Disclaimer: The following is an anonymous submission. The views and opinions expressed belong to the author alone.
To say that the Pakistani Society treats men and women as equals is a blatant lie. Even the most progressive of households find it difficult to detach completely from their patriarchal roots that thrive on spoon feeding misogyny to generation after generation. Things that are considered ‘normal’ for the considerably ‘superior’ gender tarnish the reputation of women and make them social pariahs.
Below are a just FIVE things, and trust that there are fifty more, that can completely obliterate a woman’s repute – regardless of all logic and rational thought. If this article seems to follow stereotypes and is something you have already read a million times, it’s all right, because women in our society face this on a daily basis – not just from men but from their own community as well.
It is considered perfectly normal for boys and men to smoke openly at family gatherings, weddings, work meets e.t.c. However, women are not awarded the same courtesy; a woman who smokes is thought to be of ill-repute and the “wrong kind of woman” . Women only feel safe smoking around close trusted friends because god forbid your chachi’s bhai’s daughter’s friend sees you smoking en large. If a boy and a girl, both smelling of smoke, walk into a family gathering, the most that aunties will say to the boy is, “Beta, kum pea kero”. Nobody will say anything to the girl, but once she leaves, the aunties will mutter fervently about how “Bachi kharab ho gaye hai”.
Single and not willing to mingle? What an utter disgrace. Who will drive the ever turning matrimonial wheel now? According to widely accepted opinion, a woman has
one job two jobs. Number one: to get married. Number two: to produce children. A woman’s personal health, life goals and work life mean nothing if she is not hitched, with a baby on the way. Marriage is not a ‘one size fits all’ situation. Women are entitled to make this lifestyle choice independent of any external factors. It is not another check box on the resume that makes you more socially acceptable. It is imperative that we realise an individual’s worth the way they choose to measure it before we misgivingly entrap more people in unhappy marriages like chicken stuck in a chicken coup.
Having a uterus does not mean you have to procreate. Like marriage, having a child is a voluntary choice. And not having children doesn’t make somebody any less of a woman or “heartless”. So please, stop asking women, “if they have any good news”. It is inappropriate, intrusive and frankly, none of your business.
Is it really a surprise that women do not want to give birth, though? After going through 12 or more hours of excruciating labour, they are carted to their mother’s house for the so called ‘chila‘ where the new born’s mother, nani, nana and assorted mamus and khala are entrusted with his/her care while the father gets 8 hours of sleep on the daily at his place and drops in on said baby and wife for an hour, frequently complaining, “Pehle kyun nai bataya ke baby so raha tha, main baad main a jata.”
Conforming to every body’s wishes is easy. Willingly stepping out of the box and facing all the difficulties associated with it is what requires effort. And this is not something that the weak of heart can do. It does not count against a mother if she is working or single – it goes in her favour. A working mother does not neglect her child, she provides for her child and showcases the importance of having a healthy work ethic. A single mother isn’t a “bechari”, she is fierce and a force to be reckoned with. Do not discredit women by pitying them for what you consider to be their misfortune and do not turn their strengths into their weaknesses.
To have a past as a woman, is inconceivable, as per out society. Whether it be a prior relationship, engagement or a marriage that went south, society will not refrain from rubbing a woman’s past in her face at every opportunity. Failure and experience mould a person and forge them to be stronger. And failure, in all aspects of life, is to be expected. It shouldn’t be a weapon that one can use to cut somebody down to size. A woman doesn’t become “spoiled goods”. The only thing that is ‘spoilt’ is our out-dated and toxic way of thinking about women.