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Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Shell standee ‘molest’: ‘What’s becoming of our men?’

Activist says the fact that the standee was of a woman covered from head to toe made void the argument that 'women should cover up to avoid sexual harassment'.
Nik-Elin-Rashid-azrul-shell-1
PETALING JAYA: “What is becoming of Malaysian men?”
This is the response by activists outraged over the circulation of pictures showing several individuals engaged in distasteful and suggestive behaviour with Shell’s promotional standee of a woman.
Speaking to FMT, they threw their support behind 25-year-old Shell employee Nor Shafila Khairusalleh, the face of the standee, who recently expressed her disappointment over the actions of the men who had posed for photos while kissing and touching the private parts of the standee.
Lawyer-activist Nik Elin Rashid said the pictures showed the lack of respect some men in the country had for women.
“For them it’s funny, to me it shows their level of intelligence, or lack of it,” she said.
“The pictures depict a very sick society that has no respect for women. I mean, don’t they have mothers?”
She said the fact that it was done to a standee did not excuse the actions of the men. In fact, she said, it made them worse.
“Some may say, ‘It’s just a standee’, or ‘Just a lifeless photograph’. But the point is that it’s not even real yet these men made inappropriate sexual connotations.
“Do I now live in a society that takes sex or sexual overtones as normal? Are we so sexually deprived that even a poster can make guys get so pathetically horny? Don’t these guys have any sense of self-control?
“These pictures depict our men as getting weaker and weaker to the point of being powerless.”
She questioned how bad things would get before steps were taken to ensure certain men in the country started “bucking up”.
“Will pictures of babies start turning on some men someday?”
Bebas spokesman Azrul Khalib also asked what was being done to address how some men in the country were behaving.
“What are we doing about the men and boys who are being brought up in a harmful and patriarchal culture? What are we doing to change this behaviour?”
Azrul told FMT that he disagreed with Shell’s response to remove the standee as it had left the “real issue” unaddressed.
“The first thing that came to my mind when I heard about the report that random men were making suggestive, lewd and vulgar gestures with Shell’s cardboard cut-out of one of its Malay Muslim woman employees, was that we don’t deserve nice things.
“The second was how once again, misogynistic culture and sexist attitudes dictate our responses rather than dealing with the problem itself.
“The problem isn’t the cut-out, the woman or Shell. The problem is the clear belittling, objectification and contempt these men have shown towards her and to women in general.
“What does it say about us? Because their actions are reflective of how we are as a society. What does it say about us when even a cardboard cut-out is not safe and our solution is to remove it?”
Disgusting behaviour
Shell had, in a earlier statement, said the standee would be removed with immediate effect.
Elin agreed with Azrul that this was not the way to go.
“Shell should not take down the standees. It makes it look as though they are accepting or acknowledging the disgusting behaviour of these perverts.”
Azrul said the whole event highlighted a culture of intimidation and disrespect towards women, “especially those who work”.
He said the fact that the standee was of a woman covered from head to toe made void the argument that “women should cover up to avoid sexual harassment”.
“It underlines the hollowness in arguments which insist that women cover up, supposedly to prevent sexual harassment, illicit sex, assault and even rape. This is not only ineffective, it’s also offensive and bogus.
“Telling women that they should behave in a certain way to avoid sexual harassment and assault creates a false sense of security which makes them somehow responsible if the unthinkable does happen to them.”
Elin, on the other hand, said whether or not the woman was covered was irrelevant.
“This is a life-sized poster of a woman. It doesn’t matter what sort of clothes she was wearing, and her attire is the least of my concerns, to be honest. She could have been wearing a bikini and it still would not have mattered to me.
“To be ‘fondled’ inappropriately by shameless men makes me wonder how sick and perverted our society is becoming, or rather, unbecoming.”
Meanwhile, DAP’s Syerleena Rashid cited Federal Territories Minister Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor who, in May, had suggested that women make it a point to dress shabbily in public to avoid sexual harassment.
“Contrary to what some people might think, this recent incident proves that harassment has nothing to do with how women dress, but it is a matter of respect and understanding what is acceptable and what is not in any society,” she told FMT.
“It’s high time we get serious about teaching our boys and men how to respect women.
“Teaching men to respect women in every sense is paramount for us to move forward as a nation, especially one that embraces respectable values.”
Syerleena said although the standee had been removed, the effects of her image being violated would be something Shafila, her husband and their families would have to deal with for a “considerable amount of time.”
Shafila has said she was caught off guard and embarrassed by the actions of the men, even if they had only been done to her image.
Netizens were similarly angered over the acts, calling them a form of harassment.
Many had felt that the actions of the individuals were undignified and brought shame to the model, her family and her relatives.
One of the men who identified himself as Shahril Azmi Abdul Shukor or Abang Shahril apologised on Tuesday, admitting in a video uploaded on Facebook that he had “crossed the line”.
He also apologised to Shafila’s husband and family as well as Shell.
“If there is a need to meet up with Nor Shafila and talk to her, I will do so,” he said. -FMT

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