This photo highlights how we apply different standards to desi women versus foreign women

This photo highlights how we apply different standards to desi women versus foreign women

US blogger Cynthia Ritchie was snapped riding a bike in Peshawar and Pakistanis on Twitter were quick to hail her a hero
Updated 16 Nov, 2018

When it comes to stepping out in public, do we apply different standards to desi women versus foreign women?

A conversation on Twitter seems to point to 'yes'.

When US blogger Cynthia Ritchie was snapped riding a bike on the streets of Peshawar Pakistanis on social media were quick to hail her a hero for depicting a softer side of Pakistan.

Cynthia's travel blog documents her travels in Pakistan and her latest venture was met with love and admiration by the locals, but it begs the question: when desi women are out biking on the streets, why is their act not received with the same encouragement, but is instead hounded with shame?

Girls at Dhabbas, who host all-women bike rallies across Pakistan to encourage women to repossess accessibility of streets and public spaces, pointed out the hypocrisy - with evidence - to prove that if a foreigner does it, it's lauded but if desi women do it the act is considered morally outrageous.

They posted screenshots of desi men showing contempt and disapproval at women riding bikes at their rallies.

vs a foreigner doing the same in our country.

It only goes to show that some desi folks - including men, but women too - feel threatened by Pakistani women fighting for equal rights and reclaiming public spaces because they have an inherent fear of losing "control" over their women. They want them to conform to the standards they've set for them.

Unfortunately, this is a recurring issue and points out our country's internalised sexism. Earlier this year, a backlash against the women's march took place across Pakistan when a vast number of Pakistani men were emotional wrecks over a poster which read: Khud khana garam karlo.

It's about time we called out the hypocrisy and also urged Pakistani women to conquer public spaces without fear.


RationalBabu Nov 15, 2018 05:05pm
Don’t think this is going to change any time soon!
N abidai Nov 15, 2018 05:35pm
52% are women, in Pakistan. So, the women should be out there in every field,like most places in the world! Media should start a narrative of showing women in different roles,and using transport s ,bike,motor bike,cars, trucks,in ad's,and films,and dramas! This will help normalize !
Nofel Nov 16, 2018 01:08am
If the woman from the US is an African American, our society would have mistreated her way worst than Desi women. White privilege is not only in the US alone.
Shahid Ehsan Khalid Nov 16, 2018 01:15am
"What feminism has come to". Wrong question. What male chauvinism has come to. They are afraid of everything but a liberated desi girl. It is the end of the world as they know it. Keep it up girls. This resistance will evaporate faster than ice in June. All will be surprised.
Dr. Farhat H. Siddiqi Nov 16, 2018 01:38am
I am passing no judgement & mean no criticism of any kind. I am just writing an observation. Any time I arrived in Karachi for a visit from California I was always struck in shock. People people everywhere & no women. Just a few in burqas. What a different world? One time I went to Pakistan with an American friend to see the Northern areas of Pakistan. My friend was struck in the same shock. What's this ,Farhat? I calmly replied, ' this is my beloved homeland. I grew up here."
Chinpaksaddique Nov 16, 2018 06:07am
We need more of her likes here in the country. It’s will enable better relationships between Americans and Pakistanis
Glen D’Abreo Nov 16, 2018 06:46am
Let’s face it Pakistani men cannot get over the huge strides women are making in all fields in Pakistan. So their encouragement will be tepid as the competition is getting rough as women are finding their own voice.
Glen D’Abreo Nov 16, 2018 06:51am
Pakistani men are afraid the huge strides women in Pakistan are making so why would they be positive or give encouragement to them
Dove Nov 16, 2018 09:22am
I feel happy when I see girls riding on motorbikes lately in Islamabad. At least they can move around freely at their will, keep it up girls