Some time ago, I went googling for "cute Pashtun girls" pictures and, whaddaya know, I come across these sickening sites that totally sexuality and dehumanize Pashtun women--and all other women.
I was looking for "cute" pictures of little Pashtun girls (prepubescent) who were NOT being displayed as "attractive, hot Pashtun beauties" because I find that very demeaning to women. (Warning: I would very gladly castrate any man who looks at my daughter or any other young girl in front of me with a lustful gaze.) I wanted and still want pictures of innocent, cute little Pashtun girls to put as my display pictures on Twitter and Facebook. I actively watch the American police/crime TV show Law and Order-SVU (which features all sorts of crimes committed against girls and women, including underage girls), and yet, I am foolish enough to falsely believe that a little girl cannot be sexualized, that she cannot be put on a display so as to satisfy a pervert's sexual urges. I should've known better than to expect to find pictures, really, of cute little Pashtun/Afghan girls! So disappointed in humanity. All over again.
Let me first explain what I mean by the term "to sexualize." As the verb itself implies, it literally means "to make something or someone sexual." Just like to "destabilize" means "to make something or someone unstable." A human being (almost always a young woman, not older women and rarely men) is sexualized when they are made to appear sexual objects (read: objects. And I really mean objects) that are there for someone's (read: men's) pleasure, there to be desired, to be played with, to be fantasized, to be stared at, to give pleasure. Rarely is a young woman sexualized so as to be desired by other women. One may argue that males too are sexualized. And, in the Western society, that's usually tall, muscular preferably dark-skinned older men of over 35 or so. I believe this is the case as well to a small extent. I don't deny that men are also sexualized, but I know that they are not objectified (or are barely so). And what I'm interested in is how both genders (read: the possibility of the existence of other genders is never there!) are sexualized. Think about it - what all is done to a ma to make him look attractive to women (of course, never/seldom to other women, since, duh, homosexuality does not exist)? What all is done to a man to handsomize him? And what is done to a woman to make her look attractive? How much skin does a man have to show in order to be viewed as hot/attractive, and how much does a woman have to show in order to be seen as hot/attractive? How does the male have to act and talk in order to appear attractive/hot? What about the woman?
For now, however, let's talk only about women's sexualization and not men's too because of the reason I wanted to write this post (reminder: Dil Raj, a young, barely-of-age Pashtun singer; I'll write about this in the next part on this topic). In very simple words, a person is sexualized with the intention that those (the opposite gender/sex) who see them should, well, be "excited," that the viewer should desire them sexually. Look around you: how fast are girls growing culturally today? I'm not talking about physically, since the food we eat and the way our bodies function play a vital role in how fast/slowly we grow. But I'm talking about socially, culturally. What are girls expected to dress like in elementary schools? What about when they're in high school? How are these ways different from, say, two decades ago? And why is this happening? Why do girls feel like they should be growing sooner than they're really meant to (i.e., wait until they are physically mature naturally)?
What is wrong with being sexualized? For one, all you're viewed as, then, is an object of pleasure. Your talents, your personality, your character, your achievement-- all of these are ignored. What and who you really are is ignored. Attention from the reality that is you, the real you, is diverted to that of your sex (female) only. All that is attached to you is "sexiness," your "hots." Rarely beauty! Since rarely are hot girls beautiful, but I understand this is subjective ... as are almost all other things I might be saying here. But whatevz. Try being beautiful and successful at the same time and see how far you get at least in the Western society.
The documentary Missrepresentation is an almost excellent source on this whole idea of sexualization and objectification of women, especially in the Western media. And from what I've seen in Pakistan and India, other countries are frighteningly close, catching up very fast with the "modern" and "civilized" idea of "the modern woman." It's truly scary.
Understand that I distinguish being sexualized (yourself) and sexualizing (others). The two are not the same: it's a different matter when you do something to yourself per your own will and volition and when someone someone else does it to you or when you do it to someone else. Sexualization is a problem so long as it is done to others. This assertion inevitably points to the question of agency--that is, whether these "sexualized beings" have any power and choice in being sexualized. That might require a lengthy discussion, so let's not talk about it here. But I hope I'll remember to do so in another post (remind me in case I forget, thankz). For now, I can only acknowledge that, yes, there might definitely be some women who choose to and enjoy being exploited and sexualized and looked upon as only sexual entities, being used only for pleasure. But a deeper insight into this question leads us to wonder whether it is truly their choice, whether they really want and appreciate that exploitation ... or whether its "benefits" for them are such that they have no choice but to participate in it.
Coming up on this subject:
- Dil Raj and other Pashtun female celebrities