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Being a Girl in Malaya: Born and Raised to Please a Man and His Mother (Part 2)

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It appears to me that my entire existence is to please this husband of mine, this unknown man I have yet to know and come to love. I have not even met him, and already, I resent him. 


In a Malay society, it is unfairly assumed that a man will do his best to provide as much as he possibly can for his family—therefore, it is of high importance that the wife he chooses is considered worthy to “wipe his stupid ass.” Prior to marriage, the man’s mother expects the woman he chooses to “treat him right”—cook like a chef, chauffeurs the children to school and back, keeps the home in tip-top condition. But a Malay family never doubts in the potential husbands’ ability to treat the girl in the way that she deserves to—it is unfairly assumed again that with the money he earns, she will have everything that she needs to live a happy, fulfilling life. 


I understand my mother’s reasons for guiding me to be a good wife; no matter who I do marry someday, Malay or not Malay, cooking and cleaning is still part of the job description. Yet, if I choose to marry someone within my race and culture, I worry that the very well-accepted nature of valuing a man more than a woman is something I simply cannot tolerate. 


Imagine meeting a mother-in-law to be and having her look at you bottom-up, not even masking the fact that she is judging the way you dress (Does she don a headscarf? Does she dress modestly?), the efficiency in the way you work the knives and polish the pots and pans, and most important of all, the way you suck up to her. (Oh, how beautiful your home! Oh, this chicken rendang is wonderful, will you tell me the recipe?! Oh, you did such an amazing job raising your son!) 


Blah. Blah. Blah.


It would be fair to me if the man receives equal “Judgement Treatment” by my family, but often, the man a girl chooses to marry is not so much scrutinized in a Malay family. Men are accepted very warmly and openly in our culture. 


I believe that our society pays too much value into “Money.” The person who makes the money, brings in the money, is highly respected. Often, it is the husband. The wife on the other hand, is viewed as just someone lucky enough to get on the ride and enjoy the privileges of being married to a working, earning man. 


It would be so much easier if I am to accept everything as it is, and get on with the show. But as I’ve learned my whole life, I am one very bad actress. 


(Part 1) | Part 2

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