It’s a Breast, Not a Bomb

Gymnophobia is defined as an irrational fear of nudity.

It is what makes the Pakistani Twitter-sphere explode (and not in a good way) when Veena’s nude image appears on a magazine cover, or when she stars in a music video wearing a bra lit like a Christmas tree.  It is what causes angry Egyptians to assault Aliaa Mahdy for posting a naked picture of herself on her blog.  It is what makes the Iranian government ban Golshifteh Farahani from returning home because of her nude photoshoot for a French magazine.

It’s not just about conservative values, or religious laws. There’s just something so awfully disgusting, deplorable and distressing about the female anatomy that it makes us want to scratch our eyes out. It leaves us traumatized, ashamed. A world fraught with criminals, terrorists, embezzlers, swindlers and plain destructive assholes, all comes to a grinding halt at the sight of a woman’s nipple and says, “Whoa! Hold it right there!”

As a rationalist and a psychiatrist, such behaviour has always intrigued me. What is it about skin exposure that drives society up the wall? Here are some common concerns I’ve come across talking to different Pakistanis online.

1) Veena is a bad influence on women!

Worst case scenario, Veena influences all Pakistani women to start wearing shorts and posing nude. Then what? Everybody contracts small-pox and dies?

Frankly, I’m yet to find a hijab-clad Muslim woman who says, “Now that Veena has started dressing provocatively in Bollywood music videos, I’m going to rip off my hijab and start parading the streets in my undies!” No, I think the statement made by Veena, if any, is that a woman should be free to do whatever she wants and wear whatever she likes. Those of us who are conservative and “pious” will continue to remain so regardless of what Veena does or doesn’t do.

2) Veena is an embarassment for Pakistan!

Yeah, that and the fact that Osama bin Laden was found living next door to a military academy in Abottabad, and that almost every terrorist activity in the world can be traced back to Pakistan these days. But I’m sure that in the midst of all the cross-border terrorism, religious extremism, corruption, injustice, xenophobia and intolerance, it is Veena’s glow-in-the-dark bra that has sunk this country’s good name.

Veena did nothing that models around the world from Hollywood to Bollywood, do not normally do. Besides, the rest of the world doesn’t normally shit a brick about nudity like we do. Skin exposure never really killed anyone.

3. How would you feel if your mother or sister acted like this?

A common, puerile argument. Reminds me of the time my annoying neighbour banged on my door and yelled, “Your dog growls at all those who pass by your house! Can’t you control it?”

My mother and sister aren’t my dogs. They are free individuals. I don’t march into their closets with an ink pad and stamp “APPROVED” or “REJECTED” on their dresses. They dress themselves. At most, I may express my disapproval with their choices, but at the end, they do what they want to do and I just have to make my peace with it.

A civilized man cannot control what the women in his family do, not by coercion at least. Maybe this is not the norm in homes of the more “honourable” Pakistani men who believe that it’s a man’s job to control and maintain ‘their” women. If supporting a woman’s right to her own body makes me shameless, I embrace that title with relish.

————————————

We’re so hung up on absurd pseduo-morals like keeping every inch of our anatomy draped, and praying a certain number of times every day, that we lose focus of things that truly matter: helping the poor, condemning violence, being friendly towards each other irrespective of our religious or cultural differences, not being a dick to people who choose to follow a different lifestyle than ours, stop finding excuses to excommunicate and look for reasons to embrace them.

The day our public starts feeling more appalled by terrorism, poverty and illiteracy, as opposed to nudity, is the day I can proudly proclaim that we’re starting to make serious progress.

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    • UnholyDarkLord
    • February 7th, 2012

    “a woman should be free to do whatever she wants and wear whatever she likes”.

    Why? If men can’t tell women what to do, and women become free to do whatever they want, then men effectively become hostage to them. There have to be boundaries.

    “Those of us who are conservative and “pious” will continue to remain so”.

    Our society isn’t divided between just ‘the pious’ and ‘the liberals’. There are those that are somewhere in the middle. Moreover, there is more than frequent shifting of individuals from one group to the other. Someone who would be lumped into one group today might move over into another group tomorrow. So yes, Veena is a bad influence because she has the power to inspire other girls to choose the same path as she has. And on that, not only the men, but the women of Pakistan will agree.

    “they do what they want to do and I just have to make my peace with it.”

    Its not about what you would do in this situation. Its about men in general. To men in general, a woman of their household going the way of Veena Malik is a dishonor to them and their family, and a crime worthy of punishment. You want to tell them you’re ‘morally superior’ to them because you would let your mother and sister walk out of the house in shorts? That’s laughable. Who told you your personal moral code is superior to others’?

    I don’t want to get into a long talk on the ills that sexual license brings. Suffice it to say, it doesn’t bring happiness. Veena Malik and her kind are objects of lust. Without their breasts, they mean nothing to anyone. You think that makes them happy? They are like prostitutes, only much better paid. I for one would never want my daughter (if I ever have one) to end up like that.

    • Umm…I think untg said it all. But just to sum up..

      – No, I never implied that I’m morally superior to those who don’t allow their sisters to wear shorts. I’m saying that my moral code is irrelevant, because the women of my house, as free humans, choose their own paths and are not subject to my approval.

      – Modelling industry, in its entirety, is about men and women using their physical beauty to attract people. If you consider that as “prostitution”, I’m afraid that’s an extremely narrow-minded view and I have no response for it.

      – Emancipation of women doesn’t make you a hostage. There’s no condition that either men or women have to be free, they both can be! If you think that your sister being able to make the decisions regarding her own life on her own makes you a hostage somehow, then again, this is the level of narrowness I don’t even know how to address.

      • zahra
      • April 8th, 2012

      I want to cry. Because of fucking self-righteous, controlling pricks like UnholyDarkLord who seem to fucking live in a world of their own.

      Listen up, moron.

      Men and women are EQUAL. A woman does not have to submit to the will of a man. A woman does not need to be dominated by a man. A woman is a human being, who has thoughts of her own and ideas of her own. She does not need to have her clothing, ideas or morals dictated. She has the right to freedom of expression. She has the right to fucking wear whatever the fuck she wants because it is HER body.

      You must be the kind of person who is offended by women’s bodies. You do realize, I hope, that it is none of your fucking business what a woman wears? That the idea of ‘dishonor on a family’ is outdated and stupid? That it doesn’t make SENSE?

      It disgusts me to think I breathe the same air as you.

      /rant.

      To loneliberalpk: Sorry for ranting. I was just. God, I actually started CRYING when I read this guy’s comments. I just let it out.

      • I deal with misogynists, ignoramuses and sanctimonious creeps everyday, so things like these have lost much of their shock-value.

        But please, rant away, The whole point of the blog is to have a place where we can vent out our anger without being arrested for some random, bullshit reason.

  1. Lonepkliberal, I’m going to ignore your post and focus on your reader’s response 🙂

    “Why? If men can’t tell women what to do, and women become free to do whatever they want, then men effectively become hostage to them. There have to be boundaries.”

    I’m sure I am wasting my time here but there is something called equality for all human beings. Which effectively means men can’t tell women what to do and women can’t tell men what to do.

    Also, I don’t know how you equate women’s freedoms with men’s lack of freedom? How does that work exactly? Where is the connection? Are you that scared of women? :p

    “So yes, Veena is a bad influence because she has the power to inspire other girls to choose the same path as she has. And on that, not only the men, but the women of Pakistan will agree.”

    I’m a woman. I disagree.

    Moreover, please note that we live in modern times. You might be shocked to learn that everyone has seen semi-naked actors and models before without them all being “inspired” to do the same.

    “To men in general, a woman of their household going the way of Veena Malik is a dishonor to them and their family, and a crime worthy of punishment. You want to tell them you’re ‘morally superior’ to them because you would let your mother and sister walk out of the house in shorts? That’s laughable. Who told you your personal moral code is superior to others’?”

    Who told you yours was superior to mine? Maybe I don’t like seeing men in shorts. Maybe they tempt me and my girl friends. Maybe, just maybe, I should think they bring dishonor to their families and to our country by dressing like that. Maybe I should make them wear burqas. Maybe, if even that isn’t enough, I should stop them from being out in the public at all and stop them from working.

    “Veena Malik and her kind are objects of lust. Without their breasts, they mean nothing to anyone. You think that makes them happy? They are like prostitutes, only much better paid. I for one would never want my daughter (if I ever have one) to end up like that.”

    Last I checked Pakistan was at the bottom of the happiness index and godless Scandinavian countries were topping it.

    I hope you never have a daughter.

      • UnholyDarkLord
      • February 8th, 2012

      “I don’t know how you equate women’s freedoms with men’s lack of freedom?”

      Consider again this statement,
      “a woman should be free to do whatever she wants and wear whatever she likes”.

      No one should be ‘free to do whatever they want’. We don’t give people the freedom to steal from others, or to kill them etc. Giving one group this kind of freedom means everyone else becomes hostage to them. For example, what happens when we allow group X to ‘do whatever they want’? Some of them may want to harm others. These others are hostages inasmuch as group X is ‘free to do whatever they want’. This cannot be allowed either in the case of women or of men.

      “men can’t tell women what to do and women can’t tell men what to do.”

      Unless its women telling men not to tell them what to do?

      “everyone has seen semi-naked actors and models before without them all being “inspired” to do the same.”

      These models and actors do influence some, but not all, young people. That is bad enough.

      When people see actors and models getting paid in the millions for stripping naked for the whole world to see, and projecting an image of success, some of them are bound to want to do the same. How often does the TV tell you why it is that people are so addicted to money? Never? The happiness that money brings is only one side of the story, much like drugs.

      “Who told you yours was superior to mine?”

      Its not about me, its about all men. But I’ll speak on their behalf. My moral code is superior to yours because it is based on the things that I value most. Like my family’s honor. I wouldn’t give those things up for an indignant feminist.

      “Maybe, just maybe, I should think they bring dishonor to their families and to our country by dressing like that. Maybe I should make them wear burqas. Maybe, if even that isn’t enough, I should stop them from being out in the public at all and stop them from working.”

      This is more indignation than an actual statement of values. Men don’t put restrictions on women because for some reason they resent them, like you resent men. These morals are derived from underlying core values that are non-negotiable. Nevertheless, there are more than a few men who exploit these norms to mistreat innocent women, no one’s denying that.

      “Last I checked Pakistan was at the bottom of the happiness index and godless Scandinavian countries were topping it.”

      Pakistanis are unhappy because they don’t have enough to eat. They have no electricity. They live under a constant threat of terrorism. Their government is corrupt. Not because they don’t get to dance around naked a lot.

      Lastly, I do see where you are coming from. You can’t understand why men define our values and women have to adapt to them? That in itself is a misconception. I come from an orthodox family. Women share these values with men wholeheartedly. I have yet to come across a woman who would not consider Veena Malik a disgrace to her family’s name.

  2. UnholyDarkLord,

    I thought it was implied that a person is free to do whatever he/she wants with his/her life as long is it concerns his/her own life and body.

    If she starts killing and robbing people, she’s intruding in other people’s lives, which is also wrong. That goes without saying.

    Also, I don’t know how you like to run your family, but for me, the freedom and happiness of my daughters and sisters is of greater value than honour. Perhaps some people take pride in treating the women in their family like household pets in the name of honour, but I find that quite ignominious.

  3. Loneliberalpk’s already answered half of your post. Let me try to address the other half.

    “Unless its women telling men not to tell them what to do?”

    Seriously? Seriously? Okay fine. I will answer *this* too. I don’t tell men not to tell me what to do because I don’t ask their permission before doing something. Just like all the men I know don’t ask my permission before doing something.

    If you want to tell women what to do, the principle of equality, which is fundamental rights of all human beings, just in case you were born today and completely ignorant, indicates that you then allow them to tell you what to do as well. If that is how it is in your family, good for you. But somehow I doubt that very much.

    “Its not about me, its about all men. But I’ll speak on their behalf.”

    Excuse me. Did you just say you were speaking for ALL men? Does your definition of “all men” exclude the author of this blog because he disagrees with you? Does it exclude all the Pakistani men I know who disagree with you? Does it exclude millions and millions of men in other countries who disagree with you? You need to look up the meaning of the word “all”. Or perhaps you meant to say they are not men because they are not threatened by women? I would like some clarification. Would you like a list of countries and their total populations of men who don’t go into seizures just because they see an independent woman, who dresses on her own like a grown-up, instead of having to get approval from her husband or father or brother like a child, pass by?

    “This is more indignation than an actual statement of values. Men don’t put restrictions on women because for some reason they resent them, like you resent men. These morals are derived from underlying core values that are non-negotiable. Nevertheless, there are more than a few men who exploit these norms to mistreat innocent women, no one’s denying that.”

    I love this paragraph a lot, especially the phrase “like you resent men.” It’s classic. Women who want to be treated equally must want that because they hate men. It makes perfect sense. They could never want that for themselves. Women who think for themselves and want things for themselves? Impossible! Men are the center of the universe. Women can never ever think beyond men. Puhleease. Get over yourself. I do see why you feel threatened though. Men have to give up power for women to be equals and not many people enjoy giving up power.

    However, just to indulge you, I will attempt to take you seriously. I would never treat a human being, man or woman, as if they were my property. That was for illustration purposes only but, yes, it does seem as if the perpetrator of these actions on other fellow human beings resents them, doesn’t it? Tell me…do you resent women? After all, the only thing I did was turn your logic on yourself. You didn’t like it because you don’t like being “restricted”. Guess what? Women don’t like it either. Your “core values” are yours alone. I’d suggest you don’t force them on others. They are not only “negotiable”, they are completely expendable.

    “Pakistanis are unhappy because they don’t have enough to eat. They have no electricity. They live under a constant threat of terrorism. Their government is corrupt. Not because they don’t get to dance around naked a lot.”

    I don’t know which Scandinavian countries you’ve been reading about, they seem very interesting! :p Ahem, let me you in on a little secret…no country that holds half its population back from their full potential is ever going to top the happiness scale no matter how economically successful it is. You can feed a slave and cloth him and even let him go to the market sometimes…but it is not enough. It will never be enough. I suggest you try imagining life as a woman in Pakistan and then return to this debate. If you didn’t like the idea of living your life like that, chances are good that all the women you know don’t either.

    “I have yet to come across a woman who would not consider Veena Malik a disgrace to her family’s name.”

    You do come across women who support Veena Malik’s right to live her own life without any one’s interference. You just choose to call them “indignant feminists” and pretend they don’t exist. Kind of like you whitewash all the men who disagree with you.

    Instead of beating about the bush, why don’t you just come out and say that you think women are inferior to men and that men have the right to govern them completely? To govern their lives, their bodies and their choices? It is about power, not about morals being compromised at the mere sight of a woman. If it was, men would be similarly clothed in swathes of black and their movements severely restricted. Attraction is a two-way street. Please don’t, just don’t attempt to say otherwise. You may have the temerity to speak for all men but you know nothing about women.

    Btw, there are communities in this world where women don’t cover their breasts at all. Guess what happens? Nothing. Not. A. Thing. The men are used to it. Norms are what you make of them and culture is nothing if not changing. These arguments are getting trite and old.

    I will not reply after this. Because I can see the “arguments” coming my way a mile away. Starting with “perhaps you want to be like those communities but I value my family’s honor” :p Good luck living with your patriarchal rigidity…just kindly *try* to leave everyone else out of it.

    • UnholyDarkLord
    • February 10th, 2012

    I’ll address this bit because I think this is the point.

    “Instead of beating about the bush, why don’t you just come out and say that you think women are inferior to men and that men have the right to govern them completely?”

    To an extent, that’s right. There are two kinds of women. The ones who follow the rules and the ones who want independence. That’s why we screen the women we bring into our family. Or, if they’re born into our family we raise them properly. The role of the head-of-family is assumed by a man. But just because a man is in charge doesn’t mean the women are mistreated. That’s preposterous. It is only when a woman steps out of bounds, which never happens anyway, that we set her right. I say this with utmost respect to you as a lady; women like you would never be a part of my family or any family like mine anyway. So what’s the problem?

    • I’ll just assume that was sarcasm, because I don’t want to acknowledge that a person can be this ignorant and proud of it.

        • UnholyDarkLord
        • February 10th, 2012

        No. 100% honesty. And frankly, I have a name for men like you. It starts with a ‘p’. e-high five if you can guess it.

  4. If that’s 100% honest, my best advice to you is to not be yourself. Because what you are is a misogynist (you know how to look up words in a dictionary, right?).

    I have never evaded a discussion with any person on any matter before. But the personal freedom of our mothers, sisters and daughters is not on the table to debate upon.

  5. Appreciate the honesty. I know a lot of men think the way you do but never dare admit it. In another time they would have but now they know they will be despised for it and rightfully so. The struggle that defined the last century was discrimination against people of color. This century it will be that of discrimination against women.

    Sadly, despite knowing it, your words still made my heart clench and, yes, I hope I’m never a part of your kind of family. If I ever am by mistake, there will be hell to pay. When a man went after a woman of my family, she drew a knife and then asked him to attack her again now that the odds were even. The only thing that differentiates men and women is physical strength. Men like you don’t attempt to control men who can stand up to them, and indeed, beat them in a straight fight. They go after women and children and I have nothing but contempt for them. Men like you are the cause of “honor” killings. It is not much different from when white men used to punish or kill slaves for going against the “rules”, for disobedience.

    Do you know why you think your women are satisfied with their lives? They’re too scared to tell you otherwise. I knew that already from the way you were talking before but I didn’t say it out loud. I hope you realize that too. When women stay with and respect men out of love instead of fear and dependence is the day the world will be a much happier place. Perhaps while you are “screening women” you bring into your family, you should try telling them they are inferior to you and see how many even want to be a part of it.

    Btw, I would love to hear you see these words in public. You will find out very quickly how many people are on your side and how much you speak for the world. 187 out of 196 countries have ratified CEDAW. There is not an international forum in the world you can stand up in and say women are to an extent inferior and have to be governed by men and not be cut down for it. If you don’t know what CEDAW is, I suggest you look it up and go through it article by article. I reproduce a relevant article below:

    Article 5
    States Parties shall take all appropriate measures:
    (a) To modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women, with a view to achieving the elimination of prejudices and customary and all other practices which are based on the idea of the inferiority or the superiority of either of the sexes or on stereotyped roles for men and women;

    Try reading Sally Merry’s “Human Rights and Gender Violence”. It will give you insight on all the efforts women from the global South, *our* part of the world, have gone to get their rights, their haqooq as human beings, recognized. There is a “common tendency to forget the fact, women are more than half of those individuals who constitute the world’s population, and any theory based on the liberty and well-being of individuals cannot afford to ignore them or pay relatively little attention to discrimination against them.” (Susan Moller Okin).

    Thank you loneliberalpk. I am leaving now.

    • UnholyDarkLord
    • February 11th, 2012

    What do you do when you see a snake? Run away? Why? Because you have stereotyped snakes as poisonous creatures. Stereotyping is not always bad. When we speak of traditional gender roles, this same stereotyping works well consistently. Men are superior to women, but only in some certain ways, just as women are superior to men in certain ways. Where do these people get the assumption that their are no differences between the sexes?

  6. Haha. Quite the contrary, when I see a snake that I know to be not poisonous, I pick it up. I happen to like snakes. You probably should not try to fit me into a mold. It doesn’t work very well. And no, mister, knowing that *some* snakes are poisonous is not a stereotype. It is a FACT. How you can confuse a fact with a stereotype is beyond me. People are afraid of snakes because of evolution, because it makes logical sense for survival. It is the same reason that children are afraid of the dark. That’s psychology and science, a whole other world. You can read up on it if you like.

    Stereotyping is criminal because you are telling me how I should behave when my nature is quite contrary. You are attempting to make me conform to a behavior which is antithetical to who I really am as a person. If all women wanted to behave a certain way, you wouldn’t have to make them. They just would behave that way of their own accord without fear of social reprisal, ostracism or punishment. It is because it is not natural or factual that stereotypes have to be enforced. Stereotypes by their very definition are a social construct.

    Perhaps this article will help. When you raise girls the same way you raise boys, they act and behave no differently. You can’t change biology. You can only change what was constructed by human behavior, rewards and punishments, to begin with.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/21/world/asia/21gender.html

    There is a matrilineal society in India where the men are demanding equal rights. It is doing well, btw, in case you are interested. As are all the households where the men are staying home as house-husbands and the women are earning or both men and women are earning and sharing the responsibility of the household and their children equally. That probably sounds slightly blasphemous to you because you see it as a reversal of nature itself whereas all it really is a different gender construction. There are women who are more masculine than men and men who are more feminine than women. Other men and women are quite similar in their aspirations and desires in life. People are wonderfully different from each other. They are vibrant, multifaceted individuals. It is utterly ridiculous that both sexes are expected to conform to roles that may not define who they are as a person. Let them decide for themselves who they want to be in their life.

    I would, with complete sincerity, ask that if you are seriously interested in this subject that you start reading and looking at the world around you with an open mind.

    • UnholyDarkLord
    • February 12th, 2012

    I’m talking about stereotyping based on science/empirical evidence. Since not a lot of people can tell a poisonous snake from a non-poisonous one, it makes sense to run away from anything that looks like a snake. On the other hand, there are traits that are shared across the board in certain groups. Like women have less physical strength than men. Yes I know it is possible for a woman to increase her strength, but so is it for a man. That’s irrelevant. If I raise both my daughter and son in the same way, take them to the same activities, give them the same education etc, you contend they will both grow up to be identical beings? Kindly tell me ‘in what ways’ do you think they will turn out the same as each other. Like strength? intelligence? moral values? height? sexual orientation? Seriously, intelligent people like you are hard to come by on the internet, so I’d like to talk about this with you.

    I’d like to point out something you said in the previous comment,

    “Do you know why you think your women are satisfied with their lives? They’re too scared to tell you otherwise.”

    I can only laugh at this. Besides, you can know how a person feels without them having to tell you explicitly.

    Also, I’d like to point out again, that life is not about always doing what you ‘want’ to do. Nor is it about ‘never discriminating against women’. These are arbitrary standards. I go to war if I have to, even if it frightens me to death and I know I won’t come back alive.

  7. “I go to war if I have to, even if it frightens me to death and I know I won’t come back alive.” You do, huh? I recently talked to a man who told me quite candidly that if there was a war he’d leave the country because it was not worth his life while asking me what I would do. I hope you did not mean to say that because all men (sic) would be willing to give up their life for war, women should be discriminated against. I wanted to join the air force. I could not because my eye sight is weak even though they were recruiting women by then. I could not join the army except as an engineer or doctor (I considered it but I wanted to join in a combat position). Perhaps my physical strength was a concern. Perhaps it was justifiable, though there are countries which have female recruits. But I dare you to say I would not have fought for my country if I was given the opportunity.

    “stereotyping based on science/empirical evidence” Stereotyping cannot be based on science/empirical evidence. I already said that physical strength was a difference. I do not see how that justifies restricting the movement of women or stopping them from everyday activities that men freely engage in. Do you?

    And no, they will not be identical. Sons in the same family grow up to be different human beings, don’t they? I am very different from my sister. We have different tastes, different education paths, different careers, different opinions. We were raised by the same parents the same way. The whole point is to let children grow up to be whoever they want to be. However, a daughter raised with the same freedoms and opportunities as a son will not confirm to your particular set of stereotypes. She will be more confident, more independent, more willing to take control of her own destiny, and possess a much higher self-esteem. She might even shock you by standing her ground and arguing for what she wants or thinks is right. And this is not because she behaved like a “man” growing up, trying to make her play football when she wants to play table tennis is not the point (it works for boys as well – if a boy wants to paint instead of playing outdoors, just let him paint and do not deride him for it; divide household chores equally between sons and daughters instead of making only daughters do the kitchen work; do not indicate in any way that your daughter is less equal or capable than him; do not let anyone talk down to your daughter), but because she will have been raised equally, treated as a capable, intelligent human being and provided with the same opportunities. Her education will mean that if she will not have to rely on a man for sustenance. If she ends up in an abusive marriage, it will be easier for her to stand up for herself or to leave because she will know she can make it on her own. I know a strong woman whose husband attempted to control her by not giving her any money. She started working. It’s not that easy to control a confident, independent woman who was raised with the same activities and opportunities as her brothers.

    There is lot of brainwashing and conditioning that goes down while children are raised. Sons get much more freedom while daughters are confined to the house. Daughters are told that should be demure, nazuk, etc while sons are told they have to be manly, strong, hold back feelings. Daughters are constantly told they cannot do this or that *because they are women*. Daughters are made to work in the kitchen while sons are not. Daughters and sons get different punishments for the same offences. Take any example. Smoking, for instance. Guess who will get the worst scolding or punishment? A son’s education may be prioritized while a daughter is taken out of the education system as soon as she is of marriageable age. Often she is not allowed to work (again restricting her right to extract herself from an intolerable situation). Girls may even be beaten while boys are not. Or if they both are, well, at a certain age they do match their father’s height and strength and then the father backs off (part of the cowardliness of only attempting to control someone physically weaker). My examples are not meant to be perfect or reflect any particular household but you will see differences in one way or the other that mold men and women into the stereotypes that you then call science or empirical evidence.

  8. “Nor is it about ‘never discriminating against women’.”

    I didn’t understand this. I don’t understand how anyone can insist that there can exist any condition which could justify discrimination against a human being on any basis. Kindly read the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Your position is indefensible. I repeat, it is completely and utterly indefensible.

    http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/

    • UnholyDarkLord
    • February 12th, 2012

    Letting you children do whatever they want to do is not parenting. Its called neglecting your children, even if you’re actively facilitating them in doing whatever it is that they want to do. For example, by your suggestion, if my son wants to paint, I should buy him painting paraphernalia. What if he wants to quit school? There has to be active participation of the parents beyond simply caving in to the children’s every demand. And this active participation is called for both in the case of girls as well as of boys.

    This brings us back to the question of what kind of people we want our children to grow up to be. In some ways we want them both to be identical, for example we want them both to be courageous. But in other ways, that doesn’t work. For example, I don’t want my daughter to work outside of her house.

    I think your concern is that what we mold our children into is not always what makes them happiest? If so, you’re already incorrect. But I’d still like to know.

    • I hope you know that legally, and logically, the decisions of children can be overruled by their guardians. It is only when they reach adulthood, do they have the freedom to make their own choices.

      Forcing a 24-year old woman to wear a certain kind of dress is a whole lot different from telling an 8-year child to eat his vegetables.

  9. Don’t equate letting children survive into adulthood with their personalities intact with a lack of parenting. My example was quite clear. All children have play times. If the son wants to paint instead of doing something that you consider more “manly” during his play time, let him.

    You don’t want your daughter to work outside the house. What you’re basically doing is making her dependent. It is no surprise that when a Muslim country’s laws were being changed to give women the right of divorce all the men opposed it believing that all the women would want to dissolve their marriages then. Why do men want women to stay with them out of necessity and lack of options rather than because they are happy staying with them, because their men are treating them with love, respect and equality? Sounds like serious insecurity to me. Also sounds like a form of slavery to me.

    I told you boys and girls are treated differently and you just proved it by saying you don’t want your daughter to work. I bet you have no such qualms about your son working. I don’t understand the reasons for the different treatment. The only reason can be that you think your daughter is your property and, as such, should be imprisoned in the house. Next she will be married and trapped in her husband’s house. Great. Not so very different from the Taliban, are you?

  10. There is no ‘natural’ or presocial sex: it is the doing of gender that creates it. Gender is an identity that is “performatively constituted by the very ‘expressions’ that are said to be its results”. – Sally Merry (quote is by Judith Butler)

    Basically what this means is that whatever you say women are like is constructed by the very expressions they hear all around them growing them. They are “happy” because they have no other way of being, they never had any other options. Part of what contributed to the revolt of slaves and the whole collapse of colonialism were the European ideas of Rights of Man and Right of Self-Determination for every nation that began to spread. It is very interesting how Europeans tried to justify slavery when these ideas were spreading. Someone had to be less than fully human. A man could only be a white, European male. Like now woman are less than fully human for you, no?

    There are woman in some countries who were raped but had no idea that this was something that could be named (they did not know there was a term “rape” for it) and that it was a violation of their rights. Similarly, women in a lot of countries, even in the US, once assumed that domestic violence, a form of torture and one of the gravest violations of the rights of a human being, was just how relationships were. Kind of why it makes sense to keep a country uneducated for those in power. You don’t know your rights, it isn’t very likely you’ll stand up for them, is it? A bit simplistic but hopefully you’ll take something away from it…though I doubt it considering YOU’RE not the one whose rights are being violated in your household.

    • Love from India..
    • February 14th, 2012

    @ Lone Liberal :– Hello Friend.. Just went through your blog.. It’s really nice.. Read this piece.. You are absolutely right in your analysis.. But you know well it’s very difficult to do re-socialization of a society in a short time. And perhaps people like “antg” can not be convinced in their lifetime.. It would require 50 years of strong effort from people like you to change the mindset of last 60 years (or 1400 years?). Govt needs to identify the agents of socialization in pakistan and should start a broader program for it… You should continue writing about it….

    “Arise, Awake and Stop not till the goal is reached” :- Swami Vivekanand

    • Thanks.

      I may not believe in God, but I do believe in the power of the internet and the information superhighway that it is. Positive social change can take a very long time, but the internet is catalyzing this change to quite an extent, which makes me hopeful.

    • F.
    • February 16th, 2012

    Read your comments on a ET recently, on a hopelessly ill-argued and, for want of a better word, ‘hysterical’ article about porn use in Pakistan.

    Liked your comments but would also like to bring this to your attention:
    http://blog.iblamethepatriarchy.com/2012/02/16/spinster-aunt-prattles-on-about-pornography/

    • Fascinating. Left a comment there too..

      • aerial_meds
      • April 10th, 2012

      “We’re so hung up on absurd pseduo-morals like keeping every inch of our anatomy draped, and praying a certain number of times every day, that we lose focus of things that truly matter: helping the poor, condemning violence, being friendly towards each other irrespective of our religious or cultural differences, not being a dick to people who choose to follow a different lifestyle than ours, stop finding excuses to excommunicate and look for reasons to embrace them.”
      I would share this post and quote this paragraph if I wasn’t so embarassed (though happily so) about having read this post! Soon, perhaps.

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