Quest for Matriarchal Utopia: A Feminist Solidarity In Fouzia Saeed’s Working With Sharks
This paper exhibits the battle of ladies in Pakistan who wants to discharge themselves from the shackles which society has put on them. They have liberated themselves from the man centric culture to some degree and they have a mission for building a matriarchal society in Pakistan where women will be provided equivalent rights and they will be empowered. Pakistani women have sufficiently grown strength and this book Working with Sharks is author’s very own epitome experience of moving one stage towards building a matriarchal society in Pakistan. In Spite of the fact that in Pakistan, the proportion of women is more than men and still there are impediments in their ways such as sexual harassment even then they are dynamic towards evacuating the retrogressive mentalities of men. This informative abstract aims at the important step which was taken by women in Pakistan whom complaints resulted in a national movement in 2001 that culminated in the passing of legislation by the Pakistani Parliament in 2010 making sexual harassment a crime and due to it, the National Day for Working Women is celebrated on 22nd of December every year.
Keywords: Matriarchy, Feminism, Retrogressive, Working Women, Harassment.
The idea of matriarchy is a created idea in Western nations and lots of studies has been done on it. The idea of matriarchy can be characterized on four levels: on the economic level, on social level, on the cultural level as well on political level. Ladies have the intensity of aura over the wellspring of sustenance on the economic level in such a culture and patriarchal society. Although it is a fact that such social orders have certain criteria which incorporate Matriarchal tribes that are held together by matrilinearity or matrilocality. The political criteria add principle of consensus in the clan house on the level of village and on the regional level and the cultural criteria takes matriarchy in the form of Goddesses. There are several societies which are matriarchal including MOSOU, MINANGKABAU, AKAN, BRIBRI, GARO and NAGOVISI though several anthropologists negate the presence of any matriarchal society in real but still these types of societies exist in this world. In clear-cut words, matriarchy is a society which is representated by women. It is a social framework in which females hold the essential power positions in roles of political leadership, moral authority, social privilege and control of property at the specific exclusion of males to a great extent. This research paper does not center around the presence and improvements of such societies in the Western World but focuses on building up the matriarchal pattern in Pakistan. The point of this exploration is to give the perusers a review to recognize the endeavors which have been made to self realize the need of such society in Pakistan. Ladies examined in this paper have raised their voices against sexual manhandle and their strenous efforts have made a crime to be called a real wrongdoing in the sciptions of law even which was actually a hard nut to crack. But it is their courage to speak up which has shaken the grounds. This issue is imperative to talk about in light of the fact that it’s a social and this research is attempting to answer a portion of the inquiries identified with the subject of arise of matriarchy in Pakistan. As this research centers around the matriarchy and the important issues which has been talked about in the book is sexual harassment or lewd behaviour of men with the working women, so it is necessary to feature such issues and if such things will not be exposed to society, then society especially women who constitute the most part of it will suffer in the hands of some rotten minds. This is what Fouzia Saeed has mentioned in her novel Working With Sharks.
Fouzia Saeed has written an autobiographical novel in 2013. Although it is a fact that very little work has been done on this novel but actually this novel has got widspread praise throughout the whole world right after its publicaltion. This is a novel with optimistic note. The writer has actually told the story of eleven women who work for women rights. Fouzia Saeed presents them as bold and courageous ladies who have voices to speak up and all those eleven women speak up against sexual harassment of women in the offices of United Nation Development Program. This novel is the story of a female who was working in UNDP and she was forcefully raped by her male colleagues. These eleven ladies who belonged to four different countries and they had gathered to raise their voices. They had to face different issues and problems when they started raising their voices. But those women were strong and determined as they planned to submit a culminate report against sexual harassment. They acted upon their plan and through their efforts, the bill was passed in parliment in 2010 that sexual harassment is a crime. In the novel, Those women started their strenous efforts against sexual harassment in 1997 and recieved the fruits of their endeavor in 2010. It took them their thirteen precious years, because they had submitted the report in 1997 and got the fruit in 2010. But Fouzia Saeed has not left a pessimist note even at a single place while telling us that those eleven women had ever given up, they did not give up their efforts and at last got the courage to speak up again.
This novel gives courage to the women of the whole world to speak up against sexual harassment and rape. It encourages women to stand up against rape and harassment that annoyed women. This research addresses to the extent to which females have tried to build matriarchy in Pakistan. It will focus on one step taken by them which was mandatory to discuss.
The main aim of this research is to analyze:
1. Do women have gained real freedom and real kind of empowerment in Pakistan?
2. Do they really cherish that freedom in Pakistan or it is only present in slogans and written documents?
3. Does the empowerment of women really secure their dignity in Pakistan or it is just an allusion?
4. How much the step which is taken by a few number of women including Fouzia Saeed will contribute to develop a matriarchy society?
These are a few inquiries which will be tended to in this paper. Although much work has been done regarding matriarchal societies and the quest of it. But this research paper will contribute to add to the battle of working Pakistani women who were sexually annoyed and because of their undetered bravery, a vital law was passed in Pakistan. This research paper will add to the current learning because it is determined to the Pakistani ladies’ struggle and there is a mentioning of a case which is often considered as unspoken truths i.e. sexual harassment. This sexual badgering was the base which urged women to make endeavor to raise matriarchal society.
If such a few number of women can make efforts and a bill can be passed by this minority struggle, at that point there is a conspicuous shot that pakistani women can contribute easily to make Pakistan a matriarchal nation while splitting ceaselessly all the shackles of male centric society. The taboos are unspoken as well as implicit realities which Dr. Saeed has elaborated in her autobiographical novel and these problems are often concealed in the society. No one has tendency to talk against these things. They are constrained to the mottos and slogans but whenever there is a need to highlight these issues, no one makes a real and strenous effort.
This argumentative literature review tends to focus on the concept of matriarchy which has been evaluated and re evaluated many times by many critics and some has even refused to accept that concept of matriarchy. There is a reevaluation in the concept of matriarchy and the conclusion is that this perspective of matrilineal society only exists in legends and myths. It was not practiced in Matrilineal societies, that’s why “its notion fall below its level in anthropological works” (Schneider,1961; 8). This comment shows that the patriarchy system was so strong at that time in Western countries that they negated the concept of matriarchy. According to them, the women could rule only in folktales, legends and myths. There was no reality beyond it and to consider that woman can rule and can become a head of the state was an impossible idea for the minds of that time. Similarly there is another comment which said that,
It seems fair to say then, that all contemporary societies are to some extent male dominated, and although the degree and expression of female subordination vary greatly, sexual asymmetry is presently a universal fact of human and social life (Rosaldo, p.3).
The word of matriarchy has appeared many times in history of women where its meaning has been changed every time due to patriarchal strands. This term was applied to those societies which believed in the superiority of women and was based on gender balance and a gift giving economy and laid stress on promoting the peace. Firstly, this term was initiated by many nineteenth century cultural revolutionaries and Edward Burnett Tylor mentioned about the history and meaning of great ancient maternal system (1896). With the passage of time, in the twenties, the concept of matriarchy was changed and it laid stress on the participation of both sexes in the society. It was considered an old concept then that it laid stress on the governance of women. Like Sanday, Gotten Abendroth claims that matriarchy is not parallel to patriarchy and that Greek root arch “means ‘dominance’ and ‘beginning'” (p.3). Unlike Sanday, Gotten casts her understanding in a universalistic evolutionary framework when she claimed that humanity earliest religions were indisputably matriarchal.
So, in this argumentative literature review I support the need for matriarchal society and refute those which held matriarchy an obscure term. Westerns have tried to remove differences between the sexes but the country like Pakistan still holds orthodox views. Women are thought to be responsible for household chores and taking after the children. Whenever they set themselves out for job, the harassment creates an obstacle in their path. This research paper has highlighted the hidden desire which is embedded in their hearts of pakistani women that they can rule the state and become head of their families and can perform both the household chores and their social duties at the same time.
. This methodology is an interpretative method which will discuss feminism and the possibility of matriarchy in Pakistan. This is the Qualitative approach and it is confining the study of Matriarchy in Pakistan and this method and this theory is specifically used for this text working with sharks because it is convincing and suits the specific aim of research which has its focus on the binding of power of women whose voices made an amendment in the law so basically it also focuses on women power. This novel basically questions the existence of matriarchy in Pakistan and the woman who are searching for it in order to hold power in Pakistan that whether it is possible or not. As it focuses on the power of female who has removed all the obstacles from her path despite the harassment she faced so it is initiated and concerned to the theory of Feminism and later on the concept of matriarchal society. Firstly by discussing the theory of Feminism, it can be said that Feminism is not one unitary concept, but instead a diverse and multifaceted grouping of ideas and indeed actions. It is a fact that “feminists concern themselves with women inferior position in society and with discrimination encountered by women because of their sex” (Freedman, 2001;1).All Feminists call for changes in social, economic, political or cultural to overcome the discrimination against women. Further narrowing down this topic of Feminism from which this text Working With Sharks has evolved, I would like to focus on the main idea that is related to Matriarchy and definitely this term of Matriarchy is an evolution of Feminism and this text is focusing on the females of Pakistan who have now the enough power to raise their voice against injustice or anything which can create obstacles in their path of achieving a goal of Matriarchal society. Feminists always stand up for their rights and declare themselves un negotiable and their movements have been successful in Western countries like the suffrage movement. While talking about the catagories of feminism Freedman mentions that “feminism has also certain categories including liberal feminism, Marxist Feminism and radical feminism” (Freedman,2001;5). My concern for studying Working with Sharks throws a light on radical feminism which says that male is dominant over woman as a result of system of Patriarchy. This point is elaborated in the novel because man considers himself the dominant figure who can make any woman subservient to him while working in the Un office, but he has not understood the quest and the search in those females who were not ready to seal their lips. The author herself paves way for the readers and especially for females to raise their voices against these suppressions. This was the simple overview of the theory of Feminism and further the concept of Matriarchy.
Further the concept of Feminism which is embedded in the text The Second Sex by Simon de Beauvoir has a particular relevance to my research. The discussion is about the problems and the difficulties of Independent Women. The women have been given the superiority by allowing them to cast a vote but still according to Simon De Beauvoir, still there are problem which are confronted by the women. No doubt there are little constraints on them in the modern world but still she has not achieved a pure liberation. The working place has distinguished her from the males to some extent. She is no longer a parasite. Even in this contemporary world, the majority of the workers are exploited. The social structures are still the same considering the patriarchs superior. She is often considered a prey in a patriarch society. Being a woman poses unique problems to an autonomous human being today. It is an acknowledged fact that women have gained privilege in their professions. Simon has discussed in this chapter the types of emancipated women who sometimes sell their bodies too but this is not my point of concern. It will go contradictory to my thesis statement which maintains its stance the need for developing a woman controlling state. The way Simon has argued that women are not truly liberated despite having the power of casting a power of vote so I will illustrate that Fouzia Saeed along with her workers has truly represented this stance. They felt helpless while working with the sharks which is the apt metaphor used for Tarik who harasses every female worker in the UNDP Pakistan. The write proves herself to be no longer a parasite. She continuously suffers this harassment in disgust but finally ends up by making this harassment a real crime in the law books of Pakistan. This text Working With Sharks speaks with the voices of those females who has faced the cruelty laid by patriarchs. I will again quote the line from “The Independent Woman” that the women are exploited in the working places and is considered a prey (Beauvoir,1949;813). This word “prey” used by Simon exactly resonates with the word Sharks in the title. Tarik considered the women his prey but he was on the wrong side so eventually he ends up being a prey himself. The research is filling the gap because women of Pakistan are now encouraged to play their vital roles and while working with men, they are ready to answer and to protect themselves from the sharks which are so prevalent in every working section of society.
The theory of Feminism in which the concept of matriarchy is added along with the main concern of working women by Simon De Beauvoir has been discussed. Relating to the text working with sharks there are some research questions which will be answered in this portion. Firstly, I will discuss that how much freedom women have gained in Pakistan? The ratio of the working women in Pakistan has increased a lot. They have now realized their potential to stand side by side with men. This novel is an apt example of it. Dr. Saeed completed her Ph.D. and afterwards she joined UN for the sake of bringing a change in society. The other women mentioned in the novel Sadia, Rachael, Rana, Kausar are not much educated. They are not more mentally active as the main protagonist is. Fouzia Saeed was involved in many movements since her secondary studies. This shows her progressive ideas. She wants to assert the power of Females. She started her organization for the protection of the rights of females named Bedaari. She raised her voice against the religious parties who used religion and manipulated it for their own reasons. She challenged their stance which says that to declare “sexual harassment a crime is quite a Western thinking by saying that the same religion offers dignity to the women and this law will preserve their dignity” (Saeed, 2013;13). Similarly, she challenged the orthodox thinking which says that the women who work outside their houses often neglect their husbands and children. Even in the start of novel, she aspires to become Egyptian Queen who had attempted to “minimize the cultural restrictions placed on women by putting on a false beard and dressing up like a Prince” (Saeed, 2013; 25). She always felt pleasant to hear the stories of Ancient Egypt in which women were cultural leaders. She actually completed her studies from USA so she closely observed the patriarchal society in USA too. The concept of female empowerment which she grasped from the western society further refined her ideas so she tried it to imply them in the Pakistan too. She has truly presented a picture of feminist ideals. Her childhood aspirations show her need and desire to rule the state negating the factor of gender discrimination. If we see this situation in our contemporary situation, then 80% women have these same aspirations but they do not get the proper platform sometimes due to not proper qualification and sometimes due to men holding their power on them. But this is the fact that every woman in Pakistan has this idea of freedom somewhere in her mind. The difference is that they are unable to act on their desires to rule on others. Everyone aspires to become like the main protagonist but still in this country, there are some restrictions which are holding them back as Fouzia Saeed herself claims that “talibanization of our society pushed women into the shadows” (Saeed, 2013).
Women of cities have mostly acquired this freedom but there are still some obstacles. The answer to my second question is that in Pakistan the real freedom is only present in slogans and written documents. No doubt ,there is a large number of working women but the harassment they face in every department somehow shake their morale as the protagonist herself crossed a long path to reach finally to the Parliament where this law was passed. Women have the equal potential to rule in Pakistan as Benazir Bhutto during her reign broke the orthodox view that women cannot take the upper positions in the state but after her, there is hardly any women who raised herself to that position but there are exceptions just like Fouzia Saeed there is a lady whom people call Badshah Zaadi, 65 years old, an unexpected activist in Bagri Muhalla of Dadu District. Even men are lead by her. She won the councilor’s seat in 2001 local government elections. She even leads the mobs when two girls were kidnapped from her society. Baagri community is considered matriarchal. Women of that area have empowerment in every matter even if they fall in love, men do not even dare to ask them. Even men look for decision making towards women but the problem arises because this community is Hindu. They also feel obstacles in their path regarding using utensils at hostels because of their food which shows that difficulties tend to come wherever the struggle for empowerment comes.
Women who have empowered themselves in this state have not attained that dignity which they deserve because of males who consider themselves the head of the society. The protagonist suffered a great mental and physical torture in the hands of her boss Robert and Tarik. The males firstly move towards women by adopting a friendly behavior and concealing their real intentions. Fouzia Saeed has removed that particular stance but somehow the dignity is shaken in this process. She did not lose courage and ultimately bringing all the records, she takes an initial step because if few women can access the court, it is probable that their unity and their increase in number will make their control over the state more obvious If a woman is empowered, it does not really promise her dignity because she has to face many sharks in the society which are ready to engulf her.
The step which she has taken is a forward step which can ensure the system of matriarchy in Pakistan. It gives encouragement to the other women. Working in the UN, the highly regarded department, she alone faced all the dangers. She was in quest of any chance in which she could make her dreams a reality. It is impossible in Pakistan to get access to the courts and this situation has been aptly picturized by the protagonist. Even after accessing the Parliament, the humility and the numbness of people and senators which she faced was more than a disgust. It was humiliating for her but crossing all the difficulties, she finally speak out that issue which was mandatory to discuss as she herself says, “I pushed this agenda with the conviction that women should not hold back, But must speak out” (Saeed,2013). As she has developed some masculine traits like walking like men, she considered herself one of them negating her fragile feminity and said, “By the time I was going to the market by myself, I had developed a way of walking with my elbows out, pushing my way through the crowds” (Saeed, 2013).
This is what she exactly wants from the female side because when a woman feel herself confident and walk with proud in the world of men, there produces a great chance of developing and maintaining their feministic ideals. The development of a proper matriarchal state requires certain steps of which this is the first one. Secondly, it should be started on the primary level. The desire to rule is prevalent in both sexes. The males shows up it due to their social hierarchy but females somehow cherish this desire in their hearts so if they also show up themselves like protagonist of this novel, the chances will increase because the society will then recognize their status and accept them.
The law which has been enforced in Pakistan regarding sexual harassment is unable to provide protection to the Pakistani women. The harassment and even rapes are continuous news every day. There is an increased number of such incidents from the last few years. The women themselves are
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