I am woman, hear me roar

February 2, 2013

Introducing Pakistan Feminist Watch

I’ll be launching Pakistan Feminist Watch on 12th February, 2013 which is also women’s day in Pakistan. It is also the 30th anniversary of Women Action Forum’s epic rally in 1983.

Here is what Pakistan Feminist Watch is about and why many feminists feel it is necessary. Comments & feedback are welcome. However, as per my policy, I won’t be approving any hate speech or sexist & unsupportive comments. I will, instead, screen capture them and feature them with an analysis on Pakistan Feminist Watch.

About:

At Pakistan Feminist Watch, we wish to expose how we are all, collectively, part of a problem. We all make casual sexist statements, sometimes without even realising why they are problematic. By doing so, we strengthen patriarchal norms and allow them to flourish.

Most of us encourage and empower those who make sexist statements on social media by following them on twitter and facebook, which validates social acceptance on line. We turn a blind eye when it comes to influential people, especially men in power. We protect our own. We don’t speak up when sexist jokes are mass circulated for fear of being labelled “humourless”. We shut down and say nothing knowing we’ll be the ones who will be told off for not having a sense of humour.

The world tells us that we are supposed to sit back and take it. We should find being stereotyped and degraded funny. Indeed, some of us are now immune and hardly blink an eye when faced with sexist jokes or memes.

No more. At Pakistan Feminist Watch, we wish to expose why sexist humour and everyday sexism is problematic. We hope to show just how rampant it is in the Pakistani context and we wish to debate how we can address this problem effectively. We realise that is common in a patriarchal world but the repercussions of ignoring this issues for the future of feminism are too bleak to ignore.

Why launch Pakistan Feminist Watch?

  • Because enough is enough.
  • Because we are tired of this game.
  • Because we do not wish to live in a world where one has to become immune to heinous rape threats for expressing an opinion.
  • Because our bodies are not the issue – our argument is.
  • Because women don’t have it easy in a patriarchal world.
  • Because “humour” that degrades half of humanity is unacceptable.
  • Because trolling is distressing and must end.
  • Because men need to become aware of their male privilege.
  • Because the internet is the dark side of the dark side of humanity.
  • Because social media should not be a battlefield.

Policy on naming and shaming

At Pakistan Feminist Watch, we do not wish to name and shame individuals because we want to show how we are all part of this problem collectively. Naming and shaming deflects on individuals and diverts attention away from the issue: that this culture is allowed to flourish on line due to our collective apathy and participation in it.

We cannot deny that we all contribute not just through our silence, but often inadvertently because patriarchy in ingrained in all of us. We perpetuate it without meaning to. We don’t even realise just how responsible we are.

Repeat Offenders

We will be keeping track of repeat offender and will take action against them. This policy is currently a work in progress and will be updated when it is finalised.

Submission details

Email any complaints, stories of abuse, accounts of being trolled and screen captures of everyday sexism to pakfemwatch@gmail.com. We also welcome essays and opinion pieces with a theoretical feminist analysis of on line misogyny.

If you would like to share a story of on line abuse, but cannot or do not want to write it yourself, we can assign someone who will write your account for you. If you wish to remain anonymous, your identity will be protected.

Pakistan Feminist Watch is a not for profit blog run by volunteers. Email us if you’d like to volunteer or join our movement at pakfemwatch@gmail.com

7 Comments »

  1. Great Effort !

    Comment by Seema — February 4, 2013 @ 10:56 am | Reply

  2. I agree with you, but only partly. Maybe I am wrong in doing so but there is another kind of humor called dark humor. I don’t know how exactly to explain it. But it’s more like a satire. And I believe as a journalism student, you sure must be in touch with a little bit of Literature too. Satire is deliberately intended to, as you just mentioned, degrade half of the humanity. To make the society feel offended and ashmamed on purpose by ridiculing and mocking a short coming so that they at least realize and admit that there is a problem that needs to be taken care of. It’s more like a rude awakening, which sometimes is neccessary. And of course, recognizing the problem is the first step towards solving the problem, no? Like the satires written by Nadeem F. Paracha. I don’t know if it’s even related to the message you’re trying to convey here but do visit a page by the name of “Karway Laddu Comics” on Facebook.com. And let me know what you think of it. WARNING: Content highly vulgar and offensive.
    I follow you on twitter. My username @aerasipechasi

    Comment by aeraszaidi — March 17, 2013 @ 11:42 pm | Reply

    • I’m not a student, let alone a journalism student and am definitely in touch with a lot of literature. Quite sure I wouldn’t have been given any of my degrees had I not read all that was expected, which was a lot :)

      No, satire is NOT meant to degrade half of humanity, in this case women. Degrading ONLY women isn’t what makes good satire at all. That is a completely incorrect definition. It is meant to expose the absurd within us and it is definitely effective. I am personally a huge fan. Please do read up about this, not just on twitter but literary theory etc.

      There is a very big difference between satire and problematic jokes. Dark humour is also very different from the Karaway Laddu type aggressive and misogynistic humour (please do read Brecht to see how dark humour can be effective). Rape jokes, for example, are never funny EVEN if they make people laugh. Why? Because of the ethical aspect of it: rape is heinous crime and many women have either been victims of it or know someone who has been one. Whenever they hear this, their ordeal, which they mostly suffered silently is thrown in their face and reduced to a joke. I find that reprehensible personally. I didn’t when I was much younger.

      I sincerely hope you will read more and eventually understand this perspective. Or perhaps, if you’re a woman, you will come to this conclusion after enduring vicious patriarchal norms which will eventually either defeat you or make you fight back. Has happened to too many of us unfortunately.

      Comment by Nabiha Meher — March 21, 2013 @ 4:11 pm | Reply

      • I didn’t see any “Like” button over here so I guess i’ll just have to comment to let you know that I am thankful to you for enlightening the differences to me. I presumed you to be either a journalism student or to be working in the field of journalism. But anyway, thank you. And sure, I guess I still have a lot of Literature and Philosophy to explore. All the best of luck to you!

        Comment by aeraszaidi — March 21, 2013 @ 9:50 pm

      • And to you!

        Comment by Nabiha Meher — March 22, 2013 @ 10:47 pm

  3. I seriously agree with u about all of this, and that it is NOT a joke. I checked out all those rape threats and ‘jokes’ , etc and I was thinking, seriously? whats wrong with these people?
    I like the fact that you are participating in the Pakistan Feminism Watch and trying to hear other people out and all…it is nice that u r trying to help those people in some way or the other. Can you, like, tell me about one of the cases that you had to work on, maybe?

    Comment by sarawaseem2000 — April 6, 2013 @ 5:48 pm | Reply

    • Dear Sarah,

      Thank you for your comments and support. I’m actually the founder and co-editor of Pakistan Feminist Watch – not just a participant :)

      Although we are helping people deal with cyberbullying, threats etc, I cannot share too much. However, I will be giving details of what I can share in 2 articles which will be published soon. I’ll blog them here too.

      Comment by Nabiha Meher — April 10, 2013 @ 1:31 pm | Reply


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