Celebrity public news is an unnecessary but amusing part of our lives. We abhor it but we love the small distraction it provides us from our daily lives. We hear headlines about a celebrity getting married, getting engaged, or promoting some diet tea product and move on. But there are a few times when a celebrity begins trending not because of an announcement but also because of a disturbing rise of misogynist backlash that pales in comparison to how a male public figure would be dealt with. And we cannot ignore this trend and go about our day, because it reflects on how publicly, women are made to face the same kind of scrutiny and slut-shaming that men aren’t subjected to at all.
This morning, Reham Khan announced her marriage to 36-year-old Mirza Bilal Baig. Minutes later, the ex-television host was trending across platforms. There was a wave of posts congratulating the journalist and filmmaker and sending her warm wishes for her future. The feel-good factor was quickly overshadowed by a tsunami of trolls sending hateful comments trolling Khan for the 13 year age-gap in her marriage, calling her all sorts of slurs, assumptions that she is power-hungry and selfish for wanting to marry a younger man when she is in her forties.
Some of the comments, like this Bashir here, seems to assume Reham is a man-eater for marrying someone younger than her. Would he say the same for male politicians marrying and discarding their young wives as soon as they get bored?
Or like this man jumping in the bandwagon to accuse Reham of being a gold digger, marrying famous men to write explosive books about them. Sir jee, women don’t exist in boxes to depend on men in order to make their own fame. Reham Khan had a career before she married Imran Khan. She didn’t need him to make her place in the public sphere. No woman should be reduced to her personal connections, her hard work counting for naught.
If the men were not enough , a lot of women can’t find it in them to support another woman comfortably living her own life and doing whatever she wants. Like this one calling her ‘graceless’ and unwilling to settle down. Why should you put an age limit to settling down and getting married? Women don’t die after their forties. They cannot suddenly stop living life and exploring what they like. As far as Reham’s multiple marriages go, Islam has granted both men and women equal permission to marry or divorce, so she has not committed any crime.
As a popular feminist slogan goes: ‘Sexism is a social disease’. It reduces women down to mere objects, forces them to deal with the endless unsolicited comments from not only men in their lives, but outside their homes consistently. It demands them to keep moulding themselves according to what other people think of them, and never seek their own independence or choices. When the truth is: women don’t need to keep justifying their choices to others.
We saw this previously with Churails actress Yasra Rizvi, when she faced an endless amount of hateful comments calling her ‘gold digger’ and ‘power hungry’ when she married a man ten years younger than her. Last year after rumors spread of a split between the two, Rizvi uploaded a post of the couple reminding everyone that they chose to remain blissful about their union, despite what haters think.
Hopefully, with Reham Khan and other public figures finally putting the notion of settling in your 20s in its grave, our audiences, especially mard hazarat, can come to respect women as multi-facated beings who don’t need to get married at the age of 25 and give up on life. It’s necessary for women to realise that they don’t owe an explanation about their decisions to random men, and it doesn’t make them a failure if they choose to marry later in their lives.