Sunday, April 09, 2006

66] Embrace "Kampongism" not "Feminism"

Embrace ‘kampong-ism’ not ‘feminism’
Dr Azly Rahman
Apr 6, 06 4:26pm


I hope the run amuck-styled personal attacks that opened all the letters of JS Shaari, Malaysian Woman, and Julie Chin are not a typical “feminist-response” to an argument. That will be stereotypical of an unfair label radical feminists have earned – blindly aggressive and theoretically shallow. I hope we cannot conclude those Malaysian feminists are emotional, illogical, and fragmented in their thinking. Such opening statements of those letters might have stunned readers, especially the one that is interspersed with colloquial Malay.

I assure international readers that this is certainly not a typical Malaysian response to a humanistic proposition. This anomaly is in fact an embarrassment to the ability of the Malaysian to mount or to counter philosophical propositions. I shall however propose an alternative ideology especially for Malay-Muslim feminists to consider as a viable platform for their struggle. It is called “kampong-ism”.

Consider the following principles of ethical living we have established as a civilisation; one that is based on the preservation of traditions handed down from generation to generation to preserve the pristine-ness of our culture so that our children will not grow up dazed and confused: These principles govern the protection of women that is of which the Malaysian feminist movement confusingly try to reiterate and call them their own.

These come from Islam:

1. Women are not inferior to men; they exist in “smart-partnership” in a “win-win” situation to men, both in practical living and in religion. Only biologically and in social function there may be slight variations,

2. In general, men and women in Islam enjoy protected statuses and the misconceptions may arise out of ‘high profile case highlighted by the profit-driven, ideologically-conspiratory Western media inspired by the ideologies of Hollywood and Disneyland.

3. The suffering of women are due to poverty and illiteracy and not due to religion. The notion that Islam pushes women backwards is a clever invention of the Western illiberal democratic ideology. Malaysian Muslim feminists unknowingly and confusingly adopt this misconception and use this perception as the basis of their ideology.

4. The norm in the Muslim world is monogamy as it is not only economically sensible but also metaphysically apt if Muslims are to understand the principle of Ying and Yang in the happy symbiosis between man, Woman, and nature. In this sense, homosexuality does not fit in the ecclesiastical, ontological, and cosmological doctrine of Ying and Yang in Islam, especially when one situates this discussion within the poetic and literary context of Laila and Majnun.

5. In Islamic Family Law, the financial burden falls heavily on men as the traditional breadwinner.

6. Domestic violence cannot be solely attributed to the alleged aggressive nature of men; they arise out of economic condition and cuts across all cultures, nations, and civilizations across time and space. Women inflict emotional damage onto men all the same. Islam, as well as other religions protect women and men from abusing each other.

Of course one can inquire further into the traditions of excellence in Islamic practices that the misguided feminists imagine to be oppressive.

Let me inquire into the fundamental character of feminism in general and Malaysian feminism in particular. Feminism is an alien notion of humanity and to Islam and as such, Islamic feminism is an oxymoron and a contradiction of the highest religious order. If we apply Chaos and Complexity theory to the possible direction of movement to the two terms, we will see each of these oxymoronic terms branching out in radically different direction; one ethical, one unethical.

Feminism might be religiously taken as “radical concept that women are human beings” but I think this is not even the issue if we look at what each and every religion say about men and women. Malaysian feminism is a poorly invented concept of a struggle initiated by upper-class bourgeoisie armchair thinkers who have misunderstood the nature of Islamic cosmological doctrine itself.

I doubt the activists are in tune with the realities of the sufferings of the kampong people, the Minah Karan, the prostitutes in Chow Kit, the bohsia and bohjan, and those marginalised by the New Economic Policy. I doubt if these feminists are able to relate to the kampong of all kampong folks. I doubt if these Malaysian feminists have ever set foot in the bendangs/paddy fields of Changlun or Tambun Tulang.

I doubt if the kampong girls understand the language of feminism itself let alone to contemplate upon this the notion that Malaysia is an apartheid nation. Malaysian feminists derive their pleasure from the constant “pat on the back” by dubious international human rights groups wishing to further orchestrate their “civilising mission” through benevolent organisations that patronise the female natives.

Trapped in the prison-house of language, I foresee the following variants of Malaysian feminism that will require them to define themselves more precisely. My concerns will be the following:

Will we see the emergence of not only “Malay-Muslim feminists” but also “Chinese-Christian feminists”, “Indian-Malaysian feminists”, “Buddhist-feminists” or “Kadazan-feminists” or even “Pan-Asian Malaysian feminists” – all these will require a certain degree of discrimination in terms of their dedication to their respective politics of identity?

In other words, how many permutations of the word “feminism” will we see that will try to subvert the ethical foundations of civilization that have already built-in mechanism of protection for both men and women? I would assume that when all these variants develop, we will see a more clearly-defined Malaysian feminist that will have evolved into some form of “post-industrial tribalism” that will then problematically challenge the grand narratives of timeless ethical traditions namely Islam, Christianity, Catholicism, Judaism, Jainism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, and Sikhism. Malaysian feminism, spearheaded by the over-publicised under-subscribed Malay-Muslim feminists, will pose challenges to the patriarchic hegemony of these religious traditions. This will be a historical problematique.

I suggest Malaysian feminists, especially those who reside in the wind and in the Malaysian towers of Babel, embrace a more pastoral and liberating philosophy of struggle. I call it “kampong-ism” or “mental re-villagisation”.

Kampong-ism brings the human mind away from complex theories, complex systems, competitive and cutthroat economic philosophies, and combative male-female relationships.

Kampong-ism is driven by the philosophy of Eastern existentialism, sound metaphysical construct, harmonious conception of kinship, a good balance of patriarchy and matriarchy, and an economic production system based on the good old farming system that is not “bio- technologically” driven. It is not a philosophy that kow-tows to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Kampong-ism is not race-based, ethnicity-based, gender-based, greed-based, sexual-preference- based or ideology-based philosophy of human liberation and organisation. It has the potential of reorganising societies based on the themes Rousseau, Reason, and Revolution in Human Consciousness.

I invite Malaysian feminists to abandon their unarmed struggles and embrace “kampong-ism”

But first, the Malaysian feminist must study chaos and critical theory. And for some, to learn how to present opinions less emotionally.

The writer can be contacted at aar26@columbia.edu.


We know what feminism is, thank you03:33pm Thu Mar 30, 2006
Don’t deny women equal rights07:58pm Wed Mar 29, 2006
Malaysian feminists and still proud of it!04:45pm Mon Mar 27, 2006
Feminist movement akin to separatist movement04:39pm Thu Mar 23, 2006
Muslim feminists and reality levels03:18pm Wed Mar 22, 2006
Equality shouldn’t be just gender-based03:43pm Mon Mar 20, 2006
Malaysian feminist and proud of it04:41pm Thu Mar 16, 2006
Is this just treatment to Muslim women?06:25pm Fri Dec 30, 2005
Muslim women as ‘gatekeepers of morality’07:09am Fri Jul 26, 2002

2 comments:

tehsin mukhtar said...

what a wonderful essay. some sanity at last.

Anonymous said...

Salam Dr.

I concur.

Lecture: Edward Said

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Lecture: Noam Chomsky

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Lecture: Jacques Derrida

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Lecture: Jean Paul Sartre

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Movie: 1984

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Movie: Animal Farm

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Movie: Chicken Run

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Poems: Rumi

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Dialogue on Religion: Karen Armstrong

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Dailogue on Religion: Huston Smith

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Islam

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Humanism

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Jainism

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Sikkhism

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Hinduism

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Bahai

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Confucianism

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Taoism

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The Bhagavad Gita

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Jesus of Nazareth

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Siddharta Gautama

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Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh)

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