Disclaimer: Not happening overnight (I wish)
“Smash the patriarchy.”
I’ve heard this slogan everywhere; at Aurat March, on social media, at secret feminist group meetings on how to carry out the annihilation of the male species, etc. I must admit that I love shouting slogans as much as the next angry feminist yet after I was done doing so, I sat down to think about how we can really actively play our part in dismantling the patriarchy. I came up with a list while also mentioning fellow desi feminists because #womensupportwomen.
1.Question and recognise aspects of your life that are controlled by patriarchy
And then you’ll realise what matters need to be spoken up against. Patriarchy is like toxic air that has surrounded one for so long that one eventually becomes immune to it, losing awareness of it’s presence. Similarly, the concept of patriarchy in Pakistan harms the lives of women without them actively being aware of it. The system is so subdued within our sub-consciousness that raising questions seems ridiculous to many.
Why do women side saddle on motorcycles? Why are men’s clothing so boring compared to women clothes? Why aren’t some girls allowed to wear red lipstick before marriage? Why do women have to get nose piercings to mark their marriage? Why are girls told to sit with their legs closed? Why do most men have an unreasonably ginormous ego? Why is respect placed in a women’s vagina? Why do aunties have gori bahu fetish when they’re not even the ones marrying?
2. Financial Independence
Here’s a simple equation: no money + unequal power dynamics = vulnerable woman
I know that the patriarchy doesn’t make it easy for women to work, but financial dependency on your spouse or any other person may make your position weak and weak women are almost always taken advantage of.
“Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
3. Acts of Resistance
Your act can be anything from having conversations on gender equality to speaking up on an abuse/harassment/assault story, from smoking in public to wearing whatever you want, and from riding a bike to speaking up against sexism.
Remember: any act of resistance you do paves the path for others. And your act of resistance is your act of resistance because each girl has different sets of gender-specific rules imposed on them in terms of class, ethnicity, religion, color, age, etc. But there will always be somebody behind you, so lead the way and own it!
4. Go out into public spaces
You will need:
- will power
- someone to take along (at first)
- mental blockage of those fearful voices in your head
Men need to know that they don’t have a monopoly over the public spaces of your city and women are part of the public too. Men need to see that women belong outside as much as men do and they shouldn’t be confined within char deewari.
Follow Girls at Dhabas for some major inspo: www.facebook.com/girlsatdhabas/
5. Know your rights and laws
I believe, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy and Nighat Dad are two leading ladies in this regard. Their social media accounts detail information and add policy makers and women rights activists to list. Women have been taken advantage of countlessly just because they didn’t know their rights. It’s always helpful to keep yourself educated, not only for yourself but also for others. For example, do you or your mom know what goes in the nikahnama?
6. Support the sisterhood
Women must delegate their support to one another and there is a progressive need to do so. We are arguably, the only ones who understand what problems and experiences we go through. If women don’t support women then there is literally no way out that’s when voices are stifled, lives are put in danger and women who do want to get out (of oppression) never do.
Donate to groups that work for women’s rights, join organisations such as Women Action Forum, Women Democratic Front, etc., take part in feminist activities in your city, and lift other women up.
7.Take care of your mental health
The comment section on pro-feminism posts can be menacing and trying to debate and reason with people there can more likely smash your patience than the patriarchy. It makes your blood boil, it baffles you to see the extent people can lack basic understanding and common sense, and then there’s the hate. At some point, you need to remind yourself that a lot of them behind the screens are sitting on their rears leading a privileged life (or not) and don’t really care about the cause. So even though point number 7 is not a direct way, it does help to take care of yourself and know when to stop whether you’re in an online or offline debate because resistance best comes from healthy individuals.
We’re up against a system that has long put down an entire gender including the LGBTQ+ community. Sometimes we’ll take one step forward and then two steps back but as long as there are individuals fighting, resisting, rioting, protesting and just trying to be themselves, one day hopefully we won’t need this article.