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Maa Behen Ka Danda – Pakistani Feminist Anthem

With the second Aurat March recently taking place all over Pakistan, there has definitely been a shift in the way Pakistani women are showing their dissent and dealing with the inherent sexism and hypocrisy of our nation.

Women in our part of the world have always been oppressed and exploited but now, we see a greater inclusion of their stories in the overall narrative because many Pakistanis are simply done with the way things have been done around here.

Enough is enough. Throughout the world, women and men have decided that discrimination based on gender, class or ethnicity will no longer be tolerated and the advent of the #MeToo movement has helped kick start that process all around the world. Here in Pakistan, that process has been a bit slower but we’re not willing to back down just yet.

We’re witnessing a literal revolution in the making and what better way to voice and project the movement’s core messages than through feminist anthems.

Music has always played a huge role in protests and revolutions the world over. It is a great tool to unite and rile people up towards a common goal. Even in Pakistan, songs such as ‘Hum Dekhein Ge’ by Strings or Shehzad Roy’s ‘Laga Reh’ are central to the way artists have expressed their dissent for the overall political and social unrest and injustice.

That is why today we want to talk about the idea of a purely Pakistani Feminist anthem called ‘Maa Behen Ka Danda.’

The 3 minute song is the brainchild of Pakistani band Garam Anday and boy is it refreshing to see women finally take up some space and unabashedly scream out their problems instead of them just being the meek damsels in distress that we have completely internalized.

Source; Garam Anday YouTube

This is one reason why the first time I saw the video, I was taken aback because I, like most others was not used to women who look like me present themselves as fearlessly as the women in the video have. Singers Areeb Kishwar Usmani and Anam Abbas have finally given us Pakistani women an outlet for our emotions that we didn’t know we had.

Directed by Haniya Aslam, the music video is definitely not shy about it’s prerogative which is to highlight and pinpoint the gender inequalities that are so common in our society. From being ogled and catcalled at in any public space down to the simplest ways brothers are sometimes favored over their sisters within the home, Pakistani women can relate to these everyday displays of power by the patriarchy.

Source; Garam Anday YouTube

The music video and the lyrics are extremely powerful and the title of the anthem is a great way to reclaim the two words, our society just loves to hurl as swear words but what I loved the most about the video was how un-apologetically real and confident the women are shown.

With lyrics like “Ab band teri pooja paat, ban kay phirta hay majazi khuda” and “Titlion se zyada hum khatarnaak, buzdili teri katwaegi naak” the song lists out the hypocrisy and misogyny that is still strong in our society. The violence both in the lyrics and the video have become the target for criticism as the song has been branded as harboring “man hating” sentiments but we both know that this satirical song is nothing compared to the violence and exploitation men and women face in this country because of the patriarchy.

Tbh, I get where this critique comes from because regardless of gender, we’ve been conditioned to reject any displays of female expression that go beyond what is deemed acceptable and appropriate in society but that doesn’t mean women do not have anything to say about it.

Let’s be real. We worship everything that is white and ‘dark’ or ‘tan’ have become taboo words in our society. These powerful brown women are determined to help change this harmful narrative by loving themselves in their own skins. The other thing that I noticed and immediately loved is how the women In the video are not portrayed as meek and timid creatures waiting for justice to be given to them. Because let’s face it, that day might never come.

Source; Garam Anday YouTube

We have an aversion to women being loud and vocal but that needs to change because that patriarchal ideal of a silent and patient woman can no longer be accepted as the norm.

For those who haven’t yet grasped the message of the video, no, it does not ask all women to start beating up their brothers or gouging out street harassers eyes. But what it does suggest is that we have more power than they’ve led us to believe. We can choose to ignore the obvious but that will not help men or women.

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