By Anjum Altaf
Veena Malik has provided Indians and Pakistanis something to talk about – to, at, and across each other. There is much that can be ignored but a few strands strike me as promising and worth pursuing.
Most of the outpouring, at least on the blogs, is a voicing of individual personal opinions for and against Ms. Malik’s act. That, to me at least, is the least interesting aspect of the fallout. Why should my personal opinion carry significance for anyone besides myself? If the objective were to run an opinion poll, people could vote yes or no anonymously and be done with it.
It would be different if the person offering the opinion were a public figure. Take Imran Khan, for example: his opinion on the incident could provide a clue where he might lead the nation if given the opportunity.
By Urvashi Butalia
Imagine a large hall in a major city in Punjab. It’s packed with people, mostly women, from Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka. On the stage are two men, one a long-haired bearded, hairy-chested sardar, the other a clean shaven smooth-chested younger man. They’re engaged in a languorous, erotic, sometimes passionate, sometimes tender, rendering of the story of Heer Ranjha. In the background Madan Gopal’s wonderfully resonant voice sings the story. Tragedy hangs in the air, for most of the people in the hall are familiar with this beautiful story of star- crossed lovers, and after the initial hesitation at seeing two men, they now ‘believe’ that the bearded Navtej Johar is actually Heer, and the supple Anil is Ranjha. Such is the power of their dance.
We’re in Islamabad, attending a dance performance that marks the end of a day of conferencing, and of an award ceremony in the memory of a young woman, Meeto Bhasin Malik, whose untimely death remains one of the great losses of the women’s movement in India.
By Anjum Altaf
What can the affair of Dominique Strauss-Kahn tell us about stereotyping and our biases? I intend to present for discussion five biases pertaining to religion, nationality, gender, communalism and civilization.
By Anjum Altaf
Patriarchy is the name given to social arrangements that privilege men and subordinate women. The desired end for many is an egalitarian structure that does away with gender bias. There are some obvious and some not-so-obvious facets of patriarchy and its contestation. In this article I will explore some of these with reference to Pakistan. I hope readers from other countries in South Asia would add to the discussion with observations rooted in their own realities.
The most obvious point is that patriarchy is real. Its forms cover the entire range of gender relations. There are still places in Pakistan, I am told though I cannot vouch for it personally, where women are treated as property and bartered for various purposes.
Universal Patterns within Cultural Diversity: Patriarchy Makes Men Crazy and Stupid
By Robert Jensen
Robert Jensen is a journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin. In 2008 he taught a three-week course to a co-ed class at the International Islamic University in Islamabad.
Islamabad, Pakistan -- Some lessons learned while spending time in a different culture come from paying attention to the wide diversity in how we humans arrange ourselves socially. Equally crucial lessons come from seeing patterns in how people behave similarly in similar situations, even in very different cultural contexts.
This week in Pakistan, as I have been learning more about a very different culture than my own, I was reminded of one of those patterns: Patriarchy makes men crazy.