Political opposition doesn't have to be at the expense of women and trans people, Salman Ahmed

Updated 15 Jul, 2020 05:16pm

Yusra Habib

Previously, shameful slurs were restricted to ministers and men in power, but recently, even artists are picking up on the trend.

In Pakistan, politics is a highly gendered sport, much like a room full of proud men boastful of their masculinity, where there aren't enough women present. In the rare cases that they are, women are at the receiving end of direct and indirect insults and shameful stereotypical slurs.

Previously, this courtesy was restricted to ministers and men in power; but recently, even artists are picking up on the trend.

Salman Ahmed, guitarist from rock band Junoon took to Twitter with a morphed picture of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari — one that shows him with long nails, trendy hoop earrings, and drenched in loads of makeup.

This is not the first time that Bilawal has been mocked in this manner. With the current number of 1.9K likes on the tweet, we are reminded of how prevalent this kind of thinking is.

The common practice of when politicians use female salutations to name-call him, or use words like "chakka" and "Bilawal Sahiba", as apparent attempts to imply that he is not fit for his job.

Such an approach gives out the collective message that we believe femininity and androgyny are mock-worthy to begin with and thereby normalise and further the disenfranchisement of these groups.

We are a country heavily plagued with domestic violence and honour killings. Where our trans communities are forced to live lives that they wouldn't want to. In such a scenario, where these groups are so disempowered, why can't political opposition be done without it being at their expense? Why do women and trans people have to bear the brunt of derogatory insults casually thrown around by men?

This is disappointing, not because Salman Ahmed is a renowned musician, but because he is a grown man. And it is sad to see this refusal to acknowledge the insensitivity and intolerance that comes with putting women and trans people down, only to show some kind of political opposition.

If one wants to criticise a politician, by all means, it can be done on the basis of the politician's capabilities, performance, sincerity and service towards their work and their nation — not by making terrible, demeaning so-called jokes on their physical appearance, their accent or their gender - and we can definitely do better than perpetuating the cycle of discrimination and violence against women and trans people.