“I wish I could take my daughter and run away from this country,” said the woman. “But my dear, every situation, every place has its own set of 84 problems. Only the nature of problems are different.” said the wise old man. Such words of wisdom and depth left her speechless, albeit for a minute. She mumbled, “Well, then I want to choose a place where ogling men are not one of its 84 problems.”
That woman is me – an educated, ordinary looking, 34-year-old single mother living independently in the beautiful and modern city of Islamabad in Pakistan. The city is accustomed to seeing modern women around. Accustomed to seeing, yet obsessively compelled to see – with its blatant and vulgar eyes. It takes an eternity to reach your destination from where you’ve parked your car. You are aware of men staring at you until you disappear from their sight. Sometimes I stare back at them in anger, yet they don’t flinch. At other times I try to ignore them, a task I haven’t still mastered.
There is this school of thought that if women are not properly covered, they shall be stared at as they are inviting men to look at them. As usual, I didn’t agree. But for my own satisfaction, I went to a market where there are a lot of people walking on the streets. I sat in my car to observe and witness. There was a tea cafe with mostly male customers. There were men with long beards among others. After sitting and observing for a while, I noticed two women clad in black burqas walking past them. I observed the men. As expected, almost all men sitting at that tea shop turned back and stared…stared until every hint of a curve and each illusion of moving flesh was gluttonously consumed. Myth busted!
The irony is, when it comes to this issue, there is no demarcation of educated or uneducated, old or young. They are almost all the same. You wonder where this society went wrong in its upbringing to have such obnoxious men. I blame sexual suppression as the cause of this menace. Under the disguise of “respect for women” and “sexuality is shame,” somewhere our men turned into sexual predators. Their desires and curiosities remained unexplored and they simply assumed it was their right to undress every woman with their eyes. After all, it is not a sin in any holy book.
As little boys, when they touched themselves in the privacy of their homes, their mothers would slap them and say “shame, shame.” Is it that forced shame that makes them so shameless when they stare at women?
So yes, I am in search of another set of 84 problems now.
Author: Soofia Says
Editor: Manasi Gopalakrishnan
Date21.08.2013 | 12:24