Aurat March: Why placards are important?

By Arooj Masood in Information Design

2 years ago - 5 mins read

Every year, women belonging to different classes of society come together and march through cities. Every year, these women hold creative placards and posters,  and raise slogans against the patriarchy. Every year, trolls sitting behind computer screens, in newsrooms and in parliament take offence in those placards and dismiss the whole movement based on some witty one liners that they couldn’t comprehend. Here, I will try to explain the significance of these placards to those men (and women) who are quick to take offence.

Why are placards important? Why do we need these behaya, besharam, badmaza one liners to get attention? Well, human beings are simple creatures, with a very short attention span. If you ask the online trolls of Aurat March whether anyone of them read up on Aurat March’s manifesto, majority would say no. Manifestos are boring and bulky and no one has time to read pages upon pages of demands of some awara aurtain. That is where placards come in.

Image by Sadia Khatri at DawnPlacards can say a lot in very few words. Would you rather have a verbose discussion about how there is a dearth of women in the positions of policy makers because they are held back and how this is negatively affecting the economy or would you rather just hold up this poster and make a quick statement like this:

Image by Nida Kirmani @nidkirm Twitter

Every woman marched for her own reason. Some were tired of receiving unsolicited dick pics in their messages and some demanded freedom to walk around without being harassed in public spaces. Some marched for acid survivors and some marched for child brides. If the residents of the internet-verse think that these issues can be talked about without some level of profanity or bluntness, then let me tell you: you ask too much of these women

Image by Sameen @someaningless Twitter 

Image by Laaleen Sukhera @laaleen TwitterWomen of our society have spent centuries being mellow, submissive and dutiful. When a woman takes to the streets refusing to conform to the standards of the society, that is seen as a danger to the tradition and culture of the country, regardless of the practicality of that tradition.

Image by Mahnoor @flightlessbird_ Twitter

Image by Hija Kamran @hijakamran TwitterIf you can’t get behind the message of the placards, then at least appreciate the creativity behind these beautiful posters. Aurat March brought out the artists within these women and it wouldn’t be an overreach to say that these women channeled their anger through color and pencils, showing the world how powerful few nicely placed words can be.

This years Aurat March promotional posters were designed by Shehzil Malik. Her illustrations respectfully depicted women of varying classes religions, backgrounds etc. It is hard to explain the anger and trauma that a woman goes through with mere words. Art becomes an outlet that can visually represent that buildup of emotions which are ready to erupt.  

Illustration by  Shehzil MalikAurat March was not just a gathering of like-minded women. It provided a different avenue to these young and hip artists/illustrators to flex their muscles and use their art to support something that they believe in, regardless of what their critics believed in.

Placards are not meant to be soft or censored. Their message should not be conform to someone else’s level of comfort. Women who marched should not be made to defend these posters or should not be blamed for their vulgarity because in the end, these posters represent the realities of the society. If those realities do not offend you, then why does a placard in a woman’s hand, boldly denouncing that same reality, offend you so much?

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