I have written in one capacity or another ever since I was eight years old. I like to believe I am a good writer; some of my kind friends even exaggerate their appreciation for my writing to make me feel good about it. However, being honest with myself, I know where I stand. I am neither too optimistic nor too pessimistic about my writing skills. I have a realistic view of my potential. But, let me say this at the least that I am not content, I want to do better and I want to do more.
I promised myself when I established The Cognitive Backyard that I will keep on writing without favour or fear. Writing, either fiction or non-fiction, is necessarily a creative production and like every production process it requires raw materials, time, labor, consistency and all such qualities you listen about being successful. For writers, reading – and a lot of it – is their raw material, and writing regularly no matter how small a piece is the equivalent of putting in time, effort and building consistency. Writing gets better with regular reading and writing.
Although I regularly maintain a private journal, but I am not doing as much as I should to be better and do more. There are many reasons why I am unable to do more and my couch-loving nature and my slow processing mind are not the only reasons.
In the past over a year, I have published pieces about my personal challenges particularly my married life and my wife’s on-going two years long war against cancer. Somewhere in these pieces, I have briefly touched upon the kind of problems Pakistani women have to face in their married lives. A few months ago, I came across a woman who had recently got divorced after a nightmarish marital experience, and I interviewed her and published her story which attracted quite a response from many women albeit my small audience. Some of these women appreciated the way I have represented marital problems from a feminine perspective.
Many women messaged me privately to thank me and appreciate me for my “feminist views” and my bold stance as a man to speak out about these problems. A couple of such women insisted that I should try and write about possible solutions of these problems that every other woman has to face. A few women approached me, appreciated me, and asked me to listen to their stories as well and advise them, some asking me if I could publish their stories without publishing their names. Some only wanted someone just to hear them out as they had no one else to cry to. I actually have committed one of them about interviewing her, although as lazy as I am, I am so far unable to schedule the interview.
Realistically speaking, I don’t think that writing a few pieces about my own wife’s troubles, or interviewing a recently divorced woman whom I approached because she appeared exotic and intriguing to me, makes me a feminist in the prevailing sense of the term. As a matter of fact, most of my writings have been political in nature, and they were written either in opposition to a dictator’s rule, an inhuman global hegemony of a super power, and in support of a Pakistani political party sloganeering for change – the last of which I now regret. I still have the academic interest in politics and my research interests exist in and around Political Science. However, my blog posts have been written about random interest topics; issues that inspired me or struck to me.
Interestingly, most of the problems in our individual, family and communal lives exist because we like to portray ourselves as traditionalists, religious, clean, honest and pious. The reality for most people is completely opposite. We are hypocritical at best in every sphere of our lives. As a nation we are cheats; crook and corrupt. It is easy to abuse and blame politicians for the mess our country is in, but to know how much exactly politicians are at fault – just have a look at Punjab Food Authority’s Facebook page – those meat shops, bakeries, and food outlets selling shit are not all run by politicians but common Tom, Dick and Harry.
To have an idea how much “change” this country wants, stand at a traffic signal at any given time of the day and just observe, no matter if it’s the area such as DHA where most people voted for the “change” party. The truth is we don’t want to be changed, we are deeply amoral in our beliefs for ourselves – our morality and our religious standards are dubious and double – that is the ugly reality of our society we don’t want to confess.
There is a good reason why only 7 people represent a nation of 200 million at Olympics. And there is a very good reason for our decline in every field of life. In our own capacities, wherever we are, we are no less than a Zardari, an Altaf bhai, a Nawaz Sharif, a Pervez Musharraf or a Pervez Khattak. And please, we all know in our hearts what they are. If you have doubts, look at the mess our country is for last at least 30 years.
Okay, control! No politics!
So, as far as problems for women in our society are concerned – especially in their “gender roles” – I don’t really know if I am the right guy to suggest any solution. But, accepting that women do have genuine problems in this society will be a start. And no, by accepting this we don’t pose any threat to our religion. In fact, contrary to popular belief, most of what we know as Islam has nothing to do with the actual religion. It would also be a nice idea to give some time of our lives to actually studying the religion instead of just believing hearsay and Facebook posts if we are really so finicky about the religion. The truth is; we are not finicky about religion. We are actually finicky about playing the moral police on completely twisted and dubious moral principles.
Yes, Islam does put men and women in separate gender roles, and Islam talks about spiritual equality and not physical equality. Now let’s be honest, we are not physically equal and that’s precisely why some of us just love beating women, don’t we?
And as for gender roles in Islam, they are not really as rigid as the clergy would like us to believe, or have we forgotten that the first and most beloved wife of the Prophet (peace be upon him) was a wealthy widow and a businesswoman? Or have we forgotten that even the most towering companions of the Prophet (May Allah be pleased with them) used to come to his second and the youngest wife for advice and sermon?
In my opinion, people should really have same standards for their own daughters and the daughters of others. We also should have same religious standards for ourselves and for others. We should abandon using Islam as a buffet. Islam doesn’t ask only women to be modest and chaste, it demands same from the men too. In fact, it is quite amusing how men know a woman passing by is not modest or chaste when Islam doesn’t allow curiosity and an intentional look at a stranger woman.
Men are designed to be sex driven. Most of us like porn stars instead of wives; dumb and busty bimbos who just love to be bedded. Of course, there is no concept of marital rape in Islam, and yes, it does motivate women to go to their men when asked. But at the same time, it asks men to treat them gently, and with love and kindness. But, if sex is all what we want by hook or by crook, by all means have consensual sex legalised and just get rid of the marital crap. At least, there will be more happy men and less unhappy women in this country, the afterlife notwithstanding.
I also believe that divorce seriously needs to be de-tabooed. Women in our society don’t really have a way out of a nightmarish relationship. They have no other way except to keep living a ridiculously compromising life or just get divorced and be tabooed. Yes, God doesn’t like divorces, but still it is a legal and permitted way out of a relationship that doesn’t work instead of other unsavoury methods. It needs to be acknowledged. Our own Prophet (peace be upon him) married widowed and divorced women. The divorced women need to be included in the society not casted out. And the religion gives the right to a woman to live in a married relationship or choose an exit.
And gentlemen! come on, if you hate a woman so much or you believe the woman to be so “insolent” and “disobedient” to you, why live with her and make your own life a living hell? There is absolutely no excuse for beating a woman. That is not only cruel, but very un-manly. If you really believe yourself to be such a man, please pick someone of your own size.
Real men love their women, and they respect them and they treat them politely, and there was no greater man who ever lived than our own Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). He treated his women with best examples of kindness even the one instance he was unhappy with them.