Preaching Misogyny

When the now fallen from grace preacher is safely back, he has to be compelled to apologise for his egregious misogyny


Saroop Ijaz December 06, 2014

The fundamental problem with weapons of hate and expert proponents of them is that beyond a certain point, the entire exercise becomes cannibalistic. They run out of the usual victims or perhaps the usual victim becomes too easy, unexciting, the ante needs to be upped; that is when the split emerges amongst the powerful, the oppressors. These divides threaten to be the most violent, most bloody. A poor Christian woman never had a chance; the university lecturer in Multan is presently being denied one. The accusation against the lapsed pop star is a different matter. Sincere apologies should be good enough by and for everyone, and all of this has to end. This is now a matter between the clerics, and one is not in any way qualified to pontificate on the matter, and hence will refrain from commenting on the substance of the statement that led to the disagreement. However, one point is illustrated that a death warrant allowed to float in the air will at some point circle back to the issuers.

One can barely listen to one of our leading televangelists at the best of times. However, to hear him on this matter is unbearable, not only because of the language, but also how fickle memories are. Not very long ago, the leading televangelist did have to put up veiled defences for a similar incident. The shoe did not fit too well on the other foot. Perhaps, the most disconcerting thing about all this is that this is becoming a game, common place; that does not make it less bloody, just more prevalent.

One aspect of the fiasco that has not received enough attention is what led the born-again preacher to make that mistake? The answer lies in his visceral hatred for women. He had said women should not be allowed to drive as therein lies the root of all our evils; and he got away with it. For a man, who is partially in the business of selling women clothing, this should have seen his sales for all manner of clothing plummet. There should have been enough outrage to make him apologise. There was none. In the video clip that has led to the present controversy, he was doing exactly what he is good (or is it horrible) at doing: hating women.

It is telling that amidst hysterical threats and teary-eyed defences, no one has called out the blatant misogyny of not only this particular incident, but also the larger conversation on misogyny in the national conversation.



If Malala was a boy child, would the level of mindless propaganda and paranoia against her would have been the same? The boy version would still have been a Western stooge, who staged the shooting in his own head to get fame and other assorted nonsense. However, one can speculate that there would have been a significantly less intense reaction. Since boys are supposed to be in the public domain, Malala is pure evil since she, a girl, is hogging the limelight; and in Pakistan the standing assumption is that for anyone who makes it on her own is a ‘wily’ one, must have pulled some sort of a con. Malala is evil since she is incredibly brave, an attribute men are supposed to have the exclusive trademark on in Pakistan, and often fail abysmally to live up to. Bravery is hard; instead hating and resenting those who are courageous is easy; attributing it to being ‘opportunistic’ and other conspiracy theories also serves in reassuring of one’s own masculinity. Shaheed Benazir Bhutto was braver than the Pakistani male politicians put together, the lot of them. BB and Ms Asma Jahangir can make the ‘feistiest’ of the male protagonists of our political circus quiver in their boots and go blue in the face since what they cannot even aspire to what these two women so effortlessly achieved. As Malala and Ms Asma Jahangir win the Nobel Prize and the Right Livelihood Award, the insecurities of the wannabe macho born-again preachers and politicians become more acute.

Then there is the question of honour. Honour in Pakistan begins and ends with the womenfolk. Women are not supposed to say disobliging things in public. Hence, Malala saying that there is an education crisis in Pakistan on the global stage is treasonous (of course, the world would still believe that primary and secondary education in Pakistan was in a wonderful state, had Malala not staged her shooting and subsequently spilled the beans).

Misogyny also has more subtle faces and comes in the guise of cultural relativism and nationalism. Most decent people will not admit, often not even to themselves, that we in Pakistan live through, perpetuate and are often beneficiaries of an exclusionary, discriminatory state of affairs. The Supreme Court of Pakistan has never had a woman on it. One knows and knows of enough women lawyers to know that there is something fundamentally wrong here. Good people will tell you that it is not by design; it is a ‘meritorious’ system and not enough women have been nominated, etc. These good people kid themselves, and that is the most charitable explanation.

The once excellent vocalist and now fallen from grace misogynist preacher should be forgiven for the theological disagreement after he has apologised (and the principle applied to all others charged with the same offence who have apologised even for sins which are not their own). However, when all of this is over and he is safely back to selling his merchandise, he has to be compelled to apologise or else be publicly shamed for his egregious misogyny. The shaming has to begin by rightfully cherishing Malala and Ms Asma Jahangir.

Our only Oscar is from Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s excellent Saving Face, highlighting acid attacks and the victims. Earlier in the year, there were multiple acid throwing incidents on women in marketplaces in Balochistan, which were ostensibly random. Yet, there was probably nothing random about them. The targets were women and the offence was being in the public space, being visible, simply for existing. Apart from a handful of psychopaths, no one will contemplate throwing acid on anyone. Yet, resenting Malala, Asma, women who drive cars and millions of other women in this country is doing just that: hating them for simply existing and being their beautiful, brilliant selves.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 7th, 2014.

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COMMENTS (18)

Maryyum | 6 years ago | Reply

@Riya: Omg Riya I could send you chocolates for saying that XD :*

Anonymous | 6 years ago | Reply

This visceral hatred against women is not going anywhere it is part of their DNA Thanks

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