An article by Juggun Kazim is doing the rounds on social media, nowadays, and seems to have gathered significant support from its audience. That is not surprising, given the clichéd topic, and a catchy title that goes ” ‘I’m not beyghairat!’ “.
I, though, have some serious issues with it. To begin with, Juggun’s ‘Person X’ is far from what you can call a stereotypic male in the Pakistani society. His idea of his own self and self-respect is not only misguided, it is absurd.
Men object to women working for all sorts of reasons, least of them because they think it is going to strip them of dear ‘ghairat’. They could, say, hold that it is not permissible under Islam, or that it is not their job… But only a misguided few would spit at the notion because they think they’d be ‘beyghairat’ to accept it. Like I said, their logic is absurd, and is unfit to be generalized. Also, I don’t believe it deserves so much attention. You don’t reason with the unreasonables.
As far as my limited knowledge is concerned, none of the above mentioned conceptions are entirely correct.
As for Islam, the allegation that it does not permit women to work, is baseless. It only takes common sense to see that when Islam makes education obligatory for both men and women, it is because either of them could be called upon to put it to use. But since Islam is a religion that focuses on duties (fara’iz) more than rights (huqooq), it is natural, and understandable that women are barred from working except in the case of necessity. It is because their natural duties demand otherwise.
Men object to women working for all sorts of reasons, least of them because they think it is going to strip them of dear ‘ghairat’.
One could say that it is not a woman’s job to make a career, but that would only be true under certain circumstances. If a woman shuns the child she has given birth to, to go out and make a career for herself when her husband is managing well without her – keeping both mother and child fully resourced – then I believe, hold and assert that she is violating the rights of the child. Granted that she has her rights, but what of the duties? Is not the child entirely dependent on her for the better part of his childhood? Is she not bound to dedicate herself to him whom she has begotten to make him whomever she aspires to? Is it not for her to let him enclose her index in his fragile little hand so she can guide him through life?
I doubt there is anyone who wouldn’t answer these in the affirmative. What is it, then, that calls on her to leave all this behind and venture forth to establish herself as an ‘independent’, ‘successful’ woman? To what good is that? I think it rather selfish. She, herself, might emerge triumphant in the end, but she’ll have lost control over a life she could’ve moulded to magnificence. A life that was all hers to mould.
More than the poor and the destitute, we need someone to fight for the rights of the children who are first neglected by their mothers, and later despised by the same for their neglect of the latter. These children travel in expensive cars, dine in expensive restaurants, wear expensive clothes, have unbarred technological access to anything and everything, and yet, there is something wrong with them that few of us see. Behind all the tantrums and talking-back, are children whose psychological needs someone has attempted to satisfy with the Material like toys, chocolates and smartphones, rather than the Immaterial like time, attention and consideration. Unfortunately, these things can provide diversion, not satisfaction.
However, these are just the circumstances I mentioned a few paragraphs ago. As soon as a child is out of the early childhood years and the mother is satisfied that he has been well taught and well taken care of, she has every reason and right in the world to kick start or resume her career.
And now back to Juggun. She goes on to say,
I was angry at the thought that the husband gets to ‘allow’ or ‘disallow’ what his wife gets to do, as if she was a disobedient child.
First of all, the analogy does not make any sense. Had she written the woman gets punished, grounded or rebuked ‘as if she was a disobedient child’, it would’ve made sense. But drawing upon the husband’s authority over his wife’s activities and then jumping straight to the latter being disobedient makes me wonder if she wanted to say something in between that she didn’t.
Why should NOT a husband be allowed to decide whether his wife works or not? He is, after all, her guardian. And that she has married him is an acceptance of the fact which also comes along with a pledge to remain faithful.
Secondly, I am shocked at the degree of autonomy Juggun is demanding for the lady of the house. She is virtually calling for a revolt! I ask her: Why should NOT a husband be allowed to decide whether his wife works or not? He is, after all, her guardian. And that she has married him is an acceptance of the fact which also comes along with a pledge to remain faithful. Also, he is conventionally and religiously placed to take such a decision, and the wife to seek it. I say conventionally first because, like it or not, for us it comes first. Or there wouldn’t be so many confusions about Islam today.
Juggun then draws another absurd analogy.
How are we expected to progress as a nation if women are treated like pets that need permission to even use the bathroom?
Do pets ask for permission to use the bathroom? Do pets even use the bathroom?! And what sort of foolish, degrading thing to say! How ever in the world can she compare going out to work, with going to the bathroom? It sheds light on the darkness inside her. On the emotionally charged, irrational person that she is.
I would also like Juggun to call her good friend Ejaz Haider again, and ask him to define ‘desi’ for her. I would like her to share this definition with us too. It enraged me to read that expression. As far as I know, ‘desi’ means traditional. And there is nothing wrong with traditional. However, Juggun seems to have used it in the connotation of old-fashioned and conventionally chauvinistic. That needs revision.
Apparently, Juggun isn’t very good at drawing inferences. In the very paragraph that she uses the word ‘desi’, she says:
Another reason typically given by desi men is that “we trust our wives but we don’t trust the people out there. We know how other men look at working women.” What they mean is that if women leave the house to work, they may then leave the house for another man.
I’m sorry, Juggun, no. That is not what they mean. They mean that it is not safe out there. Are they wrong? I myself am of the view that just because it is not safe out there does not mean that you shut yourself up in your house for the love of dear life. Sometimes, most of the time, you have to continue in spite of your fears. And so you should. But if a husband is being protective, shouldn’t the wife take that as a token of his consideration? He is just as uncomfortable with you being in the company of other men, as you are with his being in the company of other women. You may say to him ‘you don’t know these women’, and he may shot back right at you ‘you don’t know these men’. If you’re jealous because you care, then he protects because he cares.
Sometimes, most of the time, you have to continue in spite of your fears.
This is not always the case, though. Men can be overprotective. They can be imposing. Harsh. Harassing, even. Put them under a separate heading. They are not the kind who’d give justifications for their conduct. And they’re not the kind you would dare demand one from.
They’re the bad guys. Don’t mix them with the good ones.
And don’t call them ‘desi’!
Juggun is anti male-chauvinism. She is also an extreme feminist. That is a lethal combination. It manifests itself in her statement:
Frankly, I don’t care what men worry about; putting women in a gilded cage is never the answer.
I agree with the second part. But the first… it could’ve been put more objectively, given the context. Also, it is not an argument. It is a waste of precious editorial space. If you mean to convince men of the wrong of their actions, it is not fit to say that you ‘don’t care what they worry about’. It is not for women to boast not-caring, just as it isn’t for men to boast the same. Think of the domestic turmoil that would seize a household where both man and wife keep telling each other that they do not care *exclamation mark* what the other worries about.
Think of the domestic turmoil that would seize a household where both man and wife keep telling each other that they do not care *exclamation mark* what the other worries about.
I don’t mind people voicing their views. But if they be irrational, I mind their voicing in national dailies. I read this article on the Express Tribune’s official website and scrolled down to the comments, expecting critical comments. Needless to say, I was disappointed. The comments log was all praise! But that is not what disappointed me. It was the commenters’ inability to see where and how Juggun had gone so wrong. Almost all comments advocate women’s right to work. Well, so do I! But I have a different take on it. And if I were in Juggun’s stead, I would’ve advocated it very, very differently.