Aurat March 2019 posters / placards have sparked an outrage on social media. Again. While last year, it was “khaana khud garam karlo” that managed to hurt some fragile male egos, this year there are many.
Some of them are offensive and hateful to be honest. Some are funny, wise, and thoughtful. However, there’s a story of oppression and injustice behind each and every one of them. Still the hateful language is not justified. But we need to look beyond what the placards read and address the issues that some of them highlight.
So here’s what we think of those posters, on creativity, messaging, and the importance of the issues they’re addressing:
There’s no honor in Honor Killing
Hundreds of women (and men) are murdered every year in the name of honor. And it’s on the rise, as the stats reveal. What’s worse is that the crimes in the name of honor are justified. The perpetrators are mostly the closed relatives of victims – parents, brothers, and uncles. They are pardoned, and in some cases applauded to have gotten rid of an ‘evil spirit’. All in the name of honor.
These posters is totally on point, and address a very important issue.
Sahi se Betho
Okay, so is that a thing? You can choose the way you want to sit, hun. Agree that there are some people in our society who would constantly tell you ‘sahi se betho‘. But is it really a problem? You wanna sit in this kabaddi pose? Go ahead, will look funny.
It can be annoying when someone tells you ‘sahi se betho‘ again and again. But it’s just that. Annoying. And irritating. Enough to be part of a campaign meant for women’s rights?
Dark and Lovely
This one takes a dig at Fair & Lovely. And countless “whitening” creams in the market. Pakistanis (and Indians) are obsessed with white skin. People with wheatish and darker complexions are considered ugly. They’re supposed to cure the black complexion. And the cosmetics brands, both local and international, have made it even worse. There’s a whole industry built around cosmetics that claim to change your skin tone, and make you gori gori.
Glorification of Gori Chamri
It’s the white skin again. When a foreigner visits us and bicycles around the city, they’re appreciated and celebrated. But when a local woman does it, she’s called names. Behaya, besharam. Badmaash. There’s something with us Pakistanis that we always find a way to demonize the women who manage to get worldwide recognition. Malala Yousafzai and Sharmeen Obaid are just two recent examples.
Single? Haw Haye!
Single, independent, strong, and happy. This is something that our society is yet to accept as normal. If you’re a single woman in your 30s, every second person you come across will utter a ‘haaww!’ and tell you to get married. Akaili aurat? Haw!
The Dress Code
If you’re a man, you can roam around the streets in the dress of your choice. Women are denied the same freedom. Those who choose not to wear a dupatta are called baysharam. Those who wear a hijab are reprimanded too. Just recently, a few universities have issued dress codes for women, and some companies have made hijab a criteria to fire, or not hire women.
Freedom doesn’t mean that women will walk around in the public naked. Freedom is that they will decide what to wear. That’s all. Isn’t it fair if we the men let women decide how they want to dress?
It’s to protect you
That’s the most common logic. Don’t go out, it’s for your protection. Don’t dress like that, it’s for your protection. etc. etc. I’m sure you all would have seen the pics of flies on a peeled banana, and on an unwrapped lollipop.
The logic is that the wrap protects lollipop and banana from flies. Women are lollipop, or banana. And men are flies.
So, take a dupatta baby. It’s for your protection. Well, protection from whom? Men?
So it’s basically men protecting women from other men. It’s men equating other men to insects. This offends me. Flies?
Iss pe nazar rakho
Barri ho gai hai, iss pe nazar rakho. Kahan jati hai, kis se milti hai, kia karti hai. Iss pe nazar rakho. Women are policed even before they turn 10. We need to change the way we think. About time.
Summing it up
For women: We need more marches like these, but without the hateful placards please. Agree that the message should be stronger, or it won’t be heard. But focus should be on real issues. Purpose is not to offend men, but to highlight the issues. It’s not a revenge. It’s a movement.
For men: Some of the posters from Aurat March 209 are offensive, hateful, and well… disgusting. But let’s give it the benefit of doubt. Let’s just get the message behind those posters. Let’s just understand that the male privilege is very much part of our society, and realize that it needs some fixing. Create a world where women don’t need protection, not where they are protected.