Tag Archives: Pakistani Society

Happy Hafta-e-Hijab!

18 Sep

Hafta-e-Hijab: Hijab Musalmaan Aurat Ki Pehchaan Hai

Banners announcing Hijab week have been hung across Islamabad by the Jamaat-e-Islami. The Jamaat-e-Islami’s women’s wing is the force behind this celebration and recognition of Muslim femininity and piety. Here are my thoughts on this Islamic feminist effort:

1. Two thumbs up to the Jamaat for organizing a woman centric political campaign. Women despite being slightly more than 50% of the population in Pakistan remain neglected as a separate and unique electorate by all political parties. While all political parties have women’s wings – none of them have women centric platforms, agendas or nationwide campaigns. the Jamaat’s women’s wing seems to be light years ahead of the per-oxide brigade of most other political parties women’s wings. Note: per-oxide overdose can damage hair and also your brain. Use per-oxide with caution.

2. Two thumbs down for excluding women who happen to be Muslim but don’t wear the hijab. What about those that cover their head with a chaddor or duppatta. And what about those who dont cover their head at all? This political campaign clearly demarcates the chaste from the waste and while clearly defining, reaching out and making its target female electorate feel good about its self – it is also a prosletyzing nudge to those sitting on the hair covering fence.

3. The Jamaat’s existence pre-dates the existence of Pakistan. In 1947 or even 1987, the JI’s women’s wing would not have launched this campaign. This particular campaign is another indicator of the growing Arabization and Wahabi/Salfi trend in society and politics. This Hijab is the pious Pakistani woman’s newest accessory – a result of cross cultural influences from the middle east. A burqa or chaddor is just not going to make the piety or the Muslim femininity cute any more. Burn those burqas I say. They are now a fashion faux pas. The Hijab is the lastest religious riot!

4. If you are feeling left out and would like to participate – you might be bale to do so by Hugging a Hijaabi – just make sure that you are either female or a mehram. Otherwise hell fire and bearded brothers will be let loose on you.

5. Why hasn’t this campaign been sponsored by Sunsilk for covered hair?



19 Dec

Your hair says a lot about you. And what other people say about your hair says a lot about them.

Today, while waiting for my turn at the salon before getting my hair washed and blow dried (or blow fried which is the more appropriate term) I decided to run a small poll on bbm about how to get my hair done. I messaged everyone on my list and asked, “straight or curly?”

Now I’ve done statistics 101 and know a little bit about opinion polls and samples. So let me admit at the onset that the sample polled was not statistically significant or representative in any way but they were really interesting and merit a blog post.

 The sample polled were adult men and women all under the age of 35. They all own blackberries and are predictably upwardly mobile young professional types. Since my methodology was not as robust as I would have liked it to be (read: it sucked!) I will not present you with numbers but analyze the trends that emerged and what I – in my infinite wisdom – concluded from them.

Pakistani boys said straight hair

Gora (read foreign) boys said wavy.

Pakistani girls were split in their decision, however those from Karachi unanimously and, I might add, immediately voted for wavy.

Gori (read foreign) girls and Samar said curly.

So what does this tell us about Pakistani society at large?

Pakistani men are largely still wedded to the idea of some naek parveen type with straight hair and fair skin – they like it safe.

Goras boys and Karachi girls embrace the idea of the more unpredictable fun and flirtatious wavy hair. Note that they also picked an option (without being prompted) that was not given. They pick the road less travelled.  They also like to be non-committal and keep it interesting – choosing between the best of both worlds (straight or curly) and not really committing to either.

Feminism has made much more of a mark on women in the west then it has on women here. My sisters abroad were all about getting rid of the straight and going with the curl – defying convention and standard notions of beauty – they were all gung-ho about curls. They like it curly, less contrived. They are done with boring and straight and fake.

Pakistani women were predictably divided. And it’s not surprising. We’re not sure whether we want it straight or curly. Some of us are definitely more in line with our foreign sisters and are emancipated and riding the third wave of feminism. The rest of us are still trying to fit in with what society expects of us so after we get done with our high-powered job, we go to the salon and get our hair blow dried straight and then expect to meet man of our dreams at the wedding party that will be populated by nothing but predatory aunties and their not so stellar sons. 

But till we figure out our identity crisis – we will continue to poll our friends and get hair styling advice and keep hoping for prince charming to show up and tell us that he doesn’t really care if its straight or curly!

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