It has been a long day for her. Just having finished up her interview and having taught her tuition students, she walked out of the company’s office just as the pale sun was dying out and evening was setting in. Worn out, she settled on a lone wooden bench in the park, adjacent to the office, to rest before she set out for home.
As soon as she sat herself, her phone rang and she picked it up, blankly, without even looking at it –partially because she was sad and partially because she was indifferent – but as soon as she swiped right on her phone, out came a storm of questions:
“How was your interview? Aren’t you done with the tuition students? It’s too late. Haven’t you seen the time? Are you still a kid? How much do you want me worry?” It was her mother.
“The job needs mobilization and the organization is preferring male candidates which is I why I do not stand any real chances. I want a distraction”, she let out forlornly “Can I go to visit my friend?” she asked without a pause.
“Ezza, you better come home, your brother is going to a party and he will be late. Who is going to pick you up, then?” her mother howled.
“I will be home in sometime”, she submitted and then hung up the call. A sigh escaped her lips. “They are offering a really good package and if were to get selected our days could change for good.” Her enthusiastic voice from last night echoed in her ears as she rose up from the bench to walk home. Daydreaming about good days and better society ahead, the worn-out pale girl began her long walk.
Social process by which people are treated differently and disadvantageously than each other is a ground reality to this day, especially in South Asia and generally speaking, women are mostly at the receiving end, here. Be it social freedom, economic division, education, gender discrimination or tying the knots, their stand points are usually shrugged off.
The elite and upper middle class women are privileged since they are very well aware of their rights and are usually provided with the platforms to exercise their rights. The lower middle-class tend to be the most deprived off and there daily life is a constant struggle between the devil and deep blue seas. Further, the middle class and lower middle class women are the easiest prey for our scavenging society.
Societies of 21st century are based on the view of realism. They carry the message for the world; survive or perish! Feminism contests these ground realities and claims that overlooking sexism has extensive and adverse impacts on prosperity of a society. Feminists emerged in a society where women were suppressed and looked at as a feeble being. As a matter of fact, victimization of Eve is a permanent concept and it still exists in our society even after a lot may have been preached, said and done.
Early feminists were successful in their journey of feminism and they actually paved the path for today’s maiden to be in spotlight as a confident, resourceful and enlightened being. Today’s woman isn’t a profligate wretch or a vile knave, as she maybe pronounced by right-wing media men. She can employ media as a weapon of their own direction and can have implementation of their rights when needed. This shows our society may have refashioned pragmatically, to an extent.
Now, having some modern and privileged women in spot light may have cause us to turn a blind eye to the less emancipated strata of women and their dilemmas. The less privileged woman does not know her fundamental rights and even where she does, she is not provided with the exposure of such elements of enjoinment where she could actually raise her voice for demanding those fundamental rights of her life.
Such women are facing a myriad of the typically talked about issues of today; like rape, inequality on domestic as well as social and economic grounds, gender based violence and then, the most heinous of them are honour killings, wani and child marriages – which are enough to disturb a whole generation to come and decimate its will to fight back.
The purpose of feminism was to decimate all these and not to move within one circle of society. Is today’s feminism attaining or delivering the real purpose of it? Or have we confused feminism with something else?
Every voice for women is not only legitimate but creditable as well. Yet, the recent Aurat March could not manifest and deliver the desired message that was actually intended underneath all that placard drama. Also, it is unfortunate that many of the women who captured national media’s prime attention were arguing about issues that were rather small given the cosmic nature of major problems that affect women in Pakistan. The March destroyed more than it built.
There could have been policing about the hierarchy of issues. Working women could come forward as representatives of sexual pestering, about not being easily heard at work places and about unequal salary. Divorced ones could make themselves available to clan to encourage them for moving over the guilt and taboo of stigmatization. They could have protested about increasing cases of child abuse, forced prostitution and gender based violence in rural areas. There could have been a helpful session of awareness about how educating girls is multiplier in the overall development equation in a society where gender socialization has become necessary. In scenario of prevailing such issues, was there really any space left to talk about “not knowing where the sock is?” or about privileged women’s ungraceful sitting position or about the quarrel of warming the bed or food?
We as a society, should not only be reasonably accountable to each other but also have our duties as civilians. Being a civilian is to become a neutral think tank and create a difference in surroundings – indeed, heavy is the head who wears crown and we have always had the distinguished role models like Asma Jahangir who particularly focused on women rights, Bilquis Edhi who has been playing the role of an unbiased mother to thousands of renounced girls. Fatima Jinnah who worked with her respected brother to lay the foundation of friendly enjoinment for working women. Mukhtaran Mai, who stepped forward in crowd, a whole 17 years ago, to talk about her rape and broke the taboo of rape victimization.
These women successfully did what they had to and ensured that they have been successfully carrying through the responsibility of being civilized member of the society and sow fruits for the generations to come. In this context, feminism is a huge responsibility in itself. Is today’s feminism touching all the domains of 21st century?
The sad answer is no and that’s a problem we need to fix sooner than later if we are to truly benefit the fairer gender.