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Unequal traditions

  • Published at 08:11 pm March 17th, 2014

Towheed Feroze’s piece “Marriage Under the Magnifying Glass” was, in my opinion, one of the most patriarchal and misogynistic pieces I have ever seen coming out of DT. As a part of the educated class, we should not be encouraging these patriarchal and unequal traditions, but should instead be working towards a society that is more egalitarian. Take the following paragraph for instance:

“For example, if the person asked to do the sleuthing says that the girl in question is seen moving around with men all the time, then naturally the marriage potentiality gets a jolt. This is why most girls who are to be married follow some strict social movement restrictions.”

Naturally? This is not natural. Such patriarchal thinking has become naturalised because we are used to a power hierarchy wherein men benefit from controlling women and their bodies. The fact that a woman has friends of the opposite sex should not affect her “marriageability.” Unfortunately, because Bangladeshi culture is still deeply sexist (as can be evidenced by Towheed Feroze’s point of view), this is still a common occurrence. However, we have a responsibility to discourage such types of damaging thinking.

“Before being shackled, a guy will always want a final night of wild fun (bachelor’s night out), preferably with a playboy bunny stepping out of a large cake.”

This type of thinking is not only offensive, but it is highly damaging. The underlying assumption of this comment is that it is acceptable to excuse disrespectful male behaviour, reinforcing the “boys will be boys” mentality that is so commonly accepted in traditional society. Such a precedent allows people to excuse behaviour such as marital infidelity or spousal abuse because society says, “boys will be boys” or “it’s just their nature.” Whereas if a woman commits the same act, she is perceived in a completely negative way.

Whether it is a woman or a man that cheats on their spouse, the crime is the same. Unfortunately, only one of the offenders is punished by society, and the other is simply excused. Furthermore, this comment assumes that women wouldn’t want a night of wild fun – such gender stereotyping is detrimental to all of society. Women are not this monolithic entity upon which the author can attribute the characteristics he sees fit of a woman. We are a diverse group, with different needs and wants, and to portray us as one lump category is not only unfair but also downright ignorant. 

These are only some of the points from Towheed’s article that are offensive. But I do not think his piece deserves any more of my time. Patriarchal voices like his are the reason that misogynistic traditions and customs continue to exist in our society. Though his views may seem innocuous and just simply ignorant, such views and presuppositions about women’s role in society and women’s nature are the reason that women are often prevented from being socially equal, and the reason for which women are not afforded equal opportunities as men.

Such views are the reason that women are shamed and ostracised when they fall outside the purview of a man’s control. For instance, when they choose to keep working against their father’s wishes, when they choose a career over getting married, when they choose not to put up with their husband’s bad behaviour.