News Focus: What makes a man?

New Straits Times – Malaysia News – Chok Suat Ling

As the debate on effeminate men heats up in Parliament and the media, Malaysians should try to understand them, writes CHOK SUAT LING.

IN the Dewan Rakyat last Thursday, Jasin Member of Parliament Datuk Mohd Said Yusof mimicked the way effeminate men wave their hands.

He was urging the Culture, Arts and Heritage Ministry to ensure that male dancers hired were not “softies”. This would not augur well for Malaysia?s image, he argued.

Effeminate men have been in the news recently, with some writing to a local newspaper to say that house-husbands are effeminate and bad role models for their sons. One went further to say that their sons will likely end up becoming homosexuals. Radio stations joined in the debate.

Malaysians generally think men get away with everything and are not under pressure to fit into a certain mould. They are wrong.

In fact, men are often expected to dress a certain way, work in specific jobs and behave like “real men”.

Those who deviate from the norm are classified by some ? to the consternation of the affected parties ? as men with gender identity disorders (GID). Others label them as pondan and bapuk (transvestites), or lelaki lembut and adik-adik (effeminate men).