Part of the problem


A lot of women have internalized gender discrimination. Tell them that they deserve more and you will be met with shocked eyes – tell them their daughters deserve better and they will shoo you away. What with all the blogs and articles on feminism pointing out how it is the men who perpetrate sexual discrimination, I’d like to say that I have seen more women who do.

“Are you insane? Girls don’t play sports.”

“It’s in a sign of religious devotion for women to work in the kitchen even if they lose the skins on their hands.”

“Using a woman’s money to pay for utility bills takes away the barkat from the house.”

“Don’t raise your voice in front of the men in the family.”

“Just get married.”

“What was she wearing? She was clearly looking for attention” [When news about sexual assaults appears]

These are all the things that I have heard friends’ moms and female relatives say – not just the men.

While it’s true that the kind of family you’re brought up in is different for everyone, I think it’s unfair that it’s only the men who are assumed to be sole perpetrator of sexism. If it was a first-person account I’d say my dad has never disallowed me from studying (I have quite a knack for going the extra mile), or working (At one point, I was working at two places), I have never heard male colleagues or classmates ever discriminate against me because of my gender. In fact, I have seen more men being vocal about crimes against women. I have seen them drive women around to help them out with assignments, household chores – just because of the fact that they are men and have internalized the fact that they are supposed to be facilitators in certain situations.

Even when certain households have men that are clearly domineering and have “rules” about who gets to do what, I have not seen a lot of women questioning the “status-quo”. Challenging, arguing or asking for a reason are practices that are looked down upon. Even when women are presented with outlets or opportunities to take their rights, they feel it’s inappropriate to accept it. Several take discrimination matter-of-factly with “this-is-how-it’s-supposed-to-be” kind of an attitude.

The womankind have been struggling to get gender equality for years and to be honest, there is so much “talk” about it that I’m afraid it’s not taken as seriously as it should. But why are so many people just talk and nothing more? Why is it that we have been unable to get what we want? Equality is not something that can be handed over on a single platter and yet, what is it that’s stopping us from attaining it?

In my opinion, part of the problem lies in identifying who perpetrates the gender inequality that exists. Just because it’s rights of the women that we are asking for doesn’t mean every women has worked to get it – a lot of women in our society are actively involved in fostering environments where their daughters, nieces and so on won’t feel comfortable asking for it at all.

This is not supposed to be a blog bashing women – I have heard a number of feminists say that that’s the last thing we need.  I just think that under the “woman deserve equality” banner, a lot of women who are actually contributing the problem are given a free pass, while men, regardless of their views on the topic are termed as the enemies.

As mothers, mothers-in-law, aunts, teachers, or any other influential role women play in society, if they are perpetrating women inequality in their own ways, they should also be called out as part of the problem- I think it’s only fair.



Women on Women Action

Lately, I have kept away from writing about things that make me angry. Apparently, a lot of whining has been going over the social media and I think that pretty much exceeds the daily whine tolerance level of the readers. However, it also makes me think if I am just trying to avoid what I’m feeling to get out there. After recently attending a film screening called Miss Representation at T2F one fine evening, I was confronted with what I have earlier hold on to as a personal belief.

Essentially revolving around the topic of women in media and how the way they are represented in the media allows the discrimination in a society to persist, the film interviewed a host of respondents – from film makers to high school students. While publications and literature on the subject has pretty much led everyone, including feminists to believe that it is essentially men who are to blame for their misfortune, before going to the film I was secretly hoping it would take a slightly different angle. After all, it did promise that it would change perspectives.

The film screening, though insightful left me questioning a lot of things. Aren’t women themselves partially to blame, if not more for the way they are perceived in a society?

Before anyone decides to go bonkers or state that I’m a misogynist (there seems to be a lot of that going around), I would like to mention real life examples where I have come across how that may be so.

Enter a social gathering, an Eid party, a wedding, or just a get-together and one of the many discussions that seem to be going on revolve around how the women in the party are dressed, what shoes are they wearing, whether the dress they wearing is a common one and etc. Ten to one, these discussions are mostly instigated by the women already present in the party. Going with this, isn’t it possible that by doing so we not only support but reinstate the statement that there’s nothing more to a woman than how she looks?

While a number of people continue to point out how men continue to prefer people with more beauty than brains, aren’t women also playing a part in floating around the idea that if a woman isn’t fashionably dressed, she isn’t worth talking to?

Scene 2: Just look around to find how a working woman is perceived by some members of your family. Not only will there be people who would make much ado about her “questionable character”, there will definitely be women who would be on the lookout to catch a glimpse of even the slightest of loopholes in her housewifery, only to blame her day job for it.

“Didn’t you hear she gets her children those ready made meals from the shops. What a shame!”

As far as I know, working or not, most households are opting for quick fixes to meals so this just sounds like one of those excuses people are looking for to blame the women who are trying to have a life.

Scene 3: I recently came across a mom of a friend who vehemently insisted that the true place of a woman is in the kitchen and she isn’t supposed to complain even if her work in the kitchen and around the house gives her blisters. Well, excuse me. While I’m completely okay with the fact that women may want to pursue the less ambitious lifestyle of being a housewife, the idea that mothers from a very early time train their daughters to think along the lines that they are supposed to give up their ambitions and desires simply because they are not supposed to or worse, are incapable of pursuing them is quite abhorrent. Every mature, rational, educated individual has the right to decide what they want to be themselves.

Sure, there are men who have been discriminating, have violated and carried out crimes against women but blaming the entire “mankind” for the plight of women isn’t a smart thing to do, considering by doing so we not only alienate half of the population from the cause but also allow the discriminating women to get away with their antics scott free. The search for the impossibly perfect daughter-in-law and the seemingly harmless gossip about how women dress, talk and behave are all examples of practices where women are discriminated against by women.

While we are talking about education, tolerance and open-mindedness, let’s also rethink our dearly held notions about feminism, shall we?