I recently came across the concept of “dog whistle politics” whilst watching a riveting episode of the political drama, Scandal. Upon further deliberation, I realised that this phenomenon is all too common in our society.
Dog whistle politics refers to a brand of communication where people sugar-coat their words to insult others in such a way that when those words are said, on social media or otherwise, only the person towards whom the words are directed can feel the attack.
It’s ingenious, really, and this idea has been part of Pakistan’s family lives since time immemorial.
For example, the phrase, “Mardon ka tou kaam hi bahir rehna hai” (all men do is stay out of the house) might sound harmless but it actually stigmatises men as being unfaithful and adulterous. Similarly, “MashaAllah, job bhi karti hai aur apna kharcha bhi khud uthati hai” (she works and pays for her own expenses) might sound like a genuine praise but it actually points out that she is able to take care of herself, despite being a woman.
Do you see the sexism there, so very carefully placed?
On a similar note, HuffPost Women recently uploaded a video about sexism against women captioned “Watch 80 years of subtle sexism in under two minutes”. While I love the concept of the video and I feel that such projects should be undertaken more vigorously, I am left with a sense of loss as well.
Because I know that such a video might never be made from a man’s perspective.
Now, before people take out their pitch forks to burn me at the stakes, I would like to point out that I am a staunch supporter of feminism and women’s rights. I believe men and women are equal and, having worked with women professionally for a long time, I know that they are as good, if not better, than their male counterparts.
However, sexism is a double-edged sword, which cuts from both sides. Consider the following statements for example;
“Larkiyon ki tarha sharmao mut.” (Don’t blush like a girl.)
“Haathon mein churiyan pehni hain?” (Are you wearing bangles on your wrists?)
“Sub mard aik jaisay hotay hain.” (All men are the same.)
“Auraton kay saath free honay ka bara shoq hai?” (Do you love to get flirtatious with women?)
While I understand that there is a derogatory tone embedded in these statements against women, my point is that men face sexism as well, probably as brutally as women. However, with men, the sexism is more sugar-coated than with women – following dog whistle politics in essence.
Of course, some comments are more straightforward than others. For example:
“You won’t get it.”
“Yeah, you don’t know how it feels.”
“You only think from one part of your body, don’t you?”
“Guys only think about one thing, don’t they?”
These are scathing as well as hurtful sentiments, but many women say these things to men without any consideration. The whole point of equality is that if it’s wrong for me, it’s wrong for you too. We need to walk the walk if we wish to live in a sexism-free world.
The aforementioned are only some of the many sexist comments a man has to endure everyday while living in 21st Century Pakistan. Sexism is inherent in our people and, naturally, it finds a cosy place in our hearts as well as our drawing room conversations. But just because it’s a norm, that doesn’t make it right. Conventionality is not morality and we, as conscious human beings, need to understand that.
It is time for us to stand against sexism, irrespective of whom it is addressing.
from The Express Tribune Blog http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/30805/would-this-video-ever-be-made-from-a-mans-perspective/