Dawn News

Threatened by thought

-Illustration by Feica.

I went on a date once with a man who was 51, divorced with 6 children. What a catch! Most of my friends would never have agreed to it, too much baggage. But I like to think of myself as open minded and non-judgmental, so I turned up.

He was short, bald and one of the first things he said to me was, “I agreed to meet you because I know you’re a comedian and I didn’t want to reject you because you’re lower than everyone else”.

My friends said to me, “Why did you carry on seeing this man?”

Because I needed the material.

He carried on, “Do you think if we ever got married, you could give up the comedy and do something respectable like be a TV presenter, or read the weather?”

I said, “No, the weather’s not funny.”

He said, “I’m entitled to have more than one wife so I’d like to have two wives because men have a higher sex drive than women so I’d like one wife with me when I’m travelling and one wife for when I get home.”

I asked him why he was divorced, he said, “I married my wife when she was 17, she wasn’t educated and has never worked a day in her life. But she was a great cook and great in the bedroom.”

I said, “If she was a cook in the kitchen and great in the bedroom – why did it end?”

“Because she didn’t do what I said anymore”.

He said, “A woman’s role is to look after the house and the children and a man’s role is to go out and work. Men should make all the decisions and they should always have the final say, because women just make mistakes.”

I told him I had two degrees to which he replied incredulously, “Have you really, Shazia?? Too much knowledge just confuses women, and you’re too liberal. You must stop reading.”

“What? The New York Times?”

“No. Just reading.”

This man was a wealthy businessman who was brought up and lived in England. He viewed women as property, her only duties in life were to cook, clean and serve her husband. He had nothing to offer a woman in return, except lots of money and a big ego. Apparently, some women are attracted to this, not me or any of the people I know. But then all the women I know are intelligent, with self respect and a high self esteem.

What’s the difference between him and the Taliban? – A Gucci jumper. That’s all.

Malala Yousufzai the 14-year-old girl shot by the Taliban for wanting an education, and praising Barack Obama is sad, shocking and disturbing. But it’s not just the Taliban that think this way; it’s millions of men all round the world.

I’ve met educated men like the one I went on a date with, that think like this and would call themselves, ‘Modern, western, educated and liberal’ but deep down they are threatened by thought.

The Taliban may be scared of getting shot, arrested, or put in jail, but nothing is more frightening to them than an educated woman. A woman who can think, speak and fight with her mind. A woman they can’t control. It is only a weak man, a man with an undeveloped mind, and no emotional intelligence that can feel threatened by a woman who has an opinion, and the courage to criticise.

You can’t change the way these men think, they will never change; they are complicit in their misogyny and are happy to be that way. Women will change the world, and Malala Yousufzai is a modern day Rosa Parks, a suffragette, a 14-year-old girl who can see clearly the absurdity in not being able to read or say you like the American President.

It’s a good job I didn’t tell the date I went on how much I loved George Clooney.

The last thing my date said to me was, “Please don’t ever use me as material”.

Of course I will. Women will have the final say.


The author is an award winning stand-up comedian and writer. She has performed all over the world. A columnist for The Guardian UK, she was named Columnist of the Year at the prestigious PPA Awards. Find out more from her website.


The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Email feedback and queries to Dawn.com's editorial team, or visit our contact page

Shazia Mirza is an award winning stand-up comedian and writer. She has performed all over the world. A columnist for The Guardian UK, she was named Columnist of the Year at the prestigious PPA Awards. Find out more from her website. Follow her on Twitter @shaziamirza1.

The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.


Comments (53) Closed

Oct 20, 2012 01:35pm
My dear this is what is called male chauvinism, and is by no means restricted to the Muslim world and the Taliban. To withhold a girls education is to pre-plan the destruction of the future generations, the state the so called developing countries are in presently, is because of the very fact that the girl child was not allowed to be educated and subsequently not able to rear their next generation to the level where they would be a honorable, educated, respectable, righteous and a just society.
Oct 20, 2012 01:04pm
Absolutely, its just that our culture seems to breed more jerks than average.
Oct 21, 2012 09:05am
Why am i having the feeling that either the story is totally made up or is exaggerated to too much extend.
Agha Ata (USA)
Oct 20, 2012 12:56pm
Who "YOU" are you talking about?
Oct 20, 2012 12:55pm
If all men are misogynists, I am a woman.
Oct 20, 2012 10:12am
you said it all, sister !
Vishnu Dutta
Oct 20, 2012 10:24am
Ah man.. you missed a nice catch.
Oct 20, 2012 10:45am
i think the basic mindset of an individual remains the same regardless of his education or background... you saw a good example....
reality not selected truth
Oct 20, 2012 11:15am
It does not matter which country you belong to which group you belong to if you are a jerk you are a jerk everywhere.
Cyrus Howell
Oct 20, 2012 11:11am
She made this up of course. There was no date with such a person.
Cyrus Howell
Oct 20, 2012 11:19am
"I said,
Oct 20, 2012 11:28am
Oct 20, 2012 11:48am
There's nothing worse than an uneducated person be it a man or a woman, the things they come out with, and the belief "system" they create in their tiny minds! Although, some of the so called "educated" people are not much better neither, the only thing they have ever read are text books and are not widely read or street wise for that matter. Conversely an uneducated person can be extremely shrewd and street wise but not well read like our politicians or Shazia's date!
Oct 20, 2012 11:49am
Thanks to natural selection, the Neanderthals went extinct.
Oct 20, 2012 11:52am
A Woman's place is in the kitchen. A woman should be subservient to a man. I wish somebody would tell that to my woman, lol. Citizen Khan
Oct 20, 2012 12:05pm
Really funny....keep it up...love what you are doing...
Reddy sahib
Oct 20, 2012 12:44pm
excellent thought , and I am sure most men particularly south asian origin have the same mindset, so how do you expect any nation to go forward.
Shahzad Akhund
Oct 21, 2012 10:05pm
"It is only a weak man, a man with an undeveloped mind, and no emotional intelligence that can feel threatened by a woman who has an opinion, and the courage to criticise". I could not have said it better.
ahmad butt
Oct 21, 2012 10:46am
No Zafar its true, Pakistani men never change, i am in a western country and my colleague is being approached by a very smart highly and educated Pakistani girl who is not a westernised trashed girl, but an ethical liberal and professionally qualified.and he asked me out of his curiosity, that why couldn't she find a suitable match overseas in Pakistan and here, he is in doubt as why Pakistani men arent interested in her, and I just said "man consider yourself lucky" , but i could sense the vibe that she probably isnt interested in men who will feel threatened if she earned more, got more attention all around.and we cannot blame her, you can educate Pakistani men but cannot change their mentality....Oh yes and without sounding hypocrite, im the same , i would be a bit jealous if my wife gets ahead of me as well...
Oct 20, 2012 01:44pm
It is excellent and highly relevant piece of work. It is sad that still people do not realise that women are equal, if not better and male supremacy is medieval thinking. Hope that the world grows up. As a male I observed that females are more dedicated to what they do and they are more practical and result oriented. Men are more idealistic. Had there been an equal opportunity throughout the history of civilisation, there would have been equal number of thinkers and philosophers in their ranks.
Oct 21, 2012 01:20pm
Because you are a man
AB Cheema
Oct 22, 2012 06:28am
Pathetic when it comes to moral , but good as a comedy.
Tax Payer
Oct 21, 2012 03:48pm
Hahahahaha Nice one :P I liked the ending phase :P
Oct 21, 2012 06:44am
Quite a pathetic peice.
Sue Sturgess
Oct 21, 2012 04:47am
I wonder if you are foolish enough to tell her yourself?
S. Roy
Oct 21, 2012 11:42pm
"Unfortunately women is abused one way or the other in all the cultures including the so called
S. Roy
Oct 21, 2012 11:45pm
Yes - may be. Anything is possible. However, she was there with this man; you were NOT. From all accounts Shazia Mirza is a smart lady. So her inference is more credible. It's that simple!
Oct 21, 2012 02:39am
Shazia, More power to your pen! You made a mistake though, confusing literate for educated. Very few men are educated..A few years spent in university does not challenge their minds. Descartes was mistaken when he said "Cogito ergo sum". Or maybe he was looking in the mirror.
krishna prasad
Oct 21, 2012 02:28am
I am a guy. I agree with Shazia. It is correct when I see so called men holding 2/3 and sometimes Ph.Ds don't know how to discuss issues with their own family members, wife, friends and relatives and make a mess of themselves in many a scenario. They understand and speak half-truths from what they learn on hearsay and feel that they attained maturity to impose his ideas to as many as he can including his wife and doesn't like/want to hear 2nd opinion/view point and always feel threatened when someone questions them for better understanding. I met a lot of them in Toronto and USA and are called confused desis with no clarity in their minds. I am totally disappointed when I listen to their discussions and find that they are totally clueless as to what they talk and assume they be respected for what they say. Interestingly they always dress themselves up well as grown-up adults.
Oct 22, 2012 06:24am
Wow, nice characterization. I do agree in toto that there are men in almost all faiths who think exactly like this. But can you tell me one faith where the majority of men think like this? Oh yes, that may be yet another attack on one particular faith - but ain't it the plain truth?
Oct 21, 2012 01:36am
All eastern men are Taliban in their mental makeup to women folk. They see and experience that the women has to serve, feed, look after the children and home, beside, serving their husbands. Even in Islam , women has half witness status. However, women as a mother , sister and wife has been been given a social & secure financial position not enjoyed in all other cultures/religions. To make a mockery of this man in UK because he has big Turban and uncultured beard and want another women as a wife or keep is unfair.
A Sunni Muslim
Oct 22, 2012 06:49am
I think we all are mixing up what we call backward thinking people and Taliban. I have no problem with people who want to live 500 or 1400 years ago, who treat women as a cook and a sex object(though i am a uber-feminist). It is a matter of choice and every one has the right to think, even the Taliban or other MCPs. The problem we have is with people who try to enforce their ideas on us through the use of FORCE. The word force is key here because it is even acceptable, if they do it through talk (tableeg) or through pen or another medium. But usage of force is unacceptable and must be reciprocated by force.
Oct 21, 2012 01:10am
Shazia is really emancipated. She is a free soul to date anybody and a great thinker to choose right things for herself. She is a true embodiment of liberated one. She is the living shining example of the other extreme of taliban.she is the ultimate liberal taliban
Oct 22, 2012 01:31am
Ms. Shazia, your story is not realistic in that even if a man of Pakistani decent was biased against women, and there are many such men, he would not reveal his bias in front a younger, better-looking female he was trying to impress for the sake of marriage. I think it would have been a lot better if you had conveyed your message in a more subtle manner and kept this date business out of it.
Oct 20, 2012 10:17pm
a well peace of writing by shazia mirza.
Oct 20, 2012 10:07pm
very well written
Ali S
Oct 22, 2012 07:25am
Did it cross your mind that the reason he had the guts to be so shamelessly rude to you is he thought you were beneath him the moment you agreed to date rather than you being in showbiz? His "ideal woman" probably wouldn't have been up for a date, he'd have to contact her family to work it out. You should have asked him "if your ideal woman is so conservative, why do you think she'd be ready for a date"? The Taliban comparison might be a bit of a stretch, though, it's plain simple misogyny that is culturally ingrained throughout South Asia. This mindset has little to do with what education one has and more with cultural upbringing - he might not have been willing to kill a woman who doesn't agree with his views, but deep down he's still afraid of his macho ego being put down by a woman. Nothing less manlier than that.
Mustafa Razavi
Oct 20, 2012 06:45pm
Muzammil; Your comments suggest that those who can read English can't have closed minds, I believe you need to open your mind..
muzammil ullah khan
Oct 20, 2012 03:07pm
She should keep writing and get it translated into URDU so that it can be printed in urdu newspapers. it is that audience which needs to be addressed and made to understand what a closed mind really is and why no one can argue with a person with a closed mind.
AR Khan
Oct 22, 2012 09:06am
Writer is a comedian. And last lines are hilarious comedy. You cant change the way men think. Similarly, you can never change the way a woman thinks. True Story.
Oct 20, 2012 05:58pm
Unfortunately women is abused one way or the other in all the cultures including the so called 'civilized' societies.It is the level of sophistication.Men(conservative?) generally have this fear that an educated and especially working women would neglect her 'duties'(kids, home,husband...).I think an educated women can be a great asset to the family.It of course depends on the relationship and understanding the two have.It should be mutually beneficial. On the other hand education and intelligence have nothing to do with WISDOM,which is not taught in colleges and universities.Wisdom comes with age and patience.And we know how impatient we are and some people(men and women) absolutely refuse to grow up.
Oct 20, 2012 05:51pm
This article is a masterpiece and should be translated into every language in the world to show the world, this thinking is not specific to The Taliban. Women all over the world experience this kind of mysogyny every day.
Oct 20, 2012 05:31pm
an uneducated teenager can be subjugated by a man UNTIL she realises the man has been using her and then she starts disobeying because she has learnt all the way the tricks of HIS trade.
Shahbaz Khan
Oct 20, 2012 05:20pm
Maybe he was being sarcastic and you missed all the clues to it. Or maybe he was making tasteless jokes with a very straight and sincere face???
Oct 20, 2012 04:34pm
Not is my part of the world.
Oct 20, 2012 04:27pm
Excellent piece. Taliban and their likes are really frightened of educated women. But they are also frightened of all forms of forms of intellect and freedom of thought. I have just one concern on your piece. You might have painted all
Eqbal Khan
Oct 20, 2012 03:23pm
Your start was good and funny. You start with that you are non-judgmental, but then you blew it. In your world all men are bad, [maybe except your father and brothers]. Women have problems, not only in Pakistan but also in the west. Nature of those problems is different. But that is not to say that you lump everyone together. That is what Taliban do. They have simple rules that apply to very complex society and people. In their rules, personal opinion, local, cultural and religious environment does not count. In your world, you also have simple rules, all Muslim men are bad and their thinking is low and they all want to enslave women. These simple rules for complex situations will never create an environment where you will find solution to women's problem. Instead, these simple rules are polarizing and pushing the stake holders apart. This maybe somewhat emotional comfort to you but it is not good for the women cause. Degrees do not make one wise.
Ghulam Ishaq
Oct 22, 2012 04:55am
You would find a lot such men on forums like ummah.com and women who encourage such behavior too!
Oct 20, 2012 03:17pm
honestly its all made up or exaggerated... seems like only negative images sell these days in pakistan.... but you dont have to push it too far...
Muhammed Ahmed Shoaib
Oct 20, 2012 02:29pm
or the fact that educated women bring up enlightened children and enlightened children try to ease the lives of their fellow beings, and if this never happens; progress will never come about in a society.
Oct 20, 2012 01:57pm
how do you know?btw i doubt you were the date.
Oct 21, 2012 09:03am
Why am i having a feeling that the story is either made up, or exaggerated.
Oct 21, 2012 07:07pm
True to the core mam... And true for South Asian men in general...