As a teenager I lost a bet with a friend. I was at her mercy. She could make me do anything that she wanted to embarrass me. She chose to make me buy a sanitary pad at the LUMS Superstore in front of other students. I walked in brazenly, asked for one and duly paid for it. I was too young to understand the stares I received from other students or ponder why it was given to me in a concealed brown bag. I even had no idea why she would think this would embarrass me. She did.

Unlike me, she had lived through this experience ever so often: made to feel guilty about her own anatomy. A shopkeeper, usually a man, wrapping it in a brown paper bag to hide her ‘shame’. God forbid another man might see a woman publicly holding a pad and it might hurt his conception of public sensitivity. This is what male privilege is; making a woman jump through hurdles to get a basic health product and making her feel immense shame for it just so that the masculinity of some men is not challenged.

It is hard to understand your own privilege. This is why Sunni Muslims do not realize that minorities are being targeted, just because they have been terrorized too. As a man, I cannot possibly assume to even begin to understand what women go through each day but I try to check my privilege. As a man, I cannot appropriate the experience of women nor can I claim that the shame and discrimination they feel is not valid because it is beyond the realm of my own experience. I try to earnestly understand it and support it. This is not what Shaan Taseer did.

Last week, 25 students at the Beaconhouse National University pasted sanitary pads on the walls of the campus to protest “the stigma attached to menstruation and the sharmindagi (shame)”. A lot of people missed the point altogether and simply did not question their own world views. Convinced that their own reality or sphere of existence is the only valid way to live, some men proceeded to berate the students for publicly displaying sanitary pads; they felt disgusted. Isn’t that specifically why they make women feel shame about their own bodies every day, just so that they do not feel slightly queasy?

Shaan Taseer tried to use class differentials to deny the reality that these women, and many other women around the world, feel each day. Just because you are a woman who goes to an “English speaking University” (whatever that is) means that you have no right to feel oppressed. His Facebook comment eerily reminds me of what the father of Saba Qaiser, the victim of an honour crime and the subject of A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness, said in the documentary. He claimed that Saba had no reason to feel oppressed or go out of the house since the father provided for everything at the house: She had food, she had water, she had a bed to sleep on – what did she have to complain about? What do English speaking women have to complain about, according to Shaan Taseer.

The comparison might be cruel but it shows that when it comes to sexism, it cuts through class differentials. Issues of misogyny may be more exasperated when it comes to the lower classes with them manifesting themselves in honour killings and violence but the misogynists in the upper classes do little to alter the conditions in society that make these honour crimes possible. They simply perpetuate the same systems of patriarchy which benefit them.

It is a slippery slope, from making a girl feel shameful about her anatomy to making her the vanguard of the family’s honour. It is a slippery slope from making a girl feel shameful about having chai at a dhaba to making her feel shameful about going out of the house altogether. If you are questioning who made women feel oppressed in Pakistan then you are part of the problem.

And when Shaan Taseer was called out on it, he resorted to class based insults, immediately after championing the rights of the proletariat against these elitist women. If you are calling a woman a ‘stupid b**ch on social media Shaan, do you really have to question who oppressed women? You just have to look in the mirror.

The fact that members of the educated elite cannot understand the daily struggles of half of the population shows why protests like these are important. Sanitary pads should be celebrated and publicly demonstrated because the exhibit showed something that women are told to hide. The reason they need to put up on walls publicly is because they are not even allowed by society to carry them publicly. How long will we put women in our brown bags of oppression?

The social class of the women in question should not be a factor to undermine the protest. #GirlsAtDhabas is also repeatedly criticized for being elitist. They are criticized by other women because it makes them feel ashamed. Do they not realize that this shame is exactly what the movement is fighting against? There is no shame in sitting at a dhaba, or playing a cricket match on the street, or riding a bicycle. By restricting the public space for women in our cities, we create the space for discrimination and violence against women.

As a man, I can only be a supporter in this struggle, I cannot assume to speak on behalf of women or their struggles, this is why I leave the last words to a Facebook status the founder of #GirlsAtDhabas, Sadia Khatri, posted yesterday: