A woman is defined by her role as a wife, daughter, daughter-in-law, sister and mother.  Never simply as just a woman. Of course, because that is just not enough. Also, if she fails to fulfill any of these roles precisely according to what her societal circle demands, she is a failure as a human being.

Great, first she can’t be just a woman, and now, not even a human being.

In this 21st century, we talk about educating women, empowering women, and some of us do ‘allow’ ourselves to liberate them while they're growing up – only to imprison them again once they're adults by the same chains we'd carefully taught them to rebel against.

No, not confusing at all.

She might be a finance whiz or a brilliant writer, but to her mother she'll always be quantified as a worthy commodity if, and only IF, her in-laws speak well of her. If they don't, then she will have shamed them and her family.

At such times, the mother will not remember that while her daughter was a little girl, she was taught to do the right thing, to take a stand for herself, to be herself! No! At such times, all that will matter to the mother will be how her daughter was ranked in her in-laws' good books and how she compared to their other bahu or, of course, to every other relative she could be compared to even remotely. On the bright side, at least that is a step-up from what the neighbors think.

This is a woman's worth.

We ventured out into the women's world to find out if the younger generation of mothers and wives and single women thought any differently. We started by asking them what they thought were the attributes of a 'good woman' in our culture. To get them going, we also went ahead and opined first.

She MUST be an expert in housework no matter what else she can do in life. If she can’t dust, then, her skills as a surgeon are meaningless. Which is understandable, obviously, because her skill to slice open a heart isn't going to cook that handi in the kitchen, will it? We do wonder how quickly she slices onions, though.

Quite a few women we asked agreed with us.

Sanober, a young mother of two lovely girls, said, "She should have the capacity to 'bardasht' everything without questioning or complaining or asking for her rights."

Hunniya, another mom, spoke on a similar line. "A woman makes the house, meaning whatever happens, she bears all pain and suffering in the name of her 'ghar' because that is only her destiny," she said, adding a little frown to her words.

Saima, an elementary school teacher who is also a mother, said, a woman "must be a good mother, a good wife and a good daughter. She is not a woman; she is a custom made piece of furniture for men to rest their egos on. She is a woman only when someone can claim her as property."

We agree for how else will she show people how tolerant she is by nature. There of course, were other aspects of the “mazloomiat” factor.

Sumbeela told us, "A 'good woman' always ends up in somebody else's house. Aurat wohi achi that got away. No one is ever satisfied with the one they ‘have.’” She also made us privy to her routine while she opined, “I was going through all these comments while teaching my oldest Math, second one comprehension while listening to my son's crazy invention and making frequent trips to the kitchen to make sure my handi is done. THIS defines a good woman *smiles* Thank you, Thank you ! *takes a bow*"

Oh yes, we think we might have found a good one there for sure!

Samina had another perspective to share. According to her, “A woman should be highly educated, she should be a doctor, a rocket scientist but when she weds, her degree should be framed on the mantel piece and the only chemistry she should do is in the kitchen – cooking. Also, a wife is only worth keeping if she gives birth to a boy. Girls don't really count; they're just a burden, as a husband and a mother-in-law always want a waris. Some men don't like strong independent women, it threatens their authority and their manhood if she is outspoken and holds strong views. So, in order to bag herself a husband, she must APPEAR to be submissive, to show the world her husband wears the trousers but in reality, she chooses them and pays for them.”

That bit unleashed more fires that we loved to see burn as our focus group came alive with opinions that would surely deem those women rebellious.

Nahid, a mother and a painter, blamed women for demonizing women that had lead to their current state in our society. "I totally agree with all these comments but after my observation and experience, 'Aurat hi Aurat ki dushman hai'. You know what I think? Our generation has to fix this problem by raising sons who would value women. We should also implement it by supporting women and respecting their life. Historically, mothers always nurtured their sons to always have an upper hand on ‘their’ women. We need to change this behavior by stepping in as it is passing from generation to generation. All women need to fix this by raising gentlemen!"

Hunniya couldn't agree more, "My dad always said to me when I was growing up that a woman is a woman's worst enemy; I used to dismiss it as a patriarchal myth designed to create rift between women. Sadly with a little bit more experience of practical life I now agree with him. I have a very close active feminist friend who tries to act like the stereotypical ‘NAND’ with her sister-in-law, so, I really don't have any illusions left about sisterhood.”

Asma was quick to refer to the Quran and stated what many forgot when dealing with women: "Even God compares His mercy and love with that of a mother."

Saba hailed the idea of raising sons who are respectful of women. However, she couldn't overlook the effects of the toxic culture we lived in. "Culture plays a big part of a man's behavior," she said. “Sons should help in child rearing, household chores and intellectual stimulation of the woman and emotional situations.”

Mehtab took a philosophical approach and expanded on the above sentiment, “I think each person’s definition of good is subjective. Culture plays a strong influence on how people feel they are supposed to behave. The same goes for Saas/Bahu relationship. For example, if a Saas is being kind, people will say ‘dekho to bahu ko sar pe chara ke rakha hai.’ On the other side, I see many daughters-in-law who are not even cordial with their mothers-in-law and put barriers between both sides of the families. They will treat their sisters with love but not their husband’s sister. So, I think it all depends on what you put out there. If you put out negative energy and see everything in a negative light, someone could bring you the moon and it still won't be enough.”

We couldn't disregard the effects of culture on ourselves, of course. Anyone who remembers the Mawra Hocane controversy will also recall the number of women who agreed to slurring her reputation by calling her names and cussing simply because they didn't agree with her stance. We believe no matter what the stance, vocabulary regarding women should never be demeaning.

Not all in our group were polite, sober women who made sure that sass didn't work into their comments.

Janil had the snappiest reply that even Confucius would have agreed with, “Am I the only one here who thinks a good woman never existed in ANY culture?”

Ayesha thought it a fitting reply to post a song from 'Meray Brother Ki Dulhan'.

Humaira ended this discussion by saying, “A good woman is someone who speaks her mind and does not ever shut up! A good woman is someone who will fight against evil, oppression, abuse and bad hair days with everything she's got. A good woman is one who will use all her ammunition on making the world a better place."

Who are we to argue with that perfect definition?