By A. Hamid Saifuddin
This year has been my ninth year as an academician, and it is indeed a toss of exciting and trying times ahead.
Throughout the time, I have dedicated my life; professionally and privately; to ensure that all our students are of equal standing in every aspect of the curriculum we employ to them and we set equal standards upon grading and how we treat them in and outside of the classroom (or outside Microsoft Teams, for that matter).
I have raised girls in my classroom to be independent, bold and inquisitive and they swanned into graduates who understood grit, elbow grease and perseverance. Never leaving them behind; male students were subjected to their behaviour and treatment of their fellow men and the opposite gender, this exercise usually taking place during class discussions and how they respond to their female counterparts without having to subject them to a lesser human being (no mansplaining in class!).
Nurturing impressionable young minds
Nurturing impressionable young minds is not a walk in the park. As a single man, I now know the gargantuan effort parents and guardians had to endure in raising a child, what more at the age when they are rebellious and angsty, under this pandemic no less; a recipe for panic attacks and guilt all ridden at a go.
Young adults talk back to you but want money off your back and refuse to empty the trash whilst emptying your fridge - that is the conclusion of raising a teenager/young adult from my observation, dealing with kids that are not my own - from 8 am to 5 pm on a weekly basis.
Girls have long been conditioned to be the obedient “creature”, moulded into the society as passive and agreeable. As the laces of their corsets loosened with time and advanced mind, those days are long gone, and more and more girls are pushing the boundaries to posit themselves into a healthier income bracket and securing themselves the company who will put them in a positive mindset and well-being.
So, it comes as no surprise that I had a fit when I saw the dreaded video of the dumbing down just to secure a relationship worthy of love and security. Hoping it was just a video edited out of context, the overall video itself was out of touch and sensitive to a generation of girls who are now empowered and want the best out of this borrowed time of living.
Two questions arose out of this context: can anyone be a motivational speaker? Who made this rule and how does it affect people who listened to it, if it is known to have adverse effects? Number two, for someone who is successful in his/her career, why would you not want your own gender to be as equally as successful as you, career-wise? This might be taboo to air it out, but don’t you think that it is usually a woman-on-woman crime is the reason why women cannot prosper and thrive?
Truly it was devastating to see someone of such calibre and stature to collapse every effort myself and every other academician had made to ensure that all our female students to be ambitious and the world truly is their oyster. It took years to build them up and away from their earlier toxic environment, only to be squashed down by mere sentences callously worded by a speaker who is supposed to motivate but instead deviated.
Here’s a toast to girls who want the best for themselves and going at it full speed ahead and to boys who learn to respect and embrace equality for greater good.
A. Hamid Saifuddin is an educator/researcher in the Public Relations Department of the Faculty of Communication & Media Studies at Universiti Teknology Mara, Shah Alam.