Feminist Spotlight ft. Hassan Kilde Bajwa
“Mard bhi tau feminist ho sakte hain.” Now that’s a phrase you don’t traditionally see a lot of men agreeing to in our part of the world - at least not as many as we’d like. So when I saw this on a desi male blogger’s Instagram page, I was immediately intrigued.
Known for his witty comebacks, outspoken videos and his favourite phrase “Acha Yaar”, Hassan Kilde Bajwa has definitely chosen the road less taken. His videos talk about the different aspects of feminism in Pakistan, but stand out because their target audience is desi men. His content is open, honest and blunt - asks all the right questions and really hits the nail on the head in his approach to how Pakistani men can, and should be part of the movement.
The 40 year old Danish-Pakistani influencer was born in Lahore and lived in Pakistan for most of his life, until his move to Denmark in 2013 to be closer to his family. Even before his foray into the world of social media, he’s followed an interesting career part and described himself as being somewhat of a natural performer. He started off running a construction company but soon got the opportunity to test the waters when he was asked to host a radio show. He then worked as a copywriter and within 5 years had managed to get the role of Creative Director at Synergy Advertising. While most of us assume that such a career path would come after a degree, in this case it worked the other way around. Mr. Bajwa mentioned how it was only when they moved to Denmark that he and his wife decided to complete their higher education. It was also during these years that they also had two daughters.
Despite this long list of achievements, our conversation never leant towards arrogance. Rather, what I saw was a conscious understanding of being in a position of privilege that was brought about by various different aspects of his identity. He also mentioned how this was also the part he was questioned on the most, and that so many people continued to display surprise at how someone in such an obvious position of privilege could recognize their position and in fact actively work against it . It was also refreshing to see Hassan talk so fondly about all the influences in his life and understand their importance in bringing him to the point he was at today. He was quick to recognize how even without meaning to he had adopted certain gendered expectations and that it was being a father to his daughters that helped him move past that. He also credited both sides of his heritage for helping him see things in the way that he does today. This was perhaps what I found the most heartwarming about our conversation. The fact that Hassan actively made such an effort to highlight the influences of not just his parents, but all the strong women in his family who showed him resilience and a strength that never failed. It wasn’t just the influences of women though. He was also inspired by his father and the relationship his parents developed. He spoke of his father as a role model in showing him that masculinity and strength do not need to come from a place of controlling the women in your life, and that in fact you should find strength in your partner’s strength and vice versa.
Aside from being a feminist, radio host, and influencer, Hassan is also a proud father, something that I caught on to quickly in how much he mentioned his daughters. Interestingly enough, he said that having two children in the middle of his higher education was actually the best decision of his life because it allowed him to be what is traditionally called an “involved” father. He was also quick to point out that he was in no way doing anything above and beyond what he was meant to do - recognising the equal responsibility that falls on both parents to raise, not ‘babysit’ their children.
Interestingly enough, his daughters are also somewhat the reason for the social media hype that built around him after one of his videos went viral. In this video, he spoke about how he believed Pakistan did not deserve his daughters, which unsurprisingly received tons of backlash. That is not to say the support he receives is any less. He says his favourite feedback is the one he gets from men who see him as a representative of all the changes they are trying to make as well. One person also reached out appreciating the way he thinks about his daughters, hoping to follow the same path. Hassan says that the reason his content is more male focused because currently the majority of feminist movements in our part of the world appeal to women more and he wanted to create something that helped men understand not only how they were affected as well, but also all they could do to be part of the movement.
If you want to know more about Hassan’s perspective, follow him on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/danistaner Or on Instagram @hassankildebajwa