"Mera Jism Meri Marzi" has divided the house.
There are those that say the slogan — fast becoming a marker of the movement this year — promotes promiscuity. But for the women who coined it, the offence lies not in the slogan, but in how centuries of oppressive social structures have taken women's fundamental right to bodily autonomy hostage.
Actor Ahmed Ali Butt, no stranger to controversy, joined in on the anti-slogan campaign.
In an Instagram story he recently posted, Butt equated the slogan as a western campaign that is being exploited locally and that wants to make prostitution legal.
He highlights what he calls the hypocrisy being "sold on social media and how everyone jumps on the # bandwagon."
Butt continues to 'inform' his uninitiated audience that that we shouldn't follow 'trends' and a 'foreign-funded' movement.
This is the same actor, who in his defence, works on media projects based on the same borrowed ideologies that he now claims to be hating on when it comes to women's rights. Now you can see why we can't sit this one out, even though we've just been through this.
To start with, if Butt, who seems to believe that feminism is a 'western' construct, had stepped out of his little bubble, he'd be surprised to find that the grassroots movement, which has slowly been taking shape over many years is a collective of women, different minority groups, and individuals who have mobilised around issues that affect those who don't have the privilege or the opportunity to speak and be heard.
By calling the local women's rights movement 'foreign-funded', Butt has discounted the beauty of organic initiatives that have a larger social resonance.
Secondly, if the actor had only taken the time and effort to research the slogan, which literally means that women want bodily autonomy and have the right, as enshrined in the Constitution of Pakistan, to make decisions concerning their own bodies, he wouldn't be quick to judge.
These decisions essentially include women having the right to make important calls about their bodies, their health, and really, their lives. Simple, isn't it? Of all the discourse that has been happening around Aurat March, if what Butt chooses to take away is that feminists somehow want to legalise prostitution, then that really says more about his interpretation of the slogan than it does about women's actual demands. The slogan is about consent, a concept clearly lost on Aurat March naysayers.
Feminists say the 'personal is political' because our homes are one of the first spaces where women undergo abuse, discrimination and control. The outside is even worse.
So we ask you Ahmed Ali Butt, do YOU have any evidence to support your claims? If not, please don't get on the bandwagon and 'follow trends'.
We wish you had read the Aurat March's charter of demands, rather than singling out one slogan out of thousands. Sorry to say, while your credentials don't qualify you to comment on this, we urge you nonetheless to think — and perhaps educate yourself about what the Aurat March stands for and who it represents — before you speak.
For those who are still misinterpreting the slogan and using it to comment against an already oppressed gender, we feel terrible that you are not able to see things for what they are, even with thousands doing the labour to break it down for you.