Dear Zaid Ali,
Before I get to the real issue, I’ll just leave this definition of gender equality here. Gender equality is the state of equal ease of opportunities and access to resources regardless of gender.
Being a woman in Pakistan is difficult. We exist as a quota percentage, in the parliament, in universities, for scholarships. Our opinion is reduced to a quota. The quota, however, exists because men WON’T allow a woman into public spaces until forced to. Our opportunities are limited due to the number of hassles we deal with.
And of course, we also deal with a lot. Harassment, everyday sexism, unsafe public and private spaces, shoddy policies, rape, marital rape, enforced marriages, forced miscarriages… I could go on.
Even after all those injustices, we’re often accused of playing the ‘woman card’.
Which is what has happened in your infamous Twitter feud with Reham Khan. What started off as another attempt at a joke by you, escalated when Reham actually replied. That started off a silly fight. Until you decided to tweet this:
Reham khan can write an entire book insulting and degrading Imran khan.. who is our prime minister.. but when I make a tweet about it.. all of a sudden there is the female card. I guess this is gender equality.
— Zaid Ali (@Za1d) August 10, 2018
And thank God for woke people.
You guessed wrong. There is no 'female card'.
It was just a shitty joke.
— Hamna Zubair (@hamnazubair) August 10, 2018
Hamain bhi chahiye ye card
Aj to yeh bta he dain where do women get all these cards? Kahan say miltay hain yeh? https://t.co/BLoBbvGyOO
— Nighat Dad (@nighatdad) August 11, 2018
So, talking about your life is somehow a ‘card’? Let’s not forget your cry of gender equality.
Reham Khan has already been bashed for her book, regardless of whether it’s true or not. She’s faced immense backlash, verbal abuse and a ton of character assassination. You did not need to add on to it.
In a world that is persistently unkind to women, it is up to the educated few to make sure we choose our words carefully.
Your joke not hitting its mark isn’t gender inequality. It’s called failing at being funny.
You have made a career out of making sexist jokes because that is just the sort of society we live in. But, refrain from trivializing gender inequality.
As a public figure with a considerable following, it is your duty to think about what you tweet because your words do have an impact. You just played into the hands of sexists, and it’s time you realized that it’s problematic.
Pakistan is the fourth worst country for women, according to the rankings of the Women, Peace, and Security index.
Zaid, if we’re talking about gender equality, how about we talk about Nasreen who was decapitated a few days ago by her husband for not quitting her job. Or Fauzia who was murdered for saying ‘no’ to a man at her workplace. Maybe about the hundreds of acid attacks that take place every year, and I’m only talking about the registered ones.
Let’s talk about the girl who was raped in a public park in Islamabad, for daring to hang out with her male friend. Let’s discuss the Hadood Ordinance that literally assures that predators can get away scot-free because the victim can not produce four people who witnessed the rape. Let’s talk about the fact that even 23 wounds weren’t enough to convict a man when it came to Khadija Siddiqi’s case.
We could even talk about how an actor is riding high on the success of his new film, even after being accused of sexual harassment by several women.
Women are consistently given the short end of the stick in education, jobs, public and private life.
They need permission to step out of the house, to follow their dreams, to have a career.
Only 24% of Pakistani women are employed. 51% of women feel uncomfortable working outside their houses at night. Superficially, places offer equal opportunities but a few number of spaces are safe for women. Most workplaces in Pakistan have problematic harassment policies. Marital rape isn’t even considered a real thing.
The Islamic Council of Pakistan has said that the ‘light beating’ of wives is permissible. Time and time again, women suffer. You only need to look at the news every week to realize how gender equality works.
In a place where gender inequality is an actual issue, joking about it just shows how unaware you are of the issues around you.
Society literally takes away the individual agency of a woman, her right to her own life, the simple act of making her own decisions.
In a society where a woman has to suffer abuse and ostracization for the simple act of voicing her own opinion, there is no ‘female card’. Your ‘baisti’ for a bad joke, is diddly squat if you look at how problematic your trivialization of gender inequality is. I sincerely hope you educate yourself on what gender inequality really is, before you victimize yourself for a joke gone wrong.
A woman who wants to know where she can find the ‘female card’.
Cover image via dawn.com