Everyday sexism

May 16, 2019

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CRICKETER Shahid Afridi seems to have ruffled quite a few feathers since the release of his autobiography. Colourful, confrontational and anything but politically correct, the book mirrors his career in a way, and it continues to make headlines.

In fact, a new controversy has erupted over his remarks about not permitting his daughters to play outdoor sports.

“The feminists can say what they want; as a conservative Pakistani father, I’ve made my decision,” he stated.

This assertion from the former captain of the Pakistan cricket team is not exactly surprising or out of character.

In the past, he has made similar remarks, in response to a question about his thoughts on women playing cricket in Peshawar.

He ‘joked’ that Pakistani women are great cooks, implying that they belong in the kitchen, not in the cricket field.

As a public figure and a sportsman admired by millions, Afridi is a role model.

When he makes such flippant, derisive and patronising remarks, they are many who give credence to them.

Since the recent backlash, Afridi has defended himself by saying that he has the right to his personal life and decisions.

Everyone has the right to their views, but such regressive opinions should also continue to be challenged when publicly stated.

Even if such beliefs are held by many ‘conservative’ or ‘traditional’ Pakistani parents under the guise of ‘cultural values’ or out of a paternalistic concern for girls’ safety that infantilises them well into adulthood, it is important to remember that cultures are not static.

They evolve with time, and this is true in every part of the world.

There is a reason why it is mostly men who are the ‘stars’ in history books, while the names of women disappear into the annals.

For many, women can only be accepted in society as long as they maintain supporting roles — in the background, or entirely invisible, helping men achieve their potential, while having their own dreams crushed.

Published in Dawn, May 16th, 2019