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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Portrayal Of Female Youth in Pashto Music

Portrayal Of Female Youth in Pashto Music
Posted in by Lyla on Thu, 2007-07-12 21:30
For millennia the beautiful soul searing melodies of Pashto folk music has entertained many generations. These days these centuries old tunes have have been given a new twist with electronic instruments playing alongside the traditional ones. We have been treated to new versions of folk tunes (which are actually now pop music in their own right) which have been set to a faster beat even though the music has been kept as close as possible to the original scores.
It is quite refreshing to watch old songs with a modern touch, as many contemporary youngsters are using media as a site for initiating cultural and political action too. Though some may argue that the latest wave of pop culture is helping diminish the authentic classical music, but still one can not ignore the fact that different time periods have always brought a change. When have parents not thought that their time was better and more modest and the music of their days was the best. Even I am guilty, today when I sit with my kids, I repeat the same lectures (of my mother), which once I found quite boring. (Lol!) This article investigates how women are negotiated in media by male and female directors.
Take a look at a popular song, Bibi Shireenay, sung by Zeek Afridi.

Bibi Sherini,zyariguli (yellow flower),wrap me in your red shawl or in your arms,Bibi Sherini make me yours or make me a red shawl so that I lay on your hair Bibi Sherini,zyariguli,wrap me in your red shawl or in your arms,
Bibi Sherini let us gamble our hearts,you will lose your heart and so will IBibi Sherini,zyariguli,wrap me in your red shawl or in your arms,Bibi Sherinimy love is very innocent she swears on everything she tells me,Bibi Sherini wrap me in your red shawl or in your arms,
Oh my love,

how much I love you I count your steps when you walk,

Bibi Sherini ,zyariguli,

wrap me in your red shawl or in your arms,
No doubt it is a beautiful song and who amongst has not danced to it, but have you ever really thought about the lyrics imply. Have you watched the video?

If you are like me, you probably did not notice them or paid no attention to them at first, but just hummed along. Personally after playing this song for almost a month in my car, one day the lyrics struck me, so I went back to watch the video. My conclusions are:
Bibi Shireenay is identified as a yellow flower (line 1); (women vs. nature)
A guy is willing to become a “red-shawl”. (man vs. security)
Female as innocent, because she swears on everything that she tells him (line 8). The girl in this video is shown “dumb”, and obsessed with beauty.

There are many smart girls out there too, but they hardly get any representation by the media. In fact smart and confident girls are generally perceived as a “threat” to a culture. We know that beauty is not everything, because every female/male has a lot to offer with their unique “talents.” Everybody is good at something.
This song truly depicts male dominance in media as producers, and young females as media consumers. Girls define themselves within these pop-cultures by reproducing gender stereotypes with the girl as the passive fan, and the star as the active male. Fans not only want information about their favorite stars by buying magazines, but also play a major role in making a new album a hit or a flop.
Watch the Urdu version of bibi shireenay
It is hard not to notice the “race/ethnicity” part of it. In the Pashto version a girl is covering her hair with dopatta, as purdah is observed strictly in Pukhtunland, but it is acceptable for a Punjabi/Urdu girl to wear jeans in Pukhtunland where the video is apparently shot.
Apart from obsession with beauty, it is amazing to see how a girl holds R-sheen box towards the end of the urdu video--a good publicity of R-sheen as well as model’s liking for the bridal dress. Acting “cute” and “stupid” make females less challenging and thus more appealing.
The Bibi Shireenay video of Samar Minallah came like a burst of fresh air. When I watched it for the first time on, I stayed mesmerized in front of my computer screen for sometime; my brain wandering with lots of questions. The lyrics are so true and the video very realistic, every word and action is meaningful. Samar made me think or should I say her video strengthened my beliefs about the “subjectivity of women” in my culture (or globally) even more. Her music video of Bibi Shireenay stands apart from the normative pop culture.
Men have not found the video challenging and many admit that they have shed tears when they heard the song for the first time. Many start talking fondly of their own mothers and sisters and wifes.
The video relates to many women living in the rural areas of Pukhtunkhwa; willing to sacrifice themselves bit by bit for the sake of their family’s honor. Samar represents women who are often stereotyped or ignored by the commercial media industries. Such music videos grow awareness about patriarchy and understanding of the greater need for female empowerment and female solidarity through difficulties. Rather than mimicking the representational practices of the film industry, we need more female directors to develop the “girl’s gaze” by challenging the ideologies of gender, generation, race, and ethnicity in commercial media culture.
These three versions of Bibi Shireenay are the best example of the different mind sets of male and female directors. I believe the involvement of young females in media; writing, film making, and web-site designing would help them explore and analyze their relationship to commercial cultural products targeted to female youth.

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