I prefer being a decision maker, financial supporter, independent, decisive, assertive and elegant over being a tolerant, obedient, selfless, passive, empathetic, compromising, hospitable, and relationship-oriented.
Courtesy to Google Images
Gender roles have been described as society’s shared beliefs that apply to individuals on the basis of their socially identified sex. Stereotypes can be conceptualized as the descriptive aspects of gender roles, as they depict the attributes that an individual ascribes to a group of people. Agency is often cited as the defining characteristic of the male stereotype, and communality as the defining characteristic of the female stereotype Whereas men are thought to be more agentic (i.e., independent, assertive, decisive), women are thought to be more communal (i.e., unselfish, friendly, concerned with others). Values (Halstead & Reiss, 2003) as, “ the principles and fundamental convictions which act as general guides to behavior, enduring beliefs about what is worthwhile; ideals for which one strives; broad standards by which particular beliefs and actions are judged to be good, right, desirable or worthy of respect”. Taken together the concepts of gender roles, stereotypes, and values, we can synthesise the concept of gender stereotypes, especially in Muslim, Latin American, and Black African societies, as being the product of religious and cultural patterns often are transferred from one generation to another through values and beliefs which underlie attitudes, behaviors, and norms
PAKISTAN was placed at 148thout of 149 countries in gender inequality index, as per the World Economic Forum report, 2018. Gender role discrimination is quite evident in the pictorial form of textbooks assigned to primary schools in Pakistan in which women are seen as helpers to men while doing various house hold chores, field works, or supporting their men while working at home (Agha, Syed, & Mirani, 2018). The main thing is that they are not doing something out of their will and desire rather give service to the men in their family. ALSO, a wide gap in general mobility between genders where women are half as mobile as men has been observed by the researchers (Adeel & Zhang, 2017). Additionally a severe gender disparity has been observed in children enrolment rates that are not significantly related to household income which implies that overall boys are preferred for higher education than girls irrespective of the economic status of parents (Quayes & Ramsey, 2015). In the same context, women are not generally encouraged to pursue a career, and their income related needs are hardly met by their own efforts ( Shah, & Baporikar, 2013).
Pakistan is a country where we celebrate sorrow feelings (like the custom of rukhsati in marriages), pains, and sufferings of the other vulnerable people. Pakistan is a country where we enjoy taking part in others helplessness, selflessness, and dependency. We provide opportunities to feel embarrassed (by teasing them physically in supermarkets), we provide sentiments to feel shame, to feel guilty and to feel harassed. Pakistan is a country where we love to kiss someone even at the cost of her dignity, willingness and approval. We are basically pathetic minded people and we don’t react upon others emotions appropriately- a kind of schizophrenic or in other words mentally sick people!
Usually, parents show the way to their kids and tell them, say
Don’t don it, it is not appropriate to your sex
Girls should stay at home
Boys should play with boys
Girls should know how to do house chores
Boys should look strong and resilient
Girls should help their mother in the kitchen
Boys don’t need to learn knitting or sewing
Boys don’t shout
Girls should behave nicely
Boys don’t play with dolls
Girls don’t play outside
Girls don’t complain
daughters are guest in their parental home
and much more alike
It is so simple! when something is not appropriate due to gender identity – it is not appropriate actually. Our way to analyse it should be appropriate. We should tell our kids a different reason to do something or not to do something. We should not focus on gender in any way.
When we see the broad picture, societal pressures, parental attitudes, religious themes, and overall cultural settings combine to depict the sorry picture of gender discrimination in the society of Pakistan. It is not one single person’s fault, or duty to bring a change. It is each one of us if we are live, and if we can think, we are liable for thinking so. We need to be punished for thinking so- when we go for it by choice!
I request the parents of our society to deal with your kids fairly and equally. You are not allowed to discriminate among them on the basis of their sex except choosing color blue for boys and pink for girls. You can still choose various outfits to identify your daughter and son distinctively; you can still choose a haircut for girls and another for boys; however you should not go beyond it. Gender discrimination is not harmful in any way– but according to UNO guidelines of human rights it will become harmful when it will limit them from gaining personal abilities, restrict them from pursuing professional careers, limits the access of equality education and health, prevents them from making choices about their lives, results in violation of human rights, restricts them from enjoying fundamental freedom of movement with peace and security, and when these discriminatory beliefs underlie sorrow and grief in day to day family life.
Freedom, independence, powerful acts of decision making, free mobility, and strong ego could also be the ornaments of the women, as well as men. Women can exert their true will and make choices based on their own desire rather than to the sake of the family, culture, honor or any other fake idea or belief. In other words, women can decide what they want to do in their life, till how long they want to stay with their parents, when they want to get married, to whom they want to get married, to whom they want to get married a second or third time. In total, they can decide about their life freely and without having any social pressure in an ideal situation.
Traditions and customs should not be practised on someone’s freedom and right to live fairly. When you say, someone, to be quiet on having pain, to be patient and do sacrifice, you are not follower/preserver of a tradition (nice women sacrifice for their family), you are not making her a true legend; rather you are a perpetrator and exercising a devil. In other words, you are making their life miserable and torturous- that is a crime in itself.
For the women who usually feel guilty, and miserable, it is not easy to make them understand that they need to change their reaction from feeling guilty to feeling aggressive, annoyed on the apparent mis justification and mistreatment. Though it is unlikely that we change our mindset in an hour or so; however, we need to speak, think and reflect until neurons in our brains start working on such communicatory pathways and take information at the conscious level to act physically. This is the first step and it is the most crucial one in certain cultures like PAKISTAN.
Harmful gender stereotypes, rigid constructions of femininity and masculinity and stereotyped gender roles are a root cause of gender-based violence against women and put them at risk for various kinds of psychological and mental disorders like anxiety, depression, and stress. To eliminate gender-based violence against women, it would be crucial to transforming discriminatory gender norms and stereotypes into fair and equity-based traditions and norms that promote non-violent, respectful and equal gender relations between men, women.
Rhoodie, Eschel, M. (1989). Discrimination against women a global survey of the economic, educational, social, and political status of women. North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc.
Mirza, I., & Jenkins, R. (2004). Risk factors, prevalence, and treatment of anxiety and depressive disorders in Pakistan: Systematic review. British Medical Journal, 328(7443), 794. https://www.bmj.com/content/328/7443/794.full
Khan, M. M., & Reza, H. (2010). Gender differences in nonfatal suicidal behavior in Pakistan: Significance of sociocultural factors. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, 28(1), 62–68. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1943-278X.1998.tb00626.x
Ali, N. S., Azam, I. S., Ali, B. S., Tabbusum, G., Moin, S. S. (2012). Frequency and associated factors for anxiety and depression in pregnant women: A hospital-based cross-sectional study. The Scientific World Journal, 2012. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/tswj/2012/653098/abs/
Khan K.S., Rafique G., Bawani S.A.A., Hasan F., Haroon A. (2015). Social and Societal Context of Women’s Mental Health, What Women Want, What They Get: Gap Analysis in Pakistan of Mental Health Services, Polices and Research. In: Khanlou N., Pilkington F. (eds) Women’s Mental Health. Advances in Mental Health and Addiction. Springer, Cham
Agha, N., Syed, G. K., Mirani, D.A. (2018). Women’s Studies International Forum. 66. Pp. 17-24. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wsif.2017.11.009
Quayes, S., & Ramsey, R. D. (2015). Gender disparity in education enrolment in pakistan. Asian Economic and Financial Review, 5(3), 407-417. Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/1678797188?accountid=14116
Halstead, J Mark & Reiss, Michael J. (2003). Values in sex education. London and N.Y. : Routledge Falmer.
Shah, I. A., & Baporikar, N. (2013). Gender Discrimination: Who is Responsible? Evidence from Pakistan. Women’s Studies, 42(1), 78–95. https://doi.org/10.1080/00497878.2013.736284
Tazeen S. Ali, Gunilla Krantz, Raisa Gul, Nargis Asad, Eva Johansson & Ingrid Mogren (2011) Gender roles and their influence on life prospects for women in urban Karachi, Pak0istan: a qualitative study, Global Health Action, 4:1,DOI: 10.3402/gha.v4i0.7448
Pakistan second worst in gender equality: WEF. (2018, December 19). United News of India (UNI) [New Delhi, India]. Retrieved from http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A566261610/STND?u=ustrath&sid=STND&xid=e61f3084
Eagly,A.H.(2009). The his and hers of prosocial behavior: An examination of the social psychology of gender. American Psychologist, 64(8), 644-658.
source : retrieved from Google images. Just search ‘rukhsati’ on google, or on you tube; you will get it all what it means to Parents of Pakistan.
Parents who are symbol of love, care, blessing and happiness for the children are sometimes perceived as strangers, caretakers, and home owners. Parents who should give unconditional love to their children, in some parts of the world, extend their love to their children if they belong to a specific gender-male. For girls, their love is temporary, conditional and very much hypocritical. In almost each and every part of Pakistan:
- Daughters are taken as guests in the parent’s home until they are married.
- Girls are supposed to leave their parental home forever on wedding day (a tradition called Rukhsati)
- Sons are expected to live with their parents and take care of them.
- Daughters are expected not to visit their parents often after marriage
- Son is usually discouraged to see his in-laws often
- Daughters are supposed to do house chores and obey their husbands /in-laws
- Most parents think it is a matter of their great honor ( in the most negative way) or they will kill their daughters if:
- Their daughter gets a divorce and come back due to any reason
- Their daughter is raped or abused
- Their daughter comes back due to facing brutality and cruelty of in-laws
- Their daughter comes back due to having husbands rude, unfair and constantly demanding attitude
- Their daughter is simply not ready to get married
- Their daughter is having an affair or on date
- their daughter wants to live independently and alone
- their daughter wants to live with her parents forever
In short, parents that are the only hope of children in this cruel world to welcome them, comfort them and console them in time of need and grief; in Pakistan girls are very much deprived of that ever lasting shadow of pure and powerful loving background. Girls, to some extent, receive their share of love and care from almost all kinds of parents; however that love is not enough to provide them with the energy to fight for their rights and live happily ever after. In life love is not the solution of every practical problem; rather we need to enforce some laws, rules, regulations to administer the social evils wisely. The traditions that cause discrimination, feelings of helplessness and flourish injustice, abuse and cruelty/atrocity among society members at a large scale, must be banned. We are not born to follow traditions blindly; rather traditions are established to comfort and facilitate us in a better way. Hope, people and especially parents would think twice before saying their girls a guest in their homes.
Positivity is a universal trait and a common factor to enhance our well being all over the world. Every day we learn about positivity and try to adopt it as much as possible in our day to day life. We love to be called as positive parents, couples, children and positive members of our society. We by all means, fight with our negativity and try our best to achieve an acceptable level of resilience. It is our utmost aim to live a happy, positive and successful life.
Unfortunately, our positivity is not a real positive thing rather a cultural belief. In some of the cultures of this world, people are suffering from their positive (unnatural and false) attitudes. For example, in the traditional societies of Pakistan, there are many beliefs that are thought as positive and people love to hold them as a symbol of pride and honour whereas they are a source of grief, anxiety, and depression for the other group of people.
Consider the following examples for clarification purpose:
- It is very common to wish a baby boy for a young couple as boys are thought as superior than girls.
- Baby girls are thought as guests in their own home. It is very much acceptable belief that a girl’s own home is settled after her marriage.
- They are usually given less priority in almost all affairs compared to boys. It is very common norm to say exclusively to girls to eat after the boys and serve the others.
- Some household chores like doing dishes, cleaning pots, washing, and dusting, are reserved for girls due to their very nature (low-degree jobs).
- Many things like riding a bike, playing in a park, running a shop, riding a bike and dressing up like boys, are thought as boys things so the girls are not allowed to do that.
- Most of the families do not allow girls to select their partner and they consider it a matter of their honor.
- On the birth of a baby girl, mothers could be divorced, beaten, or verbally emotionally severely abused.
- Some professions are taken as reserved for girls only (teaching, medical, and artistic) otherwise boys can join any profession they like to be in.
- A girl has to obey her husband throughout her life (irrespective of his cruelty, tortures and abuses), as divorce is thought as a stigma on a girl’s life.
People do not accept the right of living alone for their girls as it is too a matter of honor and dignity.
The list is never ending indeed. My purpose is not to highlighting the discrimination against women in Pakistan, rather to emphasize the idea that some of the cultural things are taken as a symbol of pride, honor and respect; people adopt them and feel happy in adopting them blindly as a part of their culture. They have no idea that their acceptance of cruelty would make the counter parts sick, dumb and vulnerable, susceptible, and unfortunate.
In the light of the above examples, girls feel extremely low self-esteem, decreased level of self-worth, lowest level of self-respect, and lose their self confidence in studies, social life, and after that in professional life. They feel homesick in the company of their own parents, they feel rejected and ignored at home and in society, they feel less powerful in the practical life ahead and in the end they compromise for the sake of their own family – usually children.
What is so positive in the eyes of the public (it is better for girls to stay at home) is not a fair decision. What is so acceptable among society members (girls are guests in their own homes) is making our half of the population feel homeless and homesick. What is taken as a symbol of honor (you are the mother of boys) is making the daughters feel miserable and less worthy. What is thought as girls’ sole responsibility (to perform exclusively household duties) is an example of severe gender discrimination. What is so common and good tradition of our culture (girls leave their parents on wedding day and live at the mercy of their husband and in laws forever) is making our daughters feel segregated and helpless in many ways. Indeed, these are all rubbish ideas, wrong theories, and false practices established in the dark ages when people lived in caves and had no education at all.
My stance is that one must not accept all the positivity blindly until or unless it is proved that the idea is worth accepting as a positive idea. One culture might involve something negative in the name of positivity. It is not always enough to say that hundreds of thousands of people are following one thing so the thing is worth following. NO. Sometimes, a wrong thing is followed by a large group of people, but the thing is wrong indeed. Thus, it is up to you whether you accept the idea as a positive one or reject it as it is. When a positive idea is positive, it spreads positivity. On the other side, when a negative idea is supported by most people and thought as a positive one- it will generate negativity, discrimination, inequality and resentment. There is no such universal formula that could define what is negativity and what is positivity – but you can save yourself from such messages through a severe negation as they stop you from being active, confident, successful, energetic, passionate, vibrant, creative, professional, empowered, assertive, decisive, happy and lively.
A boy is a symbol of power, authority, success, luck, wealth and a stream of fortune forever. Being a boy means, having a home on a permanent basis, having safety forever, peace of mind with respect to parents love and care, having a continuous and unconditional love of parents and relatives, feeling high all the time only due to your gender identity. Though a boy needs to get educated, yet he needs nothing else. He needs to get educated and lead his life as per his own choice. He has to earn money and status for him and his family’s well being. But he is all in all in deciding many domestic matters. He is free in his movements- not afraid of being raped on the way going home. He is getting priority in all the matters, from attending a luxurious dinner to attending a trip outside city. Boys are very much social in nature as compared to girls as they are more encouraged and appreciated in adapting that attitude. Boys are brave as per our culture. Boys never weep according to our cultural education. Boys should be respected, honored and valued more due to their gender as compared to girls. Boys should keep the money in their hands as they are responsible for their sisters (or female member’s) needs. Boys are free to living alone, whereas girls are not simply allowed to do that.
Girls feel, in such a society, that they cannot express themselves fully being a girl. They bear restrictions on their dressing, social life, education, liberty and freedom tremendously since the day of their birth. They are not well come, being a girl at home, in a family, and in the society. Their position is weak being a girl at home, as they are thought a burden upon parents. They are taken as symbols of honor that can be damaged through any sexual activity. They are not allowed to go out for a walk alone, as their safety is compromised. They are pushed to stay at home as their presence at home is considered a safety precaution. Their primary responsibility is towards their family – taking care of others (usually males) through household affairs and making sacrifices for them. Girls are never free to choose their life partner of their own choice. Rarely parents accept it, if the partner chosen by their daughter is from high class and worth marrying. Things are very complicated for girls. It seems, all are their well wishers, but in reality, all are only protecting them from the unseen and unrealistic dangers. That over protecting attitude generates feelings of low self esteem and worthlessness among girls. They live their lives under constant pressure of society, family, and the culture overall.
The dilemma never ends. When a girl is married, her all decisions are carried out by her husband – usually husband is the only earning hand. Girls, even after being mothers, are not thought as an influencer and decision maker. They have to live according to the rules of their husband and his family. There is no rocket science that you cannot understand. There is simply the abuse: emotional, verbal, social, and physical. A girl cannot decide how many children she wants. She cannot decide what career she wants to pursue. She cannot decide what is her planning of the future in terms of spending money on her needs. In most families, girls even cannot decide what food they wish to eat. For sports, girls are never encouraged to participate in. They are thought as the weakest part of the society – a misfortune bestowed upon the people.
I salute them for living in such a society and smiling all day. I can see western girls being more independent, free, happy, energetic, powerful, influencing, authentic, intelligent and inspiring in overall all fields of life – as compared to Pakistani ones. My humble advice for our generation of girls is that to take charge of their lives, their happiness and their decisions. Do not rely upon anyone, especially when it comes to your life, your need and your pleasure. Seek your way to find your destiny, your identity and your future and be persistent in seeking that throughout your life. This is your war: fight or flight-It is up to you. But if you fight, there are ample chances that you will win; otherwise chances are that you will be caught and could not rise again.
When I search for humanity in literature, it usually comes with broad perspectives about the products like truth, honesty, empathy, selflessness, sincerity, and all other things related to these. Although these are not wrong perceptions about humanity, but we need a clear and concise concept about each of it in this complex era. For example, for truth, it must be clear what to say in a particular circumstance, whom to say truth, how to deliver it, when to deliver it and other related precise details. Sometimes, one single truth may take a person’s life and alternatively that truth may also save someone’s life. The same is true with other phenomena. We are for many times not sure about the reality of our morality or we are not trained in that sense that is why we miss many expressions of it.
We simply apply the morality, what we think morality is. In some cultures, respect is something related to standing up in front of others (like in Pakistan) while in others respect is something related to doing what is required (like in China). Similarly, in some cultures, asking for help is not respectable (in some parts of India) while in others it is the most convenient way to live (in UK). Nevertheless, in some places, one should take care of others’ likes and dislikes with the exchange of highly valuable gifts (like in Pakistan) while in others one must give someone (as a gift) what he /she likes for him/her self (sender) plus it could be anything from a feather to a house (like Arab countries). There are a thousand examples to quote in this regard that prove that we address morality according to our own cultural, religious and personal needs.
Similarly, there are certain things in one culture that are thought as normal while in others are simply rude. For example, in one culture guests may be refused politely if you are busy (like in the UK), while in another one, guests simply cannot be refused or we will become rude. Like in Pakistan and India, guest cannot be refused at any time, for any cause. It is not polite to refuse them. Likewise, in some cultures, one must not enter others personal space while in others this is being proud, antisocial, and unfriendly. When we compare the rights and duties of women and men in different cultures of the world, we will find huge differences of different kinds. In short, whatever is your culture, you will feel that way and judge others accordingly.
When we define our morality according to our needs, we must respect others moral values as they are too according to their needs. However, there is a very delicate line between what is a cultural thing and a criminal thing. For example, in one culture, marriages are more about businesses whereas in others a marriage is a sacred entity and is more about religion. In some cultures, women are not treated equally like men and they need to know more about morality than men. In such cultures, girls have no right to ask about their status or should not expect the same status like boys. Their moral values vary for each section of the society and morality means total slavery of the poor class to the rich class/bosses/owners. From these examples, one must think what kind of cultures are these? Are they carrying up some values or criminal acts in the name of cultural beauties?
Thus, to take care of someone’s culture when you know it is not worth taking care, is more about harming him/her than benefiting. Whenever we encounter something dangerous, alarming, negative, in the name of morality, we must not obey, irrespective of its origin or root cause. We must obey the moral rules that are in the interest of humanity overall. If there is any rule that is neither harming anyone nor benefiting, then it is up to us to follow it or not to follow. We, being the best judge, can set a moral guideline for us and others that proves best or we can choose to adapt (already set world criteria of being human) otherwise.