Some Pakistani shows even comedy shows are very misogynist in nature. I was raised on some of these shows; but, I learned how to walk away on my own. While living in Canada, I learned about Rahim Pardesi’s YouTube videos; he is a British-Pakistani YouTube star. I watched some of his videos and found some of them interesting. However, the rest of these videos were very frustrating in nature. It is easy for me to notice that he displays main character “Nasreen” as a very odd woman who is a total misfit and an outcast. I find it very cruel to see that he expects people to laugh at this. I have laughed on some of these depictions as well because he is actually very funny—there are times he jokes about the male characters instead. Here are some videos that strike me as very very odd! What’s even more peculiar is that the young woman “Nasreen” is actually Rahim Pardesi himself.
The Gym Class: Nasreen goes to the gym and does absolutely nothing except to flirt with a well-built guy.
Iftar Time: Nasreen’s husband tells her that she should wait a bit more; and, she is not going to die while doing this. This is how he is talking to her during the sacred month of Ramadan. Reality is that during a Ramadan if someone panics while fasting, you should be taking care of them by talking or figuring out if this person needs to break his/her fast earlier. Why didn’t Rahim made a lighter comedy around this fact?
Natural Beauty: Nasreen’s husband complains that she has wasted her money on getting her eyebrows shaped because she got this done last week. So apparently, he is not reading into the fact that she is bored or that her eyebrows grew out of shape because hair grows faster for some Brown women.
Shop Snatch: Nasreen is busy running in slow motion or playing video games while her husband’s shop is being looted. This shows how well they connect with each other and read each other’s needs. This also shows that Nasreen is just responding to ongoing neglect.
Desi Hunger Games: Nasreen eventually yells at her husband after he misses her anniversary. He then throws chocolates at her like he is feeding an animal. Then, he starts daydreaming about a pretty Indian actress, Katrina Kaif.
Desi Holiday: This video clips starts when Nasreen’s best friend calls her and tells her that she is going to “Barcelona”. Nasreen learns that she is going to Dubai and gets all excited. Her husband says, “Shut up! You are barking”. The English captions state, “You are rambling”; but, in Urdu (my mother tongue), he actually said, “You are barking”, which means that he thinks she is like a dog. Then, he tells her that he is going to take her to Pakistan instead; she gets very unhappy when she hears this.
Nasreen Kidnap: This clip shows how Nasreen is kidnapped and how her husband does not help her at all when the kidnappers call for ransom. She runs away on her own; and, when she gets home, she finds out that her husband is busy playing cards with his friends.
Nasreen After 40 Years: In this video, Nasreen ends up befriending a psycho killer due to fear. She feeds him and dances with him—they don’t tell viewers that she has “Stockholm Syndrome”. The psycho finally kills her because she runs out of the food that she was using to stop him from harming her. Her husband comes home; sees the dead body; and, thinks that she is pranking him. He checks out the dead body for 40 years; and, keeps thinking that she is pranking him. He says something along these lines, “Wake up! I am going to work. Stop overreacting”. This shows you that for many years, he has not bothered to look for her outside of this kitchen and that her life does not exist outside of the kitchen.
“Nasreen” is clearly misogynist in nature because it depicts hatred towards women and shows this in various ways including neglect and verbally aggressive language. Obviously! the influence of such shows does not end at the screen.
My personal experiences have taught me that some Pakistani households are very toxic for women and children. In such abusive and dysfunctional households, Pakistanis are learning things mostly from TV; thus, they talk and behave a little bit or very much like Nasreen’s husband. This kind of mistreatment is designed to break women’s and children’s confidence and ruin their future. Some of my close male relatives used to sometimes talk like this. Three of them have changed a lot over years, which is a good indication. But, two of the guys who have reformed still tend to get very grumpy sometimes and then verbally assault me; then they apologize sooner or later. It is scary because of the nature of comments. It used to be worse when they were younger; but, they have somehow changed into better people. They had some trauma in their lives so it was easier to change when stimuli was removed. We are learning how to move forward by talking to each other. I have noticed that we still work pretty well together, which is probably because our bond formation is still very strong.
Overall, it is very crippling living with them or being close to them, which is why our family members have grown apart. Domestic abuse is just one reason why I am not planning to marry within my culture. There is always this fear that something torturous is going to happen to me. I engage in Lucid Dreaming; and, even then I cannot remove this fear from my mind. Another reason is that I know things are like this for some other Pakistani-Canadian women as well; and, I know that some of them are bent on identifying themselves as non-Pakistanis so that they may not get caught by their family members.
Saying all this, I must comment that all this is true for some Pakistani households only. And, the only way out of this is by using mainstream media to engage, which is obviously not going to be done properly for quite some while. Pakistani mainstream media is usually filled with dramas, comedy shows, music shows, and reality shows. From what I remember about Pakistan, there was really less footage on how to overcome domestic abuse; how to have a stable married life; or how to be good parents. Maybe, things have changed now. But, who cares! I mean my life is already ruined.
You can tell which household is abusive if you are a keen observer or if you are sticking around for longer. In a typical abusive Pakistani household, children are usually very well-behaved in front of strangers; but, at the back they are very mean towards each other, parents, or employees. If you are a keen observer, you might end up noticing a bad joke such as, “Why won’t you try to sleep outside today?” This will very likely get camouflaged as the rest of the family members would attempt to shrug it off as something funny or childish someone is saying to distract the guests. If you live with them for a bit, you will definitely hear the children scream and also see them fight a lot. And, if you are close to the abusive parents somehow, you will see that you cannot mention Psychologists or Family Councillors to them. They simply won’t listen because they have played a role in creating this dysfunction.
So do you still think that we need shows like “Nasreen”?
Copyright © by Arzoo Zaheer. All Rights Reserved.