I mean, my personal past aside- some details even I don’t publish online- relationships don’t precisely affect my happiness in any way. Well, they do sometimes make me miserable. Sometimes, they make me cheerful. But happy, no, not precisely, no. Food makes me happy. Writing makes me happy. Winters and rain makes me happy. Relationships, not so much.

Everyone has to settle down some day, you think. Part of settling down is marriage, you think. Yeah, no, not really. That may be the case for some people, but not all. And I’m not some people, not by a long shot. My opposition to marriage has a lot to do with how unnecessary and in a Pakistani context, problematic it is. I do not at all feel safe or secure considering marriage under current Pakistani laws. And if something makes me doubt my own security, then I’m not inclined towards it, obviously.

Children? I’ve done my research. Single women can and do adopt in Pakistan. It’s difficult, more difficult than it is for normal couples but hey, that just makes the feminist in me snarl and say, bring it on. And I actually do want to adopt. I don’t intend to procreate, not at all. I consider procreation to be an extremely selfish act. But I absolutely love children, I think they’re beautiful and amazing and so full of life, and for that reason alone, I want to adopt a child someday, because every child deserves love and family, and many children do not have that, and I want to give such a child a home because I don’t care whose blood she or he is, I’ll love them and they’ll be my children, no matter what our blood says.

That wraps up all the traditional reasons for relationships and marriage. Honestly, I genuinely cannot fathom why there is so much social pressure to BE in a relationship. I feel like I’m living some sort of soap opera where everyone is cool and single, and then suddenly even though they’re still cool, they’re also in a relationship, and I’m the only one who doesn’t conform, who isn’t the way people are supposed to be.

Whether it’s an old girlfriend who’s met her first boyfriend and will typically marry him, or friends in foreign countries with more independent, individualistic relationships, or friends with long-distance relationships, slowly, everyone has “fallen in love” so to speak, if not conformed. I haven’t and I don’t want to. I wrinkle my nose in disgust at people’s stories, because tales of companionship nauseate me. I wonder how people can live together and not hate each other. I wonder why people, especially women who are strong and independent-minded individuals have any need for a relationship in the first place. And how do all these people find the time to balance work and studies with all this love business? Ugh.  My sole priority right now is getting my life together, because it’s been in shambles for too long and I need to fix it because I can’t be one of those people who are miserable and thus lash out destructively at everyone around them.

I find it difficult to deal with people’s reaction to my my relationship aversion. If you’re a Pakistani girl, you’re sure to have heard many times, from many people, the typical “oh all girls say they don’t want to get married until their parents make the perfect match for them/until they meet someone special.” I find it exceptionally disrespectful to hear this in particular, because in the Pakistani context, relationships=marriage, and as a feminist, I find the concept of marriage problematic and within the country’s context, patriarchal and highly misogynist as well. I do not at all approve of the idea that I need to tick a box on a religious marriage contract, whereby my to-be husband gives me “permission” to practice my right of divorce; moreover, I find the family and marriage laws of the country quite distasteful and I do not at all, feel safe in signing away my rights and freedoms so easily. When I’m told that I’m just “going through a rebellious phase,” in that condescending, patronizing tone we’re all so familiar with, you’re not just reducing an adult woman to a “rebellious teenager,” you’re also being disrespectful to said adult woman. While I do not respond to such people, only because I feel that if they’re not open-minded enough to be curious when confronted with different ideas instead of just mocking them, then it shows a lack of critical thinking skills, and I prefer to speak to people who speak with logic and rationality, and are not hostile to any opinion or idea which deviates from “normal.”

A friend pointed out that even those who found relationships silly changed their minds because they fell in love. Because love just hits you in the face, this great, fantastic event that happens and changes everything. Well, that’s cute and sweet and all, but I really don’t want any part of it. Neither did I, he said, but then “it” happened. No one wants to be hit by love, specially people who hold similar opinions. And yet, even if you’re not the sort of person waiting to be whisked away into a faerietale, it still happens.

What troubles me is that I actively avoid any situation that requires unnecessary socializing, and that I’m quick to smile and lie with, “I’m flattered, but I already have a boyfriend,” and that too, to guys I actually do like. Thankfully, such occasions are few and far between since I’m really not the sort of girl that piques male interest. But my instinct towards relationships remains one of fight or flee, and I remain determined to be alone for my entire life. But judging by everything I see around me, that’s not how people work and it’s not how I’m supposed to be. It’s troubling and leaves me feeling alienated and out of place, an awkwardness I haven’t experienced much since high school. I’m not really obsessing about it the way this entire blog makes it sound like, but yes, every now and then, I do stop and wonder, and ask myself if there truly is something wrong with me.

My perspective on love isn’t normal. Not what’s acceptable as normal, at any rate. I’m past white knights and happy endings. I don’t believe there are happy endings in matters of the heart, because I believe that love is something so intense, and so violent, that its unsustainable. My idea of love is Satine and Christian in Moulin Rouge; come what may until my dying day oh and oops, it actually IS my dying day. Or Brokeback Mountain, where love transcends the confines of gender and sexuality and yet, you still spend your lives apart and then one of you dies. It’s the Bollywood movies where the guy is racing to the airport and he and the girl are right next to each other in their cars, at the airport, over and over, and yet never seem to catch the other’s eye or see the other, and only, the ending doesn’t have them finally seeing each other, the ending has the girl going off and the guy heartbroken. It’s The Crow: Stairway to Heaven with the girl dead and the guy stuck in a half-life battling bad guys on the earth. Its City of Angels, because I love Nicolas Cage, giving up heaven only to learn that the woman you did it for has died. It’s Cruel Intentions, because there will always be people who don’t want you to be happy. It’s Closer, ffs, I mean you can’t get nearer to a twisted story about love and relationships other than a movie with Clive Owen, Julia Roberts, and the ever spectacular Keira Knightley.

I’m not Holly Golightly at the end of the movie. For one thing, I would die before I sent my darling cats out in the rain just to make a point. For another, I certainly wouldn’t do so in the middle of the street, where those goddamned stray cats can beat my babies up. I’m not going to let them go and then have some sort of epiphany about love. I’m going to give a Kif-like sigh (Futurama reference for the geeks) roll my eyes, grab the cat, and scratch her tiny  head while watching cartoons or reading a book. To you, it may sound sad, but to me, its bliss. Holly gets the guy at the end. For me, the story ends at the conversation in the cab. I don’t want to cage you, I want to love you. It’s the same thing! That’s it. That’s where the story ends. Paul gets out of the cab after his tantrum and leaves. And as pretty as his ring is, it’s a diamond, and so much for love, the idiot doesn’t even know that I hate diamonds and would never marry someone who doesn’t even know something so small about me, and I’ll put it away and mail it or something to him later. Thank you Paul, I’m flattered, you’re sweet and nice and all the rest, but so long and good night.

That’s my story, and I need it to remain this way. Right now, I just really, really hope that I won’t look back on this in the future and pity myself, or think I was wrong, or change my opinions because I’m in a relationship. I really don’t. I really hope that if future me reads this, she realizes she’s being an idiot and immediately breaks it off with the dude and remembers the woman she truly is. Knowing that all this negates the norm in so many ways, a norm that can be reformed into something less patriarchal and less dependent, and still wishing to abstain…

I don’t have a word for how that makes me feel.

But I know what my story is, and how it should be. I suppose that’s more than most people can hope for, right?

Fashion and feminism today have a very problematic relationship. In earlier feminist movements, dress and fashion were a means of rejecting social expectations. Whereas women today subject themselves to waxing, high heels, and cosmetic surgery, things were much worst all the way back to the eighteenth century. Fashion then, was a sign of privilege, wealth, and social class. High-class women dressed in silks and taffeta, wore itchy (and unbearably hot) powdered wigs, whitened their faces, reddened their lips, wore pinching shoes, and wore tight corsets and alarmingly large hoop-dresses. All this indicated that you were a wealthy, noble, and high-born woman. Such things were unimaginable for lower-class peasant women. Feminism sought to remove these customs, and do away with torturous corsets and whitening powder, so as to shift away from the expectation of what women must look like.

As second-wave feminism sought to prove that gender was social, and sex biological, feminists adopted gender-neutral modes of dress. While bra-burnings may be a bit of an exaggeration, feminists did go bra-less, in men’s shirts and chunky shoes. As unattractive as it may seem, it must be remembered that second-wave feminists were not just fighting gender violence and inequity, but also sought to emancipate women from being the playthings of men.

As liberation through fashion continued through the 90s, things took a turn for (according to some) the worst. Whereas earlier feminists sought to put an end to female objectification, women now sought to liberate themselves through current fashions and trends. The 90s show Ally McBeal is sometimes praised for presenting a career-woman who wears mini-skirts and actively dates men, to criticizing how the title character internalizes patriarchy in order to validate her own submissiveness in the face of misogynist stereotypes such as remaining single, unwed, or childless.

Pakistan is not new to fashion or superficial cosmetics. In “Royal Mughal Ladies and Their Contributions”, Soma Mukherjee describes how Mughal women, including concubines, slaves, princesses, their female relatives, etc. lived in the lap of luxury in the zanana. The royal ladies mostly spent their time by adorning, decorating, and beautifying themselves,” she writes, and further goes on to describe that the most honoured woman was the one who gave the king his first male child, and that the more importance she held, the more privileges she held. But while we know that Mughal women lived a lavish lifestyle, how were they able to do so when they were not allowed to go outside the zanana and work?

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Portrait of a Mughal woman, bedecked in jewels and expensive clothes.

Mukherjee explains that their main source of income was allowances and pensions given to them by the king and other royal princes. They also owned jagirs, properties, all gifted to them by the royal men of course. They would also frequently receive gifts of precious stones, pearls and diamonds and gold, exotic silks and royal cloth, perfumed oils, toys and cabinets and rare items. Often, ambassadors from other lands and diplomats would give the royal women precious gifts in order to curry favour with the king. Mukherjee paints a vivid picture not of the lives of Mughal women, but rather, that they were little more than playthings for men. They were ancient Barbies, living in their dollhouse, decorating it, decorating themselves, living in the lap of luxury, content to stay within those four walls, used as a means to an end by all men. The main source of importance for a woman was to bear the king a male child. Imagine the life of the king then, with his concubines and wives and secondary wives always clambering to have sex with him!

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Feminists did not initially take Pakistan’s fashion industry very seriously. Specifically, during the rise of fashion in Pakistan in the 80s, feminists did not speak against fashion because military dictator Zia-ul-Haq was against the fashion industry for obvious reasons. When feminists were fighting the Hudood Ordinance and burning their dupattas in defiance of Zia-ul-Haq’s barbaric Islamization, how could they possibly speak against the fashion industry when it was defying the dictator in the same way?

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Members of Women’s Action Forum, Lahore burning their dupattas.

It was detrimental to their cause then to speak against fashion, but in recent times, feminists have started speaking against it. Karachi feminist Abira Ashfaq writes in a blog titled Blood Cotton,

A lawn suit bought at Gul Ahmed for Rs. 4,000 could equal 100 working days of a woman in rural Sindh.  Add to that her malnutrition, lack of education and social safety nets, and exposure to pesticide.  Add to that the contamination in food and water and how that affects the health and prospects of even the children.

It’s not lawn, it’s blood cotton.

Within Pakistan, the fashion industry exists in its purest form, where dress and cosmetics are a symbol of your social status. Middle-class women now clamber to buy the infamous lawn dresses which take the country by storm each summer, so as to portray themselves as moderately wealthy. Lawn suits tend to cost Rs.5000 and upwards; some designer lawn even costs as much as Rs. 20,000! Interestingly, the fashion industry in Pakistan also claims to combat terrorism by projecting a progressive view of the country, a country which has a thriving fashion industry, holds its own fashion week, and has multitudes of talented designers and stylists.

Unfortunately, all of that is utter bullshit.

Fashion in Pakistan is vastly elitist and privileged. There is absolutely no denying it at all. Whether being trendy and stylish is anti-feminist or not is a separate matter; one can dress sharp on low budgets as well, and depending on which perspectives of feminism you adhere to, it can either be anti-feminist or feminist. But to follow high-class fashion, to wear designer lawn, buy only from boutiques, shop at large malls is an indication of wealth and social class. And Pakistan’s elites are nothing if not status-conscious.

Furthermore, the entire process of beautifying yourself is not just privileged, but it also oppresses other women. The Mughal women oppressed their slaves, who would dab perfumed oils and dress them and place their jewelry on their body, all the beautiful luxuries that they did not have because they were poor. Today, we have women cutting and filing our nails, cleaning our feet, massaging our hair by the roots to ensure growth, applying expensive creams on our face for facials, and basically decorating women with all the things they don’t have.

A common and popular facial in salons is Dermalogica. It costs up to but not ending at, Rs. 5000. Minimum price is normally 3000. 2500 if its a cleansing and not a facial.

A common and popular facial in salons is Dermalogica. It costs up to but not ending at, Rs. 5000. Minimum price is normally 3000. 2500 if its a cleansing and not a facial.

A young girl working in a salon or parlour could never afford a Rs. 1200 manicure, or a Rs. 5000 facial, and these are standard prices I’m quoting. You’re not just pandering to superficial standards of beauty, you’re also oppressing other women with your privilege. Give yourself a round of applause for being a horrible person.

Gotta love the smell of privilege in the air.

Gotta love the smell of privilege in the air.

All this is what makes this photo shoot particularly disgusting. Titled “The 5 Stages of Getting Hitched,” this fashion shoot by Karma seems to aim at satirizing the obviously ridiculous wedding ceremonies and customs in Pakistan. The first photo mocks how the wedding ring is Kryptonite, with the bride holding a giant green chunk of Kryptonite. While the image would work better if the bride was wearing a large rock on her finger as opposed to holding it, the indication is obvious, and even amusing.

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The second photo is somewhat neutral- titled Mehndi, the sweets that are too sweet, the bride is holding a stack of mithayi boxes, as feeding brides a spoonful of sweetmeats is customary at wedding ceremony. These mithayis by the way, are sickeningly sweet; many people now opt for keeping Smarties in a  bowl, or even cupcakes, which are significantly less sweet in comparison.

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The third is of the nikkah ceremony, titled “the pre-nup that is too long.” Here’s where things get problematic. Pre-nuptial agreements are not a bad thing. They are definitely not a bad thing in a country where the law is seldom on your side and women are treated as inferior even in educated families. (thereby proving a separate point that misogyny is not mutually exclusive of social class or level of education) So if you take a photograph of a bride signing piles of paper, that’s a good thing. It doesn’t indicate mistrust. It indicates security. It indicates that you’re going to be fine if your husband dies and the family blames you for cursing them. Or if your husband takes to drinking and beating you. Or if you have no idea that the sweet man you’re marrying will torture you and keep you from seeing your family. Or, let’s repeat here, that your husband will beat you. Because that happens far too much in Pakistan, and too few women get to escape such marriages.

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Now all of this aside, here’s the real problem with this photo; pre-nups do not exist in Pakistan. The only document signed in Pakistani weddings is the nikahnama, which is the marriage contract, not a prenuptial agreement! The concept of this photo thus defies all logic when the only contract signed in Pakistan is one which cements the marriage itself. Moreover, even if someone does decide to have a prenuptial agreement, the fact is that a) even affluent, privileged women in Pakistan have precious little to their own name other than the jewels they receive upon marriage and their inheritance, if they ever get their hands on it that is and b) Considering that “Of the 49.5 million illiterate adults in Pakistan, again, two-thirds are women, the third highest rate in the world” are we really deluded enough to think that majority of women in Pakistan are empowered enough to demand a prenuptial agreement from their prospective in-laws?

The fourth image is again, amusing. Titled “The rice that is too abundant”, the bride is standing next to sacks of rice, as it’s a Punjabi custom (rooted in Hinduism, I’ve been told) for the bride to throw rice before entering her new home, as an indication of fertility. Considering that we live in a country with many people living below the poverty line, I’m not really sure why we want to waste food in such a manner, but okay then. Regardless, the photo actually indicates how ridiculous that custom is.

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And then comes the utterly brilliant (not) fifth photo; “The flower that has been deflowered.” The valima ceremony follows the wedding night or rukhsati, and is apparently a celebration of the marriage being consummated. If you’ve seen cheesily decorated flowery beds on the wedding night in Bollywood movies, it is not at all an exaggeration. (How one has sex with rose petals sticking all over you is beyond my comprehension. Personally, I’d worry about beetles and creepy-crawlies biting in awkward places but that’s just me)

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No matter what your social class, financial status, level of education, or family background, if you are a woman born in Pakistan, you will be told since childhood that your body is a pearl to be protected in an oyster shell, a lollipop to remain covered so as not to get dirty, a temple to be worshipped by the perfect man i.e. your husband, and so on and so forth. Even if you belong to a “liberal” family where your father does not dictate how you dress and your mother doesn’t tell you that you look like a slut in sleeveless dresses, that does not change the fact that you will be objectified beyond repair, that your seemingly liberal parents would throw you out of the house for either dating or for getting pregnant, that a woman’s “chastity” will eternally be tied to the honour and noble name of the family, and the mythical burdens of family honour and respect.

Also in Pakistan, we like to sell women off in marriage frequently. Mostly, we sell them off to settle debts and feuds. Most of the time we don’t care how young they are. Let me point out here that if you get your sixteen-year-old daughter married off, that still counts as marrying off a minor, and it IS child abuse to thrust a young teenager into the bewildering world of marriage and “wifely duties.” And considering how often women are married off against their will, many suffer the trauma of getting raped on their wedding night. A sixteen-year-old child-bride is going to confusedly ask what her husband is doing by undressing, and will scream at being brutishly used, and that IS spousal rape. And it is common. It is much more common than you may think, and more real than you realize.

Moreover, we sadly live in ancient, barbaric times, and our men are encouraged to emerge from the bedroom and victoriously display bloodied bed sheets as a sign of the bride’s virginity. I can tell you one thing for sure; bleeding the first time you have sex is not mandatory. It may be painful and awkward, but many women do not bleed if their husbands or boyfriends are careful and considerate. If however, you ravage a virgin, she IS going to bleed and it is going to hurt and it will be traumatic to have your body violated and it WILL be rape. And this happens more frequently than we realize. We a as a nation are very used to saying, “Oh, these things happen in middle and lower classes where they do not have education or awareness.” A close friend of mine from one of the most prestigious and elite schools in Lahore told me about how his classmates would victoriously crow about how their girlfriends bled during sex, and those boys would bring their friends home and show them the blood stains on their sheets with great pride. Please note, these were rich, privileged young men from “good” families, families with social and financial stability and studying in a top elitist school. So much for the lower classes being barbaric only, eh?

(And when you defend your social class by saying that just a few terrible young men are not representative of a class, let me just point out that while you’re correct, I never said that they’re representative of a class, I used the example to illustrate the point that by claiming that “in our families, these things do not happen, it’s in lower classes or low middle class families who have less education and awareness that these things happen”, you’re simply deflecting the issue at hand and honestly, putting your own future female generations at risk by perpetuating the illusion that if you’re educated, you are not capable of brutality, rape, and violent behavior)

When you take this factor into consideration, you cannot deny that the deflowered flower photograph IS a rape joke, it’s attempting to satirize the idea of a virgin meant to be ravaged, deflowered, brutalized, raped on her wedding night, and as such, simply cannot be subverted in any logical way!

Referring to the image as “the flower that is deflowered” is perpetuating the mentality that a woman should be chaste and beautiful like a flower, only to be “deflowered” by her noble knight in shining armour husband. The title also ignores the reality of spousal rape, and ignores how many women suffer from domestic abuse. This is not a satirical take on how ridiculous all the hullabaloo over the wedding night is. It is a privileged view of women and sex, ignoring the suffering of women who don’t have daddy’s credit cards and uncle’s FIA contacts to live off of. Most women are raped on their wedding night, raped for many nights for the rest of their life, and there is absolutely nothing they can do about it. And women, all women, are NOT delicate flowers to be presented as a gift or treasure. A woman’s virginity is no one’s matter but her own, and a woman should be free to make her own choices about her body, whether that means remaining a virgin till she marries, or being sexually active. No matter how offensive or immoral you find this, you cannot impose your perceptions upon all women. You cannot view women in black and white. Some women are virgins and some are sexually active but that is no indication of what sort of people they are, nor is it anyone’s business.

Consider this; in red-light districts, a girl’s virginity is auctioned off to the highest bidder. In “decent and moral families” a girl’s virginity is sold to the highest bidder also. And if the girl of this decent family is not a virgin, then she will not “find a good match” according to her family, and be disgraced socially and called a whore. First of all, this approach is dehumanizing to sex-workers. You can criticize the sex industry, I certainly do, but you can do so without dehumanizing women. Secondly, what’s the point of demeaning a woman by calling her a prostitute (and thereby demeaning sex-workers by using prostitute as an insult) when your customs and traditions were prostituting her the same way that women are “whored out” in a red-light district? Let me remind you here, lest you find my claims ridiculous, that the marriage contract asks if the woman is “divorced, widowed, or a maiden.”

The artist behind the styling and concept is even more disappointing than the shoot itself. She defended the photo and caption with “the whole shoot is challenging the stereotypes that are set forth.” But the problem is, she hasn’t challenged the stereotypes. Challenging the stereotypes would mean that the model doesn’t look beautiful and holds white flowers in her hand and ethereal white flowers in her hair. Challenging the stereotypes would mean showing the model dressed in darker colours, to indicate that there’s nothing joyful in a woman’s chastity being considered to be a symbol of respect. Maybe she could have looked less happy. Maybe the flowers could have been black or dead. Perhaps the artist would argue that this makes it too obvious, but really, what is the current photo portraying? You don’t need to identify as a feminist to be disgusted by this, not by a long shot.

Here’s where it gets worst; the artist actually deleted comments criticizing the photo. For an artist to censor disagreement with their concept is just so baffling and antithetical, I don’t even have the verbal finesse to articulate it into written words. Moreover, the artist is actually a feminist. That’s what makes me sad. Even if you’re a feminist who believes in fashion liberating women, defending this photo makes absolutely zero sense. If anything, the entire concept panders to patriarchy and stereotypes, rather than defy it.

I’m not sure why I’m so disappointed or disgusted. Fashion tends to leave me with a bad taste in my mouth anyway. But this really pushes a limit. It isn’t just misogynist, but it’s also the view from a privileged little bubble. And it is very dangerous to live in such a bubble. It is easy to fall prey to shallow superficialities if you’re born into privilege, but while you’re not to blame for the conditions you were born into, you are to blame for not acknowledging that privilege, and for continuing to see the world from a bubble.

To all those reading this, here’s my idea. Boycott Karma. Boycott Damas jewelers. Hell, boycott the artist and her salon. Because women who get expensive mani-pedis and stylish up-dos for a night out and gelish nail treatments, all on a regular basis, are women who actually hate feminists a lot, so I highly doubt I’m committing defamation or damaging the artist’s business by calling for a boycott. But if you’re a feminist who likes to get an OPI manicure every now and then (and I know I certainly do, the coffee manicure at Bina Khan is just to die for, and I love that she posted a status on her FB page commenting on the ridiculous whitening cream phenomenon some time back) or who gets a protein treatment for damaged hair at just any small salon, and don’t need for these treatments to be expensive or fancy as long as they get the job done, then opt for a different salon, and a different stylist. I know I would, but I’m silly this way, my principles unfortunately matter to me quite a bit.

I don’t normally write about TV shows, despite being a big TV junkie, but ever since I started watching Once Upon A Time, I’ve wanted to write about it frequently. I refrained from the urge because I felt I would dwell too much on its feminist aspects, something I would not like to do for a show that’s mildly complex. I say mildly, not as criticism, but as truth; it’s a good show, but it lacks the layers and complexity of a show like, say, Fringe for example (another show I’m in love with)

Instead, I’m focusing on the portrayal of women in Once Upon A Time. Its devious of me, I know. Its still a feminist theme, but cleverly disguised as television discussion. I’m evil that way.

And so is Regina. The Evil Queen Regina, who wanted to kill her stepdaughter, Snow White. When the brothers Grimm transcribed this folktale in their first edition of Grimm’s Faerietales, they wanted to keep the evil mothers as stepmothers, not just because it was un-Christian to want to kill your own blood (the brothers were deeply religious) but also, because doing so fulfilled their nationalist intentions for writing this book, i.e. to emphasize that when you are with your own people, be it countrymen or family, you are safe and loved (as indicated by the pure, motherly love of mothers in The Goose Girl, The Wolf and the Seven Goslings, and strong bonds between siblings in The Twelve Brothers and The Brother and Sister, to name a few)but when you are with an out-group, you will suffer, and be treated as a secondary citizen, denied your rights; in the case of the faerietales, those rights were a child’s right to be safe, loved, protected, taken care of.

Because of this, women in the Grimms’ stories had one-sided characters. Ambition was a characteristic for evil women such as Aschenputtel’s evil stepsisters, who aspired to marry well. Submissiveness, an inability to fight against injustice, being a constant victim, were characteristics of good, modest, pure women awarded in the end with the overly hyped knight in shining armour.  Strength, more importantly, was a vice, wielded, along with power, by the evil female characters. And so, Snow White’s evil stepmother tried to kill her, because Snow White was prettier than her. Note that Snow White is all the more fairer for being unaware of her beauty, whereas the Evil Queen is less beautiful because she is conscious that she is attractive; a confident self-image it seems, is not worthy of the good Christian woman the brothers Grimm wanted to portray.

So is that who the Evil Queen Regina is in Once Upon A Time? A woman driven by jealously to murder her own stepdaughter? No, not really. Actually, Regina was a sweet, kind, gentle soul. She hated magic which her mother wielded with darkness. She strove to escape her mother’s evil influence several times, and feared her so much that she did not even tell her of the stablehand she loved, afraid of her mother’s rage, since her mother wanted her to “do well” in life. And as for Snow White, Regina saved her life when she was a little girl. She was friends with Snow as well, something that Snow’s father deeply appreciated, and therefore, asked for Regina’s hand in marriage. Regina’s ambitious mother, happy her daughter would be a queen agreed to Regina’s dismay. Then Snow discovered that Regina loved someone else, and accidentally let it slip to Regina’s mother, who promptly killed the stablehand. And that was why Regina hated Snow; because her childish naiveté cost Regina all her happiness.

Regina didn’t kill Snow immediately though. It took her many years to formulate her revenge, culminating when Snow was an adult, starting with the death of Snow’s father. As events unfold in the TV show, a battle resulted, where Regina was defeated, but banished instead of being executed. She then transported all the citizens of the kingdom to a land without magic, a town named StoryBrooke in our world. Here they would live their lives stuck in stasis for 28 years, remembering nothing of their past lives. What would happen in 28 years, though? Snow and Prince Charming’s daughter, Emma the Saviour, would come to break the spell on the town. And in the meantime? Emma had a baby she gave up for adoption. This baby was adopted by Regina, who grew up to be a precocious eight-year-old and brought his mother back to StoryBrooke to break the spell.

This is where the show starts, with flashbacks to the past in The Enchanted Forest, the land where it all started. And Regina is evil, yes. She’s evil not for insane jealously, but out of love; her son Henry has found his real mother, and knowing the truth about Regina, drifts away from her. Regina loves her son with the fierce, protective love only a mother can possess, which is why Emma is her enemy. She takes steps to ensure Henry remains hers and hers alone, from keeping him from meeting Emma, to finally resorting to poisoning Emma. Tragically, its Henry who eats the poisoned apple pie meant for his mother, which results in Regina breaking down, and teaming up with her enemy to save her son.

The layers begin to unravel. From a mean, vindictive, petty woman, Regina turns into a young girl who lost her happily ever after, and swore to deny the person responsible every chance at happiness as revenge. From the embittered witch that does so, she transforms into a mother terrified of losing her son, and willing to do anything to keep that from happening. This evil stepmother is apparently, an onion. That statement is hilarious for me but unfortunately, people don’t understand my sense of humour, so you probably think its lame. I apologize. Amidst much chortling.

By season two, Regina starts to see parallels between her mother and herself. She uses magic to keep Henry from escaping her clutches, the same way that her mother did with her so long ago. Whatever her reasons, she remains evil, you think. Ah hah! That’s where you’re wrong. In an episode which critics described as pivotal in Regina’s redemption, memories of Regina’s tortured childhood drives her to “free” Henry, allowing him to live with his grandfather, Prince Charming/David Nolan in the absence of Emma. Her redemption continues when, to keep a promise she made to Henry, Regina refrains from using magic, making a conscious effort to change and be a better person for Henry. Though once again, Snow and her daughter Emma keep Regina away from her happily ever after with her son, she doesn’t remain the static evil character throughout the show; she evolves, as a woman, a mother, a human being. She’s driven, not by insane hateful jealousy, but rather, by an aching loneliness from the ever-human yearning to be loved, channeled into vengeance against the person responsible for the loss of her happiness. In StoryBrooke, she’s driven by the same desire to keep the amnesiac Charming and Snow apart, but also, by love, love for her son, and her heart is broken time after time when Henry rejects her. She isn’t an evil, stone-hearted monster; she feels, loves, aches, weeps, and when Henry, out of his still-childish love for his mother, spends time with her, she smiles from happiness and contentment at being with her son.

So there you have it folks. An Evil Queen in a faerietales with a heart, layers of complexity, and more importantly, despite her power, frequently vulnerable, like all humans are. The brothers Grimm gave you countless women to hate simply because they were powerful females; Once Upon A Time gives you powerful females that you not only have difficulty hating, but can also relate to. Can anyone really blame a mother for trying to keep a son all to herself? For saying, “No, you gave him up for adoption and I gave him the love you denied him, how dare you come back and try to make any claim to the child that’s rightfully mine?” Can anyone blame a woman who lost the love of her life for her anger at those responsible, for trying to destroy that person’s happiness? We’ve all had dark moments when we have either come close, or done the same. I know I have. I know I’ve tried. At times, I’ve successfully stopped. Other times, I haven’t. And such is that darkness that to this day, I don’t regret a thing. That darkness, along with the knowledge of knowing there’s no justification for cruelty no matter how great the wrong (let’s not confuse justice with cruelty here)but being capable of both immense good and evil makes us human.

Like me, like you, like all of us, Regina is very much human. She’s capable of good, like saving a child’s life, and evil, striving to destroy that same child years later. And like all of us, she’s capable of learning, changing, redeeming herself, of leaving her past to be a better person for the sake of someone she loves. And isn’t that more interesting and realistic than the evil stepmothers of the Brothers Grimm?