Monday, May 28, 2007

Sexists 'r us

With all these sexists around it must be hard for a woman to maintain her dignity in Malaysia. We all know about the ‘bocor’ issue in Parliament which has already generated many a blog posting ad nauseam so I won’t repeat it here. I don’t have to be a woman to observe that sexism in our country is heavily institutionalized.

My most vivid recollection of this phenomenon was when I was undergoing an orientation course conducted by the Biro Tata Negara for scholarship holders before I departed for the UK many years ago. As is usual in this type of brainwashing sessions there would be activities involving the singing of patriotic songs. In one particular session, the all-male trainers made segregated groups of boys and girls compete against each other in terms of loudness. The logic of the BTN trainers must have been the louder you sing, the more you must love your country. To encourage the girls to sing louder, a highly gender-sensitive trainer told the girls, “Mulut ada dua pun tak boleh nyanyi kuat.” (You can’t sing loudly even with two mouths). I can’t remember whether it got the desired results but it certainly got the boys excited.

Of course, now as a mature adult (I’d like to think so anyway), I cringe to imagine how demeaning it was for the girls. But this demonstrates how sexist attitudes become entrenched.

Just 48 hours after the pipes burst in the Jalan Duta Court Complex, more facts came to light about its shoddy construction work. It was found that the sewerage manhole overflowed, damaging many court files. (Source: The Sun May 25 2007). Nothing new here. But consider the response of the PWD deputy director-general Selvanayagam P. Nagalingam. He explained that the manhole overflow was due to the indiscriminate disposal of sanitary napkins which could have been going on for some time. There you go. Blame menstruating women whenever there are problems with leaks.

It’s just too bad that “Dr. Shit” did not appear in the scene early enough to prevent menstruating women from causing the blockage. I’m taking about the report in the same edition of the Sun where our Government has decided to turn to South African geologist-turned-sanitation guru Trevor Mulaudzi, who goes by the nickname of “Dr Shit”, to help Malaysians keep public toilets clean. While they are at it, they might as well try to find a “Doctor Cock” to keep the MCPs in line.

What further boggles the mind is that our MPs have to relate everything to gender differences. One senator at the Dewan Negara, highlighted the issue of the Malaysian men’s football team playing like “sissies”, unlike the women’s football team who are playing well (source: The Sun May 25 2007 – again!). The response of Youth and Sports Ministry parliament secretary, S. Vigneswaran was simply, “Maybe it’s because the minister concerned is a woman.” This may not be offensive in itself but what value does a comment like that have? You would think that in the very rambunctious climate of the Malaysian Parliament, one would avoid making comments like that lest they degenerate into a discussion concerning the Minister’s penis or lack thereof.

While we can only lament about the maturity and gender sensitivity of our MPs and possibly the electorate, the British can already boast about their indifference to gender when it comes to politics.

Last week on Thursday, Britain’s first transsexual mayor, Jenny Bailey, 45, was sworn in as the mayor of Cambridge (source: The Sun May 25 2007 – yet again!). I have to point out here that councilors in Britain are elected and not appointed as in Malaysia. I find it amazing that the Cambridge councilors in choosing Jenny as Mayor could comfortably disregard the fact that Jenny and her partner (also a fellow councilor), both men previously and have two children each from previous marriages, had sex change operations only to become lesbians (either that or the councilors were too confused with the over-complex permutations).

At least if water ever seeps through the roof of the Cambridge Guildhall, Jenny (or her partner) could make a fuss, without anybody being able to tell her to shut up just because she “leaks” every month.

Related links:

Sewer hazard
Summary of sexist remarks in Parliament
Govt ropes in `Dr Sh*t’ for hygiene help
Meet the sex-change lady mayor and mayoress

25 comments:

Winged Acrophobic said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Winged Acrophobic said...

These mouths that spewed the notoriously sexist comments are a reflection of the general attitude among Malaysian men, sadly. In spite of the particularly widespread and biting backlash, these characters who are supposed to be our leaders are still adamant that they haven't put their collective feet in their mouths. The house speakers who presided over the sessions are no more sensible either, defending these remarks by brushing off prostests motivated by the remarks. The top guns are conspicuously silent, too. Makes one shake his or her head at the blatant ignorance and outright lack of common sense in our houses of government. Or is it plainly the ego of the high-ups? Tsk tsk...

izso said...

Incidentally - I don't think a sex-changed person can menstruate, irregardless of how much hormones she (or he) takes.

I'll bet you have a masters degree, because the way you compile things based on the articles you read is amazing! Can I pay you to do my masters paper for me?

saleh said...

How arrogant those MP's, asking forgiveness from general female public alone, when they should also seek forgiveness from Alor Gajah MP personally.

Why? Because she's on the opposition side.

By hook or by crook, these two loud mouths, neanderthal minded MPs need to be replaced.

What a pity and shame...having two sick sexists...

Theta said...

First, is that Kinabatangan MP clutching a pseudo-handbag? LOL!

Second, as long as your elected MP is doing the job efficiently, I couldn't care less about his or her sexual orientation or this gender bender stuff.

Third, likewise, I've seen (from tv broadcasts of Parliament proceedings) too many nonsensical, unrelated issues being spewed out from the mouths of elected representatives. And I wonder how we get them there in the first place?

Mr Incognito said...

Winged Acrophobic >>> it's really the fault of electorate in putting them there in the first place. in this country, it's hard to go beyond race politics in your decision to vote somebody

izso >>> i'm no expert on menstruation but i think you are right there. i do have a masters degree (which is just for show). You serious about paying me? It's nice to be paid for writing finally.

saleh >>> they may ask for forgiveness but the question is
are they forgiven?

Theta >>> we put them there, unfortunately. You are right about the handbag. Maybe he's really repentant and trying to get in touch with his feminine side.

Dayang said...

Mr. I,
thanks for highlighting all these. I don't read newspapers anymore, and I'm definitely not voting for BN in the next PRU.

UglyButAdorable said...

did u also ready about that new museum in coventry street?

Krunchie Black said...

hi there, really enjoyed ur post on sexism in malaysia..its beginning to rear its ugly head even more clearer and openly of late

Mr Incognito said...

Dayang >>> glad to fill that void. blogs are more interesting anyway

UglyButAdorable >>> i can't say i have. can u pass me a link?

Krunchie Black >>> it's always been there. maybe it's more apparent nowadays with blogs and youtube

Mr Hobo said...

we also have a problem when women kept on generalizing men thinking with the brain down there .... where's the justice???

miss golden tan but slight burnt... said...

Wat to do, guna lagi sub sub sub contractors....and they have to blame it on sanitary pads....no R*ntokil service ka? ;)

Mr Incognito said...

Mr Hobo >>> bet they also tell you: kepala ada dua pun tak tau fikir

miss golden tan >>> to kill the sexist pests?

SaigonKat said...

I believe that the sexism problem is widespread in Malaysia. I had the opportunity of working overseas,with a non-Malaysian company a while back and i must say i was appalled when i first joined the malaysian workforce. Seriously the level of sexism and degrading that goes on in the office... Id call it sexual harrasment in some cases. But in Malaysia, I think we really huge change in attitude as well as mindset. Because if we continue the way we are, and if we do not change or highlight the issue, the problem will continue. (Some) men will continue to be sexist and make degrading comments, thinking that its ok to do thats, whilst (some) women, may feel its ordinary and part of the Malaysian norm.

So, well done to you for highlighting the issue.

Aput said...

Well, the Matrix was done by the Wachowski brother and "sister", if nobody knew by now.

So now it's "Lana" (from Larry) and Andy Wachowski.

As for those who think sexual orientation was not an issue in elections, wow!

Mr Incognito said...

SaigonKat >>> wish you would share some specific examples

Aput >>> now i know. and it doesn't matter, right?

Anonymous said...

I wish i can remember those examples. I did have quite a few but you know what they say, if you cant beat them, join them. I have not gone that far yet (so as to join them) but i learnt for my own sanity, i had to let certain snide and degrading comments go.

Anyway, the few ones that i can remember

1. We had a group of visitors (sales people) coming to visit the company, from overseas. Some ppl had to go and greet them at the airport (for e.g. bosses). In addition to that certain selected ladies were also asked to "meet" them at the airport. I thought it was completely irrelevant. The ladies had nothing to do with them (work or not). If anything it was the sales team who should be asked to meet their sales counterpart. I thought that was not appropriate. I tried to argue my case but it seems that no one could get my point at all. and the conclusion was its nicer to be greeted by (pretty) ladies.

Another scenario... we were having discussion about something at work and someone mentioned she didnt understand. The next thing i knew comments like "of course women cannot understand" came out of the blue. The man then continued to say "Because they cannot UNDERstand, bla bla bla" with the word UNDER being overly emphasized. The men start laughing but they continued to say... "but married ladies should be able to UNDERstand if she wants to and tries hard enough".

I dont actually get the joke. but judging from the male response i reckon it must be along the sexism lines. Unless im being utterly and completely paranoid....

SaigonKat said...

That long anonymous example was from me - SaigonKat. Forgot to put my name down prior to pressing that publish your comment button!

izso said...

incognito - sure! Help me get my masters done and I'll pay you! And I'm quite sure I'm right about the transexuals not menstruating. They just don't have the organs la!

Mr Incognito said...

SaigonKat >>> now you know why in Malaysia they ask for a photo with your CV!

izso >>> did i say they menstruate? (btw the masters was not in biology)

Anonymous said...

enough about sexism. there's something bigger in the news and you should say something about it.

Mr Incognito said...

Anonymous >>> done

Aput said...

it does not matter to me.

kimster said...

that's what we get when we put a bunch of mangkuk's in the August House. To make it worse, we don't make them accountable for their words and actions.

No consequence = no motivation to behave

Mr Incognito said...

kimster >>> i don't know what's so "berhormat" about them