Nadia Manzoor is a British Pakistani comedienne who wanted to be an astronaut.
“Nadia, how can you be an astronaut?” she recalls her father asking. “Other women can't be astronauts. Who will cook? Who will clean? Who will feed your husband if you're floating about in space?”
For the Pakistani Brit, that experience was less demoralizing than inspiring – inspiration for sardonic humour, and a one-woman show, “Burq Off!”
Comedy, she told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Thursday, was a tool “that allowed me to look at difficult things like, you know, dogmatism and traditional thinking and patriarchal oppression” in a lighthearted way.
“My father from the earliest I can remember reminded me that I shouldn't get fat, I shouldn't eat too many French fries, because my inherent purpose would be jeopardized, which is to be a wife and a mother.”
Like all children, Manzoor said, she wanted to explore – and to her, that meant being an astronaut.
Growing up at the confluence of traditional Pakistani culture and comparably liberal British culture, she said, was “deeply confusing.”