That elephant in the room
Women politicians consistently hear remarks on theirappearance, dressing sense and overall personality; primarily, things that are personal in nature
With Khawaja Asif’s recent chauvinistic remarks about Firdous Ashiq Awan, we are once again reminded of a glaring issue which has always been around, yet is conveniently ignored.
That a man can nonchalantly call a woman ‘dumper’ on social media and get away with it is not a fleeting issue; in fact, it presents a much deeper problem than we could care to imagine. It displays a general misogynistic attitude of the society towards the woman who steps out of the protective confines of her house and gets out in the world to tryandmake something of herself.
Women in this country have long been used to discrimination in all aspects of life. They are used to be being pointed fingers at, solely for being women,whether they are politicians, corporate bankers, doctors or good old homemakers. Getting out there in the world makes them more susceptible to gender based slurs than if they chose not to.
Women politicians consistently hear remarks on theirappearance, dressing sense and overall personality; primarily, things that are personal in nature. They are told that the only ‘decent’ way to react is not to react, since engaging in any discussion regarding gender based slurs would further single them out.
However, women politicians are not alone in bearing the brunt of this sexist discourse. Pakistan, by and large, isn’t kind to the woman who chooses to earn for herself— a fact that is evident with the country being consistently ranked as the second last country in the Global Gender Gap Index.
Women here either don’t work because of a lack of opportunities, or because of general misconceptions about women working only due to economic constraints. Women are still considered more respectable in Pakistan if they silently stay put in the sanctuaries men have created for them. And if for whatever reason they decide to step out of their houses, they are automatically perceived to have given themselves up for mockery at every step of their way.
There is little understanding of the fact that having a career can feature prominently in a woman’s to-do list. This supposed inverse relationship between a woman’s career and her degree of respectability is what increases the chances ofthem being ridiculed or harassedby the ‘wiser’ gender.
In response to Khawaja Asif’s derogatory remarks, Firdous Ashiq Awan recently said, “This ‘dumper’ will crush N-League in election 2018.” A fitting comeback, some might concur
The plight of a workingwoman doesn’t end at the misogynistic remarks that she is susceptible to. She has to engage in a constant fight on a number of completely different fronts.Women on an average are earning less than men;are being entrusted with less responsibility, are generally faced with more intoleranceregarding non-work issues and are not considered to be as worthy of promotions as their male colleagues.
Even if they manage to land a high profile job they will eventually face the glass ceiling, a phenomenon often denied by employers but still very much existent at many workplaces. Studies show that women have to work twice as hard and twice as diligently as men to be given as much respect as their male colleagues.
Most employers will brand their female employees as non-serious if they bring their non-work related problems to work. They are, in so many words, expected to ignore the fact that a world beyond their workplace exists, in order to be taken seriously at work and to succeed.
This attitude towards women can give rise to trust issues which will eventually lead to female employees feeling disillusioned and less motivated to perform as well as they can. A persistent misogynistic behaviour in workplaces will create a tense work environment and eventually lead to a high employee turnover — something nobody desires.
Misogyny in workplaces is so deeply ingrained in our society that it is exceedingly inconvenient for even the crème de la crème of working women, i.e. women parliamentarians, to raise their voice against the workplace misconduct and harassment that they deal with on a regular basis. How ironic is it that the Parliament, i.e. the very place responsible for making laws for the betterment and safekeeping of women, is brimming with misogynistic mindsets?
In response to KhawajaAsif’s derogatory remarks, Firdous Ashiq Awan recently said, “This ‘dumper’ will crush N-League in election 2018.” A fitting comeback, some might concur.
Perhaps it’s time that instead of staying silent about the abusive remarks directed towards them, women should just grab these slurs by the neck and turn them around in their favour.