And They’ll Break Free!

Almost a quarter of this century has elapsed but in some areas of the world, men are still insecure with respect to granting women their due place and recognizing their intrinsic rights.

And They’ll Break Free!

You only have power over people so long as you don't take everything away from them. But when you've robbed a man of everything, he's no longer in your power - he's free againAleksandr Solzhelitsyn

The probability that children can predict in which part of the world or to whom they will be born is inconceivable. Call it fate or whatever, there is no way to determine which type of family, faith or ethnic origin, a child will call its own. More so in the case of females, who, if given a choice, would never be part of such clans that do not value their existence or that consider them a specie distinct from males (to a great extent), but also lower in status as human beings. Tons of literature has been produced challenging the idea that females are low in intelligence, need to be kept under control and have no ability or rights to make decisions about their lives. Research, experiments and years of experiences have although refuted these assumptions, yet the dominant male mindset refuses to acknowledge the idea that both males and females have been adorned with similar characteristics with females given the added attribute to procreate, thus preventing humans from extinction.

The twenty first century has brought in its wake a remarkable era of scientific progress and unprecedented technological advances that has led to high levels of human interconnectedness. Consequently, the new generation is breaking the artificial barriers of national boundaries, ethnicity, racism, familial lineages and in some cases, even religion. There is less talk about who is who; rather, who is more human compared to another, is becoming more of a concern. People are accorded respect and dignity by the mere fact that they are homo sapiens. They are freeing themselves of chains responsible for separating person from person and adopting a more affectionate stance for the human race. Universality is now taking over individuality which is a clear sign of rising consciousness. Brains are being rewired, taking thought processes to the next level. Issues that used to lurk under water are surfacing to rip apart the face of taboos specifically created to cause divisions between people in general, and men and women in particular.

Almost a quarter of this century has elapsed but in some areas of the world, men are still insecure with respect to granting women their due place and recognizing their intrinsic rights. They are as yet, apprehensive about their own positions vis-à-vis that of a liberated woman. They are scared to let go of that noose around their females’ necks with which they are forced into slavish subjugation where their own aspirations are absolutely meaningless. The truth is that these ‘personal desires’ are usually misconstrued as immoral so whenever women make these demands they are accused of seeking permissiveness to dress howsoever they like, exercise their choices without inhibitions and in short, lead wayward lives. No wonder that much hue and cry is made, especially by men in the streets and media at the slightest indication of women intending to either march or protest for their rights. 

In our neighboring country Iran, 51 years old activist Narges Mohammadi, who still remains in jail was recently awarded the Nobel Prize in recognition of her campaigns for women’s rights, democracy and against the death penalty. Despite having spent most of her time in prison during the last two decades for her activism, she continues her efforts tirelessly. She was sentenced to a total of 31 years in prison and 154 lashes just because she spoke out against women’s oppression and lately for leading protests sparked by the death of a 22 years old girl in police custody. 

‘Freedom’ is a word which seems to have different connotations for different people. While Epictetus thinks: “No man is free who is not master of himself” for Jean Paul Sartre: “Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does” thus aligning with Robert A Heinlein’s opinion: “I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do. I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.” Emma Lazarus says: “Until we are all free, we are none of us free.”

When women campaign for freedom one wonders how they can get it from those men who are already imprisoned within the thick walls of ignorance, limited outlook and extremely controlling mind-blowing ideologies that have blinded them from seeing the true worth of women. For them, such demands are shameless display of vulgarity and disturbance of family traditions, whereas all that they are asking is the right to exercise their free will and exist as human beings—not just to produce offspring and drudge throughout their lives without any acknowledgement or compensation.

The very idea that if allowed freedom (as envisioned by many), women will disrupt the normal conventions and convert society into a whorehouse, is perhaps the most obnoxious way of looking at reality. No human beings will deliberately degrade themselves to such low levels, for all are looking for peace and serenity which comes from love and respect for others.

This does not entail that young girls be forced into undesirable marriages or spinsterhood as happens in many families where wealth is more valuable than the living. It also does not mean that in the name of religion, women and even men are subjected to total control by a select few who are anytime ready to dictate their terms regardless of what or how others are thinking or want to think.

Those who consider rebellious girls as detrimental to social values should think twice before condemning the spread of these examples as inciteful in nature for the so-called ‘docile’ females. The fact is that insurrection occurs when sanity recedes and irrationality overpowers. When a person is unable to convince another of right or wrong, of own desires against self-sacrifice, of own wishes against unreasonable demands, of trying to break-away from being controlled physically and emotionally, the only path that appears scalable is that of defiance. Use of excessive pressure will eventually cause an explosion but sensibility can be attained with only a sensible approach even though it might appear painful.

The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable”, James A. Garfield.

The writer is a lawyer and author, and an Adjunct Faculty at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), member Advisory Board and Senior Visiting Fellow of Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE)