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)

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 20, 2014 (14:30 IST)   at Kolkata

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 22, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Dubai

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 22, 2014 (19:00 IST)   at Cuttack

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 24, 2014 (03:00 IST)   at Mount Maunganui

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Oct 25, 2014 (09:30 IST)   at Dhaka

More

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 21, 2014  at Mount Maunganui

South Africa won by 6 wkts

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 17, 2014  at Dharamsala

India won by 59 runs

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 14, 2014  at Visakhapatnam

Match cancelled

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 12, 2014  at Abu Dhabi

Australia won by 1 run

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 11, 2014  at Delhi

India won by 48 runs

Photos

Pakistan vs Australia, 1st Test at Dubai

Videos

AB de Villiers praises team after win in 1st ODI

Viv Richards’ 6/41 bowls West Indies to a thrilling victory over India

Asad Shafiq emerges as dependable No 6 for Pakistan

Pakistan vs Australia 2014: Mitchell Johnson shows signs of effectiveness on unhelpful surfaces

South Africa vs New Zealand 2014: Vital for Brendon McCullum to find form quickly

Australia Australia tour of UAE 2014 Australia vs Pakistan Australia vs Pakistan 2014 India New Zealand New Zealand vs South Africa New Zealand vs South Africa 2014 Pakistan Pakistan vs Australia Pakistan vs Australia 2014 South Africa South Africa tour of New Zealand 2014 South Africa vs New Zealand South Africa vs New Zealand 2014

Live Cricket Score: New Zealand vs South Africa, 2nd ODI at Mount Maunganui

Pakistan vs Australia 2014: 1st Test sees disappointing crowd turnout

Virat Kohli spot-kicks raise money for charity in Indian Super League

Duleep Trophy 2014-15: Naman Ojha smashes double ton as Central Zone pile huge score against North Zone

David Warner half-century guides Australia to 113/0 against Pakistan on Day 2 of 1st Test

Viv Richards’ 6/41 bowls West Indies to a thrilling victory over India

Asad Shafiq emerges as dependable No 6 for Pakistan

Pakistan vs Australia 2014: Mitchell Johnson shows signs of effectiveness on unhelpful surfaces

Joginder Sharma: When an over eclipses a career

South Africa vs New Zealand 2014: Vital for Brendon McCullum to find form quickly

Fan of the Day

Suraj Gowda

Suraj Gowda

642 Posts | 9 Fans

Virat Kohli's Family Meets Anushka Sharma

अभिनेत्री हुमा कुरैशी ओरिफ्लेम की ब्रांड एंबेसडर

Has Bigg Boss 8 made Karishma Tanna the most hated person?

Pranab Mukherjee returns home after visit to Norway, Finland

Revealed: First look of Amitabh Bachchan-Farhan Akhtar’s Do!

7 reasons why having sex during pregnancy is great for your health

Videocon Infinium Graphite with gesture control feature launched, priced at Rs 10,499

Rupee up 19 paise against dollar in early trade

Twitter introduces Audio Cards to listen to music directly from your timeline

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here