Sat. Aug 24th, 2019

To dance or not to dance: that is the question


Shahzaib Hassan

Anthropologists have two different approaches to define civilization. One approach argues that civilization passed through an evolutionary process – from savagery and barbarism to maturity. This is how civilization works in the long run of time, passing through events and processes and produce cultural units in the same time as when it passes through changes. Civilization is the bigger show of smaller parts of culture. Thus, culture is changing along with civilization.

By discussing the cultural changes, i wanted to make a thesis for the indigenous people of Gilgit-Baltistan who have been overwhelmingly sturdiest about their cultural dance, making it limited to just one gender.

Since i have opened my eyes I have never seen woman dancing on floors of hotel during any party and marriage because of the fact some societies in GB have never assumed to live that way. Traditionally, if a man dances, it is a matter of ‘honor’, but if a woman dances, then she must be a ‘whore’, or Kanjar. It was believed that only prostitutes can dance in a crowd of man. More so, during the time of marriage women are generally silences, and men are allowed to engage in “Bazam”, or dance and music party, in which, ironically, most songs are about the beauty, love and body (eye, lips, hair) of women.

At one hand female is marginalized and on the other she is oppressed by men, exerting power over them, often in the name of religion and tradition. Living in such an environment woman have traditionally obeyed men, often under fear of violence and exclusion, considering them as legitimate authority, or power. Honor killing, in many ways, are reinforces of male dominance, and the power of male authority. This is a patriarchal system, in which the women are made to toe the line through force, coercion, shaming, discrimination, and violence, not through logic, or love.

Since the dance of some girls of Gilgit-Baltistan has become viral on social media last week, piles of criticism have surfaced. The hidden bigotry of the the villages, towns and cities has become manifest.

Interestingly, my mother called me and asked me ‘whether I knew about the dance controversy of the girls of KIU’. I said to mom, ‘Yeah, I know that’.

She replied, ‘was it right for a girl to dance’?

For a few moments I became silent. And, then i told her that dance is one way of expressing one’s feelings of joy and intensity of happiness, and in the same breath i said, it has nothing to do with religion. Then i added, if men feel honor in dance, then women should also be allowed to feel the honor.

Though my answers were not satisfactory enough for my mom, she was convinced that standards of judging character in a society should be same for both genders. She agreed that this is the only way a just and equitable society can be formed, allowing everyone to live peacefully.

Last but not the least, things (culture) in a society can be changed if we develop consensus between all classes of society and do justice on merit basis, and come out of our savagery of criticism to literate opinion of music which is in the world a combining force of unity. Moreover, if GB wanted to be conducive in civility so as to bringing down suicide attempts, and honor killing, it is must give freedom of speech and expression to every women to exercise their life, in view of their understanding and in the best of their ability.

The writer is the student of Forman Christian College, Lahore. He is studying English Literature as major and political science as a minor.

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