Of prostitutes, peace and chivalry

Dyana Sofya
Mail Mail Online
OCTOBER 20, 2014

Dyana Sofya suffers from dysania and is using her superpowers to pen down her thoughts late into the night. Political Secretary to Lim Kit Siang by day and she tweets from @dyanasmd.

OCTOBER 20 — It is an interesting exercise to browse through the many comments on my Facebook fan page. Reading through them recently, I began to notice a pattern. Generally, there are three types of comments: positive, negative and commiserative.

The positive comments mostly take the form of motivating words of encouragement. These are my favourite, and I am eternally grateful for the constant show of support from Malaysians of all walks of life. They have never failed to fuel me with positive energy or pick me up when I feel down.

As for the negative comments, they are as colourful as one would expect them to be. From the usual name-calling, gender stereotyping to all kinds of discriminating attacks, I have learned to accept them as part and parcel of public life. In fact, I sometimes find it entertaining, as it takes a special breed of people to be able to be so shallow and perverse.

However, there is one more type of comment that has become a constant feature in almost every thread. I find these quite puzzling. Somehow, there seems to be quite a few people out there who find it necessary to convey their pity or sympathy because they feel I am being “used.” Often, they would also predict that I would one day “wake up” and realise that I am in the wrong struggle, and that I would eventually “return” to the true path.

While I thank them for their “concern”, I would also like to express my own concern about the patronising culture of our society. Why is it so difficult for people to understand that we young Malay women are able to think for ourselves and have the capability (and yes, the right) to decide what we want to do and how we want to do it?

God forbid if we choose to be different. This is something they cannot comprehend. If we do not conform to their idea of what a Malay woman should be, then we have either been fooled into doing it (poor us), or we are simply doing it out of gratuitous self-interest, be it for monetary or political gain.

This attitude perhaps manifested itself clearly when a recent DAP recruit, Jamilah Rahim or better known as Melati, was told that her decision to join the party was akin to prostituting herself and her religion, simply for the riches offered.

Let me make one thing clear. If we really wanted to prostitute ourselves for material gain, then we would have joined the most powerful and wealthiest party around. At least then we can be assured of gaining something through their well-known rent-seeking practices.

Instead, we have chosen to follow our hearts and stick to our principles by joining a party that we believe best represents our shared struggle to create a Malaysia for all Malaysians. And we did this despite knowing how we would be ridiculed, especially because of our race and gender.

The crux of the matter is the low level of respect that our society has towards women. Until and unless we address this widespread discrimination and stereotyping of women in our society, we will never progress.

For starters, although women make up half the society, we are barely represented. This becomes a self-perpetuating problem because policies and laws that are made by gender insensitive men would further suppress women.

Take India, as an example. In the aftermath of the gang rape and murder of a young woman in Delhi back in 2012, citizens gathered to protest the government’s response. Rather than working to address the failures of a system that has been unable to empower the fairer sex and proven ineffective at preventing sexual violence against women, the government’s approach was condescending, treating women as defenceless and weak creatures in need of protection.

The problem was not that the government did not try, but more that they could not understand, being themselves trapped in a patriarchal mind-set. This is why it is all the more important for women to be fairly represented in politics.

While the situation is not quite as critical in Malaysia, the same attitudes exist, as is evident by the reactions towards those of us who manage to find the inspiration to take the leap into politics. As Melati, Rara (Young Syefura Othman, another recent DAP recruit) or I can attest to, it is even worse when we dare to do anything “different.”

Be that as it may, this is part of the change we seek to bring to our country. And I believe the time is opportune, as many of our sisters the world over are beginning to show. Just last week, a 17-year-old Afghan woman became the youngest Nobel Peace Laureate ever for her struggle in championing women’s right to education in a country that severely limits the rights of women.

At the same time, another high profile woman was inducted to a most distinguished order of chivalry by the Queen of Britain for her efforts to combat sexual violence worldwide. Not only is this new Dame one of the youngest ever recipients of the honour, she also joins an eminent list of former recipients, most of whom are either royalty or heads of government. Who would have thought that a Hollywood actress like Angelina Jolie could achieve such an honour?

Believe it or not, every woman, whether a teenage girl in an oppressive country or an attractive starlet, has the capability and potential to rise to the greatest heights that some men can only dream of.

And instead of belittling or feeling sorry for us, Malaysian men would do well to know this.

– See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/opinion/dyana-sofya/article/of-prostitutes-peace-and-chivalry#sthash.e3qDrNVW.dpuf

  1. #1 by Noble House on Tuesday, 21 October 2014 - 3:16 am

    The narcissistic pervert is a manipulator whose self-worth relies on the belittling of others. He loves to make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.

    “Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.” — Albert Einstein.

  2. #2 by Bigjoe on Tuesday, 21 October 2014 - 9:26 am

    So she thinks its about poor attitude against women? Its not so simple, its about desired attitudes towards, women, towards entitlement, Its very very primitive forces, instincts, attitude – changing primitivity is not about education, its about training, evolution, conditioning – worst, the adage old dogs can’t learn new tricks, apply to them..

  3. #3 by tmc on Tuesday, 21 October 2014 - 2:08 pm

    Greatly admire Dyana, she and other young women like her, have taken giant strides to prove to others they are no easy pushovers! Where does it say anywhere that feminine brains are inferior to that of their male counterparts. They are brave, courageous, independent and dare to call a spade a spade. No need to cover up their intelligence to defer to men. They earn respect on their own merits. Life is a learning journey.
    Dyana, on the the latest hoo-haa regarding the ‘doctored’ pics, just totally ignore. They are not worth a cent of your attention. Why sue those stupid people, they crave for attention and why give it to them.
    Instead, focus on the real issues and strategize with your team on winning the GE14, it’s just down the road. No time to lose.

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