Thursday, May 27, 2010

The purdah as a form of gender discrimination

Do you consider the purdah as a form of gender discrimination towards women?

And on the other hand do you think wearing the bikini (in public) represents an element or statement of freedom or emancipation?

I wanted to have my say on this matter since early this week after getting hold of this Kosmo! Sunday article, and was searching around for related articles on the Internet. But all that came to a halt when I had to channel my attention to some other important matters.

Anyway, since I have taken time to collect these newspaper clippings gathered form e-browse, I might as well paste them here and maybe comment on them later.

In a segment of the 2 page focus on this issue, a prominent sociologist, Prof Dr Fatimah Daud (UIAM) commented that what is portrayed by some Arab women by donning sexy clothing in public is a manifestation of their protest against the discrimination and restrictions by men in Arab countries towards them.

Fatimah also said the crowning of an Arab woman, Rima Fakih as the American beauty queen is a psychological attempt by the West to ridicule Islam.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Of honesty, questionnaires, married life and opening up a bit.

I am a firm believer in utilizing questionnaires in giving answers to an academic question, especially in social studies.

Academic questionnaires with regard to social and communication studies are an important tool to gauge in answering a hypothesis. Among others, questionnaires regarding a person's view, opinion and perception, are crucial in giving a general idea for researchers in gathering answers on social wants, needs and reservations.

In all my student and working life I had no problem answering other people's question about myself or being honest to whatever written questionnaires laid down before me. But of course, all answers about 'ourselves' are given only when it is due. Normally, people don't 'open up' unnecessarily.

And as it is, I am also a firm believer that one day all of us will be required to answer and be honest to 'ourselves' and others in front of our Creator.

So it happens today when I was back from my lunch break, I was interrupted with a 'knock' on my door.

A student I knew from the last 2 semesters, and whom I thought would have gone out on a job-hunt or already working in some fancy PR or advertising company walks into the room. She asked me whether I would like to answer some questionnaires for her project, to which I answered, "okay, but it depends..".

She didn't wait for me to finish and went on to her second question.. that she wanted to know if I had been married for 20 years or more, and without thinking clearly I answered 'yes'. She said this project is about finding something about the husband and wife relationship and then she shoved me the questionnaires she had in her hand.

Of course I was a bit surprised as I wasn't actually briefed what the project is all about, but since I knew her and that she trusted my ability to complete them so my question to her next was when she wanted to collect them. She was still thinking until I interrupted her.."would tomorrow be fine?" to which she retorted, "okay..!"

Feeling a bit inquisitive, I asked her what makes she thinks I am old enough to be married over 20 years. Well, I guess she didn't want to make me to feel 'insulted' by saying I look old enough, so she said.."...because some people get married at an early age...that's why..."

Still in my inquisitive mood, I asked her at what age would it be considered okay to get married, to which she gave me a blank look. So I followed the question with "...for you-lah?". She answered, "30 would be okay for me..."

She is a Chinese girl, so I would have expected it.

In my opinion, a Malay girl, depending on her job (or financial) security, looks and self confidence, would normally get married as early as 22 and the most 28. Go above that number, and the implications would be bad for herself (and her family) as it would set people's tongue wagging about whether she is still 'laku' or not.

Societal (or the community she is brought up in) expectations are high in a Malay family set-up. If you are not married or engaged in a certain age bracket, then you better be prepared for the worst. It doesn't matter if you are rich or poor.

Celebrities are no exception.

Look at what happened in the case of the actress Zizie Ezette. She is a beautiful woman, and was only 31 years old and she is worried about not being married or in love with someone. In the end, the desperation got caught up and she ended marrying another woman's husband. Now, the problem is just starting to unfold.

There is also this 'gender biased' or chauvinist joke among us men... that when a women who has reached the 'required age' and still not married and considered 'andartu' or 'tak laku', we would call them 'expired' or 'tamat tempoh sah laku'.

But I digress (I always do).

Actually I wanted to share with you guys about the questionnaires, which is about the study on RELATIONAL COMMUNICATION STRATEGIES AMONG LONG-LASTING MARRIED COUPLES: LEARNING FROM THE BEST.

Ha..ha..ha....(LOL) I had a good laugh with the last phrase: LEARNING FROM THE BEST.

Since I have agreed to answer the questionnaires, does it make me THE BEST and that others want to make me an example and be LEARNING FROM me? What an ironic title for a study?

Well, at this point, this is what I have to say: while I believe it is good that we learn from people who have had a successful marriage, I do not believe that any long lasting marriage can be taken for an example for anyone to consider it as good or the best, what more learn from them.

For all I know a long lasting marriage can last long enough (and even till death) due to many factors which include children, financial security, family and societal expectations, fear of being lonely, fear of not knowing what is not in store for them in the future and much more.

So, what is it that makes them think a long lasting marriage is good? In my earlier marriage I stayed on for 21 years trying to make things work. But for that long, the marriage still doesn't seem to work. What do you think I should do, wait another 20 years and see if it could work?

Nope, what I did was I threw in the towel and said baby, 'hasta la vista', see you in another life.

And so it happens I retired my old life and met with another life, which seems to be working quite well. So, right now I am not regretting a bit about leaving the old life. What has happened, happens.

But I should have said, "why hadn't I threw in the towel earlier? If I had, I would not have wasted 20 years trying to work on something not worth the trouble." But then, my aqidah and my believe in qada' and qadar saved me from uttering those 'evil' words for I knew there is no 'ifs' in Allah's book in determining our destiny in life. What He has laid down for us in his book is what is the best for us, both here and in the hereafter.

Okay, enough about the 'opening up' part. I thought I wanted to show you an example of the questions in this questionnaires that we should be LEARNING FROM, but on second thought I think I'd rather take a further look at it and scritunize more before I make a decision.

Till then, hasta la vista!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Megan Fox and couples who do the dishes together stay happier

I was looking at the June 2009 ELLE magazine which has the sultry Megan Fox on its cover when my vision latched on this catchy title "DON'T BREAKUP! THE SCIENCE OF STAYING TOGETHER"

A simple Yahoo! search with the words "the science of staying together" did not match anything on the first page, but instead I found some other related stuff.

So, this is a few of them.

A research done by the London School of Economics (LSE), entitled “Men’s Unpaid Work and Divorce” found out that divorce rates are lower in families where husbands help out with the housework, shopping and childcare.

The study's conclusion also opens up the 1960s theory that marriages were most stable when men focused on paid work and women were responsible for housework.

“The lowest-risk combination is one in which the mother does not work and the father engages in the highest level of housework and childcare,” the study found.

The study also suggests that fathers’ contribution to unpaid work at home stabilises marriage regardless of mothers’ employment status. This also means that the risk of divorce among working mothers, while greater, is substantially reduced when fathers contribute more to housework and childcare.

The whole article here.

In another related study published in 2009 by The University of Western Ontario revealed that couples who share the responsibility for paid and unpaid work report higher average measures of happiness and life satisfaction than those in other family models.

Researchers suggest that the shared roles model is advantageous to society in terms of gender equity and its ability to maximise labour force participation by all adults. It also leaves women less vulnerable in the case of separation, divorce or death of a spouse.

The article here.

Other related articles here.

One thing that I have faith in is that, these kind of studies, although customised and done to a different culture (western subjects), but if replicated (and done locally) would more or less give the same kind of results.

Would you agree on that?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Bung Mokhtar and the challenges of his 'fitness'

Bung Moktar Radin may be sexually 'fit' as a husband to two wives (one of which is an actress), but he may not be as 'fit' as a people's champion due to his gender beliefs and practices. 

While some people may deem it as a private matter, another party sees it differently. A gender group apparently found out that he is not 'fit' as a politician and member of parliament for Kinabatangan and wants him to step down.

Yesterday, as was reported, Bung Mokhtar and his wife, actress Zizie Izette Abdul Samad, pleaded guilty at the Gombak Timur Lower Syariah Court to the charge of committing polygamy without the court's permission.

As if not trying to waste any time nor giving any opportunity for any other party to buttress the incident by claiming it is just an accepted cultural norm, the women NGO by the name of Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) have pressured Bung Moktar Radin to vacate his parliamentary seat. 

To prove their point, the group members came in by the numbers displaying placards on the matter at the Gombak Lower Shariah Court yesterday, where the guilty plea was recorded by both Bung Mokhtar and his wife.

The spokesperson for the JAG, Maria Chin Abdullah said, the parlimentarian should have not acted against the law as it may give a wrong message to the people. She emphasized that polygamous marriage, although legalized but when practiced without permission is an act of oppression towards women..

Earlier today I posted a cynically laced gender biased statement in Zunar's Facebook wall entitled "BREAKING NEWS: MP Kinabatangan, Bung Moktar, mengaku salah di Mahkamah Syariah rendah di Gombak Timur pagi ini kerana berkahwin dengan Zizie Ezette tanpa keizinan isteri pertamanya". 

It was just a play with words (pun, if you prefer), nothing serious. You can check it out here.

A reader, Abigail De Vries wrote about how horrified she felt when affronted with the news. She wrote: For a federal lawmaker such as Bung Mokhtar to so blatantly and gleefully flout the law, makes a mockery of his elected position and by extension, the democratic institutions that he is publically mandated to uphold. 

The whole letter here.

Tomorrow, the same court will give its decision on the sentences for the couple and their witnesses.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The World’s Most Expensive Foods

Are you a food fanatic?

No, neither am I.

However, I do have a penchant for exotic dishes especially when served in exotic restaurants. But one thing I'm not good at is that I have a bad memory to recall the name of the dishes I eat, what more write about them.
Today, I found this exotic article in an exotic newspaper -- Utusan Sarawak and would like to share it with you guys. It's about The World’s Most Expensive Foods.

No, I'm not in Sarawak right now, but I happen to have an e-browse access to the newspaper, apart from a few others.

What's an e-browse newspaper? I'll tell you that in another posting.

This article says that among the most expensive food in the world is the white truffle mushroom which costs in excess of US$5,000 a kilogram. The record price for this truffle was paid last year, in December, when Stanley Ho, the owner of the Macau casino paid $330,000 for 1.5kg of truffles.

Another expensive food is the herb saffron. Saffron, is also known as spice and is grown worldwide, derived from the saffron crocus flower. The herb is bitter and its price can come up to as much as 12,000 pound sterling a kilo (another article quoted the price to between US$1100 to US$11,000 per kilogram).

Another type of food -- the caviar is so expensive that only the very rich can afford as it costs more than USD5,000 per kilogram. The most expensive caviar is the Caviar Almas which is produced from the Beluga Sturgeon fish. It is said that Beluga caviar comes from a fish over 100 years old, that is virtually unchanged for 120 million years. This type of fish can only be found in the Caspian Sea or Black Sea.

The next most expensive food in the world is a French potato, La Bonnotte. Annually, only 100 tons of this top quality potatoes are cultivated and collected. The potato fields require to be fertilized only with seaweed in a climate shaped by the nearby sea on the island Noirmoutier. The cost of one kilogram of La Bonnotte can reach more than US$500 since this type of potato is almost extinct.

The last most of expensive food in the world according to this article is a type of coffee drink. This type of drink is called the Luwak Coffee or civet coffee. Planted in the island of Sumatra, Indonesia, the Luwak Coffee is unique as such that it is not harvested by humans but civets (musang).

This type of wild animal eats the coffee berries and then excretes them. The berries together with other excretes of the civets are collected and washed, dried in the sun, roasted and brewed. The final product is an aromatic coffee with much less bitterness.

The total annual production is said to be only around 500 pounds of beans. A cup of Luwak Coffee can catch a price of more than US$100, while the price of a pound of the bean is more than US$300.

For more information, read the wikipedia entry for Kopi Luwak here.

So, guys if you can afford it, try this exotic Luwak coffee blended with civet shit. Must taste it the next time I have a chance visiting Sumatra.

See related articles here and here.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Not my kinda vacation?

Today is the third day I am back from a week journey to the States.

Actually, I’m not writing this to tell you about the travel or to the places I’ve been in the US, but it’s about how lousy it has been after returning home. And how I hope by doing this (writing as a therapy) can help alleviate the ache that’s been lingering in my head for the past three days.

Okay, a part of it is about the journey – about how unpleasant it has been, being crumpled into a small 2x2x5 space in 8 different air flights 3/4-way across the globe for almost 4 days (to and from the US). And for being stranded for 3 hours at an airport, when initially we were told that the stopover in Hong Kong was just for a change of seating.

And btw, it’s not that this is the first time I’ve been on a long haul journey in an airplane, but this time I guess it really got on to me due to several reasons. 

One is due to the length of the journey – two days in 8 different flights with 8 stopovers and each stopovers took at least 2 hrs and the most 5 hrs. Only the first stopover in Singapore did I really get to rest and sleep for 2 hrs in a hotel room in Geylang, but after that I was just closing my eyes, while both ears and mind suffered in silence due to the noise made by other hotel guests outside our room.

Second is due to a disturbance in the physiological aspects of the body or what they call it jet-lag – i.e. the temporary disruption of bodily rhythms caused by high-speed travel across several time zones typically in a jet aircraft. Since this is considered a medical condition (diagnosis), I wish not but to agree with it, and what I am suffering now is due to the jets (or lag of it).

Wikipedia has it that the condition may last many days, and recovery rates of 1 day per eastward time zone or 1 day per 1.5 westward time zones are mentioned as fair guidelines.

Another reason may be due to the hot and humid weather in Florida, where I was in most part of the travel, outdoors. The heat must have got on me, as I usually get a headache after being under the hot sun even for a short time.

Finally, and this is the most disturbing part, was due to my not being able to get a full resting sleep in a reclining seating position, or in my case in any seating position (reclined or otherwise). Furthermore, the only difference in the reclining seats in most of the flights I was in this time is only about 2 inches from the original seating position (upright), which is not much of a help (or any difference in the size of space we get when the person who sits in front reclines their seats too).

Quoting (from his 2006 archive), Kenny wrote: Trust me, it's NOT the most comfortable position to sleep in. I woke up 2 hours later with a grumpy mood and a royal pain in the neck. 

Really, that was how I felt too.

Actually, the only sleeping position I can really get a shut-eye sleep is the full reclining position (or almost). And in this example (United Airways), as was in almost all the flights I have been on, sleep was non-existent.

Okay, I know what you guys are going to say now…get a business class seat-lah…!

Ha..ha.. wishful thinking. It’s always easier said than done.

Actually, I envy others who can easily fall asleep in any body angle (sit or stand), especially in a seating position. I envy the Japanese most of all. They can even get a short nap on a short distance travel on a train, and they do it almost discreetly. You won’t even notice they are at it if they are wearing sunglasses.

On our way back on the UA flight from Chicago to Hong Kong, I said this to my wife, who was my travelling companion —“Getting crumpled in a 2x2x5 sort of boxed seating in a 2 day flight across the globe is not my kind of vacation…”

I wish to further the statement, but when she retorted with a wry look at me, I declined.

Hey, guess what, after an hour or so writing this stuff, I’m getting better now. Although I can still feel the ache there, but I’ll be on my way for lunch now… 

Thank you for reading this.