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.