This blog has been written by Sindhu Abbasi, Member of DRF’s Network of Women Journalists for Digital Rights.
“Grew up on your father’s money and now bashing men, hmmm irony,” read the tweet of a young girl, a day after women, men and transgender community held Aurat March across Pakistan.
What do women even mean when they say these things? And why are such insults hurled at women who are protesting the social, political and economic injustices?
Yes, I grew up on my father’s money. Does that mean I am not supposed to condemn rape, honour killings, abuse, perpetrated mostly by men against women, and trans folks, as several reliable studies show? Yes, I have loving uncles too, but does that mean I’m not supposed to condemn those uncles in this society who honour-kill and throw acids on their nieces? What do women who criticise such marches want? That we continue to live in our privileged bubbles and not use our privilege to support those whose voices have been deliberately silenced?
Are we not supposed to hold those people acountable who rape, and uphold a system which contributes to rape culture and demonises rape survivors just because they were out at a wrong time in the wrong attire?
Admitting the men of our family can be different people when it comes to unrelated women is an uncomfortable truth. Perhaps, that is the reason some women and men use the “father, brother” argument when a woman stands up patriarchy. It is possible that you have a loving father but that he also judges a woman with different values. That’s an uncomfortable truth, indeed, and although women might also know in their hearts that it happens, they don’t want to face the truth.
Some women and men also resorted to the age-old accusation of privilege, which women always face when they come out of their homes to demand their rights–any kind of rights. What privilege are we even talking about? What does me being upper-middle class matter when I fear abduction, rape, molestation every time I take a Careem to my home after 11PM? The majority of the times I was touched and harassed on streets and buses, I froze and didn’t react. How did my privilige help me here?
It’s alarming that such women don’t realise their freedom to even criticise, move around in the society and do corporate jobs is the result of protests and struggles by the same women they are criticising today. These women were called the same names in the past too, and were thrashed and jailed for standing up to dictators.
It’s internalised misogyny which clouds the critical thinking skills of these women, and has made them so complacent that they view a woman living life on her terms as a digression. Life is hard, and people have to choose their battles. Not everyone wants to give up their privilege or the safety net promised by the patriarchy. But the young women being criticised also had to give up a lot of their dreams. Young women at Aurat March had to hide their faces if their poster was too controversial. They know what they’re getting into, but they refused to be silenced. They refused to live in their privileged bubble. So, perhaps it is time we rethink how the word privileged is thrown casually, and who really is the privileged one here.