[UPDATED] The Aiyoh… Wat Lah?! Awards are back! VOTE NOW as voting ends on Thursday,
15th 22nd May 2014.
Did you hear about the one where women, like properties, need a bit of make up to have a higher value? Or the one about women not being ready to be politicians because of “other commitments”? Or the oldie but goodie, if you cover up, you’ll be safe from sexual assault and harassment?
And you’ve of course heard of THE infamous Ask Lord Bobo fellatio article!
This annual spoof awards returns to highlight sexism, misogyny, homophobia & transphobia in the Malaysian public sphere. It aims to hold public figures and institutions accountable in what they say or do, and encourage high standards of public discourse.
Winners will be crowned at a public ceremony on 1 June 2014.
The press statement by the organisers with more details follows. Go Vote Now!
Aiyoh… Wat Lah?! Nominees
The Joint Action Group for Gender Equality announces nominees for annual sexist, misogynistic, homophobic, and transphobic awards
PETALING JAYA – The Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) released the list of nominees for the Aiyoh… Wat Lah?! Awards 2014 today, and opened the voting of nominees to the public.
With two successful awards ceremonies under its belt, the Aiyoh…Wat Lah?! Awards is back with its third event. The annual awards is organised by JAG, to raise awareness on what constitutes sexism, misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia. It focusses on public statements, actions and policies to create higher standards of discourse from public figures and institutions on issues of gender and sexuality.
“What we’d like to do is get the rakyat involved in a constructive way to hold public figures and institutions accountable in what they say or do. If you’ve ever been frustrated with sexist comments or unjust policies, get involved and vote!” encouraged Ameirunaisyah Ismail, All Women’s Action Society (AWAM).
The public can vote for their favourite nominees between 18 April to 15 May 2014.
Selected from media reports in 2013, the seven categories include: “Foot in Mouth”, “Insulting Intelligence”, “Policy Fail”, “Cannot Ignore”, “Least Helpful to the Sisterhood”, “Enough Already!”, and “Right on Track”.
This year’s awards include a few election themed nominees as a reflection of the 13thGeneral Elections in Malaysia last year. In the “Cannot Ignore” category, is a statement by Pahang PAS that women were not fielded in the 40% of “new faces” as women were not ready “due to work and other commitments”. Another election themed nominee is election pamphlets distributed in Kulai, which insinuated that mothers would be less effective Members of Parliament.
“Such arguments are based on a stereotype that women’s primary responsibilities are at home. In this day and age such arguments are simply archaic.” noted Yu Ren Chung, Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO).
Federal Territories Minister Tengku Adnan received a lot of media attention when he said “I did not mean that women are property. What I meant was, if we build a house and want it to appear nice, it needs to have makeup, like (how) women (put on make-up).” His apology was no better in portraying women as commodities that are valued on the basis of their looks.
Attacks on women’s clothing continue to be the norm. This year, nominees included women and men, as well as an institution. Ikmal Hisham Abdul Aziz, an UMNO Member of Parliament, reportedly raised the point that “Air Asia uniforms are sexy and they do not reflect the nation’s identity.” PAS Member of Parliament Siti Zailah Mohd Yusoff singled out indecent dressing as the reason for sexual harassment and assault, and called for women to cover their bodies so as not to suffer this fate. Kota Baru Municipal Council issued warnings to hair salons to remove posters deemed “too sexy”, including posters featuring models who did not cover their heads.
“Attacks on dressing almost always are directed at women. Worse still, some continue to pin societal problems on women’s dressing. Surely it’s time to move beyond this?” said Lee Wei San, All Women’s Action Society (AWAM).
The use of religion in perpetuating discrimination and violence against women and girls were also included in the nominees. Amongst others, the Kelantan government was nominated for its search for ideal polygamous husbands as proof that a husband could ensure harmony in a polygamous marriage.
“Instead of glorifying men who are in polygamous marriages, laws should be tightened and better enforced to increase chances of ‘fairness’. Research conducted by Sisters in Islam demonstrate that it is extremely unlikely that a polygamous marriage can be fair, especially for the first wife and her children.” noted Ratna Osman, Sisters in Islam.
The shortlist of nominees for 2013 also saw the continuation of discriminatory attitudes towards the LGBT community. Homophobic and transphobic themed nominees include the government sponsored “Asmara Songsang”, a propaganda musical, as well as statements made by various public figures which characterise the LGBT community as a dangerous social ill. There were also character assassinations of political candidates during the GE13 by associating them with the LGBT community.
The winners of the Aiyoh…Wat Lah?! Awards will be crowned at a public ceremony on 1 June 2014. Ribena Berry, a character played by actor and writer Jo Kukathas, returns to host the Awards.
“It’s my third year with the awards, and I’m really glad to be able to continue to support this initiative. It has been great fun for me though perhaps not so much for some of the nominees. Laughs aside, I think this awards does a great deal in paving the way towards a more equal society. If you’ve said or did something sexist last year, watch this space – you could just be one of our winners this year!” said Kukathas.
Members of the public are encouraged to visit aiyohwatlah.tumblr.com/vote to see the full list of nominees and to vote for the most ridiculous, cringe-worthy, and nasty displays of sexism, misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia. Voting ends 15th May 2014.