Benazir Bhutto, when assassinated, became a martyr. This, however, is not solely a synonym to death. On the contrary, the gullible populace that we are, we chose to forget the history that preceded her and instead, romanticised what she was apparently supposed to mean to us. Everyone forgot, and still tends to, of all her action. It’s not good to speak bad of the dead, we are told by our elders. People like Benazir Bhutto make this grooming exceedingly unnecessary.

Junaid Jamshed was no Benazir Bhutto hence he will not be – and isn’t being—treated as the same in this writing. However, he shared one particular thing with the late BB: celebrity status. With more power comes more responsibility, goes the redundant cliché. The two shared much responsibility with what they said because they had followers, devotees and fans. In that position, besides being careful of what one says, there is the unsaid reality of the permanence of what has been said. Hence, death or not, the words said are left behind.

Junaid Jamshed was a misogynist. For most men in this country, this would not be an insult. However, for the greater good of the nation, it’s most definitely an unfortunate impediment. The attitude that the late preacher developed, if kept solely as personal opinions, wouldn’t have mattered however, the man took upon himself to deliver the message of patriarchy across the many different audiences he had the ability to draw to himself. In the infamous interview given in a morning show, JJ boasted about how he never let his wife drive. Moving forward, he urged the listeners to never let their wives drive. When asked a perfectly reasonable question, he snubbed it off by terming it a hypothetical situation. This particular hypothetical situation is an absolute norm in worn torn areas such as Afghanistan. Leaving a woman socially handicapped was JJ’s way of keeping his wife in check. He insisted that when out, she would follow the footsteps of models in attitude and appearance and not the female religious figures of Islam. Of course, his designer clothes too never really represented the virtues that he wanted his wife to embrace.

However, let’s move on. He was accused of committing blasphemy when one of his lectures on one of the wives of the Prophet (P.B.U.H.), Hazrat Ayesha, spread across social media. There is no need to repeat what was said about the particular personality. However, the problem with what he said, goes beyond what he said about one particular personality. He explained it further by talking about women in general. Women, JJ argued were stubborn beings who were attention seeking and manipulative. The people who surround him in that particular interview laugh at this. Such laughter is common amongst the company of boys. How this laughter translates into action is anyone’s guess though. Especially amongst the likes of the lot who find Maulana Sherani’s rather whimsical proclamations sensible. The problem with JJ or Sherani claiming such things is that they authorise and institutionalise such behavior. They give a degree of legitimacy to an attitude that is blatantly invidious.

However, it gets worse. Somehow, Sherani’s claim of light beatings was made a mockery of in all the different venues of social media. The day the Maulana agrees to face an audience, there is no doubt that he will be grilled for the bigoted proclamation. To the many women I have since spoken to about the CCI’s declaration, there has been a unanimous blame on the person as well as his background. However, the same women had little or no say on what JJ said. Such was the man’s charm that these women in particular and the general population at large, seems to focus more on his timid nature and his soulful voice; his devotion to his much hyped Islamic lifestyle. The same bigotry found in his words is snubbed away; a little too easily.

In another program, he insisted that God too would rather not call a woman by her name and he did that out of respect. Unfortunately, no one could have him explain what he meant by respect. Also, was calling a woman’s name out very disrespectful? If so, what exactly is the respectful way to call, for example, a working woman in an office? Maybe coded numbers?

Again, almost no one asked him to explain his words. No one condemned him enough for what he was doing to the population of men who seemed to be addicted to the power that came with being a man in this country. JJ died without taking back what he said or pushing forth a narrative that, even if it challenged the contemporary freedom of women, could have presented a reasonable space for her to exist according to his version of things.

As he left, he has left many of us hurt, confused and maybe even, bigoted. The fact that no one spoke about this particular part of his legacy since his death is in itself befuddling. We, as a nation, tend to sweep things under the carpet. It’s all good so long as everyone understands that the words too are part of history now; and must not be immortalised as the modus operandi of how to treat a wife in Pakistan.