By: Zara Maqbool
Right after the first day of Donald Trump’s inauguration, massive women marches took place across US and worldwide, expressing concern that women’s rights will be violated under Mr. Trump. It was a women’s march but there was so much more in its spirit.
I felt inspired and awed by these women who were so motivated to get out of their homes along with their children to protest for their own rights. These women have jobs, homes and kids to look after. Maybe some of them are single and more empowered to step out and voice their privileges. I am sure some of them go through a tough time in trying to balance their lives, homes, careers, maybe abusive marriages, maybe some of them might not even have graduated from high school but they still got out and chose to participate in a national movement.
I feel it’s high time that we the Pakistani women wake up and take responsibility for ourselves too. Here I am not talking about a small percentage of educated privileged ladies who are making a difference in the society but the general psyche of the ‘woman’ who depends on the male in more ways than one. I know of educated women who look up to their husbands for the smallest of decisions. I might sound judgmental but my real need is to comprehend why we are so confluent and codependent on the males. Why are we scared of being sovereign?
I think most of us are always looking to be rescued and maybe that’s why we are not willing to come out of the perpetual mode of victimization, a damsel in distress. When Atif Aslam rescued a girl from the crowd in his concert, we all applauded him. We immediately blamed that guy and now the story is that he was a security person and unfairly blamed.
So what do we need to be strong and independent? Zainab Saeed a Senior Manager at Kashf Foundation believes that “women and men are both co-dependent for many things. But even where men and women are economically independent, women depend on men for things like tax filing or car registration. Depending on each other for love and companionship is a balanced deal.”
Do we need education to be resilient and take care of ourselves? Women have faced prejudice and gender discrimination throughout history and it continues. Then there is social and personal pressure to be seen in a certain way, which is unfortunately defined by others and not us.
So what are we waiting for? Let’s start by defining who we are on our own. For starters let’s try to create our own individuality and identity that fits our own concept of what being a ‘woman’ means. If for someone being a wife and mother and staying at home and dressing up defines womanhood, so be it. The feminists don’t need to raise a judgmental eye to that. If for someone else a sturdy woman means having a career and home that’s her choice. It’s high time that we stopped casting ourselves in stereotypical roles. But what is important is that even within the role we play, the innate strength shines through which doesn’t let anyone dictate the terms of how to live a life.
It is time we stop limiting ourselves on what is considered “modest’, or “appropriate” for us. We mostly live up to these labels ourselves. Nowhere am I saying that it’s an easy road to take. To defy the norms is an uphill task and will be met with a lot of resistance in this patriarchal society but the key is to be persistent and strong. But that strength can only be communicated if we believe we have that strength within us. Yes we need to live by the society’s rules to some extent too and that goes for men and women both. Why we falter is because we really don’t have faith in our strength. Let’s define our own values and then make choices accordingly. A choice that should make us feel congruent and complete!
Story first published: 28th January 2017