Turkish model and actress Esra Bilgiç, who is popularly known as Halime Sultan for her role in trending Turkish series, Diriliş: Ertuğrul, has been in the news lately. Over the weekend, the fragile egos of few entitled Pakistani men got hurt when they discovered a picture of Esra (posted in March) and what followed was an onslaught of condescending remarks.
It all started when Prime Minister Imran Khan continuously praised the series and asked the state-run channel to air it. PTV started airing Ertuğrul in Urdu dubbing and soon it started trending on Youtube as well as Twitter. Esra, who plays the love interest of Ertuğrul, was an unknown name in Pakistan a month ago but soon people started recognizing her and showering her with adulation.
As Halime Sultan, Esra played a poised woman who is always clad in yards of clothes, and perhaps that’s what initially triggered entitled Pakistani men, who found out her Instagram account and bombarded it with their myopic thoughts. Firstly, they failed to comprehend that she is NOT Halime Sultan in real life and can dress up however she wants. However in hindsight, the problem behind this obnoxious meltdown is more deep rooted because even Halime Sultan (the character) has the freedom to wear what she likes.
Esra’s Instagram comments section is a testament to the hypocrisy of Pakistani men, who should shed off their sense of entitlement and stop women’s moral policing. A woman’s attire, whether on screen or off screen, is none of their business. We are done with this toxic masculinity where men expect a woman to dress according to their parameter of decency (which by the way starts and finishes at women’s attire), but the same masculinity gives free rein to men.
Dear Pakistani men, it is high time you realize that you are not the master of the universe who can name, shame and control women as and when you like. Unfortunately, the society is biased and you enjoy a certain privilege and it is far-fetched and quite idealistic (utopian perhaps) to expect you to understand it.
All we can say is that we are sorry, Esra!