Nonsensical and sometimes not-so-nonsensical rants about what may or may not be going through my head. Try to liberalize your canvas of interpretation when reading these posts - you will go far...

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Birthday thoughts

16th February, 2011 is the day I celebrate a milestone birthday – one that ends with a zero. Herein onwards all my birthdays will be in the ‘tees’ and somehow that makes me a little sad. For as long as I can remember I wanted to be twenty years old. For some odd, inexplicable reason I thought that when I would turn twenty I would have the solution to all of life’s problems. I believed with full faith and utter conviction that at 20 my life would be perfect; I would be an educated, independent working girl with at least two degrees to her credit. In retrospect a somewhat unrealistic proposition, at age 10, however, as plausible and real as Matilda’s magical powers.

Now that my birthday is less than a week away, I seem to be almost dreading it. And that comes as a huge surprise not only to me but to my family as well because I have always awaited and celebrated my birthday with great fervor and exuberance. Perhaps the reluctance and melancholy has to do with the realization that I have been unable to achieve all that I thought I would before I turned 20. For the first time in my life, I am regretting not being able to make use of time to its fullest. On the achievement barometer, I am somewhere close to the bottom – there has been no substantial progress in the last two decades of my existence; I let that time pass me by and it makes me so mad at myself. Mad enough to make myself depressed.

I am a staunch believer that celebrating birthdays is not merely a convention. Birthdays are occasions to celebrate one's growth, maturity, and development. Birthdays remind us that the gift of life is the most precious and important one. Thus, they are generally associated with celebrations; partying, receiving good wishes and gifts, holidaying without any care in the world. However, this particular year I’m feeling pensive; my 20th birthday is making me pause and think about that gentle nudge of the clock that keeps moving me forward, ever forward. This year it is the catalyst that is making me stop and ask these questions: What have I accomplished over the past year? What have I done that would make me proud? Am I more successful today than I was last year at this time? There is no definite answer to the aforementioned questions. However, I can say with certainty, that the journey from 19 to 20 has made me a better person; it has helped me explore myself; it has made me aware of my strengths and weaknesses and that in itself, is no small feat.

It's the start of 2011, a brand new year. I may not have accomplished all that I thought I would by the time I turned 20 but starting today I'm going to do what I can to get closer to my dreams and goals. I'm going to appreciate life more and give it the respect it deserves, not just for me, but for everyone who no longer has this luxury. And when I blow out my candles this year, I'll make a wish that every year that I'm alive is better than the one before – I am going to make my birthday a reason to celebrate. And I'm going to face it the way I have always done, with laughter and excitement at all that I have yet to accomplish and all that I have to look forward to in my life.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Of feminists and opposition*

Yesterday evening, somebody accused me of being a ‘man-hating, pro-choice, NGO employee feminist.’ By ‘accused’ I most certainly do not mean to allude that the term ‘feminist’ is a derogatory epithet. On the contrary, I hold most feminists in reverence; they wish to end the gender gap and oppose sexism in all shapes and forms.  They work for female empowerment, the recognition of oppression, and the advocation of equality and the courage with which they do this makes them worthy of praise and appreciation.

The accusation was made by one of the few men I loathe in the world. He runs a so called religious tv show, has a fake degree and supports the man who murdered Salman Taseer. Yet, he has the gall to act like no one more pious and God-fearing than him ever existed. On the live show that he hosts he made tall claims that the ‘liberal and fascist’ feminists of our country are soon forgetting their values and morals and that they are indifferent to Dr. Aafia Siddiqui’s 86 years of imprisonment but condone the treatment lashed out at Bibi Aasiya. He felt the reason for this was that these ‘liberal and fascist’ (his repetition of these words was almost nauseating) feminists will support anything our religion has declared as inappropriate.

He did not stop at that. He went on to state that ‘NGO feminists’ are in essence, atheists and promote the ‘shameless way of life’ of the U.S. And that they seek to give Pakistani women as many rights as the female community in the West has, whereas (and here comes the joke of the century) women in Pakistan have more rights than Western women can even dream of. He asserted that Pakistani women play the role of ‘sister, wife, mother’ whereas Western women are only recognized as ‘partner, girlfriend or call-girl.’ His naiveté (or should I say ignorance?) made my blood boil; his claims were completely ill found; his arguments entirely baseless.  

It is rare in Pakistan to hear feminism being described as female empowerment or as an organized activity on behalf of women's rights and interests, which is how it is defined in the dictionary. Why has feminism taken on such a negative meaning? In my opinion, any strong and independent woman would want to be labeled as a feminist. Yet many women are cautious, afraid even, of aligning themselves with the word feminist. Fear is part of the equation…the justifiable fear of what lies ahead for any woman boldly proclaiming her commitment to empowerment. Is it because in order to be a feminist, a woman must deal with false assumptions about her sexual preference, cultural beliefs, and general outlook on life? What woman would want to deal with this constant barrage of insults in order to proclaim herself a feminist? 

*Click HERE to gain access to the aforementioned television programme.