I’ve been openly feminist for quite a while now. For over 6 years. And even before that I always have been one, but the way I’ve been voicing my opinions or should I say facts?) has changed a lot over the course of years. 2020 really brought out the super pissed off version of the feminist in me, and I don’t plan on letting her go anytime soon. Seeing myself and others in this movement evolve is beautiful and priceless and I wouldn’t want anything else out of it. 2020 really made us bold and brazen even more so and I’m honestly excited to see just how much better we can become at doing what we do now that we’ve been through such a gruelling hell of a year. Being born a woman you’re already born in a world that always has, and still does devalue you. It loves to devalue you and finds comfort and pleasure in doing so. We are taught to just accept that as a normal part of life and move on. So when 2020 hit everybody hard, there’s no denying of the fact that it hit women the hardest in every possible way. Whether it was domestic violence, rape, being trafficked, losing the most jobs or facing harassment at work and on the streets (even when we wear masks!!) it’s no wonder that the backbone of the earth and society was effected the most this past year, and that seems to be continuing. All of the things women already went through, have doubled over during the pandemic with not enough people talking about it because what women go through has just become such a normal part of life that everybody constantly overlooks it, only helping men get away with what they choose to do. And they keep choosing to do so, because the world keeps enabling them instead of knocking better sense into them.
We started off the year fine and then soon there was a man on live television harassing and abusing a woman for merely just saying something that is the most basic of human rights, which is mera jism meri marzi (my body, my choice). He lashed out at her, told her how filthy she was and how “no man would even want to spit on a woman like her” and soon all the trash of social media and some guys I knew were in ecstasy at his statements and proud of what he had done and said. I sat there, angered and rightfully so, that when a woman merely speaks a fact that all human beings are entitled to and something that has always been stripped from women, men make a mockery out of it and out of her. These perverted minds cannot fathom anything else, they cannot even think of the violence they put women through but only think of their ratchet pervy fantasies and since that’s how they portray anything a woman says, they cannot handle a woman being in charge of such a statement. She is immediately defamed and people congratulate the men who abuse her, because apparently that is what she deserves for speaking the truth. While those same men have never been enraged at what other men say, men can sit on live television and chat about cheating on their wives, make “jokes” about rape, they can call women names and they can say the most evil and vile things but nobody ever reacts the same way when men spew bullshit because “that’s just how men are”. Another thing about this statement is how obvious it is that men are some of the most (if not the most) insecure creatures on this planet. A woman saying my body, my choice makes them rage like that because the second she takes ownership of her own body they can no longer view her as property, and that hurts their fragile egos, makes them uncomfortable and that is just living proof of the fact that men feel entitled to every single thing about a woman. Whether those are her words, her actions, her body or her physical, emotional, sexual and reproductive labor. Men view it as their fundamental right to exploit women and they want women to never gain the knowledge of anything better because who will they exploit if women aren’t silent, aren’t willing and don’t comply anymore? They are afraid of the power of women, so much so that women just existing and being whole makes them feel threatened and emasculated. They proved it to us that very day that their masculinity is nothing special and solely built on hurting and oppressing women. While many people opposed what that man did on live television, and he has been sort of defamed too. It does not change the reality of the situation. Women are not free and do not have complete autonomy over their bodies and their existence. They have to live with men who share that guy’s beliefs. Live with men who view them as properties and be annihilated by the hands of these very men. Violence against women is so normalized that nobody even viewed the statement “mera jism meri marzi” as women reclaiming their bodies. Even after multiple people and exhausted activists explained what it meant. That day, once again it was proven that everybody collectively decides to give more of a shit about men’s feelings then they have ever given about women’s lives. And while that’s been said and done and it’s over now, his abuse and entitlement still echoes in every second home. That is yet to be considered “bad” by society. But when women fight back against this violence and this hate, they are the villains because of course they are. In this case I don’t mind being the villain, in this case I don’t mind being the bitch. If bitches speak the truth and expose horrendous men then I shall forever be the biggest bitch you’ll ever know. And I hope that makes all of us fall under the same category of being nasty bitches soon, and when he pissed us all off, I’ve seen that happen a little. It’s good to be a defiant woman because if you aren’t openly against the hate, you are part of normalizing it. We’ve been normalizing the hatred of women (otherwise known as misogyny) for so long that it has become long overdue to not just be against it but to abolish it completely, because every time we let men get away with something brutal, a woman pays for it with her life. And that is not the kind of currency we should let the world run on.
That was shortly followed by the Aurat March, which has always made me wonder why it is one of the most hated protests of our country. Because men burn buildings, set cars on fire, kill, loot and trash the streets all in the name of protesting something every single day. But when women collectively decide to hold a peaceful protest once a year against the hate, bigotry and violence they face it’s suddenly too much and too profane? This again just proves the hypocrisy of everything. When women protest, they are vulgar and should stay at home. But the countless men who rape, catcall, harass and obliterate women on the streets so much that women don’t remain safe on them anymore are never gross and never vulgar? But speaking against them is? And then we had our very own cleric, who everybody basically worships, blame women’s “sins” for causing the pandemic. Never once did he mention the men who commit those very crimes against women and girls as the reason for God’s wrath on this earth and the cause of the pandemic. The way everybody is just so completely drawn to the illiteracy of these clerics who built a legacy on suppressing anything and anyone who isn’t a straight, male who kisses their feet and praises them all the time is astounding. He sits there and shares his lustful fantasies of women (lol how much does one wanna bet that his favorite porn category is “Hoors”) and talks about how Hoors will be so beautiful that men would be able to see their bodies even through a hundred layers of clothes and nobody ever called that perverted, profane or vulgar but a woman talking about the rights of her own body (which are always violated by men) is surely the villain isn’t she? They let the messages of their own “holy” men be the reason why their women are unsafe in all aspects of life and in every corner. They prove time and time again how illogical and flawed their opinions are. And everybody just follows suit because these beliefs benefit men at the expense of women’s lives and their freedom, and the obvious defiance everybody displays when they agree with men like him just goes to show how regressive society truly is. Nevertheless, women and their supporters gathered at Aurat March despite all the ignorance people spread about the very notion of being a feminist. Despite the fact that we received threats and men pelted stones at some of the protesters, we still gathered at the Aurat March because women have been silenced for too long and have had enough. We were still there, there was joy, there was anger and there was hope on the faces of every girl there wanting the world to be a better place for women to exist. And now this year’s Aurat March being less than a month away, I can’t wait to see even more people standing up against every injustice the world puts women through.
Last year, a woman I used to adore completely made a video titled “The Relevance And Irrelevance Of Aurat March” which left me disappointed, and only made me realize how even the people who appeared considerably “woke” on the surface would still try to poison the essence of Aurat March and feminism. While I agreed with a few points she made, the fact that she thinks such a movement in a country like ours is still “irrelevant” and mocked some of the slogans made by women in it about housework and sitting “properly” clearly showed her privilege and ignorance. I find it really funny how some women mock this movement just to be more validated by men and only showcase how much of their internalized misogyny they still have to work on. The one thing I would love for us to realize in 2021 is, all the privileges and rights women have managed to earn over the years were only possible because feminists fought for these very rights to be earned so that the women living now wouldn’t have to suffer how they suffered. Any and every right that women have now was earned by women who fought, and it should be noted that it was men who never wanted us to have these rights in the first place and most hold the same beliefs up to this day. So the next time we use our privilege to mock other women who truly suffer, let’s sit back and think to ourselves, “What system am I truly upholding? What internal biases do I have towards women? What do I need to unlearn from my very patriarchal upbringing” and then work on it. The world does not need any more people who hate, shun, abuse and silence women. It has plenty of those already. What it’s truly lacking are people who listen to women, and try to make this world a better, safer place for them. Why not be the person who brings forth positive change instead of giving into a sexist, bigoted culture that further makes the lives of women harder?
During 2020, we also had the pleasure of hearing the song WAP by Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion. While it’s true that the song reached number 1 and got a lot of recognition and accolades. It also exposed the blatant hypocrisy of conservative mindsets who were offended at the song’s explicit lyrics and criticized the women who made it for having the audacity to talk about their sexual pleasures, what they like and how they like it. The funny thing is none of these people ever had a single problem with men who rap about the same things and even worse. They never had problems when Eminem released countless misogynistic songs about beating and raping women. When he released “Kill You”, when he made lyrics mocking Rihanna’s domestic assault by Chris Brown. When he called people like activist Valerie Smith and rapper Iggy Azalea “bitches” when they called him out for it and yet nobody wanted to “cancel” him. When rappers in general make songs about “fucking bitches” and “disposing hoes” nobody has ever had a problem with that but the double standard is when a woman simply utters “wet ass pussy” it’s wrong? Almost as if they believe men are entitled to what they rap about (and they often rap about violating women and their bodies) but women shouldn’t even talk about their own bodies. They didn’t hate the lyrics because they never had a problem when men made them. They just hated the explicit lyrics when they were made by women. So they don’t hate the song or its content, they just hate women so they love it when men make songs about abusing women and see no problem with it. And because of of 2020’s WAP that double standard became more clear than ever. What I want in the future, is for female rappers to keep on reclaiming music and talking about what they want, just how men have always been allowed to. And they still get number 1’s despite what some conservative, old white man has to say about it. You go girl’s. Thanks to them I can’t seem to shut up about how a amazing my WAP is. If you have a WAP, give it the love it deserves because people can’t seem to stand it when you exist for your own pleasure and not for theirs.
In 2020, Churails was released. It was perfect. It had everything I’d ever wanted in a series and I even boasted about how it’s better than anything I’d ever seen on Netflix, which is a high praise. It was breath of fresh air and I couldn’t believe that was Pakistani content, but I was proud because that is exactly what our media needs. Especially in 2020. But of course it did get banned for like a day for *surprise surprise* it’s “obscenities”. I found that so hilarious that in a place where the media loves to showcase and glorify domestic violence, abuse, vilifying and objectifying women for the male gaze, Churails was too obscene for them. Yet again, the hypocrisy of our people. But it was still made and it opened the very important argument of feminism and misogyny. The best parts of it being how it made men uncomfortable and how the scenes show women beating misogynistic men and saying “Mard ko dard hoga” which is the highlight of the show as it touches every topic beautifully. Something like Churails was long overdue, but I’m glad we finally got to see it in 2020. And people are opening upto these discussions more often now that something like that exists in its media and tells the truth of society. While it’s true the series was diverse, it also opened a lot of room for perfomative, capitalistic and materialistic activism. As one of the actresses soon joined the cast of “Dunk”, a series made “for victims of false allegations”. We also had to tolerate something like the news of Dunk in 2020, in a place like Pakistan where 95-98% of rape cases are not only just true, but the perpetrators never convicted, never jailed, never paying the price of their heinous crimes and always getting away with it. But somehow we still “needed” a series like Dunk, which only silences women more, as if they needed more silencing. And labeling the men who’s lives are never ruined as “victims”. We all know how evident the rape culture of Pakistan is, because in 2020, the Motorway Gang Rape happened. With men raping a woman in front of her kids, the CCPO later the blaming the woman, the route she took, the time she was out and the way the case was “handled” was just pure rape culture and very inhumane. The way that case horrified women in Pakistan and beyond, and made women realize just how unsafe they really are shook them even more knowing that regardless of their reality, people still won’t be on their side and would find excuses to defend the men who violated you instead. There were protests and we realized that we shouldn’t have to wait until it happens to one of us, because it did happen to one of us, some of us, most of us, eventually all of us. In a country where men rape women, children, animals (we all that news about the kitten) and even dead bodies, and in a place where men can walk into a courtroom, abduct a female lawyer, gang rape her for over 4 days, men will still choose to label other men as “victims” of “false allegations” as the poor souls who suffer the most due to all the “evil” women out there. It is the best plot of patriarchy. It was exhausting to see that we’ll have to tolerate Dunk on top of the realities of what women go through everyday. This same victim complex from men has been used time and time again to favor alleged harasser Ali Zafar, who even won the award for Shaan E Pakistan earlier this year, only to further disappoint and show women how less their experiences actually matter to the public. But of course his life was “ruined” because it’s not like we gave him an award or something. The hate Meesha Shafi had to put up with for over 2 years, she was finally granted the appeal to see the harassment side of the case this year, which is a very slow step forward. But the hypocrisy, double standards, rape culture and misogyny women have to face only became more clear every single day. Where some people still have the audacity to blame women for what they go through. Blaming women for their own ill fate crafted by their oppressors is the perfect tool of the patriarchy. The lengths people go to just to defend men who harass women is mind boggling, the way people had been doing to Ali Zafar, but he is stuck in yet another case and another woman has come forward against him, despite the grueling biases of the justice system against women. The women who come forward with their stories pave the path for other women to also feel like they have a place and a voice regardless of how many jerks want women to believe that the Me Too Movement is “deen se doori”. Only somebody who wants to continue harassing women without ever facing consequences for it would say something like that and that’s what one of our actors did say but imagine had he been a woman how people would’ve perceived his words and his confession that he cheats on his wife regularly. The examples of hypocrisy and misogyny in our culture run so deep and are never ending, but maybe we are finally opening our eyes to it and speaking against it, as I believe everyone should. The only deen se doori is using religion to justify hate and violence against women, the real kind of doori men should be concerned about and held accountable for.
This year we saw some advancements, such as PornHub being held accountable for their abuse and trafficking and being forced to remove over 10 million videos of victims was a huge win and I’m glad such a horrific way of profiting off of women’s abuse is under fire now and dealing with the consequences of its actions. I hope it brought forth some level of peace to all the victims whose abuse was broadcasted online for everyone to see. I hope the creators of that pay for every single second of what they put the victims through, and that justice is served. Meanwhile, there were riots in Poland because a very important healthcare and human right was banned by its people, the right to abortion. Whereas, in Argentina it was finally legalized. Which makes us wonder how far have we really come if some of the so called progressive places like Poland are still struggling for basic laws and rights that every woman should have safe access to. All these things and injustices combined, and many more, people still wonder why we are so angry. Why do we “act” like we don’t have enough rights, why the news hurts us and why we feel so strongly about it all. When men think that our opinions are just for the sake of arguments, they forget just how much it effects our lives, and that is their male privilege speaking. Something they can overlook and not have to think twice about because they aren’t the ones who are constantly being brutalized on the basis of their sex. What they call “over reactions” are mere reactions to those who have always been holding our humanity back. It is important to be angry at injustices because anger is the one emotion that knows you deserve better, and women have always deserved better than this. While 2020 was an exhausting year not just for me personally, but for all feminists. It also opened our eyes to a lot of what really goes down. Many women chose to leave toxic households behind and live a better life, while countless others weren’t lucky enough to do so. It is important for us to keep speaking up, calling out bigotry, knowing our own rights and helping others know theirs too. I hope in 2021 women only become stronger, fiercer and set goals towards being the best version of themselves away from the patriarchy’s mold. As exhausting as 2020 was we now only have more reasons to believe women, be there for women, listen to them, create spaces for them and understand their true power all while holding those who demean them accountable. Justice, love and freedom for women is long overdue. So do not take shit and fight for your rights, because women have always been more than just worth it.
Manahil is a 20 yr old raging feminist killjoy, lover of cute stuff and boots that smash the patriarchy. Follow her on Instagram for more feisty and factual rants.