If anything exemplifies how deeply Pakistani culture vilifies and moral polices women, it is the pervasive rishta culture. Which is a process of the parents of a boy and rishta aunties going to houses where unmarried women are present, and evaluating them on how good of a chance they have for getting married.
The process is designed in a manner that closely resembles walking through a cattle market, where women line up obediently to be able to prove themselves as the perfect bride and housewife to the mother of the boy. She is endlessly interrogated about her looks, her posture, whether she is well educated or not, or if she plans on having a career after getting married, and so on. Nothing is spoken of whether the man is good enough for her, or will be able to provide and care for her for the rest of their lives. In the process, women are forced to internalize the message that their sole existence and expectations surrounding life should accommodate her future in-laws, rather than her own self. The rishta procedure involves being repeatedly humiliated and berated over minor things, and often leaves the woman feeling more over-burdened and mentally tortured over the expectations that she is suppose to completely serve her independence to cater to her family’s needs.
Twitter recently had a conversation when a user shared how the rishta culture can demoralize women by demanding them to serve their best selves, and then be out right rejected for it. Also how, the rishta culture breeds the patriarchal imbalance in prevalent in our society, turning women into submissive beings to cater to the men in their lives.
“This rishta culture in our society is so sick. A random khandan come to see a girl, make her feel uncomfortable with judgmental looks n questions. And then reject her for no valid reason, without even thinking that their munda has no aukaaat !!!!!”
Thus began a conversation with women sharing their own instances of being hounded and subjected to personal, invasive questions that demoralized their independence and mental health. How this woman on Twitter shared the way she was aggressively hounded by rishta aunties and made to feel inferior throughout the conversation
“Some aunties did the same to me. They liked me, talked to my family. They thought I am so dumb. When they talked to me, they were so rude and they were uncomfortable because I was opinionated. I was like I will cut you off. Hate such women and men too.
They just want a showpiece and they are not sure about what they want. It’s ok their loss. That girl should focus on her goals and herself. Live life to the fullest. Zindagi aik baar milti he. Women should not be ghulaam of other women or anyone.”
Other Twitter users have shared how the Pakistani rishta culture invades a woman’s personal space, and evaluate her over the most minor and irrelevant things, like how this user says an acquaintance was berated over having short hair.
“My hate for rishta culture increased tenfold today after I learnt that one of the rishta ladies asked a girl, “Baal khud chotay rakhay hein ya barhtay nahi hein?” How could someone be so small minded?”
Other women shared how women are subjected to consistent scrutiny and humiliation, even being berated over small things like glasses.
Women are not one dimensional objects on whom men and toxic aunties can project all of their insecurities and expectations on. It is no woman’s responsibility to cater to the men in her life, and it should never be drilled into her mind to revolve her life around them.