Home > Features >

Shahid Afridi: The face of sexism?

Shahid Afridi © Getty Images
Shahid Afridi’s comments will soon be forgotten, largely because cricket trumps sexism in Pakistan’s patriarchal collective thought process © Getty Images

By Eissa Saeed

In the land of the pure, apparently, one cannot be a man and a feminist at the same time. The two seem to be mutually exclusive. Usually, this disconnect is attributed to the misconception that feminists are man-hating, rabid women out for social revenge; however, in Pakistan, the culprit is menial passivity because that’s just how it is here.

In a recent resurgence of a four-month-old interview, Shahid Afridi took it upon himself to remind Pakistani women that their skills are most useful in the kitchen. His response to a simple fluff question about a women’s cricket team in Peshawar has outraged many, while others have come to his defence citing his entitlement to his opinion.

One doesn’t have to be an ardent follower of cricket, or identify that Afridi has been the star of various ad campaigns (ranging from sodas to fairness creams), to know that he is undoubtedly a cultural icon and that his comments are insolently misogynistic.

If he is in the market for another endorsement deal, he may as well be the face of sexism.

Before launching into a discussion of why feminism is vital to Pakistan’s progression, I must recommend the TEDx Talk by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie — recently nominated for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction with the likes of Jhumpa Lahiri, Donna Tartt and Fatima Bhutto.

If you can’t access the video or just don’t have the time, here’s a brief overview of the highlights.

Ms Adichie makes very strong arguments about how girls are taught to aspire to marriage and encouraged to vie for the attention of boys instead of jobs, yet they are discouraged from seeing themselves as sexual beings.

Sound familiar? Hold on.

She goes further to say that certain societies teach girls shame which results in them becoming women who silence themselves because of their inherent guilt.

What Afridi is propagating with his ‘opinion’ is that a society that undermines its female population, limits their capabilities, and instead highlights the achievements of men, is ideal. Everyone is absolutely entitled to his or her opinion (there is no doubting that civil liberty), but when one is a public figure — an excruciatingly popular one that — one should never underestimate the value of political correctness.

Some have been asking why Afridi is being demonised as a woman-hating chauvinist. It’s because, judging by his comments, he is one and that’s just not okay. Others have argued that it isn’t uncommon for a Pakistani man to hold such an opinion, so why is Afridi being singled out.

It’s because not all men are sporting idols who little boys look up to and try to emulate, not that that should be used as an excuse.

It’s a whole other discussion why celebrities have an unwarranted social responsibility because they serve as role models whether they like it or not. That’s not to say that they aren’t allowed to hold unpopular opinions but when those opinions have no moral basis, it’s best that they refrain  from making public statements expressing them. The fact remains that in a world where the likes of Beyoncé and Condoleezza Rice are encouraging girls to take on leadership roles, it is not kosher to be sexist – just as it is not kosher to be racist or a homophobe.

It’s likely that Afridi will survive this debacle. He’s a relentless force on the cricket pitch and an incredible sportsman. Come the T20 World Cup this weekend and his comments will be long forgotten, largely because cricket trumps sexism in Pakistan’s patriarchal collective thought process.

However, this can also be a pivotal learning curve if used to instigate a conversation about female empowerment in the country; a conversation that goes beyond the Malala Yousafzais and the Mukhtaran Bibis and introduces the importance of gender equality across the board.

As for Afridi, it’s probably in his best interest to hire a publicist and avoid future gaffes like this one.

(Eissa Saeed is a communications professional living in Islamabad. He is an adamant supporter of giant panda conservation and sometimes finds it difficult to spell “occasionally” correctly. He tweets @senoreissa. The above article is reproduced with permission from http://tribune.com.pk/ where it was first published)

India tour of England 2014

Jul 27, 2014 (15:30 IST)   at Southampton

Pakistan tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Aug 6, 2014 (10:00 IST)   at Galle

India tour of England 2014

Aug 7, 2014 (15:30 IST)   at Manchester

South Africa in Zimbabwe, 2014

Aug 9, 2014 (13:30 IST)   at Harare

Pakistan tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Aug 14, 2014 (10:00 IST)   at Colombo

More

Afghanistan tour of Zimbabwe, 2014

Jul 24, 2014  at Bulawayo

Afghanistan won by 100 runs

South Africa tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Jul 24, 2014  at Colombo

Match drawn

Afghanistan tour of Zimbabwe, 2014

Jul 22, 2014  at Bulawayo

Afghanistan won by 2 wkts

Afghanistan tour of Zimbabwe, 2014

Jul 20, 2014  at Bulawayo

Zimbabwe won by 8 wkts

Afghanistan tour of Zimbabwe, 2014

Jul 18, 2014  at Bulawayo

Zimbabwe won by 6 wkts

Photos

India vs England 2014, 3rd Test

Videos

Highlights of Phil Hughes' double ton

Jacques Kallis retires from international cricket: Long live the King

Jacques Kallis retires from international cricket: The last great pace bowling all-rounder

India vs England Live Cricket Score 3rd Test Day 4 at Southampton: Moeen Ali puts England in complete command

Alastair Cook England England vs India England vs India 2014 India India tour of England 2014 India vs England India vs England 2014 South Africa South Africa tour of Sri Lanka 2014 South Africa vs Sri Lanka South Africa vs Sri Lanka 2014 Sri Lanka Sri Lanka vs South Africa Sri Lanka vs South Africa 2014

Virat Kohli departs as India lose fourth wicket on Day 4 against England in 3rd Test at Southampton

England continue to make inroads as India lose Shikhar Dhawan on Day 4 of 3rd Test at Southampton

India steady after early blows against England on Day 4 of 3rd Test at Southampton

ICC to consider Ravindra Jadeja’s appeal in ‘pushgate’ incident to overturn fine

England make second breakthrough as Cheteshwar Pujara departs on Day 4 against India in 3rd Test

Jacques Kallis retires from international cricket: A symbol of genius encompassing almost two decades

Jacques Kallis retires from international cricket: Long live the King

Jacques Kallis retires from international cricket: How the legend began

Jacques Kallis retires from international cricket: The last great pace bowling all-rounder

Jacques Kallis retires from international cricket: Statistical comparison with other all-rounders

Fan of the Day

Fan Cricket

Fan Cricket

11 Posts | 2 Fans

Brazil vs Netherlands, 3rd place Fifa World Cup 2014 match Video Highlights

Samsung Gear S is reportedly the company’s next smartwatch

England continue to make inroads as India lose Shikhar Dhawan on Day 4 of 3rd Test at Southampton

Hrithik Roshan clarifies about alimony dispute with Sussanne Khan!

Emraan Hashmi denies signing a film opposite South actor Sandra Amy!

Connected devices have huge security holes: Study

Jacques Kallis retires from international cricket: A symbol of genius encompassing almost two decades

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here