women’s rights

A Follow-Up to the Capital FM piece

First of all, I would like to thank everyone that took the time to leave their thoughts, comments, opinions and passions about the state of women, men and Malaysians in this country. I read every one of them and was honored by your thoughts. Yes, even the bad and negative ones, because they have every right to say it too- although I will never agree with it. Especially the guy that said “why don’t you make me a sandwich?”- you my friend, is exactly the reason why we need to push for a greater change in our mentalities about other genders.

I was extremely overwhelmed and terrified by the sudden virility of the post. I had written it seven months ago from today, and it obviously left me wondering “what the heck happened?!” from all that time until now to warrant such a response.

For this I have to acknowledge Patrick Teoh, Noelle Lim, Sharaad Kuttan, Juwita Suwito, Ivy Josiah and Marina Mahathir- as some of the people that shared it. These are all people who I truly respect and admire as opinion leaders in this society. For that reason alone, this episode in my life has left me flattered for the privilege of being read by them.

I was also left conflicted. Conflicted because there was too much of a focus on what was said about the public personalities and DJs in the piece and not enough about the larger questions- mainly how are we going to bring about change for the people most affected by marginalization and discrimination because of their gender? And also, how much discussion has to be done before actual, purposeful, concerted action will take place?

I need to take responsibility for some of the things I said, and offer some clarity. First, liking a radio personality is different from respect. I do not have to like everyone, but I do respect the radio personality that is- Xandria and Joanne, and the station as well. My hope is that people would stop flaming them. Secondly, I hope Malaysians exercise some maturity in realizing that a “public personality” is distinct, and separate from who that “person” is in their daily lives. I am absolutely sure there are people that love Joanne and Xandria- their families, friends and colleagues- they would not be where they are today if they did not have these people.  What I know about these “personalities” is what was conveyed to me through their presentation on air. So we need to keep the two separate so that a more “reasoned” discussion can take place in order to focus on the real issue here.

Malaysian society needs to tackle some very important questions that might not be solved in this generation. What are the responsibilities and actions we- the individual- can take to alleviate some of our problems? Problems that are so multi-layered and complex? How can we bring an end to children of rape, forced into marrying their rapist? How can we stop the woman who takes the endless beatings from her husband, because she is dependent on him for her family?

Feminism is not about “hating men”, it is about making gender matter less. A woman’s issue is a man’s issue, because what is meant by “equality” is that we both suffer equally when one gender is allowed to live as “less”. A man is not defined by being different from a woman. A man is defined by being different from a boy. This means taking responsibility for what our actions have done.

What can we, the people reading this- the people with access to education, the Internet and the privilege of discussing “other people’s” affairs from the comfort of our own homes do to help? The people that have it the worst are the people that are not reading this. Are we going to help them?

I would like the focus and attention to be turned towards these things, and not on me or the radio station. I am just someone who wrote something. I do not want to be put on a pedestal for the work I did not do. Spreading an idea is very different from actually doing the work required to affect change. We need to take action, after all the “talk” is done.

We need to stop talking and just “do”.

Sincerely,

CLICK HERE to Read The Open Letter

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