When was the last time you felt proud of yourself? Did you ace a test or manage not to flunk this time? Each individual has their own special set of skills and a unique scale for measuring it. However, none of the usual rules apply to you if you are a woman living in Pakistan. Your sudden burst of pride was probably born of a simple joy and crushed before you had a chance to acknowledge it properly.
The plain truth of the matter is that a Pakistani woman is supposed to feel no pride whatsoever. If she ever shows any inclination towards being pleased about an accomplishment, it must be vanity. The Masters degree she just received does not reflect upon her own hard work rather her parents’ generosity. After all, she cannot be allowed to have an actual job because that would throw suspicion on her character. The son she gave birth to after nine months of a difficult pregnancy is a gift from God and hopefully, will inherit nothing from her. Cooking is not rocket science. The feast she lays out at dinner table everyday is obviously the result of having too much time of her hands to watch cooking shows. Being offered an opportunity to move ahead in life is clearly a cause for concern or more often just a nuisance for everyone who has to adjust their schedule for it.
A Pakistani woman has to tread carefully and show no confidence in herself. Why would you check out your hair in the mirror before leaving the house? You aren’t a movie star on a film set. Going to the university with some lipstick on means you are trying to impress someone. Random people will stop you in the hallways and ask if you have recently gotten hitched or worse, they might gossip about your alleged affair with a notorious professor. “Look at her walking in her 3-inch heels as if she’s a supermodel on the ramp!” She hears the carelessly tossed out comment as she rushes to her next appointment. Apparently, it is unacceptable to wear high heels unless you are a celebrity or forced to attend a lame family wedding or one of “those” women.
People seem to believe that if he is a man he must be accomplished. Let us look a specific case. He has barely managed to pass high school and attached himself to the family business. He is the shining star of the family and a constant source of pride for his parents. If he says it’s important to go on that trip with his friends then it is surely no inconvenience. He must have a flashy bike or car because he has places to go to. So what if his qualifications aren’t that high, if he says he wishes to live in Europe then he must be supported with every last coin they possess. Years of going through low end jobs and leaving his family broke has not dulled his radiance. When it is time to find him a bride she must be the “fairest in the land” and have a good degree too. After all, that is the least they can do for their son who has made them so proud with his countless accomplishments. A man running his hands through his short tresses a million times a day is okay. He must look good every day so his suit with those perfectly coordinated accessories demand nothing but praise.
So you see dear friends, at the end of the day we cannot ignore one of our community’s fundamental rules: Her pride is shameless but his vanity is expected.