In the midst of my joy that Malala Yousafzai today was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, I'm also shocked and enraged at the response from Tariq Khattack, editor of the Pakistan Observer newspaper.
Speaking for "hundreds of other Pakistani people" he said on his interview today with the BBC that Malala is a hoax. That she was never shot, that her father fabricated this entire story, and that "She is a normal, useless type of a girl. Nothing in her is special at all." When pressed on the use of the word "useless" he recanted, blaming English as a secondary language. Normally, I would accept that.
However, he proves his belief that girls are indeed useless, and lower-class citizens through the insidious undertone of his remarks. Basically, he contends that Malala is just a normal girl. A nobody. Someone who could not have possibly been extraordinary if not for the help of her father. But the comments uncover more than that. It's the underlying, misogynistic notion that a normal girl could not possibly be extraordinary. That a normal girl deserves no accolades, no recognition, no elevation. I have a feeling he believes normal girls should be seen and not heard.
Normal girls and women are changing the world every minute, and it's often "just a normal girl" who realizes she can remain quiet or take a stand. Rosa Parks was a normal maid, but decided not to give her seat away on a bus. Crystal Lee Sutton was a normal factory worker who believed she deserved safe working conditions -- her struggle to unionize was dramatized in the movie "Norma Rae."
Well guess what, Mr. Khattack, Malala is indeed a normal girl. A normal girl who wanted to go to school safely one day, but was instead shot in the head by the Taliban. A normal girl who fought for her life for weeks, and upon recovery, put herself again at risk in order to stand up for all normal girls. A normal girl who found her voice, and used it for others. Who believes that part of being normal is also getting an education. A right that so many people believe should be denied our sex.
I am a proud, normal girl who's now a normal woman making her way in life. I hope you choke on the dust of all the amazing normal girls this world will produce. Normal girls who earn an education, raise a family, cure disease, build a corporation, and yes, win a Nobel prize. #NormalGirl