Tuesday, May 11, 2010

In Solidarity with my Sisters in Malaysia, I post this statement:

[this image is from here]

Blogger masterwordsmith-unplugged and I correspond and she let me know about this profoundly misogynistic comment made by the Malaysian Minister of Home Affairs, Hishammuddin Hussein, on Mother's Day no less, while he was away in London. (Seems rather cowardly to me.)

As you'll read shortly, at issue is a man in high national political office stereotyping and belittling women's spaces, women's communication with one another, and promoting a perception of women's inaction in response to street violence, which disproportionately is committed by men against women. Not only does he do all of that, but he also refrains from criticising men's spaces, men's communication with one another, and he promotes a perception that violence against women is something women should do more about to stop it, rather than putting the responsibility for it ending squarely on the shoulders of men. Why this brotherly protectionism towards his fellow male citizens?

Why doesn't Hishammuddin speak out, with anger and disdain, to the men in his country who commit this and other forms of endemic misogynistic violence? Why doesn't he speak out against  men's communication with one another that is sexist and degrading to women? Why doesn't promote the reality that men's violence against women can and will end when men stop doing it? Why doesn't he organise and support campaigns among men to make it socially unacceptable among men to commit such acts? Why doesn't he honor his own place as a social and political role model, and promote among men, an understanding, on the deepest levels of men's beings, that any manifestation of sexism and misogyny is grossly hurtful and inhumane, damaging the esteem and confidence of girls and women? Why doesn't he create new policies which make men's violence against women more difficult to accomplish with impunity?

Masterwordsmith raises many issues. I found her discussion of ascribed vs. achieved status to be especially applicable to so many situations across the globe in which oppressors do harm without being held accountable, while the victims are blamed or shamed for enduring it.

As she notes at the bottom of the post, in Hokkien, 'hairy' means seh more which means a time-wasting act, a malingering act. There is also a link back to the original post at the bottom if you care to comment/reply in support of women in Malaysia.


5/10/2010 12:02:00 PM Lovingly unplugged by masterwordsmith

If not for ~Wits0~ who sent me the following article headlined Hisham in crosshairs for Mother’s Day insult, I would have missed it in the midst of hustle and bustle of Mothers' Day celebrations. I could not believe my eyes when I read THIS ARTICLE which said:

Last night, Hishammuddin told students at the Malaysian Students Department in London that “chit-chat” among women have exaggerated the level of street crime in the country and caused fear among the public.

“Most victims are women. What do women do? They go to the hairdressers ... they chit-chat and suddenly it is everywhere and cause people to fear,” Hishammuddin said.

I fully agree with LKS who said that Hishammuddin could be so irresponsible as to blame Malaysian women on Mother’s Day for the exaggeration of the endemic crime situation in the country.

The article said:

Hishammuddin should apologise for his insult to Malaysian women on Mother’s Day and blaming women’s chattering for exaggerating the crime problem and demonizing the police,” he said in a press statement.

PKR’s Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar said the minister’s statement was an insult to women in the country.

“It really is very gender insensitive and again it is finger pointing by no other than a top minister. It showcases that government is at a loss of the real issue which is the problem of trigger happy police and structural reforms that needs to be implemented. These are serious issues which needs to be considered and is no joking matter.

“Clearly, a public apology would only be the first step. He does not understand the real issue and reasons why public perception is so bad. Criticisms leveled against the police do not equate hatred but a real desire to see an improved service and level of security. If he fails to see this, we need a new minister,” said Nurul Izzah.

Seputeh MP Teresa Kok said Hishammuddin was insensitive for joking about women.

“His statement is crazy and gender insensitive. He is running down and blaming women for being victims of crime. This statement shouldn’t have come out from the mouth of the Home Minister. He is the internal security minister and his job is devise ways to make the streets safer for Malaysians. Instead he takes this issue so lightly and even laughs at women and accused women of doing nothing. This is very irresponsible of him.

“This can make people ask him what has he done to reduce street crime for the public?Hishammuddin has a wife, daughter and mother who are women and subjected to street crime too,” she said. CLICK HERE FOR MORE...
I am a woman and I go to the hairdressers for practical reasons - and NOT TO CHIT CHAT!!!

How can he equate women's chit-chat with amplication of crime and demonization of police?

Firstly, as the Home Minister, he should be in touch with all aspects of crime and national security as he is privy to all information, confidential or public.

Sociologists, criminologists, psychologists EXCEPT MISOGYNISTS would know that amplification of crime is NOT due to women but many other reasons. Check out this excellent lecture on Crime and the Media - The Moral Panic Argument.

Secondly, we must remember the meaning of status and prestige and realize the lack of logic in that claim. There are two types of status - achieved status and ascribed status.

According to Wikipedia:

Achieved status is a sociological term denoting a social position that a person can acquire on the basis of merit; it is a position that is earned or chosen. It is the opposite of ascribed status. It reflects personal skills, abilities, and efforts. Examples of achieved status are being an Olympic athlete, being a criminal, or being a college professor.

Status is important sociologically because it comes with a set of rights, obligations, behaviors, and duties that people occupying a certain position are expected or encouraged to perform. These expectations are referred to as roles. For instance, the role of a "professor" includes teaching students, answering their questions, being impartial, and dressing appropriately. Click HERE for more.
Nobody needs to demonize the police. We all know why and I will not elaborate. Individuals, including the police, have control over their achieved statuses via the things they do or they do not do.

According to Wikipedia:

Ascribed status is the social status a person is assigned at birth or assumes involuntarily later in life. It is a position that is neither earned nor chosen but assigned. These rigid social designators remain fixed throughout an individual's life and are inseparable from the positive or negative stereotypes that are linked with one's ascribed status...

For example, a person born into a wealthy family has a high ascribed status based solely on the social networks and economic advantages that one gains from being born into a family with more resources than others. CLICK HERE for more.
Bear in mind that status is also used as a synonym for honor or prestige, when social status denotes the relative position of a person on a publicly recognized scale or hierarchy of social worth. Status is CONFERRED on a person based on how we perceive the worth of that person or group.

We are no longer living in Paleolithic times where bashing women with clubs and demeaning statements could have been the norm. In this scenario, women are being pulled down by cultural, political, economical and religious prejudices, which undermine their full participation in the life of Malaysian society, which in turn deprives Malaysians of development in its fullest sense.

I take umbrage to such a stand and more so on Mothers' Day! It is almost akin to a tight slap on the faces of women to say that yea - go celebrate Mothers' Day but for heaven's sake, don't go to hairdressers anymore. You stay at home - quit talking to anyone. Let your hair grow into Rastafarian locks. Sport your Medusa locksat home and continue with your sweeping, mopping, cooking and other housewifery duties for that is where you belong. Now go and be thankful you have a day where we remember you are a mother!"

Truly, I hope people like Julian Real and others who stand up for women regardless of your class, creed or gender will take umbrage to this report and demand for nothing but a public apology!!! I hope his wife and daughters will make a response to his statement - be it PUBLICLY or PRIVATELY!!!

Down with such primitive, airy, hairy, sexist views!!! Don't forget - this statement was given in LONDON. I wonder if he dares to repeat it on home ground!

Speak up, Malaysians!!! Can you stomach this?

Please leave a comment to share your thoughts/views. Thanks!!!

*In Hokkien, 'hairy' means seh more which means a time-wasting act, a malingering act.

[To add your comment or reply, please click *here*.]


masterwordsmith said...

Dear Julian

On behalf of the women in Malaysia, I want to express my deepest appreciation to you for your solidarity with us in this issue.

Thank you for speaking up for women and for identifying key issues in this scenario so eloquently and with so much passion and conviction.

Despite the thousands of miles that separate us and the fact that we have only met in cyberspace, our heart are united in our stand for women, and for justice - to be of ONE voice against any form of discrimination.

Thank you, Julian. May God bless you and yours always.

Warmest wishes


There is no excuse for Hishammuddin Hussein's misogynistic and women-blaming claims. Yet sadly far too many men and many women too will accept his lies as 'truth' and believe it is women's responsibility to prevent male violence being committed against them.

However, given women globally do not have equal socio-economic power compared to men as a group because those holding powerful political, legal, public body institutions continue to be men and hence it is men who are the ones who must address the issue of male violence against women.

Blaming women is easy because it allows societies to continue to bury its head in the sand and claim 'we can't do anything because it is women who provoke men to commit violence against them.'

Much easier than addressing the real issue of male power and male domination over women both institutionally and individually.

I will be forwarding the article reporting on Hishammuddin Hussein's misogynistic claims to an international women's network, which focuses on promoting women's issues from an international perspective.

Hishammuddin Hussein's misogyny is not an isolated case - because globally misogynists, many of whom hold positions of political/legal/public power bombard women with victim-blaming messages.

Men, however continue to live their lives free from being targetted as 'responsible for causing/condoning/justifying/excusing/minimalising/trivialising male violence against women.

Too few men dare to speak out and challenge the now global misogyny wherein women are constantly demonised. Are women's rights human rights? Apparently not.