WE ARE WOMEN. WE ARE GIRLS. We have thoughts and opinions. We will not be silent. We will not be silenced. We are not weak. We are not fragile nor delicate. We are not objects. We are not properties. We are not yours. We are ours and ours alone. We have a voice. We need to be heard. We have the right to be taken seriously. We have the right to be treated equally. We are women. We are girls.
Coming from a society where traditionally, a girl is always expected to be quiet and obedient. To be seen and not heard. This type of girl is seen as ideal, however, very unrealistic. When a woman or a girl shows her emotions especially anger, she is told that she is being inappropriate and is expected to be silently happygo-lucky. This dehumanizes us girls and women because we are treated as if we have no feelings, we are treated as if we donâ€™t have our own minds. We are treated as objects. And this angers us. Angry Grrrls Club is to show that we are here, we are angry, we are frustrated, we have thoughts of our own, we are human and we deserve to be treated like human beings.
ANGRY GRRRLS CLUB is a zine that aims to be a space for EVERY woman and EVERY girl in Brunei to speak up, to vent about their frustrations, to voice out their opinions, to celebrate their girl/ womanhood, to encourage sisterhood amongst ourselves, to educate not only ourselves but also everyone. Too often we find our opinions and voices disregarded just because of our gender. Too often we are told to shut up and told we are “over-reacting”. Too often we are called “bitches”, “attention-seekers”, “sluts” and “whores”. Too often we are told to be a certain way to be considered “a proper woman”. It is time for us to put our foot down. It is time for us to speak up.
A feminist is someone who favours political, economic and social equality for women and men. A feminist believes people shouldn’t be judged based on their “supposed” strengths, abilities and weaknesses because of gender, but by their own unique qualities as individuals. Oppression and discrimination against women have been ongoing for centuries until the present, and it’s a shame that it’s still acceptable. Girls are taught not to be sexually harassed, abused, raped and murdered since young instead of teaching the perpetrators (male) that they shouldn’t be doing these things in the first place, even going as far as saying that these occurrences are ‘natural’ and ‘can’t be helped’. Boys and men are excused when they harass women, saying that it’s their natural instinct or that “boys will be boys”. We live in a society where it is expected for girls and women to be suggestive and satisfy male’s fantasies; we must cater to men before we do ourselves; we must please men but can’t please ourselves, otherwise we are condemned. We live in a society where girls are infantilised and nothing is said when grown men look at teenage girls as sexual objects, often blaming it on what they’re wearing, causing some to act upon their thoughts using their ‘animalistic behaviour’ as an excuse. We live in a society where feminine traits are viewed as weak, and women aren’t considered important enough because it’s
assumed that we aren’t as capable as achieving what men can achieve. Women are told that they are too emotional to be leaders, as if men are void of emotions and are made to be built like robots. Masculinity is seen as the goal, even between girls and women. The stronger females physically are, the better. The less emotional and in touch with our feelings we are, it means we aren’t psychotic and sensitive. And in some cases, girls aren’t allowed to go to school because of their gender because they’re expected to stay at home, again, using their gender as an excuse for their responsibilities as females. Does this happen in Brunei? It absolutely does. There are cases where girls aren’t encouraged to go to school or women aren’t allowed to pick a choice whether she wants to be a housewife or work. A unique case is that some men are also unwilling to let their women to be housewives, when that decision should be up to the women, not an absolute authority of the men. These are just some examples of the problematic situations faced by women, and all of them are destructive and degrading. We want to be seen as equal, and be treated equally with respect and dignity. We want our efforts, ideas and contributions to be taken seriously. We want to escape the expectations and live to be more than just our basic biological function (i.e. reproducing) and our ‘natural’ quality as care givers and housewives. The quality of every person should be based upon their ability and that we help those who are not welcomed in society. It is not based on whether we have a vagina or a penis. - Tasya Abdullah
One of my earliest memories, growing up, was the constant reminder of how different I was from other girls. “Why are you not thin like your friends?” “Why are you big?” “Why do you need bigger clothes?” Why why why. Looking back, the answer is easy: I’m fat. And fat is not a bad thing. Fat is a form. It’s different, but nevertheless still a form. But back then I was a young girl who knew nothing except life is everything when you’re thin. The constant demands to lose weight, to stop eating, to exercise, to diet were basically demands for me risk my life, hurt myself, and butcher my body just so I can fit into the mould others have made for me, three sizes too small.
I grew up trying to figure out why it was important for me to have to change myself for them and I realise the problems lies not within me, but within them. being different offends them so much, I’m being dehumanized and belittled because of it. But despite all the shit i’ve been through, i made it out alive. I crawled out, on the brink of my sanity. I crawled out enough for me to save myself from the continuous destruction of myself. People continue to police me, by saying my clothes are too tight they show my curves, by saying my food are too oily they’ll expand me. But I walk past and give them the biggest flying kiss because fuck you, I’m amazing the way I am. And boys continue giving me compliments as if they’re doing me a favour, as if I owe my self-worth to them. but I stare at them square in the eye with a hard gaze until they’re uncomfortable and until they squirm because fuck you, I don’t need your existence to validate mine. Now, I love being myself even if it offends you. iIlove being me even if you’ll faint from it. I will continue loving and nurturing myself even if it kills ya. - Viv Nye
“You’re a girl, but...”
“Bini-bini saja...” is a Malay term that is usually used in a way to indirectly criticize a girl when she is not being what she is expected to be. This term is used especially when a girl is a bit short on “housewife skills” or if she is seen to be “improper”. Girls and women have stumbled upon this phrase and at some point in their lives have this phrase used against them. This phrase might seem meaningless. But this phrase implies that the girl who can’t and won’t do “girl duties” is seen to be “not feminine”, therefore undesireable. It implies that there is only one way to be considered to be a “real woman”. It paints every woman and girl with the same paintbrush when everyone has different personalities, aspirations and dreams, everyone is different and diverse.
“You’re a girl but you don’t know how to cook or housework. You won’t get married!”
“Could you be a bit more decent? You’re a girl.”
“Who are you going out with? Don’t go out on your own... and don’t be out late!”
“Hey! Your clothing is improper... aren’t you ashamed? Respect yourself!!!!”
Too many to mention lah but below is a ‘gist’. Not quite statements and quotes but hope it helps somewhat. Believe it or not, still happens in our society: - Little girls are looked at with approval when they help mom with housework whilst boys are allowed to go play outside and be ‘boys’; - Malay saying ‘menjaga sekandang kerbau lebih senang dari menjaga seorang anak perempuan’ strongly hinting girls as burdensome. No equivalent Malay saying for males; - Another Malay saying ‘seperti kelapa ditebuk tupai’ which I find vile and offensive because it implies that the value of women is largely based only on her ability to maintain her virginity intact, a sexual object basically. Again, no such saying for men; - Don’t be too daring, remember, you’re a girl / woman! - For mothers, often-heard comments (generally comments by other women – shame on them) ‘Look at the poor husband, he’s so nice taking care of the baby, changing pampers and entertaining the baby while the wife sat and do nothing but idly chat with so-and-so, so pemalas also!’;
â€œTaking care a herd of cows is easier than taking care of a daughterâ€?
- For working women, it is expected that she be a superwoman – apart from working to earn money, she is expected to cook for family, clean house for family, take care of kids with homework, cleaning, dressing and putting to bed. Some husbands even expect the wives to pay for and be responsible for supervising the maid (because the work performed by the maid supposedly falls under the wives’ responsibilities), can you believe that? On the other hand, it’s easy for husbands to be seen as superdads - they play with the kids once in a while or take the garbage out, they’re already ‘IT’ and wives should be thankful!; - No wonder the husband strays, just look at the state of her! - Don’t divorce him just because he’s taken a new wife. If you were a good wife and fulfilled his needs, your husband wouldn’t have strayed! In any case, you’re sinning for wanting a divorce. Be patient and accept your fate. It is jodoh, and ordained! There are so many roles and expectations that girls and women feel they have to fulfil to be accepted by society in general, from when they were girls up to old age be pretty, be loving, be clever at school, be number 1, get a good job for yourself, get a good husband, get pregnant and bear kids, and still look desirable for your husband, if the husband says you quit work and stay at home, do that too! Above all, SACRIFICE FOR, AND BE PATIENT WITH, OTHERS, the world is not really about YOU or fulfilling YOUR NEEDS. You should be happy for those you serve, that’s your reward!” - Habibah Harry
“Don’t go out dressing like that...” Wirdy Hamidy
A special thank you to everyone who helped, contributed and supported this project. Thank you Teah Abdullah of Brunei Feminism who helped me kickstart the project. Thank you Tasya Abdullah, Viv Nye and Habibah Harry for letting me include your writings in this zine. Thank you Wirdy Hamidy for the beautiful illustration. Thank you to everyone who took interest in this project and helped me answer some questions I had. Thank you for all the love!