By Aruba Khurram
Why do you complain? You should be happy to have the privilege to be hit on by everyone, everywhere. You are lucky that your existence is acknowledged by everyone around you. Be it a boy, a middle-aged man or a kid in his early teens, their eyes will always follow you on the streets, in the malls, in workplaces.
Catcalling, after all, seems to be national pastime.
Don’t you feel flattered at being offered a free ride by almost everyone passing by you? Why feel angry when a total stranger comments on your good looks? You see, every other person from the ‘superior’ gender would consider it rude to not greet you or compliment you on how you look and how pretty your smile is.
You must have heard, “age is just a number”. Well, in your case, it is very true. Age, for sure, is just a number because you don’t have to be of a certain age to enjoy such “special treatment”. It is your birthright to be wolf-whistled at.
I have a simple question: why is a girl objectified by everyone? Why is she an object of pleasure for some and the reason for embarrassment for others? She is always treated as a responsibility, a burden or someone free for all to tease. Her individuality is never recognized and on the other hand, if she doesn’t face the torture from within her family, the society tries to govern her behaviour and actions.
From “baji apna dupatta andar kar lain” to “haw ... pant pehnti hai wo”, they are always so concerned for you. From Mahira Khan’s smoking scandal to Malala Yousafzai’s skinny jeans, a girl in our society has always been kept under the limelight by our oh-so-judgemental squad. Either they would drool over her or criticise her because when it comes to a girl it becomes really hard for our moral police to mind their own business. They would never miss the chance to judge a woman. Those low whispers we hear every day we see a woman trying to make her career, choosing the best for herself. Heads shaking in disapproval, and suspicious, disappointed eyes would not ever stop chasing her if she decides to break the stereotypes. Every other judgemental misogynist from the opposite sex would tell her to go home or would try to shut her up.
The objectification of the female gender and considering them public property is something that has, (unfortunately) become normal in our society. You will be lectured about covering up yourself, and dressing up properly but never would the male lot be told to keep their gazes low and respect females. They will judge you for what you do, what you wear and where you go. They would question and comment on your clothing, your appearance; your existence to be exact with the speed of light. Moreover, they won’t mind drooling over some actress in an item song, but all hell breaks loose, if they find you wearing anything other than “shalwar kamees”. You would be labelled as “Be-hooda” (vulgar) and “shameless”, in no time, but their shamelessly accessing banned pornography websites through proxies, doesn’t count!
From shopkeeper to a taxi driver, from a boy to a middle-aged man, they grow up with the same mentality that a woman is nothing but a toy, use it well and throw it away after you are done. Their unwelcome gazes and malicious grins would follow you no matter where you go and where you are.
We like to think we have made progress, but no matter how developed and prosperous as a nation we have become, we still have not gotten over our sick mentality that tells us to own women. No matter how much time the clerics spend ranting about the rights of women, the moment it comes to practicality nobody is ready for it. We, as a nation, have failed to regard women by giving them the respect and honour they deserve. We still harbour intolerance against women without any good reason. We need to understand that women too are living beings with the same emotions and feelings as men. No matter how much a guy stands up for the rights of women, or how much does he believe in feminism, he can never truly understand what a woman has to face every day. They only see a woman travelling in a bus or walking down the street but what they don’t know is the number of times she has been touched inappropriately and has been catcalled or harassed.
This is high time we learn how to live and let live. On top of everything, women have to step up and stand for themselves. Only then can we overcome this problem and show the world how strong a woman can be, because “... if you never try you’ll never know, just what you’re worth.”