Updated 19 Mar, 2018

We've lived through a long history of Pakistanis behaving badly with women: sometimes we want to beat them lightly, other times we want to prevent them from working, and in extreme cases we kill them.

So we were prepared for a backlash against the women's marches that took place across Pakistan on International Women's Day. We accepted that most Pakistanis would react badly to the spectre of women taking to the streets en masse to call for equal rights.

What we WEREN'T prepared for is how one little poster about food — one poster among the hundreds of posters carried at these aurat marches -- would transform a vast number of Pakistani men into emotional wrecks.

This is the poster we're talking about:

As soon as pictures of this poster made their way online, the backlash was immense. Popular Facebook pages took offense to the post and crafted memes mocking desi feminism and women in general. Men took to Twitter to express their indignation too.

All of this had us scratching our heads. WHY was this poster so offensive to men? Did they not understand that the poster was a simple call to end gender stereotyping? That men and women should both be encouraged to do housework, and that splitting household chores is an essential step towards equality? Apparently not.

Thankfully some women and men on social media clapped back using logic.

So, to this guy character-assassinating the woman carrying the now infamous 'khana' poster...

...we'd like to say: grow up

Yeah. Seriously, did you just take us back to A'Levels? Maybe if you want to be taken seriously by women you should present a better argument.

And to this guy who thinks desi feminists are ONLY concerned about 'equal rights in the kitchen'...

...we'd like to say: do some research on what the Aurat March was really all about

Yep. Did anyone even read the manifesto for Karachi's Aurat March, which called for economic justice, reproductive justice and environmental justice? The aurat marches happening around the country featured hundreds of posters that talked about rights for transgender persons, physical insecurity, rape and more.

And yet we can only focus on a poster about food? Hmm.

And to this other guy who also thinks that modern feminists are NOT talking about issues like women's health facilities or health issues...

...we'd like to say:

And if that isn't enough, here's some proof that the Aurat March was concerned about issues OTHER than dinner.

Lots of posters to choose from, why focus on just one?
Lots of posters to choose from, why focus on just one?

And to the guy who knows everything about 'new wave feminism'...

...we want to ask: can you index your tweet please?

Not only does this person make a completely random assumption about the women referred to as "new wave desi feminists", he/she forgets that it's common for both young women and men to have their parents pay for their college degree. The poster calls for equal distribution of housework and if you expect women to pay back their parents' financial support with house chores, then the same should be expected of their brothers. That's all the poster is trying to convey.

Also... what's a tampoon?

And to the gentleman who believes that his good behaviour means all men are as "respectful and dedicated" as him:

...we'd like to say: #NotAllMen.

Here's a reality check:

Also, there have been numerous reported incidents of domestic violence occurring after women didn't meet men's expectations in the kitchen. So, do you really think it's women who need to "mature"?

And to the men who believe that they should be exempted from traditionally male duties too...

Let us tell you that it's already happening:

While it'd be great for all women to do their own shopping, change their own tyre, etc, it's important to recognise that women aren't socialised to perform these activities, so they don't necessarily have the confidence and skills to do them. So again, the poster is a call for an end to gender roles and the hope is that it galvanises both women and men to brush up on some basic life skills.

And to the men who are taking the poster a little too seriously...

...we have to say: learn to take a joke.


Khurram Mar 14, 2018 01:11pm
All was well, and the article was making it's point clear. However there was no need to show the curse word used by a female in her reply 'Khud Jaati hoon b.....y'. Just because it was spoken by a female, does not make it classy enough to show in a daily newspaper.
Pakistani Mar 14, 2018 01:54pm
Hhahah funny women and now I strongly feel that women in my village are more intelligent, empowered and responsible than these so called feminists. I feel very pity for those men who are living with these women whose intellect is so weak and whose priorities are, Khana Khud Garam Karlo,.
harris Mar 14, 2018 02:00pm
Personally, our mothers, wives, sisters and daughters deserve extra respect not to be killed over honour, or disgraced anywhere, at any time or in any situation... Men need to prove their manhood in terms of achievements in life not throwing their weight around on their own families...
Shiraz Mar 14, 2018 03:22pm
Juat one question. What is reproductive justice???
ivehadit Mar 14, 2018 03:57pm
it's all over. Hatred for Malala, Asma Jahangir, and now Maryam Nawaz. The kinds of things said about these women should put all of us to shame for not speaking out. A lot of it stems from misogyny. The sooner we accept it the better for all of us.
UA Mar 14, 2018 05:05pm
I don't know what everyone is getting so worked up about. It was a creative and funny way to get a point across.
M. Siddique Mar 14, 2018 05:26pm
Men should learn to do house chores. There is nothing wrong with it. Educated women must participate in nation building. They will still build the family. Women are more rescilient than we give them credit for.
Zunaira Mar 14, 2018 06:11pm
Well would ask these women, what would your response be if men held up a poster, "Bahar se khud le aao" would be equally offensive to these women!
N_Saq Mar 14, 2018 06:24pm
I am not sure what the hoopla. I heat up my own food all the time. I never ask my daughter or my wife to do it for me. It is very easy you put the food on the stove and turn on the fire...sometime add a little water and stir until you see the steam coming out and its done. However, if you have microwave then just put the food on a plate and then set the dial and viola, its done! Also, I cook on the weekends too so my wife can have a break. I look at it as... as a man it is my job to help whoever I can and whatever way I can. Just because I cook, do laundry, clean and sweep the house etc does not make me a less of a man. In fact, if you look around all these chores out there are done by men anyway. My message to all men out there is be a solution and not a problem in other words be a man!
Vinod Narang Mar 14, 2018 06:51pm
You go girls. Why are some men so offended by this march. Don't they want Pakistan to be a modern country, take it out of the hands of illiterate people. All women are asking for is to share the burden. Specially these days when both people have to work. Be REAL men offer help and sensitivity to girls in your family. Help your sisters so you are already a step ahead and used to helping.
Saima Mar 14, 2018 07:11pm
khana khud garam ker lo aur meray liyah bhe ker daina
Talha Ejaz Mar 14, 2018 10:08pm
Go outside ask 10 people what was aurat march and you will know how little people care about it.
tehreem arbab Mar 14, 2018 11:20pm
@Pakistani i could help but keep it to myself that you ay have slightly deviated fro the point this article was trying to make. as stated, auat marh was to help women raise their voices for rights in the work place, society and environment. here, environment takes into consideration their homes. then comes gender stereotyping, in the 21st century we as people have proceeded towards establishing safe environments for females to work in and take on the same jobs as males on a diverse set of grounds but gener biasing is yet to be stopped in our houses. that is what the khud khana garam krlo poster talks about. there is absolutely nothing wrong about a man working in the kitchen as there is nothing wrong with a woman going on a job. but you clearly stated that u think the women of your village are better than "these feminists" now i know that you are entitled to your own opinion and i hold absolutely no knowledge of what your village is like bt regarding a group better than the other is being not only prejudiced but also border-line racist. these women especially the one with the khana poster highlighted actual problems female in the country have to face due to social stereotypes and there is nothing wrong with the wanting equality in their homes even if it is asking the males to heat their oown food because they are not rendered servants of males and the males are supposed to look after the house as much as females but heating their own food is actually looking after themselves not even the house! it is impractical of these un-accepting men that the poster speaks volumes of how deeprooted sexism has become in our society and the only wayto change that is for men to realize that women do not need to work FOR them, men should be grateful that the women do. this will not only take the burden off women from the tasks theyre expected to do wrongly, ut will also help them gain confidence to do stuff men do for them like the dupatta pico statement and take a lot of burden off men thus helping the society move forward as a whole
Rp Mar 15, 2018 07:18am
@Khurram - again focusing on the gender roles buddy - " was no need to show the curse word used by a female in her reply" - are curse words used by men OK? - do they look elegant? We need to give women exact 100% rights that we give to ourselves as men!
Anupa Mar 15, 2018 04:30pm
I live in a country where we have 15 months parental leave when a baby is born. Men very often take half that time to be with their children. Khana sirf garam nahi karte, banaate bhi hain. For the baby, for themselves and their partners who work while they are at home. The point is, no one questions their masculinity nor praise them. Why should women be held back in their careers after getting married or having children? The negative reactions are all about fear of losing privileges, nothing else. South Asian men turn out to be pretty useless when they reach the West and reality hits them in the face. They don't know how to mow lawns, paint walls, build a cabinet or make tea. South Asian women on the other hand, are much better to adapting to their new surroundings, learning the language, understanding societal norms. In India and Pakistan, respect for women is a slogan often cloaked in fake religiosity. March on women, you have long way to go but you'll get there, and we'll help.
Omair Mar 17, 2018 01:09am
It's amazing how easily men get offended! Most of us are petty and shallow.