It is quite a frustrating experience to think constantly about how gender discrimination and harassment prevails in our society. It is a disheartening and disappointing realization that dawns upon me every time I am sitting alone and communing with my inner child who has survived despite the excruciatingly painful circumstances, that I have undergone in my life. My inner child is still there, sometimes laughing and sometimes weeping like a newborn baby. Sometimes communicating with people, I have not met, yet, but admired secretly. They might not know, but all these people have been a part of my world I don’t know since when exactly.
The desperate and broke soul which resides inside my body is searching for solutions to the problems, that I see around me almost every day.
EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
They are existing and prevailing, but the wrongdoers and the sinners aren’t punished. However, I am being rebuked, scolded, and corrected. I do not have any idea about the sin, I have committed according to them, but understanding is not important, they say. Questioning the stereotypical norms isn’t important, they say.
They say, that my existence is not something that God planned, but it just happened. I was born so I am supposed to live now. Since, I have opened my eyes in this world which isn’t really a place for a woman, for she isn’t considered anything more than a good chef, an obedient daughter, a caring mother, and a loving wife. Nothing more than this. Loving others, living for others, making sure that the people around her are happy, and being careful with her words when speaking to her elders, her guardians, and all those who proclaim themselves as people who love her the most. Since the women belonging to ‘respectable and decent families’ do take care of their ‘honour’. It is precious, they say. But, whose honour is it? Isn’t it mine? Then why do they care? What should I exactly care about?
I sometimes look around myself and realize gradually that how all those people who proclaim their love for me are not really my well-wishers. Warm hugs, smiles, and a few pleasant compliments do not make them my family. It takes more to be genuinely good.
Every person wants their choices to be respected. Everyone wants to live in a world, where they aren’t mocked by their skin tone or their cultural heritage. Everyone wants to live in a world, where they are judged and rewarded on the basis of their intellectual and mental capabilities. Just like everyone who lives and owns this world, I also want to breathe and live without being negatively judged and mocked by people around me. I want equal rights and opportunities as well. I want to walk in the streets of the town without worrying about the length of my kameez and the fitting of my clothes. I want to breathe easily, while I am out without making sure that my dupatta is in place so that no one eyes me inappropriately or touches me from behind. So that, I do not ‘invite trouble’, they say.
I also want to live like my brother, you know. I really do. The way he gets out of the house and he does not care about his clothes, it’s fitting, or whether the chalk of his kameez are in the right place or are they showing off his body. He does not have to care about this at all.
My melancholic and heartbroken soul does not really ask for anything anymore. Maybe, this is how life goes on. Maybe, this is how slavery is adopted as an unwavering faith. Maybe, this is how I am supposed to live.
A world, I aspire to live in does not exist, yet, but it will one day. The dark and ominous clouds of injustice and falsehood won’t last for long. The deep blue sky will be there soon, and the bright yellow sun will cast its light of peacefulness and harmony. I am hoping against hope, that soon those who are living in a fool’s paradise of self-serving statements and misconceptions of having superiority over women will embrace a just way of living. I will see that world with my own eyes, and the caged birds may soar the skies, once again. The patriarchs and hypocrites may also step out of their restricted beliefs and see the world differently. They may embrace love and equality as well. I will keep believing that they will abandon the fool’s paradise in which they have been living.
All those who think that they are better than the others just because they hug their wives in the morning, kiss their daughters’ good night, and have bought some clothes for their mothers on special occasions, well do know this, that you have been living in a fool’s paradise, since long. You have embraced double standards and discrimination equally, for you have not given your women the opportunities, you gave to your sons, your fathers, and your brothers.
You can’t expect us, women, to embrace the way you are ‘better than the others’ when it comes to fair treatment. For instance, there is a slave who has been caged all his life and whipped by his master every time he tries to escape. Then one day, another master arrives and buys him as his property. The second master isn’t cruel and vain like the first one. He gives him food and treats him better than the previous master. Some days pass by and a man comes and buys the slave in order to set him free. The slave could not believe the fact that he is free now. He is liberated for life. While wandering the streets freely, he suddenly realizes, that the second master wasn’t different at all. He was just better than the rest, but not different. Same is the situation with the suppressed women of our society.
You are not any different. You have to come out of that fool’s paradise to become different. To become just and to become human, for you are just better, but not different, yet…
Written by: Areeha Ijaz