Misogyny is not only limited to and practiced by men. Perhaps the worst proponents for patriarchy are indeed women. Mostly because despite being the victims of the same system, they stand against the very people who are fighting to make it better. You often feel rather cheated.
However, women do stand up for each other as well. It gets even better when strong women take a stand for others like them. So you best believe it that it filled me with immense joy when Hareem Farooq voiced her opinion regarding the current fiasco concerning Mehwish Hayat and Tamgh-e-Imtiaz.
On ZAB Media Festival’19, the panel was undoubtedly the most captivating and eye-opening. Moderated by Manal Faheem Khan who took charge of the conversation and brought forth issues that were absolutely necessary. The panel comprised of Osman Khalid Butt, Fifi Haroon, Hareem Farooq, and Mansha Pasha.
The panel touched upon some sensitive topics that we so crucial for the kind of society we live in that one hour didn’t seem to do it justice. The panel exceeded its time limit as the magnanimity of the topic was too large to be captured in a mere sixty-minute session.
Osman Khalid butt shared his experience of how it is for him to be a male feminist in Pakistan, often being labeled as a gender traitor in the process. Other aspects that were highlighted were the mainstream representation of women in media and their sexuality. How women are reduced to decorative props, created for male pleasure was argued against.
The most triggering topic in the Pakistani film industry, item songs, was also debated upon. Hareem bluntly voiced her opinion saying that she hated the term while Osman argued how dancing itself is an art form but when that art is created for one’s pleasure, it loses its essence. There is a fine line between sexual empowerment and objectification. We often fall on the other side of the spectrum when the camera takes the perspective of a male and objectifies women, opting such camera angles that defeat the purpose and reduces females to mere decorative pieces.
All this while, Mehwish Hayat and the Me Too movement was brought up well. Hareem, Fifi, and Osman straight up defended Mehwish Hayat and the criticism – which cannot even be termed as criticism because it was rather lewd and ugly personal attacks – she received for winning Tamgh-e-Imtiaz. They actually encouraged people to do some research before forming an opinion regarding her. What their concern was that if Mohsin Abbas Haider wouldn’t be defamed for dancing shirtless or even questioned for winning an award then why should Mehwish Hayat be subjected to this cruelty?
We’re living in a time where women receiving such prestigious awards are questioned but nobody stands up and questions when a harasser is getting awards,” she said.
She even took a subtle jab at the well-known alleged harasser.
“My biggest problem with Mehwish’s Tamgha-i-Imtiaz is, how can you question a woman for her achievements but not question a man when a woman says she’s harassed by him? Nobody talks about it, nobody questions it,” added Hareem.
Mansha Pasha also chimed in saying how society keeps pitting women against each other to maintain power. Moreover, women are stripped off of their sexuality in daily lives however “in our cinemas that’s what we love to parade.”
Indeed the conversation was what we needed today, however, I hope for the day when such topics could be discussed openly without the fear of being shot down. These discussions shouldn’t be limited to privileged universities and should be made a common discourse in other places as well.
Till then just remember: