Finding issues with what Malala Yousufzai did or didn't do, has said or hasn't said isn't frankly (and sadly) anything new for many Pakistanis — but PPP Senator Sherry Rehman isn't having it.
The politician known for speaking her mind is not pleased with the negativity aimed towards the Nobel laureate following her marriage to Asser Malik earlier this month, especially by women who the Senator feels "should know better".
Rehman via tweets today shared her shock and displeasure over the "vicious jealousy directed at Malala".
"Shocked at the vicious jealousy directed at Malala as she celebrates what happiness she can find, " tweeted Rehman. "By elite women who should know better, who take few risks for their beliefs beyond holding up a witty poster on women’s day, and toddle off for lunch to Sind Club next door."
"They see no problem in outraging over coffee about women’s rights at a club that bars women full voting rights at its Annual General Meeting (AGM), prohibits full membership, and calls itself a Gentleman’s Club, while its western colonial progenitors are shocked at Sindh Club’s 19th century rules & misogyny," she added, also taking aim at the archaic rules of the prestigious club.
While the Senator did not specify who she's specifically directing her criticism towards, her words can apply to many with whom Malala's marriage did not sit well for a number of reasons. One camp of individuals was not happy at — what it perceived as — the Nobel laureate backtracking on her stance against marriage. In June, Malala had said that marriage might not be for her in an article in British Vogue.
Post marriage, the 24-year-old wrote in the same publication to elaborate her previous statement and her decision to marry. Malala said her statement was her way of responding like she had "so many times before". "Knowing the dark reality many of my sisters face, I found it hard to think of the concept of marriage. I said what I had so often said before – that maybe it was possible that marriage was not for me."
For her, her hesitancy never stemmed from being against the institution entirely. Rather it was its 'patriarchal roots' that made her question it. "I questioned the patriarchal roots of the institution, the compromises women are expected to make after the wedding, and how laws regarding relationships are influenced by cultural norms and misogyny in many corners of the world," Malala wrote. "I feared losing my humanity, my independence, my womanhood — my solution was to avoid getting married at all."
There were also words of critique regarding Malala's age which led to further debate about whether the other side (aka the liberals) was imposing its values on the public figure as well.
Regardless of the issues people have, it's as simple as this: women should have the right to choose whether they want to get married or not, and at what age they want to. It's about freedom of choice. We'll leave you with some excerpts from an article in Dawn by Huma Yusuf to ponder over why the hoopla over this one person's marriage is so unnecessary:
"The conservative view is that a girl should finish her FA, marry a man of her father’s choosing, breed and do the housework. But the backlash to Malala’s happy news seems to outline an equally prescriptive and constrained liberal view: a woman should study, prioritise her career, reject heteronormative matrimony, postpone (or avoid) procreation. In both scenarios, socially constructed expectations underscore what behaviour is deemed as acceptable.
"And that is anti-feminist. Feminism is the premise that men and women are equal and should have access to the same opportunities and resources. That women are free to make choices. And that they should not be compelled in those choices. In that context, given Malala’s union is consensual, what is the problem?"