Home / Opinion / The unequal price of freedom of speech | By Wishal Raheel
Pakistan , Women , Rights , Problems , Man , Dominated , Society , CSS , Current affairs , 2015

The unequal price of freedom of speech | By Wishal Raheel

Men have shaped and molded society according to their likes for such a long time that at present, a highly patriarchal global society has come into existence.  While the opportunities for women in the modern world have significantly improved in comparison to the opportunities women had in older times, yet women have started to feel more threatened, too, due to very obvious reasons. Even though the female gender enjoys higher levels of freedom in many societies, this newfound freedom comes at a price. The freedom of speech most certainly comes at a high price for individuals in many societies and the price seems to be even higher for women.  In a country like Pakistan, in particular, for a woman to be able to express her thoughts and opinions freely is not an easy task.

If a man writes or creates something that offends the masses, he is criticized for it. If what he has written or published is highly offensive, he will be showered with hate speech. He might even receive threats over the internet or on his phone. Never, however, is the nature of any of this criticism sexual. Never would the man be tortured with sexually harassing remarks.  When he needs to be humiliated further, his sisters and mother are brought into the picture; all sorts of derogatory, sexually harassing remarks can be made against the female family members of an offender. The fact that a man’s mother and sister subjected to such derogatory remarks because the man created an offensive piece of art isn’t unheard of in our country.

But, the scenario changes completely when a woman offends people. A woman strong enough to voice her opinion, which may differ from that of the general masses, automatically becomes eligible to be categorized as a ‘bad woman’. Let’s not forget that we live in a country where a human rights lawyer, who has been working tirelessly for gender equality, the rights of religious minorities and the freedom of speech in general, has been openly mocked, ridiculed and criticized by our own society. A woman, whose work has been acknowledged and appreciated globally, manages to attract all sorts of offensive remarks from her own countrymen. The even sadder part is the fact that these attacks are almost always made directly at her character and it seems as if the sole purpose of these attacks is to tarnish her reputation.

It isn’t uncommon for a woman voicing her opinion to be ridiculed via extremely offensive sexual remarks. It isn’t unheard of for a female journalist to be referred to as a s**t simply because she touched a controversial topic.

While this problem may seem to be a small one, it is the outcome of problems deeply embedded within the framework of our society. A woman can very easily be humiliated if she is attacked with sexual remarks; such is the manner in which our society functions. While a man who offends someone is worthy of a death threat, a woman is only worthy of being threatened to get raped. There are, or course, multiple factors that contribute towards this flaw, the main one being the sexualization of brutality. Violence has been sexualized to the extent that threatening to rape a woman counts not as a disgusting act of cowardice but as a valiant heroic act. A woman who dares to defy the rules set by society most certainly deserves to be treated without mercy and with violence. Since violence has been sexualized, threatening to rape a woman seems to be the best way most men have thought up to deal with ‘defiant’ women.

The truth is that society has been male dominated for so long that certain absurdities have become a socially acceptable part of it. The patriarchal nature of society has given men the complete power to decide what should be deemed offensive by whom. Of course, a problem like this cannot be solved overnight and will require massive changes within society. For the time being, however, women should be given the right to be ridiculed and criticized in a manner similar to how their male counterparts are ridiculed and criticized. The price of the freedom of speech should be equal for all.

Source: http://nation.com.pk/blogs/12-Feb-2015/the-unequal-price-of-freedom-of-speech

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