Updated: Nov 23, 2021
When you turn on your television to watch a Pakistani drama serial, there are some things that you will observe common in all of them. This is their definition of what a good woman should be.
They usually show the main character of the drama to be an innocent, poor, humble girl who suffers at the hands of society due to her circumstances. She is then saved by a man belonging to a rich household but her struggle does not end there, it merely begins when she encounters the hatred she faces from her mother-in-law and sister-in-law. However, she remains silent, says little, always keeps her gaze lowered, and loves her husband unconditionally.
This representation not only reflects the mindset of the Pakistani society regarding the ‘ideal’ woman but also plays a huge role in reinforcing such mindsets. People begin to associate goodness with silence. A good woman is one who suffers in silence. Thus when women do speak up, they are regarded as ill-mannered or “badtameez”.
It is alarming when a society associates the voicing of one’s opinion with a lack of manners and a bad character. On a larger scale, this then produces the consequences that are produced from ‘Aurat March’. People associate the women who speak up for their rights with women who have no character because how dare they speak up against their oppression? How dare they voice their opinions? How dare they not lower their gaze and suffer in silence like the ideal woman shown in our dramas because if they do not fit that image, there is no place for them in society. Deviants, rebels, castaways. That is what they become.
We do see a shift in the media narrative of the representation of women from shy, quiet, and innocent to strong, confident, and demanding. However, this needs to be further defined and broadly applied in a great number of other Pakistani dramas in order to bring about a social change regarding the perception of females.
-Aimen Imran Jafri