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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Where do Pukhtun women stand in Paltalk?

Where do Pukhtun women stand in Paltalk?
Posted in by Lyla /http://www.pukhtunwomen.org/
In early 2006 a friend from Khyberwatch introduced me to the world of Paltalk. This was a totally new experience for me and thus an eye opener. (For those of you who like I did not know) Paltalk is a Web-based text, chat service for voice and video chatting.

After registering myself I clicked “da nationalisto pukhtano hujra”, where my eyes were assaulted by the multitude of running texts of different colors, fonts, and sizes. It was kind of weird to hear so many male voices in my library.

Imagine a woman attending a hujra back home in reality. It felt strange and kind of exhilarating to be able to see what goes on in a traditional male mentality and society. I have technology to thank for giving me an opportunity of participating in a male hujra of paltalk.

In order to learn more about Pukhtun rooms of paltalk, I braved a lot of crap, useless discussions and humiliation. It did shake me at first but decided that if that was the price I had to pay the piper then so be it. Due to my feminist nature, I cannot help notice the biased use of technology and now I have decided to share my experience with my sisters.

The first couple of days I just listened and then gathered the courage to speak on the microphone. I asked the room, “Why don’t women speak on the microphone?” One brother replied, “Honor is linked with women, and it is not good to speak on the microphone. In the past women’s voices have been recorded and played in other rooms, thus discouraging them from further participation.”

Amazingly many people approached me through private messaging after I spoke on the microphone. Some appreciated my confidence, some warned me of the un-seen repercussions, and some were only interested in finding my background.

Due to my analytical nature, I was curious as to why women are absent from this technological discovery. It is hard to see women absent from a technological development that would let them talk to each other. These are the answers and reasons I could come up:

Often assumed absent from technological history, women are stuck in their homes giving birth, raising children and making food. Un-equal access is also sometimes the result of beliefs about the “natural” abilities of the sexes. Thus certain technologies are perceived as psychologically in appropriate for members of a particular sex.

Recently I decided to get feedback from paltalk Pukhtun men as to what they think of women chatting in Pukhtun rooms. One brother said, “Many women don’t come as they fear someone will record their voices and will use them for whatever reason. We as Pukhtuns are not mature enough to accept women in media and especially in paltalk. Many pukhtuns think that they are coming purely for chatting purposes looking for intimate relationships and try to be their potential lover. In men’s opinion women over there are not proper Pukhtun women. Many men from Pukhtunkhwa use paltalk to find women living in Europe for marriage. (Malak junior)

One other brother added, “I think we really need our women to talk on such fora and rooms. The primary reason is to fill the communication gap that has been created because of the mix of illiteracy with traditions. This is not going to be easy. Women will be and, in fact, are being discouraged to participate on fora like these. Even if they are present they are expected to keep silent and listen to what men say. The reasons why our men discourage women to talk on such fora (though they would very much like to talk one to one in private to them) are basically two: firstly, our men are not used to listening to women; and, secondly, the overall perception about woman with a very passive role has generated a socio complex where talking on the part of woman is considered as a challege to the status quo and thus the ensuing jealousy on the part of our men when they see a woman talking. (Dawezay Mohmand).

In this age when we have left our footsteps on the moon, women still have to take every step in accordance to what “others” think about them. One is forced to ask that why is it that in our culture a man chatting online is considered “normal”, but there is a risk involved if a woman does the same thing? Why should a woman get scared if someone records her voice? And what joy/pleasure do men get by recording women’s voice and playing it back in other chat rooms?

Women should be given a chance to educate themselves about the right use of computers by plunging in first and trying to understand later. Take video games, for example, it is almost impossible to learn to play a video game if you try to understand first and play second. They need to be given the opportunity to become confident and mature. We can not blame the internet for what we do. Cyber space is a good medium to rotate ideas about different issues we face everyday.

As one brother said, “Knowledge is power and it is a two way process which can be exchanged and communicated by different means. The best way to communicate your thoughts and ideas is by directly speaking to the audience. I have observed in paltalk that even if I am exchanging my thoughts with someone in the text I am listening to the speaker as it has more power to attract the attention of audience than any other medium. That’s why if women really want to make difference positively they must speak. By silencing your voice, you are depriving yourself of your right. Sharing your point of view will bring variant solutions to a problem. (afridi-59)

I thank those brothers who warned me of the environment that prevails in paltalk, particularly for women. Lately some Pukhtoon brothers have taken an initiative to begin very fair, and decent rooms for Pushtoons. They can express themselves freely regardless of their gender. After visiting all Pushtoon rooms I realized that "Nationalists" rooms in paltalk are more generous and wel-coming to new comers. They have some meaningful subject to talk about.

I also want to make myself clear at the end of my article. I did not write this article to compare Pushtoon rooms of paltalk, or criticize their topics of speech. I just wanted to highlight the reaction of different genders towards machines (technology). Women even inside the boundary of their homes (purdah) are not confident enough to get their voices heard on different issues. They have been marginalized by labeling them as "idle" or "bad" women. What makes our men "categorize" women into different levels?

1 comment:

AEmaL KhAN said...

Lyla said,
Mon, 2007-01-15 19:20
The other day when I came to Pukhtunwomen and read comments targeting at my character, I did feel hurt for sometime, but then I ignored it, since every human knows about his/her "within." Sending a reply to that comment was not hard for me, but then I asked myself whether that comment will change my personality or will I stop thinking in a specific way?
We are all different, thus react differently towards particular issues. We should try to respect each other.

The other day while washing dishes in my kitchen. For the first time this song made sense to me. And I really want to share this song with you. This song is sung by Lata Mangeshkar. Here are the Lyrics:

Hazaar baatein kahe zamana, meri wafaa pe yaqeen rakhna
Har ek ada mein hai begunaahi, meri ada pe yaqeen rakhna

Kisi ko hansta na dekh paaye ajeeb shay hai yeh bairi duniya
Yeh bemurawat hai , bewafaa hai , na bewafaa pe yaqeen rakhna

Nazar mein rahna hai khushnaseebee, nazar se girna hai be-hayai
Haya hai aurat ka ek gahna meri haya pe yaqeen rakhna

hahahahha! You all must be laughing at me right now. But this second stanza cheered me up. Also,

If you don’t have enemies, you don’t have character."
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aneela babar said,
Sat, 2007-01-13 11:42
lylaa i thought we had agreed you were a 40 year old man...now you have started flirting...hmmm arent you taking your new avtaar too seriously. Will be on the move for the next week but couldnt resist from posting this. more in ten days time, aneela

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melma/melmuna said,
Mon, 2007-01-15 16:38

Its from Melma 101,

My last post may have struck hard on some of the girls here, as aneela and khana have reacted and rushed to the defence of lyla. By flirtous i never meant immoral as neither i am the judge nor i am pure myself. So no harsh feelings to anyone.

Secondly i jumped into the conclusion without reading the last para of lyla's blog, so again i was not on the spot. But i had my reasons and that was the typified discussion by the typical people.

Anyway i apologise for wasting ur energies and time.
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Lyla said,
Sat, 2007-01-13 16:42
hahahah Aneela:
You are so funny. Hope to see you again.

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melma/melmuna said,

Fri, 2007-01-12 14:22

The point is chat rooms has never been sober places on internet. People joinning them expect every kinda comments across the board.
Obviusly less people visit those forums which are sober and serious cos the ratio of sober people is less, and serius matters are boring too.
Take the example of this website, how often our dear user "lyla" visit this site as compared to other hetrosexual forums e.g "khyberwatch"..etc
There is factor of fun and flert always present in online chatting. Now if anyone says that 'she' joined a chat room just to test the 'pukhtun male' pscychology, it wud be hard to digest. And secondly we know the 'flirting' temperament nature of the user 'lyla'. I myself will love to flirt and that wud ofcourse not mean to harm, harass or exploit someone but i like fun and everybody likes it.
To summarise I shud say that chat rooms are for chat users. Neither of them are meant to serious. If someone is interested in serious matters, i wud advise them to come to serious discussion forums.

Melam 101

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Khana Bibi said,


Sat, 2007-01-13 02:31

I published this comment because I wanted to reply to it.

In a society that is starved for female attention, someone like Lyla is very easily misunderstood.

I know Lyla and she would never flirt.

If Lyla talks frankly to any one it is because in her innocence she thinks that they are as nice as her and her conversation will not be misinterpreted.

Just because Lyla posts on KW does not make her a bad person nor does it mean that she is flirting there. Lyla has been on KW from the start and you can ask Zahid to verify that. All the senior members think highly of her.

Lyla has always been frank and the senior members know that, it is only with the recent influx of junior members who dont know her that she has been unfairly targeted. Lyla has always considered the men at KW her brothers and if anyone thinks different then that is an error on their side.

For the record she has not asked me to come to her defense, but in her carefree way she just laughed it off, but I think it neccessary to clear up this misconception about her.
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melma/melmuna said,
Fri, 2007-01-12 23:40

melmuna you might be right to say about things you know about but when it comes to certain things people usually put their comments without any knowledge about it. I don,t think you know anything about paltak, it has sections for serious discussions on almost every thing. First find out about it and then you can discuss it. But perhaps thats our nature that we have to say something to show that we know about every thing.

secondly you don,t know lyla and her poit of view on paltalk. She didn,t put herself in so much trouble to recieve a lecture on marality from you, she wanted to let the others know what paltalk is and how it can be utilised by the pukhtoon ladies, and why they are not participating. what is hindering them. We should not condemn others if we can,t see something useful for ourselves in their articles.
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melma/melmuna said,
Sat, 2007-01-06 20:10
to some extend it is based on reality but the writer is missing all other factors,she has just put the bad and insulting material on a table and hide all good stuff releated to paltalk,i do admit thing like what she has wrote about happend in paltalk but it doesn't mean that we should genralise all user of paltalk by writing their discussion crap and nonsense,i know my self a few male and females from paltalk who are really honorable to me,i am proud i am interacting with them,i learnt alot from paltalk regarding my history,i have learnt pure pashto as my pashto was mixed one where urdu and english was the ingredients,i have participated in debates which give me more knowlegd regarding diffrent issue's,so,it depends on a person with what mentality he/she is going to join a paltalk..by hitting hard on a particular room i think this lady has some hidden goals behind her writing and she didn't wrote about those rooms where A-2-Z is crap and nonsense and where even decent men avoid to go and sit.
From paltalk a have a virtual sis whom i respect and care like my own sis,in last we have lunatics in both male and female,it depends on you with whome you would like to interact with..choice is yours.
Thanks..

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Lyla said,
Sun, 2007-01-07 00:15

Thanks melmuna for your comments.

You are absolutely right in saying that I should not be overlooking the good things of paltalk. I have met some decent people over there, and I have quoted them in my article too.
I think just in one or two pages I cannot cover the wide culture of paltalk. My main purpose was to highlight what Pushtoon women go through in paltalk. And probably that is why there are more men than women in Pushtoon rooms.
There are so many incidents I have personally witnessed in paltalk but I don't want to name them as that is not my aim.
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melma/melmuna said,
Thu, 2007-01-11 15:45

I feel uncomfortable with '' melmuna'', it should be ''melma''(he- like me), Melmana(she)....I like your idea as it is good education for new commers to paltalk as they will be aware of what they can face there but i am tottaly annoyed with your remarks on nationalist's room which is tottaly nonsense..plz don't be offended i can write a good pills on your priscription for your anti-nationalist alergy...i know you were never comfortable with them as you always try to preach pakistaniet and all nationalist's really hate your pakistan..including my self....I am sure one day you will regret on all what you are doing against nationalist's..you will feel really guilty.
Long Live my Proud pukhtoon nation.
Hat's off to all nationalist's pukhtanay peghlay and mothers who are 21st century Malalai and they will win our Pukhtoonkhwa beside pukhtoon zalmyaan.

reply »

Khana Bibi said,


Sat, 2007-01-06 14:33

lyla thank you for such an eye opener. I am sorry you had to go through all that, but I believe you have done us all a service.

it is so childish that a womans voice was recorded and played back.
these men have some serious growing up to do,

to all those immature childish men I wish you have five daughters like Lyla one day.

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melma/melmuna said,
Sun, 2007-01-07 02:02

You welcome Khana Bibi.
I should thank you for accepting my article for your site.
God bless.
Lyla.