With the Aurat March in sight, the message it symbolises is hard to grasp in our social setting, and its acceptance would remain scant for the time being. For anyone who has read history critically, the reason for this reluctance and hostility towards Aurat March is rather straightforward. The freedom of women, being a concomitant of the progressive process, rattles the conservative society. The demons of conservatism exist in a vacuum and wish to be empty of history or the past and desire to maintain the status quo, a reactionary position against everything, repudiating any change, which undercut their power.
Every pushback against transformation is garbed in distinctive veils, whether it being immoral or unnatural. These factious and irrational, dare I say, arguments by the exploiter( in this case, men) is a natural reaction that signifies that the cause has hammered home and now terrifies the power. Seeing the mythological power structure, which is the basis of their existence, crumbling under the weight of change, the patriarchs feel disoriented and lost. They experience a loss of identity so a knee-jerk response would be denial and defamation and, in an extreme case, a resort to hopeless counterforce.
From the suffrage movement to waves of feminism, men have tried everything within their strength to break the spirit. But still, the oppressor lost, while the forces of resistance won a revolutionary feat. Because modernisation has its own way of getting things done, it washes away the speculative gazes and voices which come in its way, and, subsequently, the old ideals would adjust with the new rising world. These incredible women who initiated the aforementioned movements woke to their oppression and unjust treatment by taking to their respective homeland’s streets, demanding an equitable society. By asking uncomfortable questions, challenging gendered roles and exposing internalised misogyny women snatched from the tight grips of patriarchy the glorious rights which they had been stripped of from. At first sight, movements to bring social change do not seem to be decisive, but these social struggles bring a tectonic shift in society’s ideals as time goes by.
In Pakistan, we have a whole history of radical resistance by women. During the military dictatorship of Zia-ul-Haq on February 12, 1983, women poured onto the streets and demonstrated for their rights, and in return, were confronted with sheer monstrosity. These women came out to fight back the highly and direly discriminatory laws against them.
The women’s action forum was the force behind that rally. The display of cowardice on the part of the authorities had set a precedent since then, particularly for women, to raise their voices for their rights and conquer the mighty power which desired to constraint them to their homes. The struggle also outlined our society’s murky reality that how the power corridors tremble even with the slightest idea of women demanding their basic rights, much less an equal footing.
The Aurat March is a step towards modernity. And Modernity is hard to acquire. Europe and America’s muddle through wars, deadly plagues and gruesome uprooting to clench modernization. There were blood-sheds, persecutions and all kinds of cruelty. The values which ensued from this period of turmoil were toleration, universal human rights, freedom and breakage of subjugation to hierarchies that were falsely claimed to be divinely legitimised. The dominance of men in all realms of life was one of them. Therefore, the perturbation of men owing to the Aurat March is quite comprehensible. Because it enforces the patriarchal mindset to unwillingly let go of the authority which comes with its luxurious trappings thereby making such marches troublesome, to say the least, for its opponents.
Human Civilization marked the withdrawal of intrinsic, exploitative impulses. The impulse to control, decimate and subdue. While the blandishments of getting served up freshly cooked food like an emperor, having a slave at one’s disposal and the authority to exert over someone’s life, even to govern the dressing of women has their roots in the dark ages For the dark minds, these marks of uncivilized times transcend the delights of having an equal society, dividing the burden of an already burdensome life, relinquishing one’s authority and bestowing equal opportunities.
That is why those elements whom this system of exploitation serves in the best possible way would go to great lengths to safeguard its precious privileges. Hence, open yourself for anything, new slurs, more rubbish, new lows, for modernity is hard to acquire.
This article was written by Hamza Wyne. To write for The Students Herald contact: firstname.lastname@example.org