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