Shahid Afridi has met controversy regarding sexist remarks he made in a recent televised interview. Known more for his ‘boom boom’ sixes Afridi has caused quite a stir on social media. In one of the most commented on and shared videos in recent days, Afridi is quoted saying that Pakistani women, specifically Pashtun women, are known best for their cooking when asked about his views on a women’s cricket team currently being formed in Peshawar.
It’s surprising that this comes at a time when Afridi famously led Pakistan to a historic win against India in the Asia Cup series hitting two successive sixes to win the match. This was a repeat of a similar feat by Javed Miandad also against India in 1986. Shahid Afridi hails from the Afridi Pashtun tribe where gender roles are strictly followed. In a male dominated society, women are mostly relegated to being mothers and stay-at-home wives, and not encouraged to take up education or sports.
The question is asked to Afridi from a cricketing standpoint, and when the journalist makes this point clear, Afridi responds that he has already made a stand on the issue and does not wish to comment further. Most cricket enthusiasts (not to mention female Afridi fans) were expecting an appreciation of women’s cricket in Peshawar due to Afridi being a cricketer himself.
Cricket lovers as well as regular social media patrons feel that Afridi, being a national hero and youth role model should not be making such sexist remarks on national television. Some comments on Facebook even questioned whether Afridi qualifies to be declared a ‘national hero’. If the same question were asked to Imran Khan and Wasim Akram, it is thought that for the most part the cricketing legends known for their progressive ideals, would have encouraged women’s cricket in today’s male dominated society. Khan and Akram certainly would not have passed such remarks being representatives of the sport.
Afridi’s crude and sexist remarks may also show that the national hero possesses a shallow and narrow mindset which fits the stereotype of men belonging to tribal communities.
It is expected cricketers, representing Pakistan on international tours would be a little more open minded due to their increased exposure to other parts of the world and different cultures. However, this doesn’t appear to be the case with Shahid bhai.
The man affectionately known as ‘Lala’, may have ‘boom boomed’ his way in the hearts of millions of Pakistanis with his fabulous fours and super sixes, but has recently been caught leg before wicket with his crude sexist remarks.