Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A matter of tolerance

Wednesday December 20, 2006
The Star Newspaper
A matter of tolerance

HO HUM, here we go again. Is there no end to this ceaseless blaming of all forms of evil on women, just because they may not want to cover their heads? But I am really heartened by the many sensible retorts by various people, mostly ordinary citizens, who rightly pointed out that we really should get past the habit of blaming women for the bad things that happen to them, and letting perpetrators get away.

I’m sure that the Majlis Perbandaran Kota Baru values all of its citizens and doesn’t really intend to discriminate just against women, no matter how natural the impulse might be. I’m sure given half the chance, besides dreaming up more and more rules for women, those MPKB wise men can also come up with rules for their male denizens just to show that they can be fair.

Here therefore are some rules I would suggest that the MPKB (and in fact all other local authorities) implement for men:

1. Men who do not use deodorant will be fined RM500. Body odour can cause offense to other people, of both sexes. Furthermore, some people find the musky sweaty fragrance that some men give off quite, um, arousing. Therefore this can be considered a hazard to public morality. Hence, stiff fines should be imposed to prevent any untoward incidents. Perhaps a deodorant company can be roped in to sponsor a campaign for the prevention of offensive odours.

2. Men who do not have clean fingernails will be fined RM500. Our religion exhorts us to always keep ourselves clean. Hands should always be washed especially before eating. Hence, it stands to reason that blackened fingernails imply a clear distance between soap and hands. Perhaps the MPKB could hand out free nail brushes and have classes on how to use them. No woman should be expected to handle anything that has been touched by any male with dirty fingernails.

3. Men must dress decently or be fined a minimum of RM500. Decently means clean clothes, pants that are not about to drop off and shoes, not slippers. We might even consider unmatched clothes and dirty sarongs as indecent. And oh yes, the Visible Panty Line rule should extend to those who insist on wearing white robes too.

4. Men who look at women up and down, up and down, regardless of how the women are dressed should be fined RM10,000 or 10 strokes of the cane. This should apply to any man, regardless of race, religion or rank, as the Quran clearly exhorts men to “lower their gaze”. Extra fines and extra strokes should also be imposed for those who, besides leering, also make weird noises and um, ungentlemanly remarks. No exemptions will be given for remarks made in Arabic.

5. Men with greasy hair, overlong nose and ear hairs and unkempt beards will be reprimanded for being aesthetically offensive. Perhaps a campaign sponsored by shampoo and shaving cream companies might be useful. Overlong untrimmed beards may harbour all manner of cooties, and are therefore just as unhygienic as dirty fingernails (sometimes all of these are found on the same person). Therefore these types of men can be deemed public health hazards. Women should be allowed to carry disinfecting sprays to protect themselves from such dangers.

6. Men may not wear makeup, such as black eyeliner, and overbearing fragrances, especially those meant to cover the pungency of unwashed bodies. Only the smell of soap will be tolerated.

I’m sure the MPKB really can’t argue with these simple rules. Wouldn’t it be nice if they set the example for all the other towns and cities in Malaysia if they could boast the cleanest and best-smelling men in the country?

While we are on the subject of dress, I want to congratulate that Bahraini woman who won the 200-metre gold medal at the Asian Games. It just goes to show that women can do anything, if they put their heart and soul into it. But before anyone gets too excited about how wearing the hijab somehow contributed to her medal, let us not forget the training that she obviously put in, not to mention the sheer dedication and commitment to her sport that would also have been required. If all it takes is a hijab to win races, then we should get all the men to cover up as well and see how they do.

And let me nominate for the Breath of Fresh Air Award, the new Mufti of Perlis, for his courage in saying the right thing, and in restoring our faith in the justice and equality inherent in Islam. May he always stand his ground, and be the vanguard of change that we so badly need.

I wish everybody a Happy 2007!

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