Since the day I got into my senses, I have been seeing Christians working as menials and house help in my vicinity. They were addressed as chooray, which means filthy. So I had this bias that “Christians are meant to do odd jobs and dirty work”. As I became a bit mature and understood the concept of them being a marginalized community, it made sense. This initiated a thought process in my mind and I got the idea of exploring and challenging my biases.
Disclaimer: You can’t get rid of biases
Yes, you read it right. You actually cannot get rid of them because that’s not the point. Some biases are actually implicit biases that we learn and conceive as a part of our culture and we do so largely unconsciously.
Suppose, if you are a woman and you enter in a shopping mall, you see a man and a woman on the reception; it is very highly likely that you’re going to talk to the woman. Why? Because you feel safe for the fact that there is always a segregation in everything entitled as “men” and “women” and they are bound to interact with the same gender. The bottom line is, you need to try to interrupt to these biases so that we can act more often in ways that line up with our values for the sake of humility and acceptance. So I started to explore my biases after all this realization.
“Women who wear jeans and T-shirts are not religious”
This was one of the most challenging biases of mine. My mother always told me the dos and don’ts of a religious person. If you’re a girl, you only wear shalwar qameez or cover your head. If you are a guy, you have to have a certain length of beard as a sign of submission to the religious norms. But I have seen people with a western attire to be more conscious about their prayers and generally found them very humble as compared to the people who “look” religious.
“Transgenders are actually males disguised as females who just beg because they don’t want to work”
Throughout my childhood, I have been told that transgenders whom we shamelessly call khusray, they are just men disguised as women for money. I always doubted this until I came to know that they are a creation of God as much as we are. I even heard from my elders that I should never interact or try to speak to them because they are dangerous. It all changed when I talked to a transgender who turned out to be a very down-to-earth and a kind person.
“Pathans are foolish and dumb”
All my life, I have been hearing weird pathan jokes, which made me believe that they are actually that dumb. On the contrary, according to my personal experience, pathans are one of the most hospitable, humble and decent communities in Pakistan.
It is a general and very common perception. But I have seen some really kickass women drivers which made me refute this bias. Anyone can be a bad driver, either a man or a woman.
“A married woman cannot resume her studies or career”
This a bias as well as a stereotype. I have seen women dedicating themselves in their married life and handling the household very efficiently. Later on, they decided to come back to pursue their passion in terms of professional career or academics. Also, I have my classmates, who happen to have school-going children, and they are doing their post-graduate studies after the long break. So that’s no big deal.
“It is necessary to marry within your caste”
I have seen people looking for potential rishtas for their children, they waste so much time in looking for a family within the same caste. And I swear, it doesn’t matter anymore. It sucks!
“Old rickshaw drivers are trustworthy as compared to the younger ones”
It’s a general perception in our society if you ever decide to take a rickshaw ride, go with the old driver because it’s safe. That’s what they told me. But it took me a couple of horrible experiences to finally let go of this bias.
After all this struggle (it is still continued, so to speak) I realized that you can’t really unlearn the biases. We live in a society and culture where the influences that create these are so strong and pervasive, that we’re not going to get rid of those in first few attempts. So the first step is to become aware of the fact that you carry a load of biases. Now you challenge them in your daily practices.
Let us know about your biases in the comments below, and how do you plan to challenge them?
Cover image via newburyscalemodelclub.org.pk