Misuse of the ‘Woman Card’ – A Big Blow to the Cause of Women Empowerment?

Misuse of the ‘Woman Card’ – A Big Blow to the Cause of Women Empowerment?

I am not in any way against women’s rights and empowerment. This article is not meant to put down women empowerment groups or communities. In fact, I have been a strong advocate of women empowerment and have worked on the Gender Injustice Project at the Sungi Development Foundation. Women empowerment is a good thing but sometimes it is twisted for vested interests.

Are some of the groups that preach “female power” just putting down men and their value in the world while promoting female superiority? Are we encouraging male bashing in the name of women empowerment? If we talk about equal rights isn’t a man who uses his hands to handle a woman as bad as a woman who uses her hands to do the same?

A video once surfaced of an FC guard deployed in NADRA office, Karachi slapping a female news reporter working for K-21 channel. The incident came in the spotlight and trended on social media. Many women’s rights activists came in the defence of the female reporter, condemning the police constable’s act and termed it as an attack on the cause of women empowerment. In doing so, they completely ignored the other side of the incident. The news reporter had certainly crossed her limits. The notion that media is always is right has led people to come to illogical conclusions. The news channel reporter was clearly seen assaulting the constable by holding his shirt. Assaulting a police constable or a guard on a duty is a serious crime with severe punishments in most countries, irrespective of the perpetrator’s gender. The news reporter had clearly used the ‘’woman’’ card to justify whatever she was doing. The guard had showed maximum restraint and tried his best not to confront the reporter. I don’t justify the guard’s retaliation with a slap, but wasn’t he provoked to do so? What would have been the reaction of a woman in a similar situation as that of the guard, being constantly badgered? One of my friends said, “I am PRETTY sure that if you reverse the roles, and a male reporter publicly harasses a female worker, tugging her shirt to turn her around, and the female worker slaps the reporter, most girls would be sharing the video and terming it as standing up for her rights and women empowerment. It’s a seriously hypocritical society that we’re living in!’’ After all, we are humans and the ability to get provoked is present in the very basic nature of humans, irrespective of gender. A lot of people argued that the news reporter had not been violent or used any threatening force towards the guard and therefore she had committed no crime. They are certainly mistaken here. Unwanted touching can amount to battery. To constitute a tort and give rise to a cause of action, there must be some form of non-consensual contact that is either specifically or generally intentional. Obviously, something violent like connecting with a punch is going to constitute battery, but contact doesn’t have to cause serious physical injury in order to be a battery.

Being a strong advocate of women empowerment I might be disappointing a lot of my readers when I show my support for the guard but this not about the gender battle, this is about the misuse of  the “woman” card. If the lady wins she would continue harassing people (particularly males) while reporting because she is a “woman”. She won’t lose her job because she is a “woman” or that she provoked him and invited the slap onto herself, yet she is a victim because she is a “woman”. Both should be charged as guilty. This “reporter” should be booked for inciting violence as well.

The above incident was just a starting point. I also want to mention more incidents where women have misused the woman card and humiliated men publicly. Once I was standing with a friend in a crowded market in Islamabad. A woman driving a car had hit another car from behind. There is a universal traffic rule, when you hit someone’s car from behind you are responsible for it but let’s not get into these details. What happened next was shocking. The woman immediately came out of the car and started abusing the male driver of the car she had hit. The whole market could hear her abuse him and the young man was in total despair. I could see the man’s face boiling as the woman did not stop at all and went on humiliating him, knowing that he wouldn’t do anything. I am sure the man was provoked to such an extent that we could have witnessed a violent reaction by him had some of the people not come up to him and said, “Brother, I would advise you to sit in your car and leave, after all you are a man and she’s a woman. No matter what, eventually you’re going to blamed and shamed by the society for reacting.” Even after the guy sat back in his car silently, the woman would not stop abusing and it was obvious that she was trying her best to incite the young man to react so she could call the cops and defame the man. This incident was a shocker for me. The guy had to leave the market he visited daily with nothing but humiliation and embarrassment. He was punished for being a man and if he reacted, he would have been labelled as a man having no regard for women’.

Another time, a female Teaching Assistant at the LUMS University had slapped a male student. After discussing this incident with a few students from LUMS I came to know that the same Teaching Assistant had assaulted several other male students on different occasions, playing the woman card very well. What would have been our reaction had the teaching assistant been a male and the student a female?

Let’s recall an incident from a reality TV show from India where a man was brutally assaulted when he reacted by slapping a woman who had slapped him first. How can we expect men not to have emotions and find it unreasonable when they react to a woman harassing or assaulting them, using the woman card?

Acts like this are a disgrace to women’s rights movements and to all feminists. Using the “woman” card to abuse men is not what we should stand for. I fear that the misuse of the woman card might prove to be a big blow to the cause of women empowerment movement in our country. I must say with deep regret that I feel insecure in my society. What if I turn out to be the next victim of bullying by a woman using the woman card? How am I going to react after being humiliated publicly and instigated at the hands of a woman? I hope I never have to see that day. This fear has led me to reconsider my approach and advocacy for women empowerment and I am sure that many other men like me have started to feel this way. The day is not far when we see “men’s rights activism” but the last thing we want is a gender battle. I, therefore, urge all those people working for women empowerment to reconsider their policies and approach towards women empowerment, redefine what women empowerment actually means and conduct awareness seminars to stop the misuse of the woman card.


The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of CourtingTheLaw.com or any organization with which he might be associated.

Azeem Armaghan Arslan

Author: Azeem Armaghan Arslan

The writer has studied law from University Of London International Programmes. He also serves as an Ambassador for the Network for International Law Students (NILS) Pakistan Chapter and is the member of Youth Parliament Pakistan(2016).

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