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The Pity State of Gender War on Facebook

On looking through the not-so-fancy history of our country from the pre-partition idealism of two
nations to the four uncertain eras of martial laws and from the east-west state conflict to the war
against terrorism, one can observe – effortlessly – that we, as a nation, have always lived in a constant
state of conflicts of extremities. Whether it be the Hindu-Muslim dispute before and after partition or
the strife of ideologies between progressives and fundamentalists, mainly from the most criticized
period of Zia or the time-to-time conflict of dictatorship vs. democracy, we always seem to have a side
chosen before even the conflicts unfold themselves enough before the people to understand and
examine them.

For the people of a country who are constantly reminded of the ideology that caused its creation and
are repeatedly advocated to defense it like a castle, it is quite common to witness conflicts, debates,
heated arguments over different serious matters, even in the comment sections of the social networking
sites like Facebook. However, sadly, in most cases the base of these disagreements lies in the fear of
losing a debate or hatred and discrimination of one group of extremes for the other group.

It is quite an inevitable fact that people on Facebook are overtly emotional. They have an uncontrollable
power to color any grave matter by their emotional insecurities comprising of hate, bias, ignorance, and
sometimes love or likeness for a particular group too. However, despite of this funny fact, we firmly
believe in talking about every social, political, and even personal issue on Facebook. One such issue that
is slowly bringing our young men and women on two opposite sides is Gender Inequality.

Yes, Gender Inequality.

Women from the globe are fighting for their rights since the 19th century; rights to vote, property share,
to pass laws against domestic violence, divorce and child custody. The world from the late 19th century
has seen three waves of feminism, which remained successful to some extend in their endeavor to make
world a better place for women and taking them out of their demeaning status of secondary citizen. For
some period in Pakistan, people are talking about gender inequality and feminism on Facebook, but for
many reasons, it is not helping Feminism and Pakistani women.

In these times, Facebook has come as one of the conformable and easiest way to some people to fight
for their ‘rights’. Not surprisingly, it has worked many times but why is happening to Pakistani feminists
that every time they speak up about a matter relating to women’s right on a thread, rather than striking
a constructive discussion about the real issue of gender inequality, they end up creating a chaos or in
more fitting words, a gender of war.

If not the entire Pakistani youth (constituting 63% of total population) but a fraction of it is taking its side
in this war of genders on Facebook lately. This fraction mainly consists students from colleges and
universities. Apparently, it may seem a progressive sign that people are talking about the issue, but the
real problem here is that they are talking about it in wrong ways.
Before diving into the reasons why feminism is not working on Facebook, let’s take a look at the basic
idea of Feminism:

“Feminism is the collection of social and political movements that focus on the achieve equality of sexes
in a society on social, political, economical and personal level. The spectrum of these movements covers
the struggle for women rights as equal as that of men.”

Any person, with a little of common sense, cannot deny the existence of gender inequality rooted in our
social system and the saddening fact that women are still being deprived of their basic rights in many
parts of our country. But at the very same time, we can observe a slight shift of paradigm as the
statistics of females graduating from universities increases. There are more women at workplace,
politics, media, and development sectors than there were in the times of our previous generation. As it
is with every traditional norm entrenched in through the civilization for centuries, it is quite difficult to
get rid and even when we choose to do that, it is not be a quick process. In the same scale, Pakistan is
changing; its people are finally identifying the need to speak up about women’s right and feminism is
being given a space in the complex democratic system. However, feminism in Pakistan seem to be a
much bigger deal on Facebook as young feminists are ‘taking it too far.

The problem with ‘taking it too far’ is not with basics of feminism but with the inadequate approach
towards gender inequality and with the treatment of the subjects of sensuality, gender roles and

For early feminists, these movements were a path towards a socially equal society where everyone can
enjoy equal rights and live a life without any discrimination based on gender, but for 21st century’s
feminists, this seems to be more about hatred for men, power over opposite sex, and discrimination
based on gender, which is exactly the factor once aimed to be eliminated. Most of the Pakistani
feminists, who take on any issue about women’s right on the social networking site, end up bashing men
for no particular reasons. “Men are dogs” is the unspoken mantra behind many threads. These feminists
are too quick to label all men sexual offenders and misogynists. On examining this grave situation on a
larger picture, one can see it is the exact polar opposite of what is meant to be achieved through
feminism. It is a sheer lost cause to create an equal society through discrimination and enmity for other

According to the demographics of 2016, 60.78% of the total population is composed of rural population
where the state of healthcare, education, child-marriages, and women’s status as secondary citizen
seem to be change on a much less pace in comparison to the urban areas of the country. Still, the focus
of feminists remains to be on the exploration of women’s sensuality in different unorthodox manner.
The exploitation of a sensitive side of a woman by bringing it to public level from the personal one is
resulting into nothing but objectification of women. This is much clearer when item songs and
sometimes nudity in movies is presented as women empowerment.

As we happen to have a history of conflicts at every step and how can be a conflict complete without its
opposition? Here, men on Facebook have taken their lead to fight against this online wave of feminism.
These days, every young man who sees a thread about women and their rights on Facebook suddenly
begins to feel threatened and obliged to represent the entire male gender over the issue, and to defend
them. This defense, sometimes, turns harsh by the support of religious orthodoxies but mainly consists
of bashing the entire female gender (as was the case with feminists turning these discussions into
bashing sessions). Often, these men complain of the privileges women have in queues and job

To put the other side of the war into easier words, men on Facebook are choosing to be anti-feminists,
which really should not be the case given a large number of men still not acknowledging the women
rights and their need in the country. In these circumstances, if educated men step back from the
movement then it is a certain shift back to the past, not a progress.

Feminism in Pakistan needs every citizen in its process of change, not only women, but every citizen.
Because it is not a fight against a group or sex. It is a struggle against the mindsets and centuries-old
social and cultural structures and when people talk about change of mindsets, they should know two
things: the change includes both, male and female mindsets, and that these changes will take long, too

“We must always take sides,” Elie Wiesel said in his phenomenal Nobel Prize acceptance speech.
“Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the

But the question arises: In this period of information and misinformation, where the Internet (social
media, mainly) holds a great power to stir people’s thought and conscious, is it always necessary to be
on a particular side in every war without being objective? Is it not the time for people to avoid conflicts
and work together to form a better future?

To find a solution of this misfortunate war of genders, the young men and women on Facebook need to
revisit their definitions of feminism, those who speak for it and those who speak against it. It is high time
for each of us to get rid of the unnecessary conflict that never really needed to exist. Read. Read about
the history of feminism irrespective of the side you have chosen. We have to stop putting every matter
on the scale gender rather than that of morality. It is 21st century, men and women need to work
together to achieve the basic rights of women, especially for the women from the rural backgrounds.
We do not need a gender war. We already have wars to fight.