I’ve been reading thesis projects for the past few weeks, preparing for two weeks of creative writing workshops in August. I’m going to be working with people I’ve known for over two years, and that might not seem like a long time to know someone, but I’ve learned a lot about my classmates in this short span of time. Considering the kind of material that makes its way into a thesis, it’s kind of impossible not to.
When reading someone’s memoir or personal essays, you’re bound to come across some pretty heavy and/or sensitive information, the kind of stuff you couldn’t know about someone just by looking at them. And honestly, reading their projects is challenging. The writer in you is critiquing sentence structure, section breaks, the balance of scene/summary/analysis, et cetera, but the human in you—the friend in you—is thinking, “Whoa. I had no idea you’ve been through so much.”
While I consider myself lucky to know so many creative and talented writers on such a personal level, it’s made me realize how few people I know that much about outside of my master’s program. Other than my family or childhood friends, I don’t know a considerable amount about anybody else. I don’t think many of us do, actually.
My American gender struggle includes worries such as whether domestic chores are shared equally with my partner, the skeevy nuances of that one networking-non-date, or even more substantially equal-pay for equal work.
Compare that to Pakistan.
Not only is it a changing world, but it’s a confusing, brutal and unfair one, too.
Read this story in The Atlantic in which Zara Jamal, a Pakistani-born student at McGill, interviews six women and translates their stories. The incredible thing? Most of the women are the breadwinners in their families, and it is only in their professional lives that they find safety and peace.
To Be a Woman in Pakistan: Six Stories of Abuse, Shame, and Survival
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