She made a series of bad guesses, which she could have totally chalked up to the vagaries of a game of chance. But no, Hira Mani blamed her gender for her poor performance instead.
Nearing the end of her play, she referred to her fellow contestant and said, “I think we should listen to the men. They are smarter than us. I think we should go with his decision.”
“A woman can sometimes make bad decisions,” she added.
Host Fahad immediately corrected her: “That is not the case. My wife has always made the best decisions. Our country’s women are smarter than men.”
While intelligence isn’t exactly a gendered quality and is developed through a person’s interaction with the outside world, it’s a relief to see that Fahad didn’t let Hira’s grossly sexist views go unchallenged.
Later on, Hira’s female co-contestant makes a risky but successful move and also chimed in: “See, women are smart.”
For a popular actor to display such casual sexism on live TV is highly irresponsible and dangerous. The suggestion that men are smarter than women by default can not be shrugged off as an innocuous statement because it reinforces ideas such as ‘women only belong in the kitchen’ and ‘men should be paid more than women’ that are falsely touted as facts in Pakistani society. In turn, these ideas legitimise disempowering practices such as unequal pay and the discouragement of women from pursuing careers.
We hope that Hira has learned that she should reconsider her thoughts about her gender and not repeat such ideas on live TV.