Sexism spares no one in Pakistan — not even the incredibly talented Nida Dar

Sexism spares no one in Pakistan — not even the incredibly talented Nida Dar

In an interview, cricketer Abdul Razzaq said Dar is "too hardened to look like a girl". Whatever that means.
Updated 15 Jul, 2021

It's a well recognised fact that the Pakistan women's national cricket team is bolstered by the talent Nida Dar brings to the field. Yet despite Dar's place in international cricket, our men cant seem to get past judging her for her appearance.

In a video clip from G Sarkar with Nauman Ijaz broadcast June 6 on Neo News, cricket player Abdul Razzaq commented on Dar’s appearance, strongly implying that the cricketer looks more like a man than a woman. The clip recently caught the attention — and ire — of social media.

"She aspires to come to the level of the men's cricket team and believes that men aren't the only one's who can do everything, women can do these things as well,” he said. "That's why the feeling is gone. Shake her hands and you wont even feel she's a girl."

Razzaq's comments are shocking, but unfortunately they aren't something women athletes haven't heard before. There are deep-set negatives attitudes towards the bodies of female athletes all around the world but especially in Pakistan where women are policed to look a certain way in general.

Women are often commented on as being "too bulky", "too tough" and more popularly "too much like a man". Such attitudes overlook years of training and a long list of achievements and boil the achievements of athletes down to a single trait — the way they look. The mental toll of such remarks on women is often much greater than is realised. And there's one thing we would like to know — is there a set standard on what a woman should look like? Women look like what they look like — we come in all shapes and forms and not everyone may fit your standard of femininity and that's okay.

Women have short hair and women have long hair, women can be petite and women can be tall and broad-shouldered — women can look however they please.

Dar bore Razzaq's comment with a lot of grace and dignity — far more than what we would have had in the same situation. She explained why women cricketers seem more ‘hardened’ than other women. "Our profession is such that we have to do batting, bowling and every other thing [that the sport requires] which needs fitness, so yes your body does become hard."

In the interview, one of the host comedians also joked about how the cricketer seemed to be "allergic" to the notion of marriage since she didn't mention it.

"If I hadn't been a cricketer, I would have definitely been a [sports] professional of some sort," Dar had said earlier in the show.

Most unmarried women in Pakistan of a 'certain age' are the victims of snide remarks about marriage and we're pretty sure Dar is no different. But it being common doesn't excuse behaviour that devalues women based on their marital status. Such behaviour is especially problematic if it occurs on a talk show watched by many people across the country.

This isn't the first time male cricketers have made sexist remarks. In 2017, cricket and former coach Waqar Younis was called out for 'suggesting' on Twitter that the Women's World Cup matches should have only 30 overs as the standard 50 were "a few too many".

In 2019, cricketer Shahid Afridi met with criticism after he admitted in his autobiography Game Changer that he refuses to let his daughters play outdoor sports. "It’s for social and religious reasons that I’ve made this decision regarding my daughters not competing in public sporting activities and their mother agrees with me," he wrote.

Razzaq himself isn't a stranger to making controversial public remarks. On a television programme in 2019, he admitted to being involved in extramarital relationships with many women.

The video clip of Razzaq and Dar has been circulating on social media recently and has left many people enraged. Users on Twitter are calling Razzaq out for his sexist remarks.

One user wrote, "Nida Dar is one of Pakistan's finest cricketers.

"Abdul Razzaq and others gang[ed] up to try to reduce her to marriage, hairstyles and femininity. Shows that women can be national heroes but will still be measured up against traditional societal expectations and gender roles."

Another user called the matter "disgusting".

"Nida Dar should have slammed these people right there," one user on Twitter wrote.

Dar has received international appreciation and recognition for her achievements in cricket. She is the first Pakistani cricketer to cross 100 wickets in the T20I format. According to the ICC, she is only the sixth cricketer overall to achieve this.

This achievement ranks Dar ahead of celebrated cricket players like Afridi, Umar Gul and Saeed Ajmal in terms of wicket-taking in T20I matches.

In 2019, Dar also became the first Pakistani woman cricketer to feature in a foreign league after she was selected by Sydney Thunder as their overseas professional player in Australia’s Women’s Big Bash League.

This whole matter has left us fuming. Cricket players such as Razzaq should be the last ones to criticise women cricketers since they themselves can appreciate and understand what the game demands from its players, regardless of their gender. Even if you aren't a cricket player, you should be able to understand what the sport demands from its athletes. We don't judge Afridi or Umar Akmal or Virat Kohli based on their appearances, so why are we doing the same to Nida Dar?

Unfortunately, there were several people who justified Razzaq's comments instead of criticising them. One user on Twitter said "He would also call Ahmed Shehzad a girlish boy so sit down, it was all in a light mood."

Talk about a deeply problematic opinion. If it isn't acceptable to criticise Dar as "too manly" then it isn't acceptable to bully Shehzad as a "girlish boy" either. Sexism works both ways.

Another user asked people to "grow up" and take the humour in their stride. Sorry, we don't see the humour in this.

Apparently Razzaq is known to make controversial remarks. "Razzaq is [the] Pakistani version of Varender Sehwag, a user wrote. "Razzaq makes controversial statements."

Razzaq is also an adult who should realise that he can't just shoot his mouth off at his own discretion. He represented our country as part of our national team and now he's representing sexist men with his comments. Your physical appearance does not determine the kind of cricket you play, your skills do that and it is safe to say that Nida Dar is a trailblazer and talented cricketer. We only wish people like Razzaq could see beyond their biases and prejudices and value women cricketers for being the stars they are.


Jonathen Jul 15, 2021 02:25pm
What is freedom of speech? Razzaq spoke his mind. Why do people want others opninions to be dictated ?
FAZ Jul 15, 2021 02:36pm
The sensitivity and its realization requires education. If education is not there PCB should arrange for their basic courses on communication and media handling. Irrespective of what thinks or not, these guys represent Pakistan and their remarks does not go unnoticed.
funnyman Jul 15, 2021 02:48pm
People like Razzaq who were kicked out and disgracefully discharged by PCB can only find relevance this way Imagining making remarks as one professional about another professional who outdid you in the same field. Shows that it wasn't a mere sexist remark but an attempt at showing his supriority. Not that it would have mattered, Razzaq will fade into history like all sexists while Nida will remain forever as the first Pakistani to reach 100 wickets in T20is
Omer Jul 15, 2021 02:56pm
People needs to stop complaining about every comment on women. This is getting too far. I don't think he meant to insult her in any way. So, just stop doing that,pls
Abdul Razzaq Jul 15, 2021 02:58pm
But she does look hardened, a bit masculine, unlike most girl, don't you think?
azmat shah Jul 15, 2021 03:06pm
Athletics is a physical activity, it needs strength and endurance and lots of training if you are doing it at the highest level. if a woman does it will change her appearance and the hands will start to look rough and tough - like men. To a sportswoman, that should be taken as a compliment for her hard work. You cant have it both ways. We cant change the language, if it associates bravery, strength and endurance with men like saying " mardana waar muqabla kerna" now you cannot change it to "zanana waar muqabla kerna" just because someone with a twisted sense of sexism will get offended.
azmat shah Jul 15, 2021 03:07pm
@funnyman outdid you? is that a freaking joke or what?
Fastrack Jul 15, 2021 03:11pm
Very bad on part of him. Very very bad on part of one who said all Pakistani men are like that.
Say no to political correctness Jul 15, 2021 03:14pm
I think he's got a crush on her.
Hasan Jul 15, 2021 03:18pm
Cant even take a pun?
Iqbal Hadi Zaidi Jul 15, 2021 03:28pm
What a tragedy, national tragedy to be honest that in my beloved Pakistan which a male dominated country, we the men always object and subject women for one reason or the other which I wholly condemn whatsoever. Pakistan women must be respected as they are none other than like our own mothers, sisters and cousins and undoubtedly they have already excelled in many different fields including those where only Pakistani men reigned. Flying an airplane is not a joke from any angle and or perspective but we must give full credit to our 1st lady pilot who proved in quite crystal clear terms that Pakistan women are neither timid nor inferior to of compared with their male compatriots. In cricket as well our women team has won international recognition and repute and, therefore, we must respect them instead undermining them. Worst is that as and when men talk of women, they think of sex which is very shameful on our part. Stop hatred & respect our females please.
tQ Jul 15, 2021 03:33pm
Please don't be offended by Razzaq's remarks. They only expose the weaknesses in him, the host and other clowns sitting and laughing there. Nida Dar's response is enough a SLAP on their FACES. She very well knows, what females in Pakistan must go through once they step outside confines of their homes.
Hamed Jul 15, 2021 03:50pm
Has Mr. Razzaq looked in the mirror? Probably Mr. Darwin must have been thinking of Mr Razzaq.
Ann Jul 15, 2021 03:52pm
Our men of this country never fail to disgust us.
Hamed Jul 15, 2021 03:54pm
@Jonathen that was an insult. What will u do if somebody says "you are ugly"?
Dr. Salaria, Aamir Ahmad Jul 15, 2021 03:54pm
Just an extempore comment by the former greenshirt's all-rounder Abdul Razzaq has triggered a great storm on twitter and other social media outlets.
Alishba Jul 15, 2021 04:13pm
@Jonathen " What is freedom of speech? Razzaq spoke his mind. Why do people want others opinions to be dictated ?" She represents the Pakistan and deserves some respect. Sexist comment by sexist people are not freedom of speech, but mysogyny. Dont think these men will like it when someone call them female or queer either.
Owais Jul 15, 2021 04:38pm
Just being reported out of context. If someone does not listen to under what background this was said and under what atmosphere this program is conducted, then one would consider the criticism as fair but not under the given circumstances. Why we try to label everything under 'feminism' tag ? This attitude and mindset is more deplorable then AR's comments.
Harry Jam Jul 15, 2021 04:39pm
@Jonathen imagine if someone said your father looks more like a woman, is more delicate and thin.
Harry Jam Jul 15, 2021 04:40pm
Razzaq's mental level is very limited.
M. Saeed Jul 15, 2021 04:50pm
It is great that our female cricket team is featuring well on the international scene. It is a game of the survival of the fittest and we must take the challenge remaining within the fitness rules for the female teams.
Moni Jul 15, 2021 05:05pm
"an adult who should realise that he can't just shoot his mouth off at his own discretion" unfortunately this goes for most of the people in my country.
someguy Jul 15, 2021 05:42pm
Professional sports are followed because people want to see athletes compete at this highest skill level of that particular sport. Women playing any sport is equal to a 10 or 12 year old boy skill level. I will watch it same as I watch my daughters soccer practice. Its cute but everyone knows its not the level of skill one would pay to see. If women start to show same skill level as men, I will start watching. Maybe bowl at 100 MPH or hit a 125 meter six and we can start talking. I mean feminist believe gender is a made up concept anyway.
JUR USA Jul 15, 2021 06:07pm
Razzaq is dimple man and he just acknowledged her that she is strong. It’s positive remarks. If Darctook it negative and as per women wants equal right which my is justified then she will be evaluated on equal grounds. Don’t mind if someone doesn’t leave his seat to give to a lady out of respect. There is thin line between respect and justice
Silent Observer Jul 15, 2021 06:26pm
This is Pakistan, a religious and conservative society. These stereotypes can be defeated with eduation of masses and when more women are seen in the forefront. Poor Razak is blamed for nothing. Netizens have too much time to spare on their smart phones!
Toni Jul 15, 2021 06:26pm
Razzaq is comfortably ugly.
F Nawaz Jul 15, 2021 06:36pm
This happens when you have segregation in schools.
Ahmad Jul 15, 2021 06:39pm
not going to comment on the topic just saying she has not delivered for a long long time, tell me one of her match winning performance in last 2 years
Faiz Jul 15, 2021 07:41pm
@Jonathen Not all opinions should be dictated, only stupid opinions like Razzaq's. Razzaq has freedom to speak his mind, we have the freedom to highlight his misogyny and ignorance.
Secularist Jul 15, 2021 09:02pm
One does not expect civility and grace from Neanderthals. Nida has the talent needed to burn through trash talking.
aslam Jul 15, 2021 10:13pm
@Jonathen NIce..thats what I expected from the educated pakistanis
Chrís Dăn Jul 15, 2021 10:41pm
@Abdul Razzaq NO.
Corruption fighter Jul 15, 2021 11:14pm
@Dr. Salaria, Aamir Ahmad: "All rounder's" not quite all rounder. eh? He's got a few things to learn yet!
Mimi Jul 16, 2021 03:18am
@Fastrack delusional much. All men from here are like that
Trader JJ Jul 16, 2021 06:08am
Shows the mindset.
Khalid Jul 16, 2021 06:36am
Why is complimenting strength of women taken negative ?
funnyman Jul 16, 2021 10:37am
@azmat shah Nida Dar is the first Pakistani, counting both men and women, to bag 100 T20is wickets. Shahid Afridi, Umer Gul and Saeed Ajmal do not have 100. Razzaq is not even in the top 30 for Pakistan.
Hammad Jul 16, 2021 04:58pm
Nida dar is a prolific player with guts and brains. She is the one who catches the likes of men style and power but she has her own feminism, a way she has adoned since she came into cricket arena, a manner she has been appreciated by millions to have come up with her own looks and attitude. She has made records that pakistani men havent achieved so far. Abdul Razzak is a controversial character not in field but outside as well. Now he has left with nothing to prove, so he has find a way to get attention by maligning other cricketers. His time has gone and his brains too
Noor Jul 17, 2021 10:33pm
Just to remain in the lame light people Just indulge in nitty gritty, nothing bad told by Razzaq, if you cant bear such thing why u came and participate in such debates, rather define and keep pace
Hasan Jul 19, 2021 07:10pm
Here we go again
Jondon Jul 19, 2021 07:40pm
People's personal opinions are not required! Rather, what should be discussed is what rules should govern people. This is at the core of the issue. There are rules that govern personal actions and society and where should we be taking and implementing these rules from? Once this is understood everything else falls into place