Friday, October 16, 2009

Kiss? Mum's The Word

People are going berserk in LUMS, especially the students over a debate whether kissing is allowed in an educational campus or not.

The Christian Science article has the details. "Top Pakistan university to ban kissing"

To a reader of an 'open' society, this might sound ridiculous but to us conservative lot on the world map.. it does matter.

Pakistani society is conservative. Conservative does not mean that 'nothing happens here'. God damn it.. everything happens here from prostitution (worst case child prostitution), pedophilia, drugs, alcohol, dancing girls, homosexuality, rape and murder.. you name it and we have it. Nowadays we offer products that are considered niche in other societies like terrorism and religious extremism. So please do not think that we are cave dwellers. Far from it.

Majority of the Pakistanis are really simple people. Case in point my uncle, when my father told him that 'someone' does alcohol and thats the reason for 'something' that happened to him, he was surprised and asked 'Can we get liquor in Pakistan?!' OK may be my uncle is a bit far too much simple but this is a fact that ordinary Pakistanis frown upon societal deviations - no date, no alcohol, no drugs, no prostitution. The guy who who offers prayers regularly, does charity and is sincere to his family is a role model. Frankly, the guy may be a monster inside but what he portrays is important in our society.

This brings us to an important aspect - your portrayal. Looks matter. A girl in pardah (veil) is a 'nice girl', a girl who might be wearing jeans is considered 'deviant'. Similarly, a guy who has beard and says his prayers is a 'nice' guy. On a side note, a famous and notorious cinema in Peshawar which ran porn movies, had an audience that mostly consisted of bearded fellows that had prayer caps on their heads. I am not 'insulting' people with religious attire or hinting that they are perverts.. just that it does happen. Perhaps everyone is a pervert is his/ her own manner including myself.

Getting back to the topic, should an educational institute have laws and regulations regarding Public Display of Affection (PDAs) as the LUMS case or should it be 'free for all'? In my opinion, an educational institute is an 'educational institute'. You are there to learn. Ok some might say that 'kissing is learning' but I am talking about studies and curricula, the only tongue movement I am talking about might be speaking of a language. Note that I am totally against Laws and Regulations to this effect because I find them too restrictive and abusive. LUMS would be totally going the wrong direction if they 'regulated' this area. Instead, they should try to make it a 'norm' that PDAs are restricted in LUMS. They are free to do anything as long as they are not on campus.

When you do something by force or make regulations for them, it becomes counter productive. The blue shuttle burqa is a cultural item of Afghanistan but when the Taliban forced women to wear it, it became the symbol of oppression. Women in Afghanistan still wear that burqa because that is part of their culture! The dark era of pakistani society was the military dictatorship of Gen. Ziaul Haq in 1980s. He prolonged his rule by using Islam. His version of Islam was very restrictive in which there were punishments for everything; from adultery, alcohol consumption to 'not respecting the holy month of ramadan by not fasting'. Committees were to be formed that were supposed to promote congregational prayers. Of course all this regulation meant that ordinary people were exploited by those who were at the helm of affairs. A couple walking together could be questioned by Police as to their credentials. They had to show that they were married (to be walking together) and for that people kept their registered marriage deeds (nikah nama) with them!

But even if you state PDA disapproval in form of norms, the boundaries will always be tested. Does holding hands count as a disapproval? Would the lady who initially sent the 'protest email' in campus mail show her displeasure at that too? It would be better if LUMS or any academic institute would 'establish' an environment where more focus is on studies and opinion freedom rather than PDAs.

The secular conservative mind crap will keep on continuing. What matters is that they don't come to blows - thats where the it really gets messy. Remember Lal Mosque? when Gen. Musharraf's rule saw a term 'Enlightened Moderation', to some it was a separate lane from religious extremism in which others opinion was not accepted but the term is used in different sense in general public. A beauty parlour which secretly runs as brothel (they do really), it would be said that the parlour was following the path of enlightened moderation. But the thing is that one should not go crazy like a religious fanatic and start to attack people and similarly one should not be insensitive to the feeling of others when he/ she considers himself/ herself a person not bound by traditions and social codes. Preserve the beautiful traditions we have, innovate and advance in opinions and respect the opinions of others. If you can that is.

To quote the article
""I think [the debate over the kiss] signifies a conflict between different cultural identities and shows there is something unresolved there," he says."
Trust me. It will always be unresolved and it'll keep figuring up in discussions in one form or the other. If its not kissing, it will be something else. Societies grow like this. Its a natural evolutionary process. It is just that you will be on either side of the divide.


Anonymous said...

There is nothing wrong with being an Islamophobe

Islam is the religion that teaches hatred and violence and intolerance, Since September 11, 2001, there have been over 14,205 terrorist attacks, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians and a lot more injuries, throughout the world. The perpetrators of these attacks were not monsters; they were Muslims. Islamic terrorism is a new phenomenon; Islam owes its success to terrorism. The founder of Islam boasted, "I have been made victorious with terror". Muslim jihadis are following the footsteps of their prophet who bragged, "I have been made victorious with terror".

PostMan said...

Although your comment does not warrant a reply but I can assure you that muslim has equal representation of hate mongers, down right idiots like you.

Happy hating.

Minerva said...

I really don't get such people, re. this commentor dude. I understand Islam has flaws and I consider myself an agnostic theist. But people like these with websites like these simply correspond with more hate and sort of step on their own points, if you will.

What the fuck happened to tolerance?

As for your post, this is really very weird. I haven't been to the LUMS campus (being a Karachiite) as such and people who go there tell me it's a little Europe within Lahore. Now I don't know if there's truth to that matter but since they've actually passed a law BANNING kissing, well. There must've been something ... European ... going on there eh?

The idea of banning kissing is definitely reminiscent of the Zia era though the idea of kissing being a public occurence itself is very modern on its own. Pakistani society was considered mainly moderate and fairly open-minded. Though we still always had taboos. Pre-Zia as well.

The issue, seems to me, here is that whether there is a warrant to freedom of expression that is issued by governments or is there a social policy that can govern actions? Are people free to do as they please so as to shape the future of society or will the government do that for them? And can government really ever legislate social behavior? Can it actually stop people from kissing?

My guess is no. Though that doesn't mean that authorities shouldn't have the power to legislate against actions that are detrimental to students' well-being and overall academia.

So the question ultimately becomes..

Is kissing stopping them from getting good grades?

PD said...

I like the way you write. :)

Ok-ay, getting back to point, some of the malls here have No PDA allowed signs because people tend to forget where they actually are.

So maybe I was a little surprised that a No PDA rule was put down in LUMS, moreso because there was a 'need' to - :P Like a lot of people although I KNOW whats happening in Pakistan I still get shocked when I hear such news. [Drugs, rape, clubs, etc] among other things.

I agree with that fact that its better to 'create' such an environment instead of enforcing a rule because that would make people rebel.

On the other hand, how does such an environment get created in a University?

PD said...

Btw, just because I like your way of your writing doesn't mean I agree with your posts. :P Very... *different* views if I must be polite. But I guess each to their own.

PostMan said...

Thanks Minerva and PD.

Well to reply to minerva's question of 'can government really ever legislate social behavior?' and PD's 'how does such an environment get created in a University?' .. I think Austin Powers puts it perfectly "O behave!' he'd say.

So both the parties - administrators (govt) and individuals should really behave. LUMS, for example, is a mix of every segment of Pakistani society. The girl who kissed her boyfriend, in ramadan in front of the whole world including that veiled lady, should have shown a responsible behavior. She wont go to her graduation ceremony wearing a swimsuit right? yup. She Wont.

Govt or University management should not regulate the social behavior - frankly it cant and even if it tries to .. it will be counter productive.

So every person should understand that although they are free to do anything.. they should be mindful of what they are doing in front of others.

PostMan said...

and PD, please feel free not to 'agree' with my opinions.. A henna-dyed hand of someone (your profile pic) can be a slap for some other :|

PD said...

Really wasn't meant to be taken as a slap... my apologies. :)

[Oh & the henna dyed hand is mine, lol]

I think what would be a better approach would still be, 'enforcing' but in a more... subtle way if i must say so.

IE - Instead of putting up a law which would make people rebel, have teachers talk about whats acceptable behaviour and whats not, morals of society and so and so forth. [If that makes any sense...]

PostMan said...

Student expelled after row over short dress

In Brazil! In Brazil?! for heavens sakes.

And we pakistanis complain that we are the only nutcases on this planet.