Living as a Feminist Within The Bounds of Patriarchy
I’m finally escaping the patriarchy that’s held me back for so long
I give up on trying to bring change.
My husband hits me twice across the head. And then leaves the room and I hear a loud crashing noise. I walk out to see that he has smashed my laptop against the floor. Minutes ago, my parents were on a call with us to try to sort out our marital issues. And this happened as soon as the call ended. My head is throbbing and I’m standing there crying. I call my parents. Much to my surprise, my dad is not at all concerned that I have been hit. He casually asks my husband to apologize, which he does smirking, gloating that my father’s light reaction validates how I should be treated. I’m appalled. I say it’s not enough. To which my father says, “Shut your mouth, what more do you want him to do? He’s said sorry and now you stop being such a moody bitch.”
That incident happened a year ago. If there was one moment in my life that changed me forever, I would pick this one. Before that day, I was working on my very difficult marriage, because I was afraid of the toll a divorce would take on my parents. Or is that just the story I tell myself to feel noble? The truth it may well be, I was staying married to preserve my parents’ “honor.” In this patriarchal society, of which my parents are a product, a woman’s entire worth is tied around her marital status, of which only “married” is the acceptable one, regardless of the condition of that marriage.
I belong to what you would classify as the upper class of the Pakistani community. Well educated, wealthy, top military brass. A family of physicians, engineers, and senior management of leading corporations. My parents had lived two decades in the U.K. and Europe, where my siblings and I were raised. My husband’s family is a family entirely of physicians.
I had been brought up in London and a few other countries before I landed in Pakistan for college. Every single year since then, I felt like a misfit. I could see the way I was treated differently, based solely on my gender.
At work, I was a senior manager in a multinational company, leading a team of 25. At home, I was to be subservient and acquiescent, mild-mannered and meek…