Mahira Khan and selective-ism: Where is the #GirlLove?

The last time I wrote on a topic concerning women empowerment, I was either brave enough or arrogant enough to brand myself as a feminist, depending on how you want to approach it. Before I begin this, I want to reiterate that yes, I am a feminist, I believe in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes. Which is why the whole “Dress-gate” debacle annoys me so much. Today, However, I want to address something that came to light in the fallout of this media frenzy, and it’s a pet peeve of mine, hypocrisy.

The post Mahira Khan situation 

In particular, I refer to the hypocrisy of selective-ism. When the news broke, when Mahira Khan’s image, in a backless white dress, smoking with Ranbir Kapoor broke, two things happened. Firstly, we Pakistanis proceeded to lose all our feces faster than after two spoons of Isphaghol in warm water. How dare she wear a dress and smoke, in spite of being a Pakistani woman, never mind the voyeuristic paparazzo taking her picture, because “woh to apni rozi kama raha tha”. Secondly, our celebs started rallying in Mahira’s defence, as they should have. She’s one of their own. I admire Mahira for not only taking the high road and taking all this in stride but also keeping all media interactions limited to her work. There’s a time and a place to speak, and when there’s already so many speaking for you, why give anyone the satisfaction or the validation.

But it seems, validation is really what some people are after. I don’t just mean the media, who inexplicably still believe that voyeuristic perusal of famous people is their right. I also refer to some of the sheep trying to pass themselves off as trendsetters. Among the mountain of celebrity support for Mahira, there was one Momina Mustehsan. She was quick to tweet in defense of Mahira, stating why are we so quick to judge and attack, especially if a woman is concerned. And that’s all fine and dandy expect for one teensy tiny little detail. Honey, you’re guilty of this to.

I Know What You Said Last Summer

Well, I would have loved it if Humaima Malick, had used this hashtag when she called out Momina on her hypocrisy. Still, her rebuttals were sheer perfection, even when Momina pulled the ‘victim of context’ card.

This brings to mind the punchline from Kendrick Lamar’s song ‘Humble’ which even shade queen Nicki Minaj has tweeted on one occasion to, well, through shade.

The point is, and Humaima summed it up perfectly, selective kindness is not kindness. The kind of clothes and actions that Mahira was photographed with, Qandeel Baloch was also seen in. But why was the industry’s response that of a thousands of keyboard warriors virtually assaulting them so different? In my opinion, the answer is simple. We are only sympathetic towards those who we see as being victimized; we don’t see their struggles, their challenges or their hardships. Essentially, we only see what we are shown and never allow ourselves the luxury of believing that what we are shown is not the full picture.

A tale of two women

In my view, both Mahira and Qandeel are examples of strong women, but their paths are different, their stories are different, their struggles are different. The media, society, and even we ourselves, demonized one and revered the other. Why? Because one’s narrative we could control.

Qandeel refused to let any aspect of her life to be dictated by man or society. If people were to call her a slut or a woman of loose character, they were going to do it on her terms. That made her the worst or the best kind of Baaghi (rebel) for our society. One that called out the hypocrisy of our society enough to shake its very foundation. Anyone who doesn’t fit our ideals or doesn’t comply to our norms, we demonize. That, is why Qandeel was killed, because the slightest attempt to have any claim over one’s life is an attempt to besmirch our incredibly fragile honor. That is also why we judged her more harshly.

In comparison to Qandeel Baloch, Mahira Khan has a much less controversial image. The industry good girl doing us proud by showing off her acting chops all over the world. But God forbid she has a personal life. I guess we’re all programmed to judge people on what we see. Simultaneously, we’ll only help people we think are good, again based on what we are shown.

So, where is the #GirlLove

This brings me to the title of this piece. Where is the #GirlLove? Why must we constantly breed hate? Why must we bring people down for their personal choices? Can’t we say ‘Nah bro, that sh**’s whack’ when someone obsesses over the way people dress, talk, act or work? Or, why can’t we own up to our hypocrisy when we get called out?

We talk about sins but conveniently forget about them when they apply to us. Sins like, you know Gheebat. Which doesn’t just include back-biting but also speaking ill of a person, regardless of who they are. It’s not just #GirlLove but love general, negativity has become a precedent in our society.

It is however, reassuring to know that it’s not just present in the lower, less educated classes but also the so-called educated elite. It shows we’re all in the same boat, at the very least.

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