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In the last winter vacations, I was having a detailed discussion with my mother over the presence of women in the public sphere of the semi-urban area we live in. I was adamant in criticizing the existing conservative social structure, while she was consistent in her view of condemning the pathetic and flirtatious men who stare at girls of every age.
The take away of the declaim was if we want our girls to progress in a highly progressive society we need to move to a mega-city like Lahore or Karachi where male-female interaction is comparatively normal and the overall environment is relatively less threatening for women. We approached a pretty simple solution of a very complicated matter.
Now I think that the most viable solution of this convoluted issue is the restructuring of the social structure. This restructuring can happen if we improve our attitude as a society, if we reform our institutions, if we emphasize the moral prism of Islam than mere following the fundamentals, if we get rid of the colonial mindsets that reinforced hierarchical societal structures for its longevity, if we reform the clauses where Islam was badly manipulated by military dictators like Zia, and most importantly if we educate our people.
Education is not merely the pursuit of an academic degree, but it’s an enlightened and positive transformation of a mindset that could change the overall character of a person. How shameful is that when a graduate of a social sciences discipline beats his wife, a discipline where social issues and human behavior are discussed the most?
I believe that a man who cries over a woman, be she is his wife, daughter or sister, and showcases his frustration through abuse or physical attack is mentally weak and no less than a psychopath. The insult to the injury is added by the clashes of women vs women which are basically triggered by men. Women forget to support the members of their sexual fraternity in the campaign of supporting their males who provide them with shelter, food, and clothes.
Consequently, the brutal patriarchy prevails. Women’s support for their husbands instead of their counterparts in times of oppression is a pity. And this pity is embedded in religious, cultural, social and historical amalgamations. It is pertinent to keep in mind that the women I’m referring to include wives, mothers-in-law, husband’s sisters and other aunts who live together in the same periphery.
If we want to reform the status quo of brutal patriarchy happening usually amongst the generation of our parents, our women need to support their counterparts and challenge man’s unending power to shriek, beat or kill the former. Honestly, I am a bit pessimistic that this change will happen amongst our elders because of the fact that women’s very survival depends on men.
Alternatively, I’m truly optimistic about the newer generation which, by the grace of God, is well aware of the rights and wrongs happening around them. At the very least, they know if some wrong is happening around them and they quite subtly record their protests like I’m doing at the moment. I’m sure that these subtle protests would one day translate into the creation of a peaceful society. The generation that sees through all these evils will highly likely not beat their wives, shriek over women during Ramadan in their thirty and hungry conditions.
So, all of us, the residents of semi-urban areas can’t migrate to mega-cities using the evasive approach. We need to transform the existing patriarchal structure in a better fashion by educating our children. Also, people of my age should talk to women of the previous generation who share the roof to support their counterparts under brutal circumstances if they can do that.
The liberalization of a household is a tenet to the liberalization of a semi-urban area. Liberalization here refers to the antithesis of all the evils related to men mentioned in the first paragraph: men staring women and chasing them, husbands beating wives and crying over them, brothers beating sisters learning the phenomenon from their fathers and on and on and on.
P.S. The overall depiction of the argument was intentionally kept abstract because all the concreteness can’t really be put into a page.