IN today’s Malaysian society, trends of sexism and misogynism can be seen in many aspects — one of them being discrimination against women politicians.
“There were repeated claims that PKR’s Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail was unfit for the role of Mentri Besar because of menses.
“We also saw incidences of misogyny against DAP candidate Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud during the Teluk Intan by-election back then too.
“Like the circulation of a fake photo of her in a bikini, as well as cat calls and repeated references to how pretty she was — like that was the only thing that mattered,” said women’s rights advocate Lee Wei San.
All of this should not be deemed as “okay” in today’s society, she added.
Lee, who is in the organising committee of annual spoof awards ceremony ‘Aiyoh Wat Lah!’ Awards 2015, said it is through this event that they wish to let the public figures know that women’s rights advocates will always be monitoring their actions and statements made about women issues in the media.
“It is not a personal attack on the character of these public figures, as we are more focused on the things they do and say.
“They have a responsibility to the people because of their higher position.
“What they say tend to have a larger impact on the public as elected leaders of society, so we have to hold them accountable for their words and behaviour,” she told a press conference after the awards was held at Sarang Paloh at Jalan Sultan Iskandar, Ipoh recently.
Presented in a funny, tongue-in-cheek style, the fourth edition of the infamous ‘Aiyoh Wat Lah!’ Awards 2015 was held in Ipoh for the very first time.
Much like its previous editions, it highlighted some of Malaysia’s most sexist, misogynistic, homophobic and transphobic statements, actions and policies in 2014 through six award categories.
They are — Foot in Mouth, Insulting Intelligence, Cannot Ignore, Least Helpful to the Sisterhood, Enough Already and Policy Fail.
Among the winning nominees were declarations that most Malays are sensitive to the rape of teenage girls while non-Malays are probably less sensitive towards it, and wives should persuade instead of asking for so much from their husbands because men don’t like it.
The seventh category, Right on Track, is deemed to be “a glimmer of hope through all the muck,” as they awarded a public statement or action that is helpful in fighting misogyny, sexism, homophobia and/or transphobia.
This award went to Datuk Mohd Hishamudin Mohd Yunus, the Court of Appeals judge, who said last year that the existing law punishes the gender expression of transsexuals, degrades and devalues people with gender identity disorder in society, and how it is absurd and insulting to suggest that transgenders are people of unsound mind.
The full list of winners can be viewed at aiyohwatlah.wordpress.com
Makeshift trophies were prepared for the seven winners of the categories that day, hosted by the eloquent and quirky Ribena Berry.
But of course, none of these “winners” were present to claim their prizes.
The winners were voted by the public, as many as 1,391, who had cast their votes online last month.
Speaking on the event, fellow committee member Kristine Yap said they were pleasantly surprised by the turnout of more than 140 people in Ipoh.
“We used to hold the awards only in the Klang Valley in previous years, but clearly, women’s issues are happening in the whole country and not just a certain area.
“This is the biggest turnout we have ever seen for the awards, and we hope to get more males to participate as well because women’s rights issues apply to them too,” she said.
Yap added that they also hoped to expand more to other states in the future if they had enough funds to do so.
The awards ceremony was organised by the Joint Action Group for Gender Equality, comprising All Women’s Action Society (Awam), Association of Women Lawyers (AWL), Sisters in Islam (Sis), Women’s Aid Organisation (Wao), Perak Women for Women Society, Persatuan Kesedaran Komunity Selangor, Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor, Sabah Women’s Action Resource Group, Tenaganita, and Women’s Centre for Change Penang.
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