I refer to Azly Rahman's letter Feminist movement akin to separatist movement . Who is this guy anyway? Why is malaysiakini giving him space to air his views, particularly on women's issues? He is apparently very ignorant about a lot of things that have to do with women.
I cannot believe the rubbish he writes. Hello? A PhD in something else doesn't make you an automatic expert on the issues facing Malaysian women. But certainly, being a Malaysian woman alone makes me an expert of the issues facing Malaysian women. We live and breathe as Malaysian women every second of our lives.
What is this guy thinking? Is he thinking that we Malaysian women or Malaysians in general are idiots and awed by his writing? He makes so many statements that are absolutely baseless and fictional. Let me just tackle a few of them.
He says that in the West, a variant of feminism is same sex marriage. What? The issue of same sex marriage that is hotly debated in many Western countries currently has absolutely nothing to do with the feminist movement. If anything, it originates from the gay community's desire for rights such as inheritance of properties and health insurance coverage through a spouse - rights under law that only married couples can have.
He alludes that Malaysian feminists are trying to copy Western feminists. Is he saying that only women in Western countries should be allowed equal rights? What is so Western about the universal human desire to be treated equally as any other human being? Malaysian women, whether they label themselves feminists or not, most certainly, want the same opportunities as Malaysian men.
He says that girls 'will grow up confused' in relation to their knowledge about their human rights as females. Well, as a woman who was formerly a girl myself, I was extremely confused when I learned that my male friends have it easier than me - they get more inheritance (in some cultures), they can have more than one spouse at any one time (Muslims only), and they have more access to sports while girls were relegated to home chores.
There are so many things society says a girl can't have, can't do, or can't be, but for a boy, the world is limitless. Mind you, little girls do notice the difference in treatment even if they cannot articulate it. When I realised that in God's view I was not inferior to boys despite what society has done to treat me unfairly, my mind became clearer, not more confused.
Azly Rahman writes that feminism is a 'dangerous trend that will retard the development of ethical civilisation'. Excuse me? What is his definition of feminism? The fact is, feminism is nothing more and nothing less than the struggle to get women the same rights and opportunities that are already accorded men. What is so unethical about pursuing justice? In fact, not doing something when one sees that a group is treated favourably to the detriment of another group is unethical, and to systematically subjugate someone or a group of people in order to gain advantages over them is plainly criminal.
Citing a few examples, he says that women are already highly respected and valued as Mother in Malaysian society. And since women are already given a high status in society as Mother, what more could they want, right? Goodness! A man isn't satisfied with his role as a father only; his worth as a human being is also about the work the does, his contribution to society, etc. Why should women be relegated to their sacred role of Mother only? And mind you, some women cannot become mothers even after going through extensive fertilisation treatments. Would Azly say that those childless women aren't worthy, then?
Lastly, it is an absolute fiction to say that Malaysian women's struggle for equal opportunity and rights is the realm of the 'elite or country club feminists'. It just so happens that the voices of the powerful and well-connected women are the only ones that are being published or listened to. No one hears the aspirations of the vast majority of the lower class and unconnected women. And thank God, we have brave prime ministers' daughters who are compelled to take a stand.
Yes, there is a need for Malaysian women (Muslims, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, etc) to exist and participate fully in Malaysian society at all levels - family, social, financial, political and religious. To deny us our equal rights and opportunities would be immoral and criminal.