WATCH – Sarwat Gilani and Mira Sethi shed light on negative connotations for 'feminism' in Pakistan
Acknowledged and lauded for her role in bold, unabashedly real and prominent South Asian web series Churails, Sarwat Gilani's confession that she isn’t a feminist herself; comes as a shock.
Churails was a feminist's dream, pressing on important issues such as child abuse, forced marriages, deplorable labour conditions, the domination of race and class-leading to suicide and crime.
Discussing the negative connotations with the word 'feminism' in Pakistani society whilst speaking with Mira Sethi, Gilani revealed what she believes feminism means, and why she wouldn't want to align herself with the ideology.
"Toxic masculinity is the worst virus. I wouldn't say I am a feminist; I feel a man has his own place," the starlet asserted, prompting Sethi to interject, "But feminism doesn't say that a man doesn't have his own place." To this, Gilani replied, "Yes, but I won't keep chanting woman this or woman that. I feel there's a certain time where women do need men, no matter how independent. I am an independent woman but at the end of the day, I feel like I need somebody who will take care of me and who I can depend upon."
She added, "If we talk about feminism in Pakistan particularly, they think men have nothing to do with it. However, many men help take feminism forward because they support women, they back them, elevate and encourage their women to take a step forward."
For Gilani, feminism is a very “balanced” idea. "A lot of people think feminism is all about women but I feel it's not. It has to do with men as well. A man making alternations within himself can also be touted as feminism. We misunderstand the term. That's why I wouldn't call myself a feminist but someone who believes in equal rights," she stated. "But then, you are a feminist," Sethi pressed. "Am I?" Gilani questioned. "But I do understand why few men have issues with women. I try and understand men as well. Like I feel that the women are very emotional. So I have two minds with this statement. And since I’m an actor and an artist, I tend to put myself in everybody else's shoes, whether it's a man or a woman. That's where I feel I am conflicted."
Have asked many of my colleagues this question on camera.— Mira Sethi (@sethimirajee) January 27, 2021
A lot of it is fear: alienating their massive followings.
But some have genuinely - sadly - internalised the negative connotations attached to it.
Urwa + Ayesha O + OKB were v compelling in their defense of it. 💜 https://t.co/H2CMGRgjT4
Mira Sethi has been very vocal about her stance on feminism. Explains why actors are 'afraid' of being called feminists, Sethi concurred, "You know, if you don't have a permanent job and you are working as a freelancer, you can't file anything under workplace harassment laws," Gilani replied to her. "So, unless we know how we can protect ourselves, people will keep on benefitting from us. We are the victims of the system. We just need to be aware. Everything is available on Google."
Internalised misogyny and lack of literacy are some harsh societal realities of Pakistan that require immediate attention.
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