Having pride in one’s country is a very important thing, it gives us a sense of belonging and identity. It helps unify the people and strengthen the state. Indeed, there are few things more important than patriotism. Yet, there are examples of it being abused in the name of patriarchy. Jingoism is defined as “extreme chauvinism or nationalism”. Where does one draw the line between patriotism and jingoism? These are questions that today’s Pakistani youth needs to ask itself. One of the biggest criticisms of activists who try to improve their country is that they are portraying a negative international image of Pakistan at the global level.

A negative image is something people should worry about indeed. After all, people do often judge a book by its cover. Should that not also hold true for Pakistan? Does that make these activists non-patriots? One cannot imagine how it would. These activists are trying to fix problems in their homeland. They are doing so by highlighting issues that plague their state so that they can be addressed. Such is their devotion to their country. Let us take the example of a poor teenager who was shot in the head in Pakistan and is now trying to improve education for girls, not just in Pakistan but globally. Malala is loved all over the world. Her mission to educate girls is a very noble one and yet she faces the most amount of hate from her own home country of Pakistan. The jingoist narrative that Malala is ruining the image of Pakistan by highlighting the educational issue is enough to earn her hate from Pakistanis of every single socio-economic background in Pakistan. This is most upsetting and tells of the dangerous mind-set that is becoming common in Pakistan. Rather than these jingoists being upset at those who stop female education in Pakistan or those who shot Malala, they make a teenage girl with a message to improve the situation the scapegoat. Perhaps, because of their chauvinist beliefs it is easier to sweep the actual problem under the table than deal with it. Ironically, they do not seem to see that the people who go around shooting teenage girls or those who aim to keep girls out of educational institutions are the ones who are ruining Pakistan’s image, not the girl who tries to rectify the issue. Jingoism and misogyny are clearly two sides of the same coin.

Misogyny tells us to sweep problems of sexism under the table and pretend they do not exist. By virtue of being a male, I am sure I have at some time or another unknowingly been guilty of misogyny. Admitting that is the first step towards self-reformation and awareness. Using patriotism as an excuse to propagate misogyny is jingoist and a deflection of the actual issue at hand. It is also deeply unpatriotic as it is denying the activist a chance to work for and better their country. Recently, Oscar award winning filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy came under fire for highlighting an issue with harassment. The harassment in question was when a doctor who had treated her sister once decided that was enough of an introduction for him to be able to comment on her pictures and add her as a friend on Facebook. Overfamiliarity can be construed as harassment when it makes the person feel uncomfortable. Ms. Chinoy tweeted about the issue and subsequently the doctor in question was fired. People without bothering to check on the facts decided that the filmmaker was abusing her power as a celebrity to get someone fired. Few people denouncing her bothered to read about the fact that this was not the first time there had been complaints made about this doctor. The fact that this doctor used private hospital information to comment on a patient’s Facebook account pictures was conveniently ignored by them since that particular fact did not work well with their narrative of Ms. Chinoy abusing privilege. Conveniently cherry picking some facts while denying others is not patriotic. Using this convoluted logic to attack women is condemnable. This issue suddenly brought up another issue that jingoists used to discredit Ms. Chinoy. She was again attacked for showing a negative image of Pakistan because her documentaries are about violence against women and the hurdles they face in Pakistan. Again, the jingoist mind failed to appreciate that Ms. Chinoy was displaying patriotism by trying to fix a problem that plagues her country instead of letting it be swept under the table.

Sweeping things under the table is something people are quite adept at. It is the easy way out and it does not solve anything. A few months ago I wrote a Facebook post about a social issue in Pakistan and I was criticised by ex-students of mine for highlighting problem in Pakistan to foreigners because I live in Scotland and have non-Pakistani friends. My response to them was simple; I owe it to my county because my sense of patriotism does not allow me to let issues like this slide.

Using patriotism as an excuse to propagate misogyny is jingoist and a deflection of the actual issue at hand.