‘Gender disparity, misogyny are not natural’

Activist says people have developed the need to subjugate and control women


Mariam Shafqat July 23, 2017
PHOTO: REUTERS

LAHORE: Gender differences and misogyny cannot be considered natural in any way. If this was the case, the social system would not be in any trouble and everyone would naturally fit into their roles.

This was stated by development practitioner and academic researcher on gender issues; Aimen Bucha.

She was speaking as a panellist at an interactive discussion session titled Unpacking Masculinity at Books and Beans on Saturday.

The discussion is a series of summer colloquies organised by the People’s Solidarity Forum.

Misogyny at the bar

“If women and men had decided from the very beginning that females are somehow inferior, why did society develop so many ways to oppress women?” she asked.

Aimen was of the view that people have developed the need to subjugate and control women only because it was understood that playing second fiddle was not their natural position in society.

“So it needs to be clarified that this (misogyny) is not natural. A man who is comfortable in his own skin is not violent and arrogant. He is not a man who will hit a woman and nor will he use multiple micro-aggressions, dominate space and refuse to give her room,” the panellist asserted.

“In the first place, we need to challenge gender roles and understand that they are not natural or normal. If that was the case, they would come to us naturally,” she added.

Reinventing a gender-fair curriculum

Imran Nafees Siddiqui, another participant, said in order to challenge existing roles, people need to realise that the system does not offer any outlet for male members to take a step back from their privileged position. “Rather, it opens avenues to amass more power.”

He questioned why a man would be tempted to give up his position of power and dominance and let a woman have her fair share of the status.

“There is a whole system that supports his status; to the point that even those men who try to detach themselves from typical societal roles are pulled back into the status quo,” he said.

“To allow women to stand fair and equal with men, we (men) have to let go of the privileges and power we’ve been using.”

Imran said any man who challenges the typical role is considered weak by society, but it is actually an act of courage.

Social Activist Sarah Suhail said women should become more active in political and social movements.

“There are so many inequalities between classes which further exacerbate the situation”, Sarah said. “The purpose of this discussion is not to antagonise any class or section, but to take everyone along and develop a sense of harmony, which is the need of the hour.”

Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2017.

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