Of Language and Sex

I’ve been conducting some Top Secret Research in KL for the past two days. This week’s schedule ends tomorrow, but the whole of next week is all about shaking hands and disinfecting them with unadulterated brainpower alone, while doing my best to listen attentively.

Since Central Market was en route home, I decided to drop in on some KataGender arts installation thingy and a forum on ‘Youth Movement Since Merdeka’ (part of the 50:44 event). For the arts exhibit, a bunch of old t-shirts were hung up on several clothes lines, each with a one-line story of gender-related injustice painted on it along with the year on the other side. Honestly, it didn’t leave much of an impact on me. I think that if an elaboration of those stories and suggestions on how the viewer-participant could respond (write to MCA, join a club, demonstrate/fornicate outside Parliament, etc) were included somewhere, it would have helped the message. Also, some torn clothes/clothes dumped on the floor might have added a nice touch to symbolise the struggle (and consequences) in issues dealing with gender identity.

Up a flight of stairs, and I found an inconspicuous spot at the Youth forum. Sat down and listened to the first panelist, Hishamuddin Rais, a former student activist who is infamous for his outspoken mind (which has gotten him into a Top Secret Cell). Well, two things he said made sense. Although he said it with activism in mind, these pointers can be applied to whatever message it is you wanna get out.

  1. Stop preaching to the converted—get your message out to the unconverted, who need to hear it more, and collectively, are able to make a greater difference. (In tonight’s context, the ‘lost’ youths of Malaysia.)
  2. Say it in the language of the masses, i.e. use Bahasa Malaysia. It is not about using BM simply because it is the national language or anything to do with iffy patriotic connotations; rather, we should come to view BM as a strategic language that is essential in communicating whatever our gospel to the masses, bridging the racial divide and changing mindsets.

Thinking about it, I am of the opinion that if we did speak mainly one common language, racial tensions might be less (though a blot in history that proves otherwise is the racial riots in Indonesia between the locals and the Indo-Chinese, and all those incidences of ethnic cleansing).

Anyway, that was pretty good stuff to mull over as I left early enough not to be abducted by KL’s ‘scruds’ (dodgy people, usually men, who like dark corners and bright ideas that pop up when they covertly observe other people, usually women, anxiously clutching their bags, eyes darting, and walking alone).

Tomorrow there’s a mass prayer and a forum on the long overdue need for an inter-faith commission (their words, not mine). If you’re interested, go to The Annexe @ Central Market, 8pm onwards.

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