“Read Chomsky. Things are dangerous and bad things happen. But you can’t let fear control you, you’ll never get anything done.” Sabeen Mahmud1
There is a needling, pervasive idea that sticks like a film over every burgeoning sexual liberation, that less lust in the world would be a good thing. This notion barely conceals its own politic: less lust in our streets, less internet porn would mean less violence, less distraction, less ongoing war. This theory holds that porn addiction is the world’s greatest threat to human intimacy and that ISIS rapes women because its pent-up fighters need release. This push towards less lust leads to the basic conclusion that intimacy is liberation in and of itself, and that lust moderation will foment renaissance.
But lust moderation does not foment renaissance.
Excess lust in this world is not really the problem. Intimacy between humans is always convoluted, and pornography is never just a representation of cunt. The festering problem in human matters of lust is that bad male power leads to encroachment. Whether pent-up boys in ISIS or the ass-patting exec, the issue is power that does not bow, does not bend.
In this way, less lust begets the hate fuck.
“I want to hate fuck you to wake you up,” said media personality Jian Ghomeshi to producer Kathryn Borel at Canada’s national broadcasting institution, the CBC.
“You know what happens with girls here. You know what kind of offers they make girls here. You know how they try to misuse girls who are new to the industry,” said media personality Qandeel Baloch, one of twelve children from a rural family in the Punjab region, married off as a teenager and left to her fate.
“There were the uninvited back massages at my desk to which it was clear I couldn’t say no,” said Kathryn, upper middle-class girl from Toronto who wrote a memoir about a French wine-tasting road trip with her father.
At twenty-one, Qandeel left her husband and struck out on her own, working her way through university. Settling in Karachi, Qandeel decided to be an actress. She made low-res, soft-core videos of herself writhing on a bed, and gained thousands of followers before proposing to mega-famous cricket star Imran Kahn across all her feeds. Growing in bravery via the negative sexual attention, Qandeel twerked and trash-talked to pierce her country’s social mores. Before long, she bought her parents a new house.
Kathryn accused her famous boss of bending her over her CBC desk and simulating sex against her hip in front of a co-worker. Kathryn made multiple complaints about this three-year-long harassment, both to her union and CBC execs, but no action was ever taken to address her complaints. Kathryn ultimately filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against her ex-boss but right before the trial was set to begin, she decided to accept a peace bond deal because she wanted Jian to be forced to publicly admit that he had done something wrong. Growing in bravery via the negative sexual attention, Kathryn said, “I was essentially forced to either leave the show or allow my boss to lay his hands on my body at his pleasure.”
“This is a challenging business to be in and I did not need to make it more difficult,” Jian said to Kathryn, as apology.
Difficult business all over the world is rather the sublimated fear of the sexually powerful female – her powers of diction, suction and prediction. The hate fuck grows out of this fear of female strength because of its erroneous presumption that she is a submissive. According to various definitions, the hate fuck does not qualify as rape and neither is it a part of BDSM, because “the submissive party has agreed (for whatever reason) to accept the treatment and behaviour of the aggressor.”* Choking, slapping, punching without a safe word – this is what women’s liberation was for? No, the female party who allegedly accepts the hate fuck does not do so ‘for whatever reason’ – this presumed submissive has lots and lots of reasons. We can wade into these reasons; we can hold them in our hands.
“It was death by a thousand cuts,” said Kathryn. “That’s how it felt.”
“The kind of torture he has inflicted on me, you can’t even imagine,” said Qandeel. “Why? Because I was cute, I was young. He was older than me. He didn’t trust me. I don’t know why. I couldn’t connect with him on an intellectual level. Our ideas were very different.”
“At every turn,” Kathryn said, “people were telling me to just swallow it, to just deal with it.”
Reason Number One: The Threat of Pain. Bodily Disconnection.
Qandeel called herself a One-Woman Army when she promised via Twitter to give a strip dance to the Pakistani cricket team if they won against India in the 2016 ICC T20 World Cup. Qandeel stoked her fans’ visions of the sharpshooting cheerleader who thinks she can take the whole team. “You could say that this is my revenge on this country,” said Qandeel. “I don’t do these things happily.”
Reason Number Two: The Imperative Towards Revenge.
“Everyone had their own tailor-made abuse,” said Kathryn about Jian’s workplace harassment. “Abuse that was based on their own insecurities, their fears. He was really good at getting to the soft belly of who you are and sort of attacking that spot. He was really good at playing people off each other.”
Reason Number Three: The Unconscious. The Drama. The Entire Field of Female Insecurity.
When Qandeel posted videos of herself with Mufti Abdul Qafi, a well-known religious scholar for the ultra-religious PTI party in Pakistan, many of her fans thought she had finally gone too far. It was Ramadan when Qandeel posed with the Mufti in a hotel room, wearing his signature hat cocked on her head.
The Mufti immediately went into damage control. He said that he had been waiting for Qandeel in the hotel lobby, but when she didn’t show up on time he went back to his room. He said that Qandeel then appeared at his hotel door and he had to let her in.
“He asked me if I was fasting or not,” reported Qandeel. “I clearly told him I was not. He then asked me what I wanted to eat. I told him I needed a cigarette so he gave me one. Then he shared everything I was having, the cigarette, my coke and tea. He said this would increase our love. What kind of love is he trying to increase?”
“I think of Qandeel Baloch as my daughter!” said the Mufti, horrified.
Qandeel said that the Mufti was hopelessly in love with her. She said she was trying to get a marriage proposal from him in the hotel room.
“Keeping in mind this sacred month,” said the Mufti, “I would say Allah knows well if either of us is lying.”
“All he has said about his other accusers is that they’re all lying and that he’s not guilty,” said Kathryn. “And remember that’s what he said about me.”
Qandeel: “What kind of love is he trying to increase?”
Jian: “I have always been interested in a variety of activities in the bedroom but I only participate in sexual practices that are mutually agreed upon, consensual and exciting for both partners.”
The Mufti: “She wanted to have a meeting to get rid of a magic spell! She put my hat on her head and took a selfie while I was busy on the phone.”
Qandeel: “Why would I ask for a meeting with him?”
Kathryn: “We weren’t equals; we were never equals, and he took every opportunity to remind me of that.”
Qandeel: “In fact, he had told me during a TV program that he would like to lay his eyes on my face before witnessing the moon of Ramadan. He told me, forget about Imran Khan as he is sixty-five and too old for me. He said, I am fifty years old and an age gap of twenty-five years between us is not a big deal!”
Kathryn: “He made it clear that he could humiliate me repeatedly and walk away with impunity.”
Qandeel: “I have unveiled a man who was leading the people towards ignorance in the name of Islam. I will continue to unveil this hypocrite face of religious clerics who are defaming our religion and country.”
Jian: “Sexual preferences are a human right.”
Kathryn: “He rammed his pelvis against my backside over and over, simulating sexual intercourse.”
Qandeel: “Fine, I don’t know how to dance. But look at my confidence.”
Qandeel left Karachi when her passport and other personal documents had been uploaded to social media without her consent. Qandeel’s birth name was released to the world, and her ex-husband was staked out by the media for comment on their marriage. Qandeel at this time received multiple death threats. She asked the government for protection but the government did not comply. Qandeel’s ex-husband told reporters that he had never been abusive. He said that Qandeel left him for another man. He said, “Qandeel used her own blood to write letters to him.”
In the house that she bought for her parents, while in hiding, Qandeel was drugged and choked to death.
Kathryn: “People who want to minimize or interpret damage that is done to someone else’s body because it was clothed, because it wasn’t penetrative, I think they don’t know what they’re talking about.”
Qandeel’s brother said, “It was either me or her.”
Qandeel’s brother said, “I am not ashamed for killing my sister.”
Qandeel’s mother said, “The Mufti incited my daughter’s murder.”
Qandeel’s father said, “My son should be shot on sight.”
Qandeel’s brother said, “Money is important but the family name is more important.”
Qandeel’s mother: “Her whole face was covered in bruises, her tongue was black, her lips were black.”
Qandeel’s father: “We had drunk milk. It had been mixed with sedatives.”
“First I drugged her, then I strangulated her. She didn’t feel a thing.”
Kathryn: “He punched and choked and smothered and silenced them.”
Qandeel: “I’m a strong girl who keeps her stuff in line even when I have tears going down my face.”
“When you live in fear for three years that you might be attacked,” Kathryn said, “that takes a lot out of a person, that takes a lot of energy out of a person.”
“I supported everything she did,” said Qandeel’s father. “I liked everything she did.”
“I would never allow any female in my family to act like you. They don’t need girl power if that’s what you call it. Our girls need girl power from good education, class and respect. That’s girl power. Anyone can wear a short dress and twerk. Well, besides you. You can’t even do that.” **
Qandeel: “I will keep on achieving and I know you will keep on hating.”
Jian: “I have always tried to be a good soldier and do a good job for my country.”
Kathryn: “I would really love an apology, a straight-out ‘we’re sorry that we created and promoted an environment that hurt you so much.'”
Kathryn: “I know the word trauma has been…we’ve been talking a lot about trauma and it’s a big word, but I do believe that I was traumatized.”
Reason Number Four: The Seeming Impossibility of Real Apology, Real Repair.
Reason Number Five: Using Sex to Climb Out of an Antechamber.
Reason Number Six: Loving Lust. Excess Lust. The Power Titillation Brings.
“This is the most appropriate way of responding to the types of nasty ways in which women are shamed and humiliated into submission. Women can disown her now, but in twenty years, she’ll be the one whom all women will point to as the person who freed them.”**
Qandeel: “Love me or hate me, both are in my favour. If you love me, I will always be in your heart; if you hate me, I’ll always be in your mind.”
Jian: “She found some sympathetic ears by painting herself as a victim.”
Kathryn: “I guess my brand of feminism is trying not to end up murdered in a ditch.”
Qandeel: “Boys give me surprises, now long and fat surprises ;)”
Reason Number Seven: Sex, Death and Power are Primally Inverted, Intertwined.
1 Sabeen Mahmud was a human rights activist who was killed in Karachi in 2015. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sabeen_Mahmud
Quotes from Kathryn Borel are taken from her interview with Anne Kingston published in Macleans.ca on May 16, 2016, her Twitter feed, her December 2014 Guardian article, “Jian Ghomeshi harassed me on the job. Why did our radio station look the other way?” and her public statement after accepting a peace bond from Ghomeshi on May 11, 2016.
Quotes from Jian Ghomeshi are taken from his peace bond apology to Kathryn Borel on May 11, 2016 as well as his pre-emptive October 2014 Facebook post about allegations against him of sexual assault.
Quotes from Qandeel Baloch (1990-2016) are culled from her Twitter, Instagram and Facebook feeds, as well as multiple interviews in Dawn.com and Tribune.com.pk. The statements from Qandeel’s mother, father and brother after her death have been published internationally.
Mufti Abdul Qafi’s words are also on the record in multiple sources, notably at en.dailypakistan.com.pk.
* Definition of hate fuck, courtesy of Urbandictionary.com
**These two anonymous comments about Qandeel Baloch were posted in the Comments section of a July 2016 article on Dawn.com, entitled “No One Gives Me Any Credit for Speaking About Girl Power.”
Tamara Faith Berger is the author of three books: Kuntalini, Maidenhead and Little Cat. Her fiction and essays have appeared in ADULT, Apology, Taddle Creek and THIS Magazine. She is the winner of the Believer Book Award and was a finalist for the Ontario Trillium Award for literature. She lives in Toronto.