(But not really, it’s about gender but hey, I got you to read it, didn’t I?) 😉
Hello again everyone,
I apologize about being out of touch for the past couple of weeks, it’s been crazy busy out here between preparing for my upcoming trip and living it up. While I’m pumped about the start of my trip tomorrow, I have been wanting to address a topic that close to heart.
Rape culture – gender discrimination – whatever you want to call it.
I’m here to talk about the way Malaysian culture perpetuates it. I know this topic is insanely controversial to bring up, hence, such a delay in posting but I think it’s important to discuss. Asian culture has always perpetuated a mindset of patriarchal dominance in a household and in society, generally. In today’s day and age, it’s created an ugly society that evokes a huge divide between men and women in Malaysia. I find it so unfortunate because I believe men and women are equally capable of doing anything they choose to do.
For today, I will only be using myself as an example here as to not create too much generalizing and controversy. Anyway, I am an Indian woman choosing to travel alone to Europe as a personal adventure. Every time I bring up the fact that I will be travelling in conversation with adults, these are the typical responses that I would get:
Oh that’s nice, is it a family vacation?
What a fun vacation! Who are you going with?
Are you meeting someone there?
If they know I’m travelling alone, it usually goes along the lines of…
Is that safe? Are you sure you should be doing that?
Are your parents okay with this?
How will you take care of yourself? Where will you stay?
Oh for the love of God… If I was a guy, would you be asking me the same questions? Odds are that you won’t. With this in mind, I want to talk about what exactly about my Malaysian reverse-culture-shock brings me to this topic.
Growing up in Malaysia in a liberal Indian household, I hadn’t really noticed much of a difference in my upbringing until I left for college. When I returned last month, I found so much to have drastically changed in my life. For one, the need for my parents to tell me to cover up. It’s nearly 100 degrees Fahrenheit (35-ish Celsius) here and it’s humid, it makes sense for me to wear shorts and a tank top so I don’t overheat. I don’t understand why the way I’m dressed is a problem.
Are you saying that I need to change myself to avoid male attention? Are you saying that men are not able to control themselves at the sight of legs and arms? If you’re saying that, then why aren’t you teaching the men to treat women with the respect they deserve instead of objectifying the body they came in?
A different example here is how adults treat men and women differently regarding their communication and lifestyle choices. I grew up in a close-knit family and I was required to text my parents every day so they know I’m alive while I was abroad. Today – I never understood why they wanted me to let them know where I was or who I was with at all times of the day and exactly when I was coming home. I guess this would have come from my sense of freedom from living on my own for so long. I love my parents to pieces but they themselves would not have expected the same things from my younger male cousin. I literally heard this from someone just the other day; “you have a son, it doesn’t matter what time he comes home”.
Are you saying that what’s between my legs makes me less of a person compared to a man?
Women are perfectly capable of taking care of themselves. Society may deem us submissive but it doesn’t mean that we are not worthy of respect and that we are not capable of guarding our safety. While yes, I agree men are larger and more intimidating to look at but it doesn’t mean that women should garner less respect.
I’ve noticed recently, especially with my line of work, that people don’t take women as seriously as men. When I’m at a bar/club getting attention I don’t want from someone and I say I’m not interested, most men take that as a challenge to try harder. In fact, some men take it to a whole new level and harass the living crap out of you rendering an uncomfortable situation. If instead of saying I’m not interested and telling them I’m with a guy, 9 out of 10 times, they immediately apologize and leave you alone. Why does the fact that I’m not interested make them not back down as quickly as the man I’m claiming to be with. Why give him more respect than me?
These situations here lead to what I have learned is rape culture. Don’t know what it is? Let me break it down for you:
Rape culture: a society or environment whose prevailing social attitudes have the effect of normalizing or trivializing sexual assault and abuse. Example below:
Most times when women complain about being harassed in Malaysia, they’ll be asked a very simple question – what were you wearing? As though what we were wearing made it okay for us to be harassed. As though our clothing was inviting too much attention and was, therefore, required to be blamed for such disgraceful behavior.
Are you serious, people?
Wake up! What you’re doing is allowing these behaviors to become acceptable in our society. I am absolutely unapologetic about putting this in your face. You deserve to be angry about it because no one deserves that. If you have sisters, mothers, aunts or female friends, I believe you should be angry. However, I do not think you should complain about it if you’re not willing to do something about it. Start the conversation, raise awareness about it, do something to make it change. One person may not be able to change the world but you could change one person’s world and make it better.
Be your sisters’/mothers’/aunts’/friends’ allies and stand up when you know something is wrong. No one wants to see someone get hurt because nobody was willing to call out bad behavior before it escalated.