What it is to be a woman is not going to require a single defined answer. It is a very deep and broad question including the views of different people living in different societies around the world. To understand what it is to be a woman, we need to consider the biological features and traits firstly which include the chromosomes i.e. the XX chromosomes that differentiates them from being a man or the other genders. Along with the chromosomes the sex organs, hormones and other physical features that contribute in making up the physical appearance of a woman. On the other hand the environment and society play a vital role in determining what it is to be a woman. And the role of the society in defining a woman is so powerful that the women becomes what the society chooses for her to become even if they are not willing to adopt the roles they are associated with. Although there are different countries and societies with different cultures so to identify the particular society and role of woman in it, we can divide them into patriarchal and matriarchal society to know how women are being defined in these societies. This paper will discuss what it is to be a woman in a patriarchal society like Pakistan, what it is to be a women in my family and comparison of women of my country with the women in the west.
In Pakistan being a woman means to be a burden on the family. It can be a generalization for all of the families in Pakistan and it might not true for some educated families but generally women are considered as burdens on their families. The rights of women are being violated even before the birth of a girl when the mothers are forced for abortion because of having girls. Those who survive are the properties of their father, brother or relatives because they are the ones who decide everything for a woman as if her emotions are being given to them and they can feel what she needs or want. To be a woman in Pakistan means being a puppet of the family members, especially of the father and brothers. Women are accountable for everything in front of their family members and relatives unlike men. They are kept under strict restrictions for communication with their male fellows or even male cousins. Most of the fathers and brothers would keep a strict eye on her activities such as her mobile phone, friends and even schools, colleges and universities. After getting married women in Pakistan becomes a puppet of not only her husband but his family members as well. Women are being accepted by their in-laws after receiving dowry of their demand. Her in-laws are the ones who will decide whether she can apply for a job or not even about her choice of having a baby is not her own. And she has to live according to their decisions to save her marriage otherwise a divorced woman will be treated no less than a culprit.
Pakistani society is a patriarchal society where men are the decision makers and women are subordinated to men. Being a woman in a Pakistani society means they have to be obedient and faithful to their father, brothers and husbands. If any woman goes against the laws and traditions set by the male members of her family or society she has to face the consequences in the form of an acid attacks, honor killing, domestic abuse, rape or any other punishment to shatter her life. One of the examples of a girl in my country would reveal how women are being treated !
Researched story ( 28, April, 2016)
A Pakistani man who used a kitchen knife to murder his 16 years old sister. he flew into a rage after catching her using a mobile phone, the latest “honour killing” in the deeply patriarchal country.Hayat Khan, aged around 20, attacked his sixteen-year-old sister Sumaira at their home in the low-income Orangi Town neighbourhood of Karachi on Wednesday,He later threw her out of the house where she lay on the steps as neighbours gathered to help. A woman using a mobile phone, in particular to speak to a male non-relative, is seen as highly taboo. From his jail cell, Hayat said: “She was talking to someone at the entrance of the house, I asked her who was there and she replied “I am free to talk to anyone.”I just wanted to scare her off with the knife but it hurt her fatally, “She was taken by car to a private hospital but she died before she arrived.”There are several other stories like Sumaira’s story in Karachi Pakistan “even worse than hers”. To be a woman in Pakistani patriarchal society is to live according to the rules and regulations men created for them. Although there are some societies in Pakistan where women enjoy freedom and are treated equally as men but in most part of the country the men are always dominant over women. She is not treated as an individual with her own feelings by her family, they never trusted a women in their life actually.
My family also lives in a patriarchal society in the northern part of Pakistan in a village called Hunza. To be a woman in Hunza is to be sincere, obedient and faithful to her family and her society. Women in Hunza have to be an all-rounder in a way that she is supposed to be an expert in the household works, in the farms and also in her studies. Even after acquiring education and studying at renowned institutions they are supposed to be an expert at household work as well. Moreover men are yet dominant over women in Hunza in different ways whether it is about women’s marriages or education, men are always the decision makers. There are no strict restrictions on the socialization of women but there are some serious reservations about the marriage of girls in Hunza. To be a woman in Hunza means to marry a guy of their own sect no matter how much they love any other guy from another sect. No matter how bad is the guy that her family members decided for her as compared to the guy she loves. She has to scarify her love and desires for her family and community.
To be a woman in Hunza means never going against your family’s decisions and accept their decision as her fate like my mother did. My mother was being married to my father when she was only fifteen years old and she had to move to Hunza, a village from a city she lived in before. My mother wanted to complete her studies and get a job but my grandparents wanted her to have a child and do the household work of the joint family they were living with. My mother didn’t quit her education but studied till she passed her thirteen grade in an arts college. Her in-laws and my father were against her education and when my elder sister have born she had to quit her education because my father would have divorced her because of my grandparents if she would have continued her education. She stayed home and worked really hard in the farms, home and looking after me. She got a job in a school as a teacher but after few years she was forced to leave her job as well. I remember watching her crying and complaining to my grandparents about her sufferings but all she had to hear was it is your fate and you have to bear everything to save your marriage and for your children. That’s how she sacrificed her dreams for her family and children.
To be a woman in Hunza means giving all your time and energy to their family and their assets, no matter if you are interested in something else or you feel tired or sick, you have to be consistent in serving your family.