Even her feet are covered!
Take your pick, liberal to strict
Sporty Spice, Chinese style
Family first for these women
When I stepped off the train in Penang,
I was shocked, though not by what you’d think. Since I always thought of
Arabs as Muslim, it was odd for me to see Asians dressed in the full shawl
reserved for Muslim women, but not as odd as the scantly clad Chinese
wandering by me.
Here in Malaysia, there is an amazing mix of Muslim
Malays, Buddhist Chinese, and Hindu (or Muslim) Indians, which is most
evident in the way the young ladies dress. First, the Malays, depending if
they are Muslim, which most are, and how strict they follow religious
codes, which most closely adhere to, dress in various degrees of the
I’ve seen the complete cover-up, where even the eyes are covered by a
shielding weave, hiding the lady underneath from the prying eyes of men,
yet allowing her (limited) vision. This is rare though, with the usual
Muslim Malay dress being very conservative, all covered except the feet
and hands, though in Western shirts and jeans, with a headscarf to hide
the temptation-inducing hair. The non-Muslim Malay women dress like all SE
Asian women, conservative yet still slightly sexy.
The Indian women,
following the customs of the homeland they left recently or several
generations ago, are usually clad in a loose shirt and pants. It’s the
rare Indian I’ve seen in either full cover-up or bare shouldered.
In China, the Chinese women dressed in pants and shirts too, with the
rare woman in a dress. Actually, thinking about it more, I can only
remember one woman wearing a dress the whole time I was there. Of course,
a dress and a bicycle don’t mix too well.
The Chinese decent
Malaysians don’t have this worry and that might be one
of the many reasons they do wear skirts. Short skirts too! Maybe they are
trying to offset the conservative Malays and Indians, or maybe that’s how
any quasi-liberal society’s girls dress today. Either way, they do make an
odd mix with the Muslim Malays.
Personally, I’m shocked by how much the Chinese girls show. Reminding
me of Russian women, the Chinese decent
Malaysians do not hesitate to show off their long, sexy legs, in either short
skirts or shorts, turning heads as they walk by, sometimes even mine.
Unfortunately, although both the non-Muslim Malays and Chinese Malaysians
prefer tight tops, bras, usually padded, do show a slight, um, cleavage
advantage to the Malays.
With all that showing, ya’d think that the Chinese girls might be
Russian in their attitudes too. This is definitely not the case, with the
much-vaulted yet very suffocating ‘Asian Values,’ on the scene.
Promoting a family first attitude, your average Chinese, or any SE
Asian for that matter, usually lives at home until they marry, sometime
soon after university studies. Then they stick around Ma & Pa for
life, returning home for every holiday and definitely spending the
all-important Lunar (or Chinese) New Year with family.
In this value set, there are no kids living alone, unless at a
university dorm that closes at 22:00. There is no pre-marital hanky panky
either, with kids who really want to have fun renting hotels by the hour,
which oddly enough, doesn’t have such the bad reputation as it does in
Also, since a traditional family is the apex of life, single parents,
gay couples, and divorces are all ‘foreigner problems’ somehow
imported and polluting to pure SE Asia. Okay, polluting everywhere but
liberal Thailand which feels that what one does in the privacy of one’s
own home is their business.
I’ve tried to figure out this ‘Asian Value’ thing for the
last five months, but I am still confused. As I attempted to point out to
a Chinese Malaysian and his girlfriend on the train from Penang
to KL, renting your own apartment and cohabiting with either your
girlfriend or another single guy, would be so much more fun and cheaper
than living in the hotel employee dorms they were residing in while
interning at a hotel in Penang.
He would have nothing of it, constantly repeating that it wasn’t done
like that in Malaysia, and pointing out that his meals were prepared and
his room cleaned in the dorms. I then introduced the concepts of cooking
himself, eating at one of the many super-cheap cafes, no-curfew nights,
and sleepover freedom to persuade him, all to no avail.
With such a mental block to new ideas, I wonder how Chinese Malaysians ever
got out of those Beijing pants into short shorts, and how they are able to
stay in such revealing outfits. By the way he spoke, and they way the kids
act (there was a mass exodus from the clubs at exactly 23:45 Saturday
night, with the clubs themselves shutting down at 3:00), Asian Values are
here to stay.