Bila Unwan translates to “Untitled” in the Urdu language. This post is a mixture of anger and grief stemming from patriarchy and society’s hypocrisy. It’s hard to put emotions that arise from injustice into one title.
I had realized this a long time ago, but with every day the realization gets more painful that for women to achieve anything in this world, they have to work twice as hard as men.
What I often observed in my surroundings while growing up was that boys were encouraged to study and go abroad, to give a certain test and strive for a specific post but when it came to girls, their role was limited. A good academic career was something for the parents to boast off but when it came to higher studies after Masters, it was too much for a girl. It was time for her to get married. Girls with ambitions were getting out of hand and were subjected to emotional torture to get settled with an average guy and serve him at home.
Being someone who comes from a conservative society, mostly where girls are seen as useless and someone just to be married off, I experienced everything. From going to courts, fighting for my legal rights to convincing the family that it’s okay to not choose the mainstream course- I failed many times.
I think we give too much credit to men for doing nothing, and when it comes to women, we don’t have much left. A woman with a good character or personality is the one who is ladylike, loves dressing up, is into makeup, knows about all the cosmetics and oh, not to forget she knows all about HumTv dramas and her favourite colour is pink! She is polite, caring, loves kids, and serves garam garam chapatis for the men in the house.
I do not think there’s anything wrong with that. What’s wrong is limiting our depiction of women only to this. To think that woman isn’t more than this, a woman can’t be more than this, a woman shouldn’t be more than this, is utterly wrong and ridiculous.
This perception of women is too deep-rooted into our society that God forbid, if a woman wants something other than this, she is not on the right track, is getting out of hands and feminism has ruined her.
I see women around me appreciating their male counterparts, acknowledging their efforts, speaking up for their rights, telling them it’s okay to be emotional, supporting and motivating them, but when it comes to the men, I rarely see them giving back half of what women in their lives do for them.
They ask me, why do you speak?
I ask them, why do you not?
I have yet to meet a man who is as supportive and as appreciative as the women in his lives are. In fact, they love to talk about all the problems in the world but when it comes to women, “oh it’s the usual whining”, “there’s no point talking to a feminist”. For them, the problem doesn’t exist at all. Why do you expect them to look for a solution? To be very honest, they themselves are the problem, if not; they’re a part of it.
I was compelled to write all of this down when today, I was telling my dad how I don’t want to go for a certain career like my sister did.
And he asked, why do you have to choose a different one? There’s no use. You have no idea about the world out there.
And I said, If I were your son, you would have supported me more than this. In fact, you would have invested all of your life savings in my career! To which he replied aggressively, don’t say that again! It’s not like that. I love you and I don’t see a difference if you were a guy!
Sometimes, it’s gets like that. My arguments with dad gets messy, overwhelming and aggressive.
I snapped back and said, why are you then maintaing ‘that difference’?
We are all so used to the patriarchal ways that nobody sees a problem with it. It would have been a surprise if my dad’s reply was any different.
“I trust you but I don’t trust the people out there, and I’m afraid I won’t be able to protect you the same way I now can!”
I know there are badly raised daughters out there. But I know there are more badly raised sons. Not to forget, the majority is authority. And the majority of men are bad.
My friends ask me, why do you hate men? I tell them I do not hate men. I am just angry, and maybe sad.
But I do hate bad men. And if you’re one of them, I hate you, too.
I see my male friends getting home around 3am, perfectly safe and at peace.
When I ask my female friends to hangout even at 5pm, there are so many concerns.
Ask a man and a woman what are they afraid of when they go out in their own country, as a free citizen, not doing any illegal activity.
Their reply will answer your questions.
I see men not allowing the women of their house to go on trips yet they themselves will go.
And if you talk to them about how women are being oppressed by men, not all men will be thrown in your face.
And if you ask them why do you not allow your sisters to go out then, they will tell you how bad men are out there everywhere.
What do I call it? Hypocrisy or ignorance?
Sometimes I feel like I’m overthinking, and I’m made to feel like I’m overreacting but then comes a little basic task that I need to do on daily basis like going to a nearby shop and fetching something, and it makes me angry all over again.
How our lives revolve around protecting ourselves from men. Merely walking on a street is not safe. Tell me then, is it not our right to get angry?
Bila Unwan: This fight is only our fight.
And when they ask me, oh what have you done if you’re so concerned?
I tell them, I have been trying, I am trying, and I’m very tired.
They ask me to choose just like others did, serve the king at home and spend a controlled but apparently happy life.
I tell them I’m not a slave of this world.
I am only answerable to the king of Kings, The God, and he didn’t limit my role neither did he limit my rights. I will only bow down to him and I will never choose the way the cruel men of this world has paved for women.
I might be tired, but I know I’m not alone.
To know about this year’s Women’s Day theme, visit: https://www.unwomen.org/ and see reports on gender equity at https://www.who.int/social_determinants/themes/womenandgender/en/
For more by this author, check out @zainab https://theuncoiled.com/author/zainab/