What were you wearing?

  • One Man's Meat
  • Saturday, 03 Aug 2019

PKR senator Mohd Imran Abd Hamid

Schooling a male government senator on the real world of violence against women.

MEN should be protected against the actions, words and clothing of women. If not, they might be seduced to a point where they commit acts such as incest, rape, molestation and pornography.

Welcome to the warped world of PKR senator Mohd Imran Abd Hamid.

On Wednesday when debating the Syarie Legal Profession (Federal Territories) Bill at the Dewan Negara, Mohd Imran suggested that a sexual harassment act was necessary to protect men.

The former Lumut MP said his proposal should be given due consideration so that “the men in the country are safe and the country is peaceful”.

In my and many Malaysians’ world, the senator’s suggestion is unacceptable. It also showed that he had a caveman mentality.

If Mohd Imran Googled the myths versus realities of sexual violence, he would have been schooled that it is a myth that “only young, ‘attractive’ women and girls who flirt and wear ‘revealing’ clothes are raped”.

According to Rape Crisis England & Wales, “people of all ages and appearances, and of all classes, cultures, abilities, genders, sexualities, races and religions, are raped”.

“Rape is an act of violence and control; the perceived ‘attractiveness’ of a victim has very little to do with it. There is no excuse for sexual violence and it is never the victim/survivor’s fault.

“What someone was wearing when they were raped is completely irrelevant, ” it said.

The other myth, according to the organisation, is that once a man is sexually aroused, he can’t help himself – he has to have sex. The fact is that men can control their urges.

“No one needs to rape someone for sexual satisfaction. Rape is an act of violence and control. It can’t be explained away and there are no excuses, ” it said.

If Mohd Imran, a retired navy first admiral, had visited an exhibition called “What Were You Wearing?” (a loaded question sometimes asked of rape and sexual assault victims) in Brussels, Belgium, last year, his mind would have been opened to the fact that it is a useless and harmful question in finding out the motive for rape.

On display were clothes worn by rape victims when they were assaulted. Mohd Imran would have seen that the clothing was pyjamas, tracksuits and even a child’s My Little Pony shirt.

The exhibition showed that the clothes worn by the victims were as “innocent as the victims themselves”.

Mohd Imran probably thought that a woman’s clothing was “guilty” because he lacked knowledge on the subject.

The thing with Malaysians is that we don’t talk enough about sex and rape because it is a taboo.

When I was studying at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, the United States, in the 1990s, there was an open discussion on the subject in the local newspapers and magazines.

I got educated on the subject of “date rape” (referring to the act of a woman being raped while on a date). It became the hottest topic when Time magazine put a victim, Katie Koestner, on its cover with the headline “Date Rape”.

Sex education is a “dirty” matter for us.

Come to think about it, how did I learn about sex?

Not from my Form Three biology class in La Salle Secondary School in Tanjung Aru near Kota Kinabalu. The female teacher skipped one or two pages in the biology textbook on reproduction.I learnt about the “F word” and reproduction during recess and also from watching Swedish Erotica, a blue film, at a friend’s house in Luyang near Kota Kinabalu.

A Centre for Governance and Political Studies (Cent-GPS) survey found without a doubt that there is “a higher need for effective and more in-depth sex education in Malaysia”.

“A majority of men do not understand the true meaning of consent. A majority of men claim they learned how to use protection through the media and porn, ” said Salahuddin Saufry Hamzah, deputy director of research at Cent-GPS.

In the survey, which was released on Friday, over 2000 Malaysian men provided insight into our understanding of consent for sex.

Cent-GPS defined consent, in its correct form, as when there is an explicit verbal agreement to sex.

“In order words, a ‘yes’, ” said Salahuddin.

It found that only 35% of the men surveyed knew that consent meant a partner had to verbally say “yes” to sex.

“Disappointingly, the other 65% of male respondents in the Klang Valley incorrectly defined consent as anything other than a verbal “yes” from the female partner, ” said Salahuddin.

The survey found that 13% said consent for sex could be identified through “body language”, and 4% claimed consent was given if there was some form of romantic attachment with the partner.

“In other words, these men believed that sex with a girlfriend or wife was a ‘given’ if the relationship was established, ” said Salahuddin.Another 4% claimed that consent for sex was given if the female partner did not object.

“This is an important distinction from the correct form of consent. A female partner not saying ‘no’ is completely different from a female partner saying ‘yes’ to sex, ” he said.

When Mohd Imran’s world collided with ours, the senator had to apologise and retract his proposal to “protect men” from being seduced by women into committing sexual crimes.

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