Thursday, June 07, 2007

Sexism in BM Dictionary: Terrible to be a Woman

THE second reprint of the fourth edition of the venerable door-stopper Kamus Dewan (2007) is out according to Amir Muhammad in the New Straits Times. So, what’s the fuss all about, you may ask.

According to the article:
But a gamelan performance, of all things, that I saw a few months ago did something interesting with the gender terms in the same dictionary. The women in this show simply read out the definitions of laki-laki (man) and perempuan (woman). A good actor is supposed to make the phone book seem like riveting material when reading it; but our dictionary doesn’t require much of an additional push.

The usage examples of laki-laki (on page 870) uniformly describe positive values: hatinya memang laki-laki (he has a manly heart). There’s also a bloke who sounds like a good catch: Alias memiliki sifat kelaki-lakian yang tulen, jujur, ikhlas, berhemah tinggi serta berupa kacak. (Alias has true masculine virtues, he’s honest and trustworthy, polite and dishy too).

Contrast this with the distaff side on page 1,182. You get penyakit perempuan (female disease, i.e. syphilis), perempuan gatal ("itchy", lascivious woman), perempuan jahat (bad woman), perempuan jalang (prostitute), perempuan joget (dance-hall girl), perempuan jungkat (another lascivious woman) and perempuan simpanan (mistress).

Wow, that's a mouthful of words. Everything to do with male is positive and for female it's negative. The other word for "laki-laki" is lelaki. If there is no discrimination, they should have added this for the males:
Lelaki miang (lascivious man), lelaki gatal ("itchy" man), lelaki curang (man who commits adultery), lelaki lembut ("softy" man),

Learnt some from this "Mengetahui Jenis Lelaki" (Know the types of Males) article in Cintagila Weblog :
Lelaki manja, Lelaki sensitif (sensitive man)

Tokeikedai Online wrote some as well:
Lelaki konservatif (conservative man), Lelaki hipokrit (hypocrite man), Lelaki anti-perempuan (anti-females man), lelaki feminin (feminine man).

Sometimes, who can females blame when their own breed makes sexist statements against themselves instead. A good instance would be some women leaders who called women maids from China as "little dragon ladies" and home-wreckers without understanding the situation.

Sometimes, Women Are Sexist Against Women.

Is it such a shame to be a woman these days? Where are the smart and independent women? They should come out and speak against all these.

In the process, please spare the man. Some of them are against such sexist attitudes. Amir Muhammad is a liberal man who brought the dictionary entries into notice.

How many more Carlo Fiorina, Angel Merkel, Indira Gandhi, Kim Dae-jung and Nina Wang are needed to convince the world to be rid of sexism?


Amir said...


The uncircumcised version of the articles can be read here.

sinergy.starfall said...

Sad but true. Malay culture is still very male oriented and as made painfully obvious by certain members of the government, it is still healthy. Kind of sad that we have sexist worms in high places and getting away without a scratch for making it public.

Keep this blog goin' :)