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Of crew cuts and miniskirts

Publication Date : 28-06-2012


We have seen plenty of female Television presenters wearing headdresses, but how about a skinhead anchor woman on the TV screen in Malaysia?

Ras Adiba of a local TV station in Selangor, the Natseven TV (NTV7), sports a bald head, or rather a very shallow crew cut. Reporting news on a wheelchair owing to physical paralysis has already set Adiba apart from her colleagues, and her cropped head now is bound to raise even more eyebrows.

But just before anyone has the chance to react to her latest stint, she is already put off the air by the TV station.

As an audience, I pretty like a flat-top female news presenter. That feeling is simply different and I would say she has got me hooked on her shows, just like how much I enjoy Irish singer Sinead O’Connor's shows that elicit an air of freedom, or the shaved head of Hollywood actress Natalie Portman in her movie "V for Vendetta" that signifies courage and resistance.

Adiba's crew cut is neuter, a stark departure from the stereotyped pretty woman image many female TV presenters are supposed to carry. She shaved her hair to raise funds for the National Cancer Council (Makna), and this alone is commendable.

Whatever hairstyle she dons, that is completely her personal preference and taste, just like many enjoys watching female presenters clad in tudung (a hijab or Muslim women's headscarf).

It is in NTV7's full discretion to put her off the air. The station could have its own points of consideration, as a skinhead could raise scepticism among its many Muslim viewers. Some Muslim clerics have declared that Muslim women are not allowed to shave their heads.

Religion aside, NTV7's action could have also stemmed from negative social acceptance. If a Chinese TV anchor woman goes bald on the TV, a similarly intense backlash will also be triggered within the Chinese community.

Our conservative society requires a woman to meet certain criteria while appearing in public, and very often such criteria are pegged to moral standards. A breach of such criteria is therefore construed as non-compliance of universally accepted moral values.

A female student of a secondary school in Melaka was recently suspended from school for a week for appearing in public in a miniskirt.

We are not talking about something taking place in a national school helmed by a religiously conservative principal.

The girl in question is from Methodist Girls' School, a mission school which is not excessively conservative by any yardstick and is headed by a Chinese headmistress.

As a matter of fact, differences are a norm in our society. Even within the same community there could be vastly different sets of moral values. Moreover, not everything should be gauged against the moral yardstick.

In a tolerant society that permits some differences, a flat-top female presenter, rather than a naked one, should be allowed to go on air. In a similar manner, a young girl wearing a miniskirt should be suitably endured so long as her attire is not too glaring or embarrassing to other people.

Please, don't go to the extreme! Arabian women are not allowed to go behind the wheels for fear this indecent act would trigger increased incidence of prostitution, homosexuality, profanity and divorces, in the belief that if they are allowed to drive, virgins will become a rare commodity in the kingdom within a decade.


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