Beheading of Noor Mukadam and Ruling Normativity Exposes Crevasses within Society

By Shazia Anwer Cheema


There is a debate; triggered by the beheading of a young girl in Islamabad going on in Pakistan, casing a wide range of issues from sanctity to sanity and from insanity to the normalcy of opposite-sex relationship and the Negative (NEG) and Affirmative (AFF) teams are not ready to leave rostrums unless we accept what they believe. Let’s have a discussion we are living in a time when articulating the empty hole has become important to our survival, survival of humanity itself. We cannot afford to write a broken book which Fazall Ullah wrote in the 15th century, where he literally left spaces in a text when he got stuck between broken and complete and let the reader reconstruct his/her own version of complete.

We remember Fazall Ullah used to write content while leaving empty spaces wherever he could not find appropriate diction for continuity, or answer or logic to related the first line with the second line. We are facing the same situation and we leave gaps and spaces where we are shy to join the first line (proposition) with the second line because we are not bold enough to link them with each other because both propositions provide a syllogism (results) we are not ready to accept because that this is against our distorted beliefs.

In this era, we cannot leave spaces and we need to complete the broken text. As the book “Broken Text” our society is also full of holes, empty-blank spaces to fill, to create a holistic coherent understanding.

Just by imagining our own preferred solution is not the solution. Clinging to the existing norms, which have turned into a non-operational entity can satisfy no more. Cognitive dissonance is not helping us, let’s fight it and fill the blanks together, lets reconstruct something which is comprehensible even being uncomfortable.

Our society is going through a renaissance, things, ideas, and circumstances are shifting abruptly, we agree it is some extra cognitive load on us but avoiding it cannot suffix the solution.

This is the right time to behave queerly, queer enough to get ready to fail, queer enough to revolt against what we consider normativity, it is time to put new normal on the throne. Old normativity looks obsolete and outdated. The old raged and rustic normativity cannot or must not occupy the throne anymore.

When I say Queer, I mean the terminology of “Queer” in a new emerging meaning tendered by Jack Halberstam in his book “The Queer Art of Failure”. According to this new terminology, any person (irrespective of any kind of sexual orientation) is queer who is not shy to face failure and think over and above of notions of possibility and look for alternatives in the form of “subjugated knowledge” across the culture, in subcultures, countercultures, and even popular cultures.

The idea of “subjugated knowledge” came from the work of Paul-Michel Foucault who was a French philosopher, historian of ideas, writer, political activist, and literary critic. His theories primarily address the relationship between power and knowledge, and how they are used as a form of social control through societal institutions. His thought has influenced academics working in the fields of communication studies, anthropology, psychology, sociology, criminology, cultural studies, literary theory, feminism, Marxism, and critical theory.

There are several women we can tag queer enough because they are ready to fail but eager to try. Their ideas are queer, they have no gender and no specific philosophy, they do not belong or propagate any previous “ism”. We should accept that our society is living in parallel systems, generation and ideological gaps have created crevasses wide enough only for a queer to try to bridge it. Old specific, classified normalization cannot articulate any answer for that gap.

Several social institutions look failed to cater to today’s socio-economics realities and a majority of us are not ready to be bold enough to accept that the idea of “live-in” has very much prevailed in our society, economic dimensions have put a small-town normal girl to an urban queer situation, where she has to reconstruct her identity by deconstructing herself. This deconstruction most of the time without having the support of old normativity can become destructive.

Our cities are full of destructive, demolished females. Either you will help them out to reconstruct themselves without any damage or the havoc of destruction will continue. They are not “prostitutes”, they are not “bad girls”, our old ruling normativity may tell us though, we cannot ignore them just by tagging them to any previous normal, they are normal, everyday girls, a species that is undergoing a massive transformation. It requires us to bow in front of the new normal and pledge new normativity on the throne. It is our dilemma we can tag them by leaving empty space in our book to fill it with any suitable.

We cannot leave holes, we have to fill each blank with a concrete and tangible articulation. Our psychological unease is not their problem who are contesting existing norms as they queer enough to challenge such standards, and they are challenging it; fill the empty space and coin a linguistic term for a talented bright female living alone in an apartment and working, come up with an idea to fill the blank when a nice, ambitious girl living in “live-in” and get raped by “partner”. Draw an answer for us in the hole where a talented female is working a night shift and gets molested on her way back home.

We are not Fazalullah and this is not the 15th century, we cannot leave an empty space in front of all of us to think it is not normal, talk about a shining girl who got an opportunity to come into the big city to reconstruct herself and one of us still obeying the old normativity consider her an easy catch, this girl is queer enough to get ready to fail, not following our old normal. These girls are not aboriginals, they are from us, in fact, they are “you and me” so let’s decide to face the fact that our society needs to create new terminology which can substitute “good woman” and “bad woman”, let’s assume that we are brave enough to admit that all the bad happing to females in our society is not because of that they already fall under our category of bad, let’s be queer enough to imagine that even by having “pubs” in our society cannot release all the suffocation of our male population, let’s admit that being a male “you” have to unlearn old normal and learn new normal, in that learning to co-exist within close proximity of female without objectifying them with the male gaze.

The revolution against old normality on the throne will start the very moment when we understand that all the females in our vicinity are not to be objectified, rather they are a binary population and we have to create new normal of behaving asexually, lets become queer enough to save our girl from clichés, stereotypes and taboos lets become queer enough that we can be able to stop labeling victim with gender specificity.

French philosopher who greatly contributed to Existentialism and Nihilism Jean-Paul Charles Sartre said in one of his papers that social norms are like pieces of rock we burden over our shoulders to keep society happy but at least we should be bold enough to check them piece by piece and throw them away if find them useless. Are we bold and brave enough?

Cowards die many times before their deaths. The brave experience death only once —– Shakespeare


Note: The writer Shazia Cheema is an analyst writing for national and international media outlets. She heads the DND Thought Center. She did her MA in Cognitive Semiotics from Aarhus University Denmark and is currently registered as a Ph.D. Scholar of Semiotics and Philosophy of Communication at Charles University Prague. She can be reached at her: Twitter @ShaziaAnwerCh  Email: shaziaanwer@yahoo.com

The views and opinions expressed in this article/Opinion/Comment are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the DND Thought Center and Dispatch News Desk (DND). Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of the DND Thought Center and Dispatch News Desk News Agency.

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