Malala
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Shiffa Yousafzai |

Whatever a woman does she becomes a prey of our patriarchal society. After Mahira Khan, it is now the Nobel Prize Laureate and a would-be Oxford graduate Malala Yousafzai facing a mounting criticism. The girl representing Pakistan across the globe never heard two lines of appreciation from the ultra-conservative clan of Pakistani society for representing her country in her national attire at every forum with all the dignity and nobility but the minute she was spotted in jeans and a jacket with a headscarf, she earned immense criticism. What for? Malala Yousafzai in the picture that got viral, I think, was more decently dressed than what we usually witness inside this country.

Read more: “Mahira’s Witch Hunt: A Battle between Morality & Modernity?”

Why are we so damn jealous? Jealous or insecure? More insecure than jealous I guess. Men in my society fear women walking on the path of success, especially if a woman is young and headstrong as well. It just scares the hell out of them. It’s a threat to their manly ego. One of my male colleagues just said she is representing Pakistan in the world she should be wearing our national dress. I was dumbfounded for a minute, speechless and astounded. And then I asked him how many urban girls do you actually see wearing our traditional shalwar kameez and dupatta? And then I asked him another question, “what have you done to represent the country abroad? Or millions of men who did nothing else but criticized women for one or another reason?”

Not that I am an advocate of Malala, I have my own reasons to disagree with her way of doing certain things but lambasting her for wearing jeans in England is just lunacy. She is not the only one who has been spotted in jeans.

Malala knew how emotional our society gets when it comes to the ‘Dupatta’ maybe that’s why she had her head covered but the poor soul still fell victim to the disparagement. Now she must have realized that it’s not about dupatta or having your head covered. It’s about the acceptance level of our society – the underdeveloped minds would just never let a woman do her thing in peace.

Not that I am an advocate of Malala, I have my own reasons to disagree with her way of doing certain things but lambasting her for wearing jeans in England is just lunacy. She is not the only one who has been spotted in jeans. Before her, Maryam Nawaz Sharif, Reham Khan, Asifa and Bakhtawar B. Zardari and many others have been seen wearing jeans and tops in England and elsewhere.

Read more: Malala: Why so many in Pakistan hate what she symbolises?

Malala could be questioned or criticized over other things, as for some, she has been a shady character ever since she came in the global political and social picture but one thing she could not be lambasted for is her dressing – which has throughout remained very decent.

I was since childhood taught that, ‘With one eye look at the good in others and with the other look at the bad in yourself’. When I look at people around me, tearing down others especially women, I don’t understand what exactly is going on in their minds. But what I know for sure is that there is something definitely wrong.

The way people maligned Malala or Mahira or countless other women is one of the reasons the smart brains would just prefer leaving the country for they don’t get enough breathing space here. We have lost some of our best brains to this unfortunate attitude of ours.

In Pakistan, people dress up for others because they’ll be judged for that but in UK people dress up for the cold and comfort. A dress does represent the culture of an area also and you must have heard people often saying ‘While in Rome, do as Romans do’ so ‘While in Britain, do as Brits do’. Weather also determines what you can or should wear at a particular place. In Oxfordshire, the United Kingdom the minimum temperature is 13 degrees and maximum for today is 19. Its partly sunny and one has to wear tight clothes and a few layers for better insulation and to keep warm. So, your dress is not only determined by the culture but by the weather of the country you’re residing in.

Read more: What Malala did on her first day at Oxford University?

The ceaseless masculine superiority found in our society is just going to make things worse making women feel more alienated. The way people maligned Malala or Mahira or countless other women is one of the reasons the smart brains would just prefer leaving the country for they don’t get enough breathing space here. We have lost some of our best brains to this unfortunate attitude of ours.

Shiffa Yousafzai is a freelance writer; She is an International Alumni Ambassador for Manchester Metropolitan University, UK, where she studied Multimedia Journalism. Earlier, she graduated with business and marketing at Air University, Islamabad. She had been vice-president Air University Cultural Society; She is a singer and has performed in cultural events. Shiffa could be followed on twitter @Shiffa_ZY and on facebook @Shiffa Z. Yousafzai. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.

3 COMMENTS

  1. She is representing Pakhtun women and the pakhtun society as a whole. This drama lala should have respected the dress code of Pakhtun woman which is nothing but decent shalwar kameez. If she has merged in the Western society than nothing is left to appreciate about her because it was her only defence and statement that she hails from a hard line pashtoon society.

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