I was unfortunately up early this morning, ironing like on any other work day, because I had the unfortunate opportunity of being psychologically arm-wrestled into going for some seminar at a mosque (and one wonders why I can’t wait to get married and move out so I could finally pursue my spiritual connection with God at my own pace and out of my own will, rather than feeling obliged to give in to the mother’s persuasion). I’m supposed to get a break from the job I am beginning to hate, and I was planning on catching up on sleep and work (what’s new?), hence the resentment.
To top this unfortunate day off, while ironing at the enclave in my living room, I had the unfortunate opportunity of listening in on the Malaysian religious show that my father was watching. (Yes, they are that ‘fanatic’. If I was a retiree I’d spend mornings taking a walk and enjoying some fresh air rather than cooped up at home watching some religious show. I’d rather enjoy God’s creation and reflect independently on life than listen to others dictate how I should live mine.)
Now why was this an unfortunate opportunity? Because the topic was one that never fails to rile me up: how Muslim wives should behave. By a lady speaker, nonetheless, which riles me up even more because she can’t seem to see what is wrong with perpetrating such views that frame a woman’s worth in terms of her use(fulness) to her husband instead of her own independent being.
For a start, let me list down what she said in her own words, as much as I can remember:
1. Isteri mesti berhias untuk suami… jangan berhias untuk keluar sahaja, tapi di rumah rambut tak bersikat, mulut busuk, pakai baju kelawar..
(Wives must doll themselves up for their husbands… don’t do it only when you’re going out, but at home your hair is uncombed, your mouth smelly, you wear that long flimsy dress with bat sleeves.)
2. Rumah mesti dihias, jangan kotor macam rumah Yahudi
(Your house must be looked after and decorated, not left dirty like the house of this group of people which I shall not translate because demonising any group is just offensive)
3. Jangan keluar tanpa izin suami… (kalau kena keluar tiap-tiap hari) boleh minta izin untuk setahun sekaligus…
(Don’t go out without your husband’s permission… (if you have to go out every day) you can ask for permission for a year at one go…)
4. Jangan benarkan orang yang suami tak suka masuk ke rumah… waimah ibu bapa sendiri kerana isteri bila kahwin, suami nombor satu, ibu bapa nombor dua…. bagi suami ibu bapa nombor satu…
(Don’t allow anyone that your husband does not like to enter your home, even if it is your own parents, because when you get married, your husband comes first, your parents second… for husbands their parents come first…)
Now why would these messages be objectionable? I shall leave you to exercise your own critical thinking before I explain my objections in the next post.