Feminism – a matter of perception

    Nothing is good or bad but the perception make it so. Yes, perception, it shapes the thinking of human being about the stuff happening all around and making up their minds in return to react to it in many ways. International Women Day, 8th March 2019, the day which would be remembered and recorded in the history as a significant day of 21st century in women rights perspective. The day when women across the globe like before once again united to raise voice for their fundamental right, and get rid of oppressive ideologies. The Aurat March is no doubt an important part of current wave of feminism. Let’s have a look over the concept of feminism first.

    The word “feminism” was coined in 1890s in the sense of women-led activism for equality and became a common term, migrating from France and entering the London. As it was purely linked to the understanding of phenomenon of gender equality, gender Identity and gender construction in the society and providing the deprived class (women) with their basic rights. This activism, inculcating the aim of fighting for their fundamental rights was surfaced in different time periods with more or less the same objectives e.g. right to vote, basic rights (e.g. reproductive rights) and individualism, calling it “The three waves of feminism” broadly.



    All of these were the child of liberal school of thoughts in feminism. Those who advocate the changes in the existing structures of society and a sizeable adjustment into that structures to ensure the availability of the desired and deserving status to women. The recent “Women March” went under serious criticism from the conservative class of the society and they used to call it nothing more than the way of spreading “Behayai” in the society. According to them the connotation has taken all together a different meaning which is more or less the offshoot of radical school of thought who are sometimes called ‘radfems’, those who advocate that, society is a patriarchy. In patriarchy, men have more social power than women. They harm women by oppressing them. So, the only way of emancipating the oppression is to have a separate social structure or in other words autonomy from the male dominated structures, and the so called elite class is trying to take out their ill-mannered benefits by agitating middle and lower class women’s mindsets through these form of rallies and marches.

    The basic reason of reaction from conservative class was none other than the messages and slogans written on play cards to counter patriarchy and oppressors. For example the slogan “mera jism meri marzi” “Khana Khud Garam Karo”, “Women are humans, not honor” and more of the same kind. So it has been tagged as nothing but misinterpreting and misusing the concept of feminism and threatening the cultural norms and values of the society, because it was indeed a rare sight.


    Just because women have raised voice for their rights with bit bold way in the march it has been targeted and the other side of the story was totally sidelined and ignored. There was no one highlighting the positive aspects of the march e.g. we had seen people from all walks of life belonging to different fields showing unity and promoting a diverse and soft image of Pakistan to the international worlds. Presenting them that we don’t deserve to be labelled as terrorists or gender dispirit society rather we are the one promoting our women to be the part of the race and prove their selves.

    However, the most appreciable and interesting thing which needed to be highlighted was, that a big chunk of men were also the part of the March. Aren’t it the notorious kind of March we people witnessed for the first time where men also came out in support of the women to promote the social cause and give a beautiful blend and diversity to this historic event? Why did we people ignore the positive and powerful messages written on the same play cards? For example, “Agar beti dil mein hai tou will mein bhi honi chahye”, “Kab takk beti be-taleem rahegi” and more.

    Nothing in these demands was threatening, and if there was anything, those men who were supporting this march with women would not have ever supported them. The thing in my opinion is of perception like I have earlier mentioned. The way we react to things is because of the way we perceive it. There is a need to work on change in perception of the people towards those taboos of the society which we people feel shame of sharing it.

    The change will start from our homes, we need to make our children especially sons believe in equality and freedom. We need to make our sons realize and teach that there are no gender specific roles because this will deprive them of their self-sufficiency. This is the time to undo our mistakes and take critical measures in the upbringing of our children and “Aurat march” was a good example to have a start because it was not only about the women, but man and transgender were also the part of it to promote this humanly cause.


    Maria Akhtar
    Maria Akhtar has graduated in Journalism and Mass Communication from University of Peshawar.

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