Sexist placards at the PTI jalsa: when humor comes at the cost of women

Mahnoor Jalal

Mahnoor Jalal

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When will grown men from different political parties realize that they cannot reaffirm their political beliefs by abusing the women who are involved in these parties? In the past few weeks as political turmoil spread throughout the country, within Pakistan and abroad we have been witnessing a gross form of misogyny arise where men think they are scoring points by dragging the women of different parties into the mud by calling them misogynist terms, sending them rape threats and what not. This reached out even to the women who weren’t even remotely related to the main political figures, like Jemima Khan whose house was surrounded by supporters of the PMLN party who abused her and her children and even sent her rape threats because her ex-husband Imran Khan was criticizing the new government:

Like the classic Pakistani mindset goes: women are turned into inanimate objects men think they can abuse and discard because its the easiest way to dishonor the man and his family. And now, as Imran Khan holds his political rallies all over Pakistan, the misogynist and horrifying content displayed by his fans proves how hard women could work and hold respectable powerful positions within politics, men will continue to defame them with rape and death threats because to us, a woman’s body holds the honor of the entire family and this is the classiest manner to challenge your opponent. Not by challenging his policies or the contributions he has made, but making gross rape jokes about the women since they’re weak, inanimate objects.

Feminist researcher and leftist organizer Tooba Siddiqui shared some of these sexist placards from the PTI jalsa which were targetting Maryam Nawaz, the neice of Shehbaz Sharif, and someone who has actively been involved in the public sphere. In these posters, she is referred to as “Milf-e-Millat” and then during the rally, Imran Khan abuses her by calling her “grandmother” and “daughter of a thief” and many other abuses.

Such degrading language used by political parties proves our misogynist mindsets haven’t evolved from viewing women as objects to target directly with such vermin because to us, women aren’t anything more than their bodies and the roles they carry as mothers and daughters. Despite how hard working and independent these women may be to establish themselves in a field that has been male-dominated for centuries, ultimately our country men will never see them as anything beyond their connection to their families and that they are simply women who can be removed out of the way by being given rape threats.

This abusive mindset can extend to anyone who isn’t even a part of the PMLN political circle, and just functions as a tool by the PTI bros to silence and intimidate any woman who poses a question to Imran Khan’s claims. Another placard has been revolving around social media which showed a PTI supporter sending rape threats to a female journalist because he claims that she is pro-PMLN simply because she had questioned Imran Khan’s claims that he had done more for the country than any other political party.

Whether you’re a woman belonging to a powerful family or a self-made woman who has risen up in a male dominated field on her own, the men in this country won’t see you beyond anything other than an object who is solely the person to hold the honor in this family. Women are not targets for you to hurl abuses and rape threats on if you’re targeting another man, and they’re definitely not the ones responsible for upholding the honor of a man or a political party. By targeting her for carrying Chanel bags or for being the ex-wife of a political figure, our misogynist mindset needs to be addressed so that women can truly be independent and lead their own lives.