Some roll their eyes while others smirk. Not just any smirk but the mocking, “I knew she was going to go there”, kind. Perhaps exhausted to its full capacity, the “issue” of equality among sexes or a literary riot against the patriarchy is an ever-present theme within the West and a few upper middle class “liberals” for the past few decades. However, with social media taking on immense popularity, there is a new trend circling around ridiculing ‘feminist’ beliefs in Pakistan. The crux of the matter revolves around the power of social media and the responsibility that each trend on twitter entails, especially with regards to important matters such as the rights of women.
There is a predominant trend in the Pakistani society to be right or wrong and everyone has his or her own definitions of those categories. Due to this rigidity or, simply speaking, lack of tolerance it is common to see terms such as “liberal” and “feminism” thrown around out of context, completely devoid of their meaning. It is an absolutely disastrous situation when people do not mean what they say. Take Express Tribune blogs or Mangobaaz articles as examples. Their Facebook comments are always predictable in the sense that a story on rape will have a plethora of comments talking about how the “media” shows the negative side of Pakistan, or comments comparing Pakistan to India. Similarly, Mangobaaz is known to talk about empowerment in a rather BuzzFeed manner and it is common to find local Facebook users talking about how “liberal” they are etc. Pardon my excessive use of inverted commas, but I find it blasphemous to throw around words and phrases without realizing the social responsibility one has while writing on any social media platform.
Coming back to the topic of discussion, there have been various trends including #NotAllMen and various memes circulating. While some do present a serious critique of feminism, most are baseless and weak arguments centered on mocking women. A few in particular that caught my eye revolved around how feminists should invite female butchers or ask for a female electricians. Especially when popular pages share these memes, it makes the admin or the person behind it responsible. Each favourite and each like or share has much more weightage than a simple click.
There are women who are beaten up, forced into marriage, raped, psychologically abused on a daily basis. It is heartbreaking to see educated families taking a part in something as menial as blaming the women for divorce. With such monstrosities happening all around us, it is shameful to see people playing a part in such gimmicks.
In a country like Pakistan, where access to Facebook is being subsidized and cell phones are available at cheap rates, the power of social media is more than what is it estimated to be. Freedom of speech is not only a right, it entails a lot of responsibility. With the current entertainment status of the American presidential elections, there has been an increase in unethical tweeting. However, if Trump is doing it then why not us? In fact it is quite ironic how the local social media users condemn him for his views but aren’t much different in articulating their point of views either.
Conclusively, we as social media users have a responsibility to show the “positive side of Pakistan” because of such platforms. This two-sided approach means appreciating local music such as Coke Studio and not devaluing the music because of someone’s look or the clothes they wear. It means to promote cricket, the local film industry, arts and culture in general. It is imperative that we, not only as a nation, but also as individuals, try to reduce the amount of critique we bestow upon everyone who actually makes an effort.