Mira Sethi wants to know why our definition of masculinity starts and ends with a woman's clothing

Published 25 Oct, 2021 05:22pm

Images Staff

Your 'mardangi' should be be strong enough not to feel threatened by what a woman wears, the actor said in a recent interview.

Photo: Mira Sethi/Instagram
Photo: Mira Sethi/Instagram

Mira Sethi is known for not mincing her words when it comes to talking about women's rights. She's been vocal about intolerance towards women in society as well as a woman's right to dress however she pleases. In a recent interview, Sethi talked about how society's definition of masculinity has become so fragile that a man's pride feels threatened by a woman's choice of clothes.

In an interview with Independent Urdu, the Chupke Chupke actor shared her thoughts on the objections raised against what women wear on social media. "I saw a comment underneath a post made by my colleague and friend Ushna Shah on Instagram," Sethi said. She was wearing jeans and a top in the post and the comment underneath it read 'if my mardaangi (masculinity) compels me to act in a certain way now then don't blame me'."

"What is this masculinity exactly?" she asked. "Why is your definition of masculinity and pride so narrow that it starts and ends at a woman's clothing? An independent woman and a broad-minded man can both co-exist in this society together."

Sethi mentioned the prevalent perception of masculinity can't handle the thought of women wearing, what is perceived as, flashy or bold clothes. "I really don't understand this," she said. The actor asked people to broaden their minds and definitions of masculinity. "If a man is sitting in front of me wearing tight jeans, I won't just go on and say 'your tight jeans are pulling me towards sin'. Women don't speak like this," she assert.

Our thoughts don't go in this direction and this society hasn't even given us the right to speak like this to a man, she said. "But men think they can say stuff like this to women anytime."

Why do men police us so much? the actor asked. "If we talk about your masculinity then it should be confident enough and allow you to live without it feeling threatened. Of course, we have to be mindful of not crossing certain boundaries. As women we are aware of what those boundaries are because we live in this society."

Sethi was met with criticism for her choice of clothing at the Lux Style Awards. In response, she posted a lengthy message on Instagram telling her haters to back off. "Go home. I don’t dress for you," the actor had said. "I don’t dress for anyone or anything other than my own sense of joy and play and expansion. The men of this country are obsessed with policing women, constantly defining their ‘honour’ in relation to women’s bodies and clothing and appearance. It is a small minded, decayed, hateful thing to do. You want to disempower us because a deep part of you is hurting and angry. I get it. It’s societal and it is ugly."

In her recent interview, Sethi urged men to think deeply about the issue at hand. "People often say to men you have mothers and sisters. Yes those women are mothers and sisters but they are individuals as well. People often ask 'why did you rape her? She's someone's mother or sister'. Why can't people just ask 'why did you rape her?'. Full stop."

The actor also shared her thoughts on the efforts being made for women's rights in Pakistan. "I believe that the oppression women are facing in Pakistan these days has increased a lot," she said. "A bill against domestic violence was not passed in parliament recently. It wasn't passed because of 'politics', even though it should have been passed. I think the government should take these things seriously. They aren't taking it seriously though, and so people have to raise their voice against these issues. Women have to raise their voices. I believe we have a very long way to go.

"Our Constitution should be so strong in upholding women's rights and protecting women against violence that we would not have to worry. Unfortunately we haven't reached that point yet," she emphasised.