Pakistani actress and model, Veena Malik, had everyone's attention when rumors about her nude photoshoot for the cover of FHM India's December issue did the rounds of the Internet. Although the model has denied having done any such shoot, the magazine's editor insists it did, in fact, happen, claiming to have proof - e-mails exchanged between the magazine and Veena. More drama followed, when she sued the magazine for defamation and the magazine counter-sued their cover girl.
At the end of the day, however, the news and the issue have been doing the rounds of the Internet with nary an angle being spared. The controversy has made it particularly big, among feminists, entertainers and even commentators on the Islamic religion.
There was an interesting comment made by Hafsa Ahmad, a blogger, which was carried by the Express Tribune, a Pakistani newspaper. Ahmad questioned the fuss over the issue and if Veena was actually worth it. She has been called a feminist and the voice of women's rights in her home country. The question Ahmad was asking was... is she really their voice? Or has she acted in opposition of such a designation?
The point is worth pondering.
First, the Moral Allegations:
It seems unclear, even at this stage, whether Veena Malik really did pose nude for FHM. The question is... even if she did... is it really that big a deal? Is it worth bringing the whole nation's attention to it? Aren't there more serious issues and grievances for the country to be concerned about?
In addition, there are concerns such as those surrounding the tarnishing of a country's image, by presenting Veena Malik's naked body. Really? Is such a situation that which decides if a country is presented in a good or bad light? Pakistan has significantly more problems, it would appear, given degrees of corruption and an overzealous military. This may be way off the mark... but one could hazard a guess that a woman's naked body shouldn't really be up there on their list of things to do.
At the end of the day, it cannot be assumed that Veena Malik's actions will, single-handedly, decide the fate and image of so vast and cultured a country; and she most certainly cannot claim to be representative of all Pakistani women.
Next, the religious allegations:
She can't be Muslim! She's naked!
To answer that... as out blogger points out, her religion is her personal concern... not ours. If there are indeed religious consequences to her actions, then she will have to pay that price herself. Why, really, should we care?
The point that, perhaps, should be considered is that Veena has received an outpouring of responses from liberals and feminists, from Pakistan and abroad. They have called her act both courageous and liberating. The Daily Mail has called her the voice of women's rights in Pakistan.
Again... at the risk of sounding repetitive... really? Does posing nude for a men's lifestyle magazine constitute the sole conceptualization of feminism?
The general understanding of feminism is a fight to change ancient patriarchal beliefs that women are purely sexual objects, created for the carnal pleasure of their male counterparts. The fight is to be not viewed as sexual objects but to be recognized as more than that. So, in that context, are not Veena's actions the opposite of feminism?
Just weeks ago, Egyptian activist Aliaa Elmahdy posted a nude picture of herself, which stirred controversy and outrage in her home counry. Her actions were a fight against society and against the mind-set that a female body is a tool to be exploited by men, to either satisfy their lust or to simply dominate.
Elmahdy's choice to pose naked was a fight against male dominant mentality, whereas Veena Malik's was to conform to it.
Related Article: Veena Malik Nude Cover Photo: What's Inside FHM?