“BDSM, behuda, and role play?! I love role play” – is Yasra Rizvi’s recent campaign suffering sexualisation?
While some condemned it as “kinky”, others called it “beautiful” for shedding light on forced marriage and divorce shaming. Naturally, such comments spark a debate on the extent to which Pakistanis are sensationalising or sexualising Yasra Rizvi’s feminist plea.
However, before probing into public response, one must summarise the size, scale, and complexities of the campaign. Launched on October 3, 2021, via a threesome of instagram posts, Rizvi’s laudably lengthy captions (though, the Instagrammer commenting “itna lamba kon parhy” may disagree) resounded with #saynotoforcedmarriage and #stopdivorceshaming.
Dressed (or dabbed) in wounds and a wedding dress, eyes in tears and hands in chains, Rizvi’s first post establishes consent or dissent to marriage as “the basic right of every person.” It then sheds light on how “this is not a Maghribi agenda” and that “forced marriages and divorce shaming are not ways to respect tradition, these are blatant attacks on basic human rights and sadly the most commonly accepted ones around us.”
The second post then goes on to philosophise marriage as a social contract that mustn’t be conflated as a life imprisonment or a death sentence. Here, she succinctly says “shaadi aik social contract hai jisme huqooq aur faraaiz dono fariqain ke hote hain, isse umer qaid ya sazaa-e-moat samajh laina khud apne saath zyaadti hai!”
The third and last post targets moral awakening aimed at men. Here, Yasra Rizvi rallies – or at least, tries to rally – males (be they allies or not) as she says “stand up for your daughters and sisters and friends and female relatives and abused neighbours or that random woman being beaten up by her husband in a restaurant while he says “yeh humara aapas ka maamla hai” before you get to carry one of your own to the graveyard just because you were too busy being polite!”
And palpably so, a cascade of comments culpable of hypersexualising Rizvi’s campaign with users highlighting her “cheap harkatay,”, branding her photo… “behuda” or questioning, “is pic mein doggy banayi hui dikha rahi ho ya doggy style?” If such sexualisation feels so sickening, wait till we pin the campaign’s pornification.
Users went to the extent to exclaim how “the photoshoot depicts more of a desi BDSM rather than slavery of a bride” One admitted to having mistaken this for porn: “first i thought this is a po*n shoot.. Bcoz aesy hmary muashary ma nahi hai.” As such commentary – or criticism – clarifies that Rizvi’s campaign is indisputably suffering sexualisation, the question still stands, is her campaign, on its whole, suffering or growing, nevertheless?
Yasra’s threesome of posts, even though carrying their unfair – though, some may say fair – commentary slash criticism, produced over 1500 comments, thereby, creating a conversation on issues closeted with the old adage, “aapas ka maamla.” Local celebrities like Sarwat Gilani and international celebrities like India’s Ayushmann Khurrana – known for redefining masculinity with his Gentleman kise kehte hai – went from praising Rizvi’s poetry to appreciating her campaign. Then again, one may argue that such e-solidarity is an embodiment of all talk no action, hence motioning no momentum for the movement.
One user took time out to comment with advice:
Ma’am u r right bt I think jis tara Ap express Krti hain in baatoo ko wo Thora awkward Hai… Hm sahi baat b ghalt tareqey sa krein gye to ulta naksaan Hoga…. V should b polite in our expressions…. Hm na logo ko Apni baat ki tarf ragab krna Hai na k un ko cherr dalwana Hai….
On another spectrum, those sexualising Rizvi amassed ammo from those questioning the Islamic and Pakistani nature of Rizvi’s campaign. While netizens claimed she was “trying hard to grab [the] attention of Lucifer or already worshipping him,” others called Rizvi out for “just provoking the novel girls by your deep pockets agenda.”
Meanwhile, some went as far as to label her doings as a publicity stunt, while others alleged that abuse is a notion obsolete in modern day Pakistan, as they wrote, “ab koi abuse nahi hoti wo pehle k zamane the. Ab to extra marital affairs zor per h. Aurat b ab kam nahi. Sab barabar k zimmedar h.”
The campaign definitely kick started a debate – if that was the aim of the creator.
However, it doesn’t only seem to be suffering sexualisation with attacks targeting her aurathood; rather, there is activism exclusion on the grounds of her Pakistaniyat and Musalmaniyat, via claims of her allegedly abdicating from religion and customs. Nevertheless, considering Churails went from banned to unbanned, there is hope that this campaign can go from bashed to un-bashed, someday, any day – even, if not today.