Editor’s Note: The views expressed here are those of the author’s and don’t necessarily represent or reflect the views of MangoBaaz.
By: Nayab Imtiaz
Growing up in a family where restrictions are only applicable to females is rather abrasive.
Can’t really blame the family though, the society with the deep rooted patriarchy is to be blamed where even the religion is molded according to the whims and desires of men and used as a justification to mistreat women and/or to keep them in the houses to eliminate the challenge they can pose to men’s mardangi if liberated. We live in a society where working women are labelled as behaya while men talking sleazily about (laughing and joking) their female colleagues is considered to be completely normal.
I grew up in a family where my elder brother is more feared than even my own father, and obviously listened to.
At 20, I am expected to attend university, get a 4.0 CGPA, bake the perfect gol roti when I am back, hold a double job (requires around 8 hours a day) to pay my university fee, whereas my brother’s job is ‘’only to earn’’ and fetching himself a glass of water after office is simply too exhausting for him.
I am allowed to do a home based job (Thanks, dad!) but not allowed to interact with the opposite gender to enhance my skills because mene dunya nae daikhi. I have always been kept under a tight check, and not because they don’t trust me, but because I am a female.
Even laughing at something funny I came across during random Facebook scroll would pique everyone’s curiosity.
As a female I am expected to behave in a particular way, be a good little girl, protect my dignity, not talk too loud, or laugh in an “odd way”, be tidy, take care of everyone, do the household chores, be perfect because if I didn’t no one will marry me. It has nothing to do with religion, and everything to do with patriarchy.
My family never had a great financial background; I never received pocket money when I was younger, whereas my brothers used to. I remember when I used to ask my dad and how he used to joke about me not having pockets by saying, “pocket money is for those who have pockets”. Now when I am earning, they ask me to save my money meanwhile expect me to pay my fee (because they can’t afford 38k after every 4 months while my brother can go to a restaurant every week), also every now and then asking me to quit my job because it is effecting my family life. Well, here’s the truth, I never had a happy family.
I’ve had a childhood full of emotional neglect with sexual exploitation being the topping on cake that poisoned my very existence.
But then again, maybe I was too naïve once that I let my learned helplessness destroy me without even realizing it. By the tender age of 12 I started living in my own bubble, I shut myself up and built the walls high. It wasn’t until late teens when I realized how negatively it had affected me, that was when I started lifting myself up only to get my wings clipped by the binders of expectations.
If you talk about patriarchy, there are always double standards, using religion and political system against women and in the favor of men. It is so deeply rooted in our culture that we, females spend our entire lives waiting for the prince charming, only to realize that how problematic the idea of a random person being our ‘prince charming’ is in the first place. To be expected to get physically and emotionally intimate with someone you have just met, and to let that one person to dictate every aspect of your life because he belongs to the same patriarchal society where women are always inferior to men and are considered outright bewakoof.
My entire life was a struggle to know who I truly was, now that I have discovered myself I am not going back.
The realization liberated me, had me kick out the thoughts of loug kia kahain gae. I simply stopped caring. When I finally did show my own self, I became “badtameez“, an outcast because it is not socially (or culturally) acceptable for a woman to put her needs before others.
In this society a woman is defined by her gender roles than her individuality. She’s a mother, a sister, a daughter, but who is she?
Who is she if not to be defined by her roles? A nobody. Somewhere between fulfilling other people’s expectations and pleasuring their husband’s, women lost their individuality.
I liberated myself by doing everything I wouldn’t have dared otherwise; I jumped out of my bubble. I tasted liberation. A little rough? Yes. But again, for a woman, freedom is the ultimate struggle and the path of struggle is never sweet. It isn’t about being rebellious, it’s about doing the unexpected, going against the norms, and it is constant a reminder that for a woman every day is a quest towards empowerment, a struggle to crush patriarchy and being the kind of women who is not to be messed with, because a woman’s life is more than just to get married and reproduce.
About the Author: Nayab is a a dreamer who aspires to inspire.
Cover image via: dawn.com