I was told by Intern Girl – excitably, may I add – that kursus kahwin (lit. wedding course; usually for soon-to-be bride and groom) will be offered free-of-charge to the young professionals of the neighboring company (also our national oil company… go figure) by their – believe it – young professionals organization and SIGH. Of ALL the types of personal development to promote, in the end, a dominantly Malay society falls back on this agenda – how disappointing.
There’s nothing wrong with the premise of marriage per se; but can we please move past the belief that much of ourselves and our lives will only be deemed complete when we sign up to become a party of two? Not everyone is single by choice but even so (EVEN SO) set aside any person’s reasons for being a party of one – how long are we, as a society, going to push the idea that one’s achievements – even professionally – will only be validated when one has a spouse?
I remember being 21 and very, very angry. “At the end of the day,” I told Eldest Sis in frustration, “It mattered none how much and what it took me to get to grad school at Stanford. What mattered was ‘So when will you marry? What age will you be by then?”” Goddamnit. Enough already.
I get it. In a way there is nothing wrong with “preparing oneself” and after all, “It’s free!” But honestly that’s exactly it – of all the development opportunities to make available to young professionals!!(!!), they went with a fuckin’ marriage course.
I’m so angry.
While I’m glad I don’t work there, I’m not okay because this speaks volume about the common societal mindset in Malaysia.
Sometimes I think I need to stop coming off so strong about my stances on marriage; singlehood… romantic relationships, period. But on the other hand, I think: why the hell not? Because it’s not like I am deliberately coming off strong, wanting to be a feminist or whatever in a conservative, cultural and religious society; no. I’m not trying to be goddamn hipster.
I care, a lot, when my personal and now, professional achievements will be invalidated simply because I do not have a fucking man by my side. Because I am undesirable as a woman, I am thus a failure in life too. Excuse me – the fuck?
And you know what’s funny? It’s not like I am swearing off marriage or men or whatever. I actually enjoy rom-coms and I’m a sucker for melodramas – I mean, do you really wanna know how many times I watched that Indonesian movie literally titled What is It about Love? (Ada Apa Dengan Cinta; yes, this one)? – nor is it like I’m deliberately choosing the single life. I’m single because I haven’t found someone who likes me back and one I like enough to be brave about him.
But that’s not even my point – what I want to drive home is that I want to be seen and accepted as a whole person. Stretch that wider and yes, I would really, really like for women in my society to be accepted as whole individuals – not leftovers; not spinsters; not invalidated because they’re ‘too strong’ or ‘too much’ or too whatever-you’re-too-damn-chicken-to-take-on. It’s not about wanting to be loved by my terms – I’m not a fucking dominatrix out to take over the world or someone’s life.
What I want is to be respected and accepted as a whole person, both as an individual and as a woman.
Why is this ‘arrogant’ and ‘too strong’ when my society should be the one to fucking buck up by now?
I choose to continue to be vocal about this because if anyone is to fall in love with me then he better damn well know that he has to accept this particular side of me. And if by chance no soul is brave enough, I want to demand better from my society: stop shoving marriage into people’s faces and stop thinking and believing that when marriage does not happen to a person, like me, the handicap is mine. Even if it is mine, that crutch does not fuckin’ invalidate my worth as a person and woman.
Now sit down and listen well.