However, after hearing all the news surrounding the now infamous writer, it’s tough not to wonder why it is that someone as famous as him can say and promote such blatantly misogynistic ideals. Take, for instance, his claim of being ‘the biggest feminist’.
During an interview with ‘Entertainment Pakistan’, Rehman was talking about his TV show, marriage and ‘good’ women when he proudly proclaimed that he was the ‘biggest feminist in Pakistan’.
Aside from this proclamation, there were several other disturbing takeaways from this interview. First, there was his statement about not considering someone a women unless they maintained a certain level of haya (modesty) and wafa (loyalty). Then there was his skewed misconception of equality, which manifested in him saying that women should rape men to essentially, balance out the equilibrium.
In addition to this was the claim that women aren’t aware of the rights that they want and that a women’s greatest fear is a man leaving her.
After watching this interview and hearing these outlandish remarks, it is fair to wonder why he thought expressing this would be a good idea. Although Pakistani social media went viral with memes and satirical articles essentially bashing the director for his views which were deemed so glaringly ridiculous, the fact that he was so confident in his display of them signals a far deeper issue.
Perhaps the main reason why Rehman was so confident and vocal about his misogyny is that these viewpoints are quite commonly held among Pakistani men. Pakistani society is deep rooted in patriarchy and misogyny. This reflects in every facet of our day to day lives; whether it’s within our families, social circles, public settings, colleges or workspaces. The treatment of men and women is so distinct that it is impossible to ignore. The obvious result of this is women missing out on equal opportunities or experiences, both socially and professionally, but another outcome of this is dangerous and abusive misconceptions about the place of a women in our society.
One of the most disturbing things Rehman said was that he doesn’t consider a women truly a women unless she maintains a certain level of modesty and loyalty. This idea of women being pure, Mother Teresa-esque creatures who mustn’t deviate from their carefully curated images is one that can turn dark very quickly.
‘Modesty’ and ‘loyalty’ are subjective concepts. What’s considered modest to one woman can be vastly different to another woman. For this reason, it is very easy for women to easily and unknowingly stray from these ideas. When that happens, it quite easy for things to escalate to the point where they are abused and sometimes even killed for doing so. This can be clearly displayed in the concept of ‘honour killings’ in our country- the practise of ruthless murder of a woman should she bring ‘dishonour’ to her family.
One of the many shortcomings of the Pakistani education system is that we are never really taught about the ways in which inequality between men and women manifest. If anything, our education systems perpetuate these inequalities. In recent years, the world has seen the rise of new social movements centred around feminism, sexual assault and women empowerment.
Without proper knowledge about the facets of feminism and the ways in which inequality exists between men and women, particularly in Pakistani society, many are left without really understanding how inequality hurts women and how it can be countered. This leads to outlandish statements such as the one Rehman made about women raping men. For both men and women to get to a place where they can properly understand what feminism strives to do and how it helps both sexes, they need to first properly understand the root causes and history of inequality between the genders.
For many Pakistani’s, we are conditioned from birth to internalise these misogynistic and patriarchal ideals. The process of breaking out of these mindsets can range from acquiring more knowledge to getting more world experience. Men like Khalil Ur Rehman are in very powerful positions; by being prominent plays in the Pakistani entertainment industry they possess the power to influence. Instead of spreading false and ill-informed ideals, which are only going to perpetuate archaic mentalities and will lead to the rise of more self proclaimed ‘feminists’, it is important that they educate themselves and stand by what is most beneficial for their audiences. More power means more responsibility, and for Rehman, that means the responsibility to promote the wellbeing and empowerment of Pakistani women.
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