Why not replace the societal paradigm of man and woman being a contrast to one another to complementing one another? Both must work together to live a healthy life and to form a happy society.
Pakistani women are living capsuled lives; experiencing double pressures from society and the men they grow up with, and live for. It is basically a male-dominated society. I have always wondered how men can think different from women in matters such as what I want to wear, what I want to eat, when to get out of home, whether or not to express their desires, and whether or not to strive for what they want. I was always troubled and confused about these attitudes thinking: is it a given or conditioned psychology?
As I grew up I saw my mother, aunties, and my friend’s mothers giving me and their daughters – some constant lessons – that: “girls don’t make too many friends, girls don’t remain outside for long, girls don’t go out alone, girls are well-behaved, girls are more patient than boys.”
As a Pakistani woman, I have lived culturally different life from what other girls of my age live here. My circumstances have been not as oppressive as they are thought to be for any girl in Pakistan. Not denying that I also tasted flavours of traditionalism. But I always struggled to clear my path from the hindrances I encountered. The problem is that our women lack the ability and/or courage to struggle against such hindrances because these abilities have been fractured or chained.
And most fatal of all is attaching all these lessons to religion; ignoring the historical examples of Hazrat Ayesha – The wife of Islamic Prophet Muhammad and a great scholar and Razia Sultana – first ever Muslim princess in Delhi sultanate chosen as an heir on account of intelligence and courage. What all this amounts to is “manufacturing” of psychologically oppressed women, curbing their intellectual powers so they won’t THINK and ACT. This kind of training – I call it “poisoning” – takes it “all” from women and that is how the physical exploitation – “with consent” – begins!
The sad fact of all is that none but women carry out such training of their daughters, sisters and colleagues. So – to me – if any change has to be brought to exclude such destructive guiding ideology, it has to be brought through women and only then our brothers, fathers, and husbands would realise that NOW the oppressive strategies won’t work any more. They HAVE to treat women as equals and take them as a partner not a subordinate whereas women have to know, understand, and stand up for their rights.
If this discrimination starts to diminish from the societal norms, it will ultimately affect the discrimination at work, in public, at home and in-laws.
To me, men and women are equal but different. This difference is such that complements them rather than define them as a centre/periphery or boss/employee or a contrast to one another. I reject all the above-mentioned models of looking at men and women.
We need to work together to address the problems we are facing, to nourish our children, our siblings, and educate them about their rights and how to make best use of them. This way we will be able to contribute to society overall. And things would change.