Aurat March 2020

The organizers of Aurat March 2020 made a public announcement inviting everyone to join their inaugural meeting and become a part of the groundbreaking women’s rights march across Pakistan.

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The march calls for women, trans, gender fluid, gender nonbinary and other marginalized gender groups to “shake up the patriarchy and raise their voice for injustice.” Cis men are allowed to attend the march but not be on the managing committee.

The responses to the call have been … interesting. As the Aurat March organizers said in a later post, “Aurat March’s open call for an organizing committee meeting received a few thousand misogynist messages, which included rape threats, death threats and threats of blowing up the venue.”

Indeed, looking at the comments after the march post on Facebook, one would think the people organizing the march were suggesting a naked march down the main streets of every city in Pakistan. The responses from boys and men — laughing, mocking, taunting, threatening — suggest that they are feeling very threatened by women showing up and claiming space. The more helpless they feel, the more exaggerated the responses get. A deliberate misunderstanding of what feminism is (by now it’s maliciously deliberate, not even simple ignorance), a distortion of what women are asking for (dignity, safety, autonomy) and threats of violent repercussion against the marchers complete this triumvirate of fright and agnst.

As the comedian Ilisa Schleisnger said in her recent Netflix comedy special, “You can be pro-women and not anti-men.”

Repeat that.

You can be pro-women and not anti-men. 

When young women say “men are trash” they are referring to the men who disrespect them, who hurt them, who discriminate, who put them down, who oppress and who beat, rape and kill. If you don’t count yourself among those numbers, what are you afraid of?

If fear is your first response and anger your second to the Aurat March, might I suggest you think about why your masculinity is so easily threatened.