“There are two powers in the world; one is the sword and the other is the pen …There is a third power stronger than both, that of the women.” – Muhammad Ali Jinnah
Cheerleading isn’t for our women, but who decides what they do, or don’t do? Can the women please stand up and speak for themselves.
P.S. this is not a story about cheerleading, but about a young Pakistani woman athlete called Naushaba Khan. Naushaba should have been able to participate in the Asian games, but she wasn’t allowed to. Read on to find out more.
A news snippet was doing the rounds that all 6 six franchises had rejected the idea of taking on Cheerleading squads for the PSL 5 games in Pakistan.
The news seemed to originate from questionable sites, and hence, the credibility was questionable too. But the debate that followed was anything but questionable.
When ever women might be slightly inclined to do, or not do something in public, to perform, or not perform something in public, to wear, or not to wear something in public, our aadmis come out in full force as their ghairat is stirred beyond all comprehension. And not just the aadmis, the aurtain too. They comment with renewed gusto on Facebook threads, policing the activities of women from ever stepping out of their homes, and their prescribed roles, lest they commit a horrendous crime – it could be driving a Vespa, sipping chai at a chaiwala, indulging in street football or cricket and/or the worst fate ever … performing in a cheerleading squad on the cricket field!
My question is to all those who vehemently answer NO! Our women will not perform in any cheerleading squad, it is against our saqaafat and our traditions, and culture, and values, and morals and … the list is unending.
Who are you policing?
Will you be so jazbaati when a child is raped in Kasur? Will you pause in your random social media scrolling to post a comment and read about the plight of the parents? No, because you’ve already given up on the moral fabric there.
Our men are beyond redemption right? They are beyond being controlled for domestic abuse, beyond being deemed fit for civilized society, beyond being man enough to be gentle, beyond being human enough to care – so let’s focus on the women here!
Because women can be policed. They can be told to cover up, to be mindful, to be careful, to be polite, to not dance, sing or perform in public – women can be told – because they are women!
What gives you the right to stop a young girl from dreaming big dreams?
It is your policing that prevented many girls from taking on a public sport, or riding a bike, or singing in public. And … it is your lack of policing that caused many men to feel it is their right to touch, abuse and comment, pass judgement on what a girl wears, how she acts and what time she comes home.
It is your lack of policing for men that has led to unsafe neighbour hoods – a 5 month old child who is raped can’t possibly be inviting it – or can she?
So what is the point of my rant?
Many years ago (not so long ago, in the late 1980’s), we had a young woman athlete, by the name of Naushaba Khan. She was the fastest female runner in all of Pakistan. She had dreams to become the fastest runner in Asia perhaps. She prepared every year for the Asian Games, in the hope that Pakistani women will be allowed to participate, and every year, Pakistan decided that it was against the ghairat of our nation to allow women to participate in sports.
Naushaba crossed the age when she could participate. She lost her dreams forever. I don’t know where Naushaba is right now, since I couldn’t find much about her on the internet at present.
But I’m sure that where ever she is, when she looks at the likes of Sana Mir, Maria Toorpakai, and Naseem Hameed, she wishes she were born in a different era – I would if I were her. This is what broken dreams are made of.
I wish Pakistani women had spoken up and tried to help Naushaba fulfill her dreams. I wish Pakistani women would speak up now and say, we will decide what we want to do, or not – stop policing us. I wish Pakistani women would not pull each other down on social media, commenting on the costumes our actresses and celebrities wear. I wish Pakistani women, (more than men), would let each other be, Because if they speak together, as one voice, perhaps the men will listen too.
And we, as a nation of men and women, who are struggling to let go of our past prejudices and forge ahead into the next decade, must take our women with us – because we have many more Sana Mirs , Maria Toorpakais and Naseem Hameeds in our ranks – and if they’re given a chance – they will make us so proud as a nation.
Cheerleading? That’s just an excuse for everything we want women NOT to do. Cheerleading is not the issue. But everything else is!