F for Feminism? Fake or real?

A tribute to fake feminists, those who claim that they are non feminists are better than you.

I believe that like our faith, we need to express our ideologies through our actions and not just words. This is why I don’t roll the drums or use a loudspeaker to make an announcement about it but that in no way means that I am not a feminist, something many women casually claim when in conversation. I was startled the first time I heard this from a young lady. The conversations in the west have moved from women rights to LGBTQ+ rights and the debates have moved on to equal pay for equal work and women representation in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) etc. People are generally open for conversations and dialogue. They may not agree with you on all the statements but you are most certainly given the chance to express yourself to the fullest. One of the many problems with our society is that you have to belong to one school of thought or another and that means that if you do not agree with the views of a certain individual you automatically belong to the other school of thought and then you always remain on the other side.  Take for example the occasion of ‘aurat (women) march’ in 2019, 2018 or before. Since some placards being displayed were quite bold or because the women who were chanting for freedom or women rights in Pakistan were privileged women or women in the cities and not the urban poor, people have strongly disconnected with that segment of women.

Women dissociate from feminism because the women around them have exploited their power. Some women say that the women who chant for freedom lack character and or are suffering for a mental health issue. I also hear statements like, women are brought down by women, women have issues with women. In the organisations these girls work or even at home the women create a toxic atmosphere that suffocates the rest by misusing their authority and influence. 

Most of them had received most of their rights from the men in the family without having to ask for it. Others had step mother, or a troubling aunt or relative or boss and they looked at them as the empowered women who destroy homes and peace of mind rather than bringing change in the society. ‘We are alright the way we are’, they said. ‘We don’t need more freedom’. I don’t think feminism can be limited to freedom. We as women need to understand the centuries old fight for rights, equal representation, equal pay for equal work etc. and not restrict it to the liberty.

Display of radical feminism has also stopped some women from joining the feminist ideology. For most extreme feminist, their movement is more about belittling men then empowering women. They think that people and perceptions will change overnight when they know that all this time it has happened after the centuries old struggle of so many women.

It’s not just the women here who don’t like the word feminism. Yesterday I was in conversation with a young boy who told me that “I have allergy from the word feminism”. I thought to myself ‘Who has made the word so disgusting for men or women to relate to? Is it the urban elite who think it’s alright to pull any attire and display any placard they want’? or is It all of us?

“How much more freedom and freedom of expression do they (feminists) want? he said”.

With our current practices we have ruined the whole idea of feminism for the men in Pakistan and have put the women here in a state of feminism denial as well. I didn’t say much in response to what the young boy said but, I understood that since the placards contained less logic and more punchline (anti-men) many individuals naturally disliked it. Many educated women also think that the rally lacked substance and did not make genuine demands from policy makers and institutions.  

Initially, I thought that the march has sparked a debate and so its ok but the truth is that, it had sparked a debate on all the wrong things and not the discussion on rights. 

Men and women are not the same. We have different physiologies and psychology. We think differently, understand differently and react differently. The differences however, do not make one less than the other, nor does it make one superior over the other. We are equal. Our rights are equal. If we keep on dividing like that we will fail. I have known many feminist men and many non-feminist women. A lot of people will think that the division is alright. That at least a debate has been initiated, but the truth is that when campaigns like me too and ideologies like feminism are used more for personal gains then the voice weaken. 

Being a woman in Pakistan is, being selfless, loving, giving and caring until her last breath and once she is dead, she is replaced with another woman who will probably continue to play her part. This doesn’t at all suggest that men don’t suffer and that they have the capability to move on much quicker than women do. It is however true that women have a hard time letting go and are much more sensitive than men are. Even the strongest of women have struggled with smaller things in their life.

So do women have all the rights that they need in Pakistan? 

Is feminism on the rise in Pakistan? 

Are women getting equal representation in all areas?

Are women free in Pakistan?

This probably is a never ending debate but in order to change people’s attitude a general sense of equality needs to be given to all children at school and all people at work. The laws although present at a national level are very limited in their scope and many of them have failed to solve many cases filed by women and female communities. Therefore, more time should be given to the legislation related to women rights so that it’s not vague and doesn’t leave room for the decision makers to be unjust. 

All schools, hospitals, workplaces need to have women representation and an ethical framework for people to follow. A whole mechanism should be introduced for women safety in the work places and the bill should not be limited to the parliament. 

Like everything else in Pakistan, perhaps this too comes down to the basic behavioural change by the people and I hope that we are able to do that at household and community level.

Before I end this article I will request you to ask yourself a question, what will you do if your father, mother, brother or friend were accused of something wrong like sexual harassment?
would you do everything in your power to keep it quiet or will you take an action against those dear to you?

If the answer to this question is former and you call yourself a feminist, step down and shut up until you become one for real!

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