Once upon a time, in a not so far off land (Lahore), there lived a benevolent Prince. Now, I know what you’re going to say, there are no princes in Lahore, but his mom told him he’s a prince, so he’s a prince, and that’s that. Our prince was, as expected, born with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth. He received the best education, had a long-standing and respected family name, was endlessly doted on by his family and was to, in time, inherit a supremely successful family business.

Everything was as it should have been.

Our story begins when our Prince returned from a fancy foreign land, where he was (not really) trying to pursue a fancy foreign education. He had flunked out of college, but it didn’t really matter, because of course no degree was as fancy as him at the end of the day. It really wasn’t worth his time to try again, because who needs a complete education, when the alternative is inheriting millions by doing no work? Pfft, nonsense to even think of otherwise! When he returned, it was time to get the Prince married off to a ‘worthy girl’.

Everything was as it should have been. 


(Side note: A worthy girl constitutes a young girl, preferably in her late teens, or early twenties, no older. Who should have a modern brought-up, but learns to conform with conservative mindsets. Who should be highly educated with no aspirations to work. And finally should understand, that in the event of a marriage, the Prince would be her supreme lord, who is never to be argued with, disagreed with, and basically, her words or manners should never to challenge his fragile masculinity.)

After many months of searching, hallelujah! A ‘worthy girl’ was found, and approved of, by him and his family. She was beautiful, lively, thin and seemingly docile. Hers a was a middle class family, but adequately educated, and social well-liked. After the initiation of the rishta, when the girl’s family asked around about the Prince and his family, people were nothing but high praises about them. “Such a good boy! He studied at Aitchison and then went to that expensive college in Canda!”, “Such a great family, they’re worth these many millions and have that many lands!”, “Wonderful people! They have so and so connections, and not a single bad cookie and their entire lineage!”. And the praises went on and on. And on. People swore by their words, and so the decision was made. The Prince and the girl would be wed.

Everything was as it should have been.


The honeymoon period was just that. The Prince was happy, the girl was happy, and the kingdom was at peace. But in time, the girl started to show signs that she may not have been so worthy after all. In time, she would complain when the Prince returned home inebriated, and she had to clean up after him, like it wasn’t her job to do so. She also had the gall to suggest she apply for a menial job, that could utilize her time and contribute to the family, when she should have understood perfectly well how poorly that reflected upon the Prince and his family, and would have seemed like they, God forbid, MADE their ‘women-folk’ work. And finally, she displayed tendencies to forget not to instigate an inebriated Prince by useless chatter about her dreams, and concerns or spending time together. So, of course, she had to be put in her place. It was fair game, then, to treat that insolence by reminding the girl of her low self-worth and her family’s lesser social standing in the most colorful language. It was also important for the girl to understand the power of the Prince’s exalted place in her life and his masculinity, which he demonstrated to her physically – the marks on her body a good reminder. So, good for her that for the next few years, she bowed and learned.

Everything was as it should have been…

©thepakistanimarthastewart – Instagram

Let’s stop here for a minute and analyze this. Our cultural expectations, social norms and even the lawmaking system programs constantly to maintain a certain hierarchy, by keeping men at the top. In other words, we as a society are particularly good at sustaining a concept widely known as ‘Male Privilege’ – the invisible, and unfair perks enjoyed by men, based solely on the basis of their gender. This affliction is usually hidden behind pleasing words (at least to some) such as “masculinity” and “real men”. But the fact remains, that it IS an affliction. An affliction which has served to hurt women time and again.

But it is important for us to understand, that we can no longer let this be our way of life. We can no longer deem opinionated women “too-talkative”. We can no longer succumb to mansplaining and assume women can’t put two thoughts together for themselves. We can no longer let women be subjected to scrutiny for the way they speak or act and then be judged for not being “lady-like”. We can no longer put down women for being ambitious about a career that gives them purpose. We can no longer let people give excuses for the abuse of women, of any kind by their husbands, or their families. We can no longer accept that women should be timid and quiet and not instigate a man, just because he has a frail temper. We can no longer tolerate the idea of a man, who believes that women are beneath him and that he has the right to behave with them any way he wishes. All of this must change. And a change will come in recognizing that women, like men, deserve equal access to basic respect for our humanity.

And all that is exactly what the worthy-unworthy girl realized one fine day, when she walked out of the Prince’s house and life. Now, she’s a brave, unapologetic woman who worked tirelessly to pursue a higher education, a career, and a stable life for herself and her daughter. Now, she has managed to acquire for herself an independent life, and a redeemed self-esteem. Now, she is happier, healthier and stronger than she ever was with the Prince.

And everything is as it should have been.

By Luigi Racco

Based on a true story.



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