Monday, October 8, 2012

Sexualization of Young Women, Part 2: Dil Raj, Pashtun women, and Universal Gender-Related Double Standards

I promised I'd continue my discussion on the sexualization of (young) women, which I started here, defining the term "sexualization" or to "sexualize" someone and what is wrong with it.

Now, understand that I do not believe this whole case of sexualizing young women is unique to Pashtuns.  (For some reason, people think that this must always be pointed out, or else, you're implying that this is only among Pashtuns. What the qrratu. Obviously, admitting that we're not alone in such backwardness solves the problem.) There is an immense body of literature on how women in virtually all cultures are sexualized and objectified, and, as I mentioned in my last post on this issue, the documentary Misrepresentation is an excellent example of this. But I choose to focus on Pashtun celebrities for now for several reasons, among which are: 1) we claim to be all decent and honorable, very respectful to women, whether they're our immediate family members or not, 2) we will kill (I really mean kill... well, okay, at least physically fight) anyone who dares to look at or touch our sisters, wives, mothers, daughters, and other women we respect) but we have nooo problem staring at and disrespecting other people's women, thanks to our practices of hypocrisy and double standards. Kind of like how we love staring at our female singers and dancers and all but God forbid we let our own female family members become like them! To read more about our double standards and how much "respect" we have for women, please click here. There, I make a case and then build it by giving some personal and other examples. Now, I suggest you not bother ranting to me about how we loooove and respect ALL women but what can we do if a woman makes herself a public figure. Shame on you if you think that way. I don't know what God was thinking when He blew breath in you and had your poor mother bear the pain and burden of carrying you for some 9 months and then giving you birth on top of that. May she be rewarded for her troubles, what with what a waste you turn out to be and all.

Anyway, let me get to my post now.

Dil Raj is a little--and I mean little! What, maybe 10 years old? At least she looks that young--Pashtun singer who sings some songs I'm no fan of. I'd link y'all to her songs, but they're not a pretty sight because, damnit, they sexuualize her too much! Badness gracious, all that make-up, the way she's dressed! Fortunately, her voice seems natural; I'd cry if that, too, were sexualized. Importantly, though, to be fair, I have to point out that make-up doesn't hold the same meaning in South Asian and other non-Western cultures as it does in much of the West. For example, we (Pashtuns, Pakistanis, South Asians), don't mind and rightfully see nothing wrong with putting lipstick or other make-up on our daughters' or other little girls' faces; it is perfectly acceptable to dress them up, beautify them, apply make-up on their faces, especially during weddings and other major celebrations. In the West, such as America, however, it seems taboo for little girls, say pre-pubescent and younger, to wear make-up. It's interesting that I *think* the idea is to avoid sexualizing them, yet ... yet, no one seems to have an issue with having these same little girls wear a two-piece swimsuit that cover their flat chests! This issue, I have addressed here. So I'm not suggesting one understanding of sexuality is necessarily better or worse than another, but I do find it intriguing and worthy of public discussion because these practices eventually lead to double standards, which I discuss below. But to get back to the point of Dil Raj and her being sexualized: basically, I think it's the meaning and intention behind her sexualization that is really dangerous, considering her age and the fact that she is a public figure, enjoyed primarily *by* (Pukhtun) men who listen to her and watch her performances.

It's also sickening what people (definitely Pashtun, or at least Pakistani/South Asian because their queries are often in Pashto or are looking for Pashtun women) type to get to my blog: hot Pashtun girls, pictures of sexy Pashtun girls, hot Ghazala Javed, ... the list doesn't get cleaner. I tested this with some popular Pashtun sites/blogs that have the Live Feedjit feature, which shows you who's coming to the website when, from where, and what they typed in Google/etc. to get to that site. This one blog/website came up ... ugh, all it had was pictures of female Pashtun celebrities and all it did was sexualize them. (Seriously, all this male blogger has to do is to imagine someone doing the same thing to his mother's, sister's, wife's, or daughter's pictures to understand what is wrong with his action! But nooo - obviously, these women don't mind being sexualized because they're "public figures" anyway!)

This whole issue of the sexualization of women, and especially of Pashtun women, brings me to want to talk about gender-related double standards, to which no society is immune. I believe that double standards, as a significant part of all cultures and societies, are far more nuanced than to be dismissed as mere double standards, or to portray them as the stupidity or backwardness of a culture and people. To start off with, we should be asking why they exist in the first place. Could our societies do without them? How different would things be? Second, the people who promote and maintain these double standards - why do they do it, how do they justify their double standards, and who are these people, anyway? Third, why have double standards survived for so long in virtually all societies? Why do societies generally find it acceptable for a man to do/think something but not for a woman to do/think the exact same thing?

So, why is it okay for these Pashtun men (and perhaps women, too?) to play around with Pashtun women's photos, regardless of their status--whether they are singers or just "ordinary" girls--when they would kill anyone who does the same to their sisters'/daughters'/wives'/mother's pictures? What makes it okay for them to spread these women's/girls' pictures all over the net and to even put these women's pictures as their own display pictures on Facebook and other social network? (hah - I like to comment on them, saying something silly like, "Awww, what a beautiful girl! :) She must be your sister." And most of them erupt at the comment.... but no one gets the point of the comment, damnit.) So, tell me, boys - what's wrong with my pretending that I think that the girl/woman who is in YOUR display picture on FB/etc must be your sister or wife? Why does it offend you? I mean, why would you publicly display the pictures of another human being--yes, INCLUDING your sister or wife or anyone else--but definitely a woman completely unrelated to you? I display pictures of Kashmala, my little niece, and my nephews, and I personally don't have an issue with putting up pictures of my family members, so long as they are comfortable with the idea, but I cannot fathom why you'd put up pictures of people unrelated to you whose consent you don't have to be doing such thing in the first place.

Dear law: you need to hurry up and catch up with Pashtuns who steal women's pictures and spread them around the net without the women's consent or even knowledge.


~ qrratu

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