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I am strong and I will not spoil my mascara anymore

“How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our Heroes and She-roes”      Maya Angelou

Am I ‘dependable’, ‘pretty’ or ‘ugly’? Do people look at me as girlfriend material or wife? People are constantly indulging in setting labels and it shouldn’t come as a shock that we women place and seek out labels more than men. The million dollar question for every woman is ‘what do people think of me’ and in our culture more commonly known as ‘log kea kahay gay’. It’s sad when I ponder over everything we women make ourselves go through. Manners are one thing but stifling our opinions, interests and for what? Because we feel we won’t be attractive enough to the opposite (more dominant) sex. If something isn’t happening right whether be in our work life or relationships, we feel it is our fault. Why do women consume the lion’s share of anti depressants? The perception that women have low self esteem needs to be erased and who can do that better than women themselves, don’t you think?

Obviously men have a role to play over here. Coming from a family of two elder brothers I know how men have an overpowering need to protect the women in their lives. It is quite understandable given the conditions not only faced by our country but all over the World. Now that is one end of the spectrum. The other end looks at women as inferiors and walk all over them as a matter of routine. No wonder acid throwing, domestic violence and rape to name a few are still at large. So much so that these terms have become synonymous with women. Men need to understand the dire need to treat women as their counterparts rather than just objectifying them every chance they get. All you liberal and educated men out there can play a huge part over here.

You need to realize the potential of women in your lives and reach out to them as support systems rather than just being overprotective. Believing that women are emotionally as well as physically incapable of handling ‘whatever is out there’ is not going to help. Having said that I’m not saying women should be left out in open and shouldn’t be looked after at all but instead they should be encouraged to grow and flourish as human beings. I overheard my driver’s brother telling him how his boss verbally abuses his wife all the time and then saying and I quote ‘then they say we are uneducated and illiterate’.  And what about the boy who is afraid of commitments because his entire childhood was spent witnessing his father beating up his mom?

The educated and literate need to play a pivotal role in demonstrating the way women need to be treated in the society. I feel the main problem over here is that we view sexual assault and domestic violence as women issues and not men issues. It’s always about the XYZ woman who got abused or raped but never about the man who did so. We need to not only focus on women being targeted but also the men who are targeting; why are they the way they are? And what can bring about change? Instead of shutting up women who voice their opinions and calling them man-haters or better yet ‘feminazis’, men need to stand on the same platform and address the same issues.

Why should women be the only ones talking about women issues? They are issues at large and men shouldn’t be ashamed or afraid to take a stand in addressing them. Remember it is not a battle amongst the sexes where men and women are trying to outdo each other; it is standing side by side and overcoming the issues that are corrupting the society we all live in. Most of you men may not even be directly involved but the social circles, the peer groups and the society in general is, so it’s about time you take a stand.

Enough about men, we women need to pull ourselves together. We are always yelling at the top of our lungs for equality and respect but don’t you think it applies to us first? How can we expect the society to respect us if we think so low of ourselves? The self pity, self loathing and vulnerable when convenient façade we demonstrate so openly has to end. Not only that, we need to keep our emotions in check and not hesitate in speaking up.

Why is it that so many cases of sexual assault and domestic violence go unreported? Because even in the modern society of today, we feel we are incomplete and don’t stand a chance without the men in our lives. So much so that we feel our respect, image and all the hard work we have put in our personal and professional lives will crumble if anything of this sort comes out in open. Don’t you think that needs to change? Blaming the culture and society is pointless because WE ARE THE SOCIETY.

What both genders need to do is strike a balance. I feel both are unique in their own respective ways and both should contribute to the society without attacking each other. No one can promote the female gender more than women themselves. We women need to stop playing the blame game and stereotyping against all men because of a few bad examples in our lives. Instead we need to work hard and become successful to show not only the men out there but also the women who still live in the deepest caverns of darkness that we can do wonders in the society and for that we don’t even need to assume a male persona.

Pakistan has countless examples of women flourishing and standing out whether winning the first Oscar for Pakistan, going to space, flying a fighter plane or becoming a Microsoft certified professional to name a few. So what are we waiting for? Let’s be the change we want to see. Not just for us, but for a healthy family life, work like and most of all a healthy society. Lastly, in the game of chess it is the queen who protects the king.  Ponder on it.

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