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March 15, 2019

The Women’s Day news value


March 15, 2019

On this Women’s Day, I went to market, bought kitchen and food items, cooked meal, washed crockery and cleaned shelves. It was not because of the Day particularly but then it does not happen very regularly. And I am not the only man who does it without noticing that it matters for some.

I have seen many men in my family and friends who get engaged in cooking and cleaning the house and their children relish the meals they make. In our universities and colleges, a major chunk of male students come from far-off areas and they start cooking and cleaning while living in hostels or rented houses. With the passage of time it becomes way of life for them.

But yes, after marriage it raises many an eyebrow if they continue their routine, especially in extended families. Hence, men are gradually consumed to the tasks that others think are set out for them like going to office or business and not getting engaged in kitchen work.

It becomes a serious problem when this attitude is stretched out into a kind of boss and subordinate relationship. He who works outside the kitchen is the boss and she who works inside the kitchen is subordinate!

This is not but just one dimension of male dominance of society. These dimensions were brought out during a bicycle rally of women on their Day in Islamabad. All the riders were wearing helmets and were in sports gear. This rally was more disciplined than those that were held in other cities.

The speeches that were made at the end of the rally in front of National Press Club (NBP) were very informative, some of them were substantiated with relevant data. The irony is that it all got less mention in media but the placards that women marchers put up were circulated widely.

Why is it so? Because of news values. Controversy is one of the key news values. The banners, placards and other communication stuff that women put up in their rallies have been taken for fodder by media to live on for weeks.

In mainstream media, some limits are enforced to keep the debate going in a balanced manner, which is why all the stuff was filtered there. But the social media offers wide range of communication, which is why it all went there as it is. Due to some groups, either in favour of women marchers or against them, this activity generated a chained effect.

Looking at the whole activity, a media observer can easily find that the placards carried small bits of messages strictly in line with news values. Asked why so much hunger for limelight, some of the proponents and participants of the march told me that it was very important for them to attract media attention so that their message goes to top of the line.

Now the armies in favour and against this activity are face to face on social media in a battle that has gone bitchy and brazen. Organisers of the women’s march must have known this outcome at the time of planning. Now that they have achieved this goal, they need to review news values and revisit the path that carries a message to top of the line.

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Karachi minus plus

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Islamabad minus plus

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