‘Wajood e Zan sy hai Tasweer e kainat me rang’
The picture that this world presents from woman gets its tints and scents
Lahore was once famous for festivals and colors of spring. The culture and tradition have been lost under the orthodox approach of urbanization. However, from a couple of springs, the city is again blooming its tints and lullabies in the air of Lahore in the form of Aurat Marches. The colors are vibrant, orchestras are rhythmic and slogans are fierce but all are celebrating resistance against oppression instead of submitting in front of defined gender roles. The discourse of women agency in public spaces contradicts the constructed social binaries of gender roles. The piety, submission and passive delicacy of women have been celebrated and romanticized since ages from the literature of Akbari Asghari to the cinematic representation of helpless women.
The representation of women as an epitome of familial sacrifice is not limited to folklores and informal representation of literature or cinema but this discourse has been reinforced lately through state level appliances by inculcation of defined women roles in syllabus of schools in the form of everyday timetable of a “good” women activity to the constitutional impositions of hudood ordinance. This propagation of women representation from state narrative and aided by religious interpretation of “good woman” constructed a society where the women agency was confiscated under defined roles. In South Asia particularly, the population of women is more than men but they are less in technical working departments, offices, and outdoor services.
The assigned gender roles are divided into two different dimensions where men are responsible for outdoor activities and women are made for household chores mostly. This division of working domains restricts the physical and emotional activity of both genders. The threat to political, social and economic power from women due to their increasing number in population was subjugated by their restricted roles. This restriction then created a domain of self and other discourse where women are what men are not. It was used as a medium to create binary reasoning about men and women in the form of simple dichotomies between muscular and delicate, powerful and weak, active and passive, practical and emotional, realist and emotional, independent and dependent.
Through the use of religious theories, cultural manifestation, poetry, fables, tales and other forms of art the society legitimized their “man power” by portraying men as rationale and powerful beings created by God. The aura through this manipulation promoted “men burden theory” which asserted that men have a fundamental duty to feed and protect the delicate female creatures.
Women were taken as objects that are represented by men’s rationality due to the object’s emotional and physical instability. This object relation theory is so much infused in the society that women themselves are a victim of this internalized misogyny which is prevailing over the decades. They feel pious by observing themselves in the same assigned way of patriarchy and feel guilty if they deviate from that certain standard. Following is an example of the explicit reaction towards the feminist movement in Pakistan from internalized misogyny on social media.
This image suggests that if a woman questions her assigned role of household chores only then it would be a threat to the status of men’s role. She will come in economic, political and social power which would automatically reduce the male privilege of dominance. So, the religion here is used as a tool where the word “Muslim” is articulated in a way that suggests it as a religious demand which assigns this role to women only. The penetration of women’s passive role is so much internalized through different mediums that the notion of freedom makes them uneasy and agitated towards the one who dissects from this chain.
This culture of historical, political and social discourse has been deconstructed and challenged through the slogans and manifesto of Aurat Marches which directly unpack the privileges of male dominance. The social conditioning of male dominance results in a backlash on the women who are struggling against their ‘delicate’ nature due to “western” influence. The iconology and signs of the posters are also negating the already prevailing narratives of popular culture. So, in return to this voice of submissive and voiceless women in the spaces of male hegemony, they have been certified as not good women and people are saving their women from the site of these unholy ladies.