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Jaymee Goh on women facing a panoply of intersecting problems

In honour of International Women's Day on March 8, we asked Jaymee Goh what she thinks the greatest problem we all face is

By ELLE Malaysia | Published: 8 Mar 2016

ELLE Agenda: Part 5
Photo: Jaymee Goh

Jaymee Goh, Feminist Writer

The biggest problem facing Malaysian women today is a panoply of intersecting problems: attitudes towards our value (in the home, in the office, in public, to the state), our use (as sisters, mothers, workers, employers), our bodies (regulating who we have sex with, how often we bleed, how we fall sick, how we look), and our worth (determining how much protection under the law we receive, how seriously we are taken). And then there are the myriad ways that individuals are degraded (visibly and invisibly) by social expectations and societal systems, creating an unjust hierarchy normalised through education systems that prioritise obedience and profit over critical thinking and compassion. There's the dismissal of our problems by the very people we love and respect.

We assume that injustice on a large scale is acceptable, to be survived and adapted to, rather than challenged and changed, and anybody who says otherwise is mocked as childish and idealistic. We are too accustomed to everyday abuses, too afraid to speak up in case there are consequences. Even this statement has to be written in the abstract, because there are too many material policies and politics to list in a brief article of all the issues that affect Malaysian women, as subjects of our nation, as human beings in a global, rapidly neoliberalising world. All together, they create a weight that we respond to with either egotism, helplessness or complacency, when really we should be working to raise the lowest of our sisters, for a more equitable world.

This article was first published in the March 2016 issue of ELLE Malaysia.

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Related: Marina Mahathir on women not being taken seriously


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