By Safa Imran Qureshi
The discourse generated on social media post-Aurat March has taught me several things:
1) The loudest voices of criticism will always come from the people who didn't even go to the march to begin with, and their narrative comes from sitting behind computer screens and judging singular, out-of-context posters plastered all over Twitter without ever pausing to understand the poster, or even asking their feminist friends to help them understand.
2) Pakistani people do not understand protest slogans. They really do not. The purpose of slogans during protests is that they meant to be colourful, short, witty and satirical because it is meant to catch the eye of onlookers as protestors move along. No one can write essays on their posters. My own poster read "BEWARE - gunaghaar aurat coming thru", inspired by the poem "Hum Gunaghaar Auraten" by Urdu feminist poet Kishwar Naheed who explores how women who fight for their rights are viewed as transgressors of society. If you are so interested in what Aurat March stands for, please open up their Facebook page and read their manifesto which was also shared all over social media. It doesn't require lots of effort on your part.
3) Media will always run on propaganda and creating divides. Always. You will purposely highlight the same 2-3 posters that you find particularly offensive and everyone will keep making memes on those posters until they become the popular representation of Aurat March. Not only do you not understand those posters, you also choose to ignore the hundreds of "boring" posters carried by "boring, non-english speaking" women, transgender women, disabled women and working class women (who btw were very much present at Aurat March, something you would have known if you talked to someone who went or you know, gotten off your privileged ass and went yourself)
4) Did you know that Aurat March happened in cities beyond the privileged Lahore, Islamabad and Karachi? Did you know that happened in Hunza, Peshawar, Quetta, Hyderabad, Mardan etc? Did you know that the feminist society at LUMS (you know, the privileged lums kids?) fought to have the female janitorial staff granted a half day so that they could be included in our activities too? You only choose to know what suits your narrative, unfortunately. Let's be real, you don't give a DAMN about working class women and their struggles. You just use them as your pawns when you want to make your ignorant anti-feminist arguments. If you cared about the working class women, you would be out on the streets too. Not at home being served dinner and chai by your maids. Below I'm attaching pictures of Aurat March, 2019. The Aurat March that all of you choose to ignore. The Aurat March that the media chooses to ignore. The Aurat March that is yes, still not perfect, and yes has a long way to go, yes it does not fix everything, but it is NOT what you make it out to be.