“Let’s unlearn patriarchy together” read one of the posters at the Aurat March 2019. It is being said that this year’s Aurat March was even bigger than last year in Karachi. Sadly, I missed the last year’s event, as I was at work and getting out was not easy. But this year, I decided to fight for our rights and leave the remaining work for my colleagues.
So, I went to work, edited some stuff, and headed to the Frere Hall where women, transgender, children, and men of different backgrounds, classes, ethnicities, professions, religions and races were present to make the day more meaningful. It was so heartwarming to see children dancing and holding placards and flags inscribed with feminist messages and slogans. I hope the boys grow up to be wonderful allies, and girls, really strong advocates of rights. Though, I did hear a kid whispering “go cook”, later I saw him dancing to Sanam Marvi’s Lal Meri. And I thought maybe, he will grow up in the right direction.
Everyone was singing and dancing and chanting slogans against the patriarchy that keeps millions of us from achieving what we truly can. Some charts and placards were brilliantly taking jibes at the hypocrisy of our system and deeply rooted patriarchy.
Like last year, the event itself did not attract as many people, as the sharing of the images did on social media. One of the cards that riled up mostly men, and some women too was “Mujhe kya maloom tumhara moza kahan hai?” Remember last year’s “Khud Khana Garam Karlo”, which later also inspired an Eid Day special drama “Khana Khud Garam Karlo”?
This year it was followed by “Khana khud garam karna seekh liya?”
In a country where women get killed for not preparing a good round roti, and where a little less or more salt in food allows a man to hit a woman till she turns black and blue, taking a stand for not being responsible for a grownup’s food, clothing, and other needs is a feminist stance.
There is a need to understand that women in many households do not have the agency to say no to anything, let alone telling a man that they don’t want to “serve them” any more. It takes courage to take any stand, no matter how small it appears to somebody else. I hope that women who are upset with the many slogans and placards that were carried at the Aurat March; dig up some reading material and make themselves learn. Maybe a much better approach will be to listen to the women who are silent, women who are making beds, washing laundry, cleaning homes, and doing everything that you are not doing yourself at home.
As one of the cards read, “When you count the women in your house, do you count the women who make your bed, are they marching with you?”
So, if you are a man, do both simultaneously. It will do you good too to get away from the toxicity of patriarchy, which includes the burden of being a sole breadwinner or fighter of a nonexistent honour.
“Agar Dopatta Itna Pasand Hai To Aankhon par Baandh Lo”, “Nazar teri gandi aur parda mein keroun”, “Apni Ana ko control karo, aurat ko nahi”, and “Arrange marches not marriages”!