Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Malay Muslim Male Privilege Checklist.

Malays don't get much privilege in Singapore by virtue of race, but among Malays, and especially among Muslims, men do enjoy from certain privileges. Of course, this list should be taken with a pinch of salt, because even in talking about gender, I would not want to pander to racial or colonial discourses.

In the bigger picture, the privilege I'm talking about here belongs to a specific groups of men. But it's also important to recognise the privilege therein.

So -- let's get to the list!

1. You can marry in Singapore without having to produce "proof of conversion", no matter your actual state of religiosity.

2. You can wear short-sleeved T-shirts, trousers, and other kinds of "Western attire" to religious gatherings.

3. You can smoke freely in private and public spaces.

4. You are positively discriminated for jobs in a religious setting, even if the scope of work is administrative.

5. When encountering a mosque, you never have to ask yourself the following questions:
  • Can I enter by the front entrance? Or will someone chase me out and tell me to go in through a separate, smaller entrance? 
  • Must I cover my hair? 
  • Must I cover my feet with socks?
  • Is my top long enough? 
  • Where is the special enclosed/dirtier section for my gender??

6. When inside a mosque, you may entertain the following thoughts:
  • Since I cannot hear the sermon very well, shall I move nearer to the imam? 
  • Since I don't agree with the imam's emphasis on heavenly rewards of wine and sexy heavenly beings, shall I speak with him after the sermon?

7. You are free to comment on how your fellow sisters are dressed.

8a. If you are married and have children...

"Bapa Mithali", Ponorogo

8b. If you are married and have no children,
  • You will never be accused of infertility.
  • You can always shift infertility to your wife.
  • You can use her infertility as grounds for divorce, or
  • You can have subsequent wives to have children, and you don't have to marry widows with orphans.

9. If you are an a position of religious authority...
  • You are so eligible that you can marry women much, much younger than you, and be hardly discouraged from marrying up to the maximum of four.
  • You can speak in public and have female groupies.
  • You don't have to keep yourself in shape because good health is worldly vanity.
  • You don't have to give sermons about our environment because that is a secular and non-spiritual topic.
  • You don't need a high level of academic education for people to respect you.
  • You can comment on the intimate lives of women and their experiences, with no fear of rebuttals from women.
  • You can inform others about the weight of the Qur'an, hadith and various opinions from jurisprudence, with no need for balance or nuance and with no fear of critical thinking from your community.

Let me know if you want to add something to the list!

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