I believe I am a modern day feminist. I believe in equality. I am just a woman with FREE thoughts, FREE mindset and I LOVE THE WAY I AM – Qandeel Baloch.
If you stand for equality, then you’re a feminist – Emma Watson.
These two quotes sound familiar in two aspects, both are being addressed by women who believe in feminism and both talks about equality. But are these quotes ACTUALLY similar? Do they convey a RIGHT and common message? Or do they differ? Yes. To me they differ. To understand this, we need to define or classify the term “FEMINIST”. Any person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of all genders regardless of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic class, religion, ability and sexual orientation is to be known as a feminist. Based on the definition of a MODERN DAY FEMINIST, Qandeel Baloch’s declaration of her being a FEMINIST doesn’t conform to the real meaning of “feminist”. Though she believed in equality, she was not portraying a TRUE image of what is known to be equal in a society. Every woman has the power to entice the world with her unique, creative and intellectual capabilities unlike Qandeel Baloch who was just spreading and practicing freedom on the basis of vulgarity!
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The notion of woman power further takes me to discuss the concept of women empowerment. An empowered woman is the one who remains bluntly committed to her GOALS. Empowered woman do not use body as her weapon for success, rather her mindset, her thinking, her determination and how she’s going to benefit society as a whole. Empowered women are meant to be role models for every generation especially youth and thus need to have a GOAL. If not modern day feminist, can Qandeel Baloch be considered as an emblem of WOMEN EMPOWERMENT or the one who is subjected to spread equality in society?
As per the true meaning of equality and women empowerment mentioned above, Qandeel Baloch simply cannot be considered as a pictogram of equality and empowerment. What she can be actually classified is as a representation of FREEDOM. Freedom in a sense that she was practicing what she wanted for herself i.e. freedom to expose herself on social media by means of nudity and vulgarity. Though vulgarity gains popularity much quickly but shamelessness isn’t woman empowerment, promising to strip dance is not women empowerment, seduction is not women empowerment! Rather, these acts iterate on ATTENTION SEEKING. In further support of my clause, I would like to relate to some of the very stirring Pakistani and international personalities who TRULY deserve the title of women empowerment. Be it social, economic, defense or politics, Pakistan encompasses several personalities who contributed and still are contributing to the nation in a positive way. FATIMA ALI JINNAH (Pakistani dental surgeon, biographer), BENAZIR BHUTTO (first female Prime Minister of Pakistan), HIRA RABANI(26th Foreign Minister of Pakistan from February 2011 until March 2013), SHERRY REHMAN (member of the Senate of Pakistan), MUNEEBA MAZARI (Pakistani artist, writer and motivational speaker and the National Ambassador for UN Women Pakistan), SHARMEEN OBAID CHINOY (filmmaker), AYESHA FAROOQ (female Pakistani fighter pilot), FIZA FARHAN (Global Development Advisor) all of these inspirational Pakistani personalities contributed positively in different fields. Even if we consider other personalities like, MICHELLE OBAMA, EMMA WATSON, ANGELINA JOLIE, MOTHER TERESA, we can see that they show and spread positivity in a society. So, what can be gauged from above mentioned examples? It can be assessed that all of these women had/have an ambition, a goal, determination,
commitment, intellectual capability, a strong social and moral character and power to change the world with their tongue. These personalities are not detrimental for any generation to follow. Keeping all these traits and personalities in mind, I question on what was Qandeel Baloch doing. Did she encompass any of the above mentioned qualities? No. Qandeel Baloch was simply using her body as a strong measure or indicator of equality, women empowerment and freedom. Sexuality shouldn’t be what represents women empowerment. Women empowerment should be about the equal rights of women.
To some extent even if we agree on the fact that okay she was living her life according to her own way, she did whatever she wanted, she was bold enough, she was enjoying her very own PERSONAL life, she loved herself deeply but that doesn’t mean she gets the title of being empowered. If you love yourself deeply, you respect yourself, you stay true to your principals and keep your personal life PERSONAL!
This strong opposing view in regard to the STATUS given to Qandeel Baloch is not only my own personal argument and opinion, rather the majority agrees on what I support. As an evidence for this, I conducted set of secondary and primary research, analysis of which will prove that my argument is right. Starting from the primary research, I started from the basic one i.e. poling. I set up a pole and questioned general public inclusive of youth most importantly that what to do you consider Qandeel Baloch as? Or do you consider her to be an emblem of women empowerment or freedom? Majority supported the latter, 59% considered her a symbol of freedom, 10% denied for women empowerment and 8% were bewildered. After observing this percentage variation, I increased the option to “neither of two” intentionally just to see that now how people will response. I was astounded to see that the people who actually supported the view of “neither of two” option outweighed when compared with an option of “women empowerment”. 23% said she was nothing. Then I further interviewed THOSE SPECIFIC respondents who supported “neither of two” option to see what’s their perspective then. When interviewed, majority said that she was just trying to “fit in” the showbiz by using her body as an image of vulgarity. Others said that she was neither a freedom fighter nor being empowered but she was more of an attention seeker who ran from away from family pressures and tried her luck in the world of social media which EVENTUALLY gave her all the fame and attention she wished for.
Moving on to my most important primary research, I circulated a questionnaire amongst people belonging to various age groups in which I asked some basic thirteen questions on the matter of Qandeel Baloch. In the beginning of my questionnaire, I tried to find out my target audience which was a composition of youth and adults. 67% were mainly belonging to age bracket of 25-30 and 33% belonged to 15-20 age category. Also, I asked people whether they’re socially active on issues like these, majority gave a favorable response i.e. 89% said the follow up issues that are being highlighted on social media. After identifying my target audience, I questioned people as to what is an empowered woman in your opinion. Bulk of respondents i.e. about 70% said that an empowered woman is a goal oriented person. Others supported the statement that “an empowered woman’s biggest asset is not just a pretty smile, her cooking skills, or how many likes she has on social media”. In linkage to this question, I further asked that whether PROMISCUITY is synonymous with empowerment? Majority responded in opposition to this question, 67% said no. What I perceived from these responses was that it’s not just ME who knows and objectify as to what are the basic role or aims of women who are being empowered but majority knows how to differentiate traits of being empowered and vulgarity. In regard to this, few respondents said that empowered women are meant to be role models for youth and hence need to have goals, they should exhibit commitment and determination NOT their body parts. Another respondent said that an empowered woman knows what she wants to achieve in her life. She’s not intimidated by a man’s success. Her body is not her weapon for success. I further moved on asking what majority view Qandeel Baloch as, as mentioned previously, majority viewed her as “ATTENTION SEEKER”. Adding to this, I asked my respondents as to what they think regarding the view of those who actually entitles her with women empowerment. Majority said that these people who consider her to be empowered suffers from lack of awareness regarding such issues, others said that people are confused and need some serious help otherwise people like Qandeel Baloch wouldn’t have had become famous in first place. Also stated, women empowerment is more about prolonging and encouraging womanhood for better, Qandeel was just practicing freedom. Last but not the least, few respondents said that she was an attention seeker who gained fame due to her expression of desires to celebrities like Imran khan and Shahid Afridi. She cannot be a symbol of women empowerment since she is not the ideal person who sets a good example for the other girls of the society. I also reflected upon the killing of Qandeel Baloch by asking that whether her killing shall be labeled as HONOUR killing or not? Majority said that yes it was an act of Honor killing. Before the opposition questions the response of people, I would like to brief you on basic definition of HONOUR KILLING. Honor killing is the act of killing a family member who brings dishonor or disrespect to family. In my respondents’ opinion that’s exactly what Qandeel Baloch did, thus labeled her killing labeled as honorable. Many people think that the so called honor killing provoked public outcry and said that killing of those who are enjoying their own life, their own freedom cannot be considered as HONOUR killing! On this counter argument I would say that enjoying FREEDOM and bringing DISHONOUR to family are two HUGE DIFFERENT scenarios of a picture and cannot be compared. There are MANY other ways to enjoy freedom which will not bring dishonour to families in regard to society of Pakistan. Why vulgarity? Why nudity? Boldness can also be shown in other aspects too. Boldness can be personified by the words you speak, the feelings you express, the determination you show to accomplish something! Then why ONLY promiscuity? Had it been some other reason or goal or determination of Qandeel Baloch in getting fame, she would have surely survived. Last but not the least, on average, people do like strong independent women and they want women to be stout and liberated but surely by OTHER means and in other respectable professions unlike the path that was being followed by Qandeel Baloch.
Moving on to my SECONDARY research, I read four articles which gave mixture of favorable and unfavorable views on what I am currently supporting. The very first article that portrayed a counter argument for what I support states a bold sentence by SABA QAMAR – Pakistani Actress: I am going to playing Qandeel Baloch in a biopic. This article was published on MAY 10, 2017 by Maliha Rehman, who is a senior fashion writer. The drama serial is a venture by Paragon Production, produced by Nina Kashif, General Manager of Urdu1, named as BAGHI in which the social issue of honor killing will be tackled. “Qandeel represented the double standards that exist in our society. She had the courage to expose how two-faced people could be.” Says Saba Qamar. Basically, Saba Qamar spoke of the reasons which lead Qandeel Baloch to enter in this vicious trap. She said that Qandeel was an uneducated woman who went from place to place to find work for herself, but wherever she used to go, she was misused and rejected, the main evidence for this is her rejection from Pakistan Idol. Also, she said that there were
family pressures and social barriers on Qandeel Baloch. When all other doors got closed, she chose to make videos on internet to earn a living for herself and her family. The writer of this drama serial stated that the drama serial will hit some really hard home-truths. In regard to this SABA QAMAR said “Let them follow. Everyone has to die someday. I’d rather die after doing something worthwhile.” So now it is awaited to see how people will respond to this drama seriel. In my viewpoint, SABA QAMAR will only exceed in solving this mystery only if she will be able to demonstrate HOW DIFFERENT ARE ASPECTS like FREEDOM, EARNING A LIVING BY ANY MEANS and HONOR KILLING. The second article I read questions whether MEDIA killed Qandeel Baloch or not. This article was published on 7th August 2016 by Shahrezad Samiuddin who looked upon the roles of media and ethics in killing of Qandeel Baloch and the reaction to those women who disobey norms. This article mainly accused the posting of Qandeel Baloch’s vulgar videos, her selfies with Molana sahib, and her video regarding the promise to do striptease for Pakistan on winning against Indian cricket team as the social media indicators which triggered her brother to kill her. Also, this article questioned that can Qandeels’ death will change anything? My opinion on this article would be that the world of social media is very resilient and it involves risk, it can either make a person or it can break the person, the latter happened in case of Qandeel Baloch. The third article I included in my secondary research was published by Hamna Zubair on 16th July 2016, titled as: QANDEEL BALOCH IS DEAD BECAUSE WE HATE WOMEN WHO DON’T CONFORM TO SOCIETIAL NORMS. According to this article, Qandeel was a young woman who clearly didn’t abide by the unspoken rule that in Pakistan i.e. your private self and your public self ought to remain distinct from each other. She blurred that line. Through her photos and videos, she invited us into her bedroom, her bed. She directly addressed the camera and her audience, asking them what they wanted next. From the comments that appeared under her posts, few young men wanted to be with her; other wanted to quench her out. Young women were disturbed by her immodesty. i.e. she was not conforming to social norms. In the end the writer stated that Qandeel was bewildered as to what she wanted for herself? What she wanted to represent? If she hadn’t been killed for honor, she would’ve gone very far. I agree to what the writer said throughout this article but the last statement startled me. “She would’ve gone very far” In what aspect? By “GONE VERY FAR” one just cannot look towards optimistic future! Being part of a Pakistani society, one can also expect that if she had NOT been killed, she would have GONE VERY FAR by spreading vulgarity in our society. Thus in my opinion this “GONE VERY FAR” is a very vague statement and in Qandeel Baloch’s case further justification regarding this statement is surely required!
The last article I researched upon was published on 17th July 2016 Alia Chughtai, titled as: Anger after honour killing of Qandeel Baloch. A brief summary of this article is based on two aspects; firstly, honor killings are stated as epidemic. Sharmeen Obaid was shaken by such act and added that anti-honor killing bill should be passed. Secondly, Qandeel was more than Kim Kardashian, she was from a poor background and she did all on her own, went against all norms of society and used her personal life as her means of earning. I would say that she could have earned a living by RESPECTIBLE means and BY keeping her personal life PERSONAL. This analysis showed that my primary research mainly supported my argument and the secondary research mainly focused towards the counter argument.
This article is based on logical appeal which proved how Qandeel Baloch is an emblem of freedom and not empowerment. Freedom is not empowerment! Anybody can grab a gun and be empowered BUT FEW can ACTUALLY hold the STATUS of being EMPOWERED. The world has been drowned into a deep ocean of incognizance, if we need to come out of it; we need to educate people more on aspects like tolerance, women empowerment, freedom, societal norms etc.