Pakistani dramas: Trade in your jeans and career for some chooridars and a rolling pin

In our society, girls in shalwar kameez are acceptable while girls wearing jeans are labelled 'fast' girls.

Marium Siddiqui April 07, 2014
Imagine a scene from a typical Pakistani drama. On one side, we have a shareef (innocent) damsel in distress and a prince charming, who is too busy admiring his good looks to actually use his brains for intellectual purposes. And on the other is the mandatory villain – usually a conniving, evil best friend – who tries her best to create barriers between the couple with hopes that the guy would pick her over the damsel.

Since we are all too familiar with the damsel’s fluttering eyelashes and the prince’s flirtatious smiles, let’s focus our attention towards the villain for once. As opposed to our shy, ghareloo (homely) damsel, our villain is a modern, bold, jeans-clad fashion diva who drives her own car, prefers to have a career and is not afraid to ask for her rights, instead of offering herself as a sacrificial goat.

Here I feel the need to address the reverse bias that exists in our society today – girls in shalwar kameez are deemed acceptable while girls wearing western wear are automatically termed ‘fast’ and of questionable moral character.


Why is a girl who speaks fluent English, chooses to work and is more comfortable wearing western clothing, termed as being too forward?

Why is it considered okay not to give her the same level of respect that one would give a girl dressed in shalwar kameez?

Why is it automatically assumed that such girls will not make good wives and mothers and are only ‘girlfriend material’ or aren’t the ‘take- home- to- your- mother’ type?

Personally, I blame our media and in particular, our over-glamorised, quality-starved dramas for the propagation of such a biased image of women. Instead of acknowledging working women for their efforts to break conventional barriers, they brand them as evil, manipulative home-wreckers. Even if the protagonist is sporadically portrayed as working in an office, it is always out of need where some evil cousin has forced her into it by taking over her estate after the tragic death of her parents or because her ‘no-good husband’ cannot find a stable job to provide for the family.

But the woes of our ‘oh-so-distressed’ protagonist do not end here.

Out in the corporate jungle, she is exposed to all kind of monsters who have nothing better to do than make passes at her all day because well, they didn’t take this job to actually work; they took the job to find a shareef gullible girl whom they could harass.

My question is why can’t a woman, for once, be shown to be working out of personal preference rather than unfortunate circumstances?

Why is her ambition always held against her while she is branded as a bad wife or mother for choosing a career?

What kind of message is our media trying to give to our susceptible audience?

Are they trying to say that women who choose to work outside the home do so because there is something fundamentally wrong with their brain function?

After all, personal achievement, a sense of satisfaction and financial independence are all motivational factors reserved solely for men.

Women, on the other hand, are shown to be more than happy in simply finding a husband, having children and making perfectly round rotis.

And this, ladies and gentlemen, brings me to another point – the modern woman hates children!

They hate the thought of starting a family or God forbid, living in a joint family system because of course, in place of their heart they have an ice cold block of nothing, pumping some black liquid into their veins.

Unfortunately, the media war for viewership and ratings has little or no regard for the immoral values it can inoculate into the minds of our society, which is subliminally and subconsciously being lured into a world of artificiality, glamour and a disparity of the belief system.

I detest the surprised looks people give me when I excuse myself for namaz (prayers) and the way they roll their eyes at me when I tell them that I don’t want to rush into marriage because I want to figure out what I will do with my life first. Because hey, which girl wouldn’t want a rishta (proposal) from a green-card bearing, dollar-earning, corporate junkie, right?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that women who stay home, prefer to look after their family and dress in traditional clothing are in any way inferior to women who work outside the home. I just wish that our media would act more responsibly and portray the latter in a more positive light.

While everyone was busy drooling over the damsel and prince charming in Humsafar, I felt extremely sorry for the evil best friend whose entire life revolved around the prince, who offered him her unconditional support in both, his professional and personal life.

But unfortunately, she was still no match for our sharmeeli (shy) damsel in distress.

Sorry girl, but maybe if you had traded in your jeans for some chooridars and your career for a roti ka baylan (rolling pin), he might have given you a second look!
Marium Siddiqui An IBA graduate working in digital strategy and social media.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.

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Rida | 6 years ago | Reply | Recommend Marium I could not have said this better myself. I am so sick of hearing "unki betiyan toh jeans pehenti hain" like it's a crime. Why can't we just live and let live? This article mirrors my thoughts exactly. And for all those harping on about the Humsafar was just that: a reference, an example used to make her point. Good job.
learningall | 6 years ago | Reply | Recommend i totally agreed with miss marium siddiqui, because the situation was with me before two years ago. its ture, its types of girls good just for girl friend.
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