PETALING JAYA: The Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) has warned Malaysians that as long as we teach our sons “toxic masculinity”, our daughters will always be in physical danger.
This comes after a female security guard was bashed up after she barred a visitor from entering a condominium in George Town, Penang, on Thursday.
Speaking to FMT, WAO communications officer Tan Heang Lee said the case in Penang was only the tip of the iceberg.
“This incident demonstrates the broader issue of violence against women which they face in various settings, whether at work or outside,” she said.
Tan said such violence stemmed from a lack of respect towards women, adding that men needed to unlearn “toxic masculinity” which encouraged men to be violent.
“Toxic masculinity is the idea that men should be tough, aggressive, dominant, emotionless, and so on.
“For example, we teach our boys not to cry. As a result, men often express themselves through anger and violence instead.”
She said it was also “toxic masculinity” that taught men to devalue traits which were deemed feminine.
“It teaches men to devalue ‘feminine’ traits such as kindness, empathy, gentleness and, with that, to devalue women as a whole.”
Tan said “toxic masculinity” was not only toxic to women but to men who adopt it as well.
“It is narrow and constricting. It hinders men from expressing and managing their emotions healthily, and from being holistic individuals with the capacity to care for and nurture others.”
When asked where men learn to adopt “toxic masculinity”, Tan said there were a host of factors at play, including how the media portrayed men.
“Toxic masculinity is not only perpetuated by the way we raise boys but also through the media.”
In the incident, the guard and the assailants opted to settle the issue amicably. The guard, Helen Chew, 59, was given RM200 as compensation by her attackers.
Tenaganita director Aegile Fernandez, however, called on police to charge the three men who attacked the female security guard in Penang, despite the victim withdrawing her police report as well as to determine if the guard had withdrawn her report out of fear.