Monday, July 23, 2007

When outward appearances mean more than a good heart and an honest soul

There were two related articles in this morning's paper that made me wonder about values.

It seems that, to some of us, all that matters is only skin deep. In fact, these people would condemn others - perhaps even condemn them to hell if they got the chance - on the basis of superficial appearance and the clothes they wear.

I can't even describe my distaste for such prejudice and bigotry; there are no words polite enough for this blog. We are supposedly a modern nation, but some of us have the attitudes of a medieval witch hunter. We are supposed to be educated, but some of us are appalling ignorant. Unfortunately, often they are the ones who think they are clever enough to lead the rest of us, even when they lack compassion, as well as learning and understanding.

What has got me so riled?

Article One (from The Star), written by someone who is both wise and compassionate, Chong Sheau Ching:
She writes about tolerance of transsexuals in Thailand and goes on to say this about an incident in Malaysia some time back at an international seminar. "I was enlightened by the doctors' medical explanation about transsexuals. A few local transsexuals gave their personal accounts about the discrimination they faced - being rejected by medical personnel, unable to get employment, and fearing arrest.

"To the transsexuals dismay, a Malaysian woman who holds an important position, openly condemned them and told them to be more religious..."

Hmm. I wish someone had suggested to that bi--, er lady, that she be a little more pious herself, and practise tolerance and understanding and compassion.

A little further on Chong writes how a transsexual and her friends, having tea at home last year were arrested in a raid and some thrown into jail for cross-dressing. Geez - people can't even dress the way they want in their own homes now?

Second was a news item.

The Higher Education Minister was quoted as saying that "soft" men (his words) would not be recruited as teachers, and their application to pursue a degree in education may also be rejected. Later on he made it clear that he meant hetero men who behaved like, wait for it, women (horrors!!). He hastened to say that the move was not meant to discriminate against "soft" men (no? You could have fooled me!) but "was an approach to help them realise that they have deviated from the original path in life."

Huh? What the hell is one's original path in life? And how is discriminating against them - and yes, Mr Minister, it is discrimination - supposed to help them change anything? And why should they change, even if they could? What about the really important things, like integrity and honesty and kindness and intelligence and ability to impart knowledge - aren't they the things we should look for in a teacher? What the hell does it matter if they dress differently or move differently?

I guess he believes being "soft" is contagious. And deviant, of course. Sigh.

[And here's me sitting here in a pair of trousers, wearing one of my husband's T-shirts. You know what, it must be about the only arena in life where women (sometimes) have it better than men. We can cross-dress and still be regarded as normal.

My father - born back in the 19th century, mind you - would have looked at the sarong or sampin worn by the Minister on occasion and asked what on earth the silly fellow wanted to wear a woman's skirt for? How's that for irony?]

7 comments:

hrugaar said...

Being imprisoned simply for dressing differently in your own home is deeply disturbing - barely one step away from Thought Policing.

One wonders where the Minister would draw the line on where men may be regarded as 'soft' in their behaviour - or indeed, on what 'womanly' behaviour is like, as clearly women do not all behave the same way. Perhaps he needs to go back to school himself, and have soft male and intelligent female teachers enlighten him on a few points?

KarenEMiller said...

But how does he define soft? Does he mean nurturing and gentle? Affectionate? What?

That's just really strange.

It's not the being arrested in your own home that's the problem. I have no problem with pedophiles being arrested in their home, for eg. It's the reason for the arrest. It's the stark staring terror about different sexuality, when it's perfectly clear enough men and women are mating that the human race ain't in danger of going anywhere.

Alex said...

I had a "soft" teacher.... He was my Chemistry teacher and I truly learnt the science. He is the best around. If the Ministry would ban him, it is to the loss of the Ministry and countless of students.

The people should not elect such ignorant Minister to the parliament.

Jason said...

The blind is leading the blinds... sigh...

coolio said...

That last line is funny, how your grandfather would call the sarongs skirts...

Perceptions and upbringing are all too powerful, if a person doesnt make the conscious effort, I doubt he/she would change at all.

hrugaar said...

Ooh, ooh, I remembered a line from Forty Years On (quoting from memory here, though) - 'Every woman dresses like her mother: that is her tragedy. No man can: that is his.'

Glenda Larke said...

One of the most disturbing things about all this is that things aren't getting better, but worse.

When I first came to Malaysia, it was the 60s, and I was from a pretty (then) conservative corner of Australia. I found Malaysia - and Singapore - amazingly free and liberal in their attitudes to the transgendered and cross-dressers. And you can still find those corners of liberalism and tolerance - there is usually a transvestite cabaret in K.L. for example.

But the tolerance, it seems, was not strong enough to stand up against religious intolerance or Asian conservatism. We are now going backwards, and the law is backing the discrimination. When a Minister can stand up and publically deny a certain type of education or job to a transgendered person without an ounce of shame, it is a sorry day.

And on a more cheerful note, Ru - I think my grandson that he can dress however he wants...