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Sunday, 12 June 2011

Niceties of Obedient Wives Club (OWC), Obedient Servants of colonial masters, cont...

FB users urged to support anti-OWC drive


PETALING JAYA: “Please save my mummy.”

Facebook users can choose this slogan among five variants to voice their concern over a drive by the so-called Obedient Wives Club (OWC) to get women to be subservient to their husbands.

The man behind the anti-OWC campaign, Matthew Ong, said those who wanted to show their support needed to change their profile pictures to the wallpaper of the Facebook campaign, which featured five slogans, including “Please save my mummy”.

The other variants are “Please save my wife/daughter/girlfriend/yourself”.

Ong's attempt to debunk the OWC drive followed recent statements by leaders of the controversial club that social ills, such as prostitution, domestic abuse and human trafficking, were allegedly caused by wives who were not obedient to their husbands and had failed to sexually satisfy them.

The club gathered international headlines last week for its message that wives needed to obey and serve their husbands in every way, including being “better than a first-class prostitute” in bed.

Ong urged more Facebook users to join the group “We Do Not Want Sexist Nonsense From Global Ikhwan Sdn Bhd”, which currently has 3,824 members.

A happy man, a happy home

The Obedient Wives Club hopes that Malaysians can give them a chance to prove their noble aspirations.

THE first thing you see when you walk into the office of the now infamous Obedient Wives Club (OBW) in Rawang, Selangor, is a huge double bed covered with a velvety red bedspread.

In that situation, how does one keep “bordello”, “prostitutes” and “service” from popping to mind?
Noticing our discomfort, the club's national director Fauziah Ariffin gives a small laugh.

“The reporters who came this morning straight away asked us if this is for the sex lessons in our workshop!” shares the slight woman jovially before adding, on a more serious note, “That is how everything has been twisted out of proportion.”

She quickly tries to set things right.

“Sex workshops are not on the agenda for the club; it is haram!”

What they will have, she states, are motivational talks, counselling sessions and discussions among their 1,000 members.

“Of course, we welcome anyone to join,” she enthuses.

The newly-launched wives club catapulted to notoriety around the world recently when its vice-president Dr Rohaya Mohamed said the secret to a happy family and subsequently the solution to all of society's ills is a happy man at home, which can be achieved if women served their husbands like “first-class prostitutes”.

The outrage the remark has incurred is not surprising. Was the remark based on facts? Definitely, avows Fauziah.

“You just need to open the newspaper or watch the news on TV: there are so many sex-related social problems rape, incest, prostitution and sex trafficking.”

Men will not be committing these crimes if they are sexually satisfied at home, she stresses.

“The key to make a man gentle and loving is a first-class loving wife an obedient wife. When the wife is obedient, the husband will be happy and gentle. They will not look elsewhere for the loving they need.”
And like simple economics, cutting off the “demand” for the illegal “sex” will cut the supply.

“The authorities have come up with a lot of solutions and conducted various raids or operations to nip these social problems, but they still exist. The solution we are proposing is one that is guaranteed to work, as it is backed by the Quran,” she explains.

Committee member Siti Maznah Mohamed Taufik tries another argument to demonstrate how a sexually frustrated man can cause violence in society.

“Just yesterday, there was a story about a man who hit his wife with a lesung (pounding stone) because she refused to have lunch with him. Do you believe that? It does not make sense. Just because of lunch, a man would hit his wife until she is hospitalised? I'm sure it is because she did not give him any the night before. That's why he was furious with her.”

For “obedient” wives, Fauziah and Maznah are outspoken and frank about their belief. People have a misconception that they are meek women who are anti-career and anti-education, they say.

“We were all working professionals; I was an accountant and she was an engineer. We were both educated in Australia,” says Fauziah, pointing to Maznah.

“So we have been exposed and we know how difficult it is to balance work and marriage.”
Now, she says, they are businesswomen for Global Ikhwan Sdn Bhd, the corporation that runs the OWC, and travel around the world five to seven times a year.

How do they find time to practise what they preach then? “We become obedient wives when we meet our husband. You can say that absence makes the heart grow fonder,” Maznah quips.

She adds that they are constantly learning and reminding themselves about how to become obedient. Many working women, however, are content to neglect their wifely duties, she says.

“With housework, we can get help from maids, our children or family. But with sex, who can help? And if we go back to the time of Adam and Eve, that is the real responsibility of women (to fulfil the sexual needs of men) but many women are neglecting that responsibility, so men have to pay thousands of ringgit just to satisfy their sexual needs.”

And that is where the whole idea of the first-class prostitute service originated, explains Fauziah.

“That is what the statement means you need to be as skilful as a first-class prostitute and give more. It is not about the person, it is the service your appearance, the way you speak to your husband, the way you understand your husband. And it is not just in bed but in everything a wife has to be the best she can. ”
She laments the way her vice-president's words have been misconstrued.

“We are not equating a wife to a prostitute. A wife provides love and affection which a prostitute doesn't,” says Fauziah.

“We wanted to say that a good wife needs to be like a bidadari (an angel), but how many of us have met an angel? It will be difficult for people to relate to it.

“But mention prostitutes, and everyone will be able to visualise and understand the concept.”

Another question emerges: how do they know what first-class service from “elite” prostitutes is like?
“I know because I read about it in magazines and books. For example, I've read many thrillers of how KGB female spies are trained to use their sexuality to seduce men. We just want the service, not to be like the person. Those who read a lot will know what we mean,” shares Fauziah.

They may not look like your typical sex pots but the two women do come across as warm and affectionate.

Malaysians, especially Malaysian Muslims, are hypocritical when it comes to sex, laments Fauziah.

“They act all prudish and don't want to talk about sex. When they get older, the women start distancing themselves from their husband while many sleep in separate bedrooms when scientifically it has been proven that men have sexual needs until they die. That is why we have many cases of grandfathers raping their grandchildren.”

She, however, refutes the notion that the club is unfairly putting the blame on women.
“Men are responsible too. We have never denied that. But the root of the problem is that women are not fulfilling their responsibility to the men.

“If we go back to the Quran, you can see that God says women play a big role in shaping society but to do that they need to be good wives in the whole sense. Men and women are not created equal but women today do not understand that. Instead, they keep demanding that men understand them and fulfil all their wishes.”

The way she explains it, it is indeed a case of “men are from Mars and women are from Venus”.

“Men have only one desire, which is for women, while women have nine desires for a new handbag, new shoes and many more. That is how God created us, and there is a gap of understanding between the sexes.

“That is why women are required to be obedient, so that they can bridge the gap between them and their husband,” says Fauziah.

“Women today, however, feel that it is the men who should understand them and fulfil all their needs,” Maznah interjects.

They believe that is the main reason why society is in a mess (huru hara): because women are demanding for equality in work and marriage.

Fauziah is not worried about young girls getting the wrong message about sex.

“We have children too. If the girls are good and have enough religious education, they will not misunderstand our message and stray from the right path. The basis of our belief is to love and be fearful of God. No religion in the world asks their believers to disobey their husbands,” she says.

As for the effect all the sex talk is having on their image as Muslim women, both Maznah and Fauziah are not too concerned either.

As Maznah puts it, “In Islam, we believe that God created women for men. Sex is natural. If you look at the Quran, there are a lot of references to sex.

“God even promised sexual pleasure from beautiful bidadari in heaven for those who are good. So are you saying that God is sex-crazed or obscene?”

Is sex the only happy factor in marriage?


AFTER more than a decade of marriage, 40-something Susan* and her husband are still hot in between the sheets. However, all the action in bed is cooling off her feelings for her husband.

“I am tired all the time but he is just insatiable,” she confides.

Outside the bedroom, the two management-level professionals hardly communicate, unless there are problems with their children, or huge bills to settle.

Worse, she says, both are addicted to their smartphones. “When we are together, our attention is on our phone reading updates and e-mail or just trying out new Apps.”

Although divorce is not on their minds, Susan admits that the romance is missing from their relationship.

Paul Jambunathan, a consultant clinical psychologist at Sunway Medical Centre, says lack of communication between husband and wife is the main cause of extra-marital affairs and divorces.

“The problem starts when the husband and wife start living on different planets and stop sharing their emotions or stop talking about something other than their children, bills and other domestic problems,” says Jambunathan, who is also a senior lecturer at Monash University Malaysia.

In a relationship, there are many variables because it involves two personalities or personas, he says.

“The two personas interact verbally and non-verbally. One of the most important issues in interaction is intimacy. Unfortunately, we have been relating intimacy to sex and equating sex only to sexual intercourse.

What I am trying to say is that while sex is integral to a happy marriage, we need to define what sex is. Is it only intercourse?”

As he explains, sex is the sexuality expressed between two people and there is a wide spectrum of sexual behaviour.

“If you have feelings for someone, even touching and holding hands will already make you sexually excited. When you later get married and build on that love you have intercourse, sleep together, talk and spend more time together a different kind of sexual intimacy is built.”

Hence, Jambunathan, who has more than 25 years' experience as a consultant, is vexed by the comments made by the Obedient Wives Club (OWC), which suggested that to keep a man from straying from his marriage, the wife needs to please him in bed like a “first-class prostitute”.

“When couples in trouble seek my advice, they tell me that intercourse and sleeping in the same room do not necessarily help (mend their relationship). Sometimes it even creates complications.”

He stresses that it should not be about intercourse but making love.

“Love is not intercourse as people often equate it to; intercourse is a personal, committed and intricate intimacy but it does not last very long. Usually one hour after the act, the feeling is gone.”

Health research consultant Siti Norazah Zulkifli agrees, saying that sex will not sustain a marriage if there are other major problems.

“Sex, no matter how good, is not the only thing that keeps a marriage happy. Couples choose to marry for various reasons love, attraction (physical and mental), companionship, economics, social expectations, offspring ... Sex is only one reason.

“In tribal cultures, for example, land ownership or the number of cows he or she owns may be a factor. Actually, economics may well be a consideration in modern marriages too, and how important one factor is over another depends on the individual.”

Once married, and especially over time, she says, other factors will contribute towards maintaining happiness in marriage.

This includes whether they meet each other's expectations, how they cope with stressful events and their level of commitment to their marriage, compromises each has to make for the other, whether they “grow apart” as individuals and their marital values.

“Not everyone subscribes to monogamy, for example,” she says. Siti Norazah nonetheless concedes that in the literature on what makes happy marriages, sex does predominate as a topic of discussion.

“It may seem that most marriages break up because of some sexual issue (notably, sexually unsatisfied husbands). We should be aware, however, that sometimes what is expressed as a sexual problem has its roots in something else, such as failed expectations. For example, if a person feels resentment towards his or her spouse, it will affect his or her sexual desire to that spouse.”

Some people, perhaps men more so, associate sex with love, she points out.

“Some men feel that his wife doesn't love him if she rejects his sexual advances. Equally, a wife would feel the same way if her husband doesn't want to make love to her. In sum, an individual's sexual development is complex, beginning from a young age, and becomes intrinsic to his or her personality.”

Siti Norazah makes an interesting point, highlighting that most of the studies on marriage and sexual attitudes are based on Western ideals.

“We should recognise that people have different sexual attitudes and sex drives. How they were brought up, sexual norms in their society and culture, exposure to external social influences (for example living abroad or the media), their personality, their sex hormone levels (testosterone, notably) and other factors influence how important sex is to them and how they express their sexual needs.”

Still, she feels that in conservative and chauvinistic cultures, men may not want their wife to be sexually aggressive or “act like a prostitute”.

She opines that the OWC prostitute statement will create a gender bias one that will compound the attitude that there are two types of women the ones they will marry and the ones with whom they will have fun (have sex with) but never marry.

“Conversely, girls may be brought up to repress their sexual desire so the message that their husband's happiness depends on her sexual performance puts the blame on her should there be any marital problem.

“For a married couple, it is not sex per se but sexual incompatibility that could breed resentment or dissatisfaction and cause marital problems such as adultery and divorce.”

According to consultant psychologist Valerie Jaques, a study she conducted a number of years ago showed that one of the most significant factors for high marital satisfaction is when there is a greater awareness and accurate perception of the needs of a marriage partner.

“So when the husband is aware of the wife and perceives her needs accurately by effective communication and vice-versa then there is high marital satisfaction.”

She highlights that it is not just intercourse that reflects how good a marriage is, but rather the intimate and mutual sex in the relationship.

“Very often, if one party is upset or hurt with the other and there is a strain in the relationship, there is lack of sexual intimacy in the marriage. This is different from just having sex to fulfil a need,” she shares.

More importantly, stresses Jaques, although sex is one of the many important elements that make up a marriage, it definitely does not mean that marriage is a legal means for a man to rape his wife. Neither should the wife allow the husband to take advantage of her for his needs.

“Many women are made to believe that they do not have rights in their marriage and that only the husband's rights are to be met,” she says.

Jambunathan agrees that a man does not have the right to demand for sex without consideration of the woman's needs and wants.

“He cannot say I want it now, so give it to me. The woman is an equal partner in the relationship and she has a right to decide the level of intimacy and the platform of the relationship.”

He also disputes the belief that men's biological make-up makes them sexual at all ages and that they have high sexual needs until they die.

“As you get older, your body gets older and your biology will not allow you to have intercourse,” he says, highlighting that half of heart patients are men, and that “many cannot get it up because of their medication”.

However, attitude may come into play and corrupt emotions where the emotions are twisted “will make you think you must have intercourse at any age 60, 70, 80 regardless of your partner's wants”, he says.

* Not real name

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Signing off for the niceties of colonial masters, obedient servants, wives ...