ISLAMOPHOBIA

Sex, Women and Racism in Myanmar: How Irrational They are

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Htoo December – April 11, 2013

Recently, a friend forwarded me a link to a web blog. The link points to a 400-page document, titled “Islam Virus”, which is a collection of misinformation about Islam – how cruel, inhumane and scary Muslims are. The owner of the blog mentions that everyone must read the document because what is happening in Myanmar today is very dangerous and scary. That is, Islam is threatening the existence of Myanmar. Pointing to distorted information about gross cruelty, the document urges the people of Myanmar to protect Myanmar race and Buddhism by opposing Islam and Muslims.

On the left column of the blog site, there are icons (with links) to two books. One book is about the colonial-time conflict between Muslims and Buddhists, and the other is a well-known anti-Muslim book titled “fearful of the extinction of Burmese and Buddhism”.

On the top of the column was a feature section, labeled National Traitors, under which people accused of supporting ethnic Rohingyas are listed. They include Dr. Maung Zarni, Harn Yawnghwe of Euro-Burma Office, Aung Zaw of The Irrawaddy magazine, Than Win Htut of Democratic Voice of Burma, and Burmese section directors of the Voice of America and BBC. There are anti-Rohingya posts here and there throughout the site.

What I want to say only starts here. Those involved in anti-Muslim campaigns consistently claim that Kalars (derogatory term for Muslims and South Asians) are taking over Buddhist women and converting them to Islam. They also accuse Muslims to be spoiling Burmese woman to destroy or swallow Burmese culture.

Only when I browse through the internet blog, I realize how irrational people are.

First, the blog urging people to protect Burmese culture and women turns out to a very popular Myanmar porn web blog.

Second, and more importantly, it is an abusive and disrespectful blog for women. Why? Because it features nude photos of Burmese women and leaked videos of Burmese couples. The blog also features photos and videos of Burmese women/couples shared by blog visitors.Of course, the attention is on ‘women’, especially their ‘passivity’ and ‘suffering’ during sexual intercourse.

They found the materials somewhere on the internet, or filmed by themselves. Some women, possibly sex workers, allowed the men to film on the basis that the films and photos won’t be published on the internet. Regardless of the promise, these nude photos and videos made their ways to the blog, which is a hard core pornographic blog accessible to everyone for free. I will not enclose the blog address here to avoid further publicizing of it and its contents, especially the women whose privacy the blog has abused.

As soon as I realized the type of the blog, I immediately saw the contradiction: calling for protecting Burmese women from ‘kalar’ on the one hand, and abusing women by i) publicizing pirated photos and videos, and ii) allowing blog visitors to write sexually abusive comments on the other. These comments can be read as verbal rapes. Then, I asked to myself, how possibly can these men, shamelessly writing sexually abusive comments, protect the nation and the women?

They said they want to protect the women in order to protect the nation, but they are verbally raping the women whose photos and videos were pirated. I am amazed how self-proclaimed nationalists claiming to protect Burmese women (by means of controlling their sexuality and sex-related life) can easily abuse these women. They do not seem to think that distributing the women’s nude images for the consumption of the men they do not have any inter-personal relations is a plain abuse.

If they stay true to what they say about protecting the nation, they should have opposed to the blog for the sake of the women’s privacy and dignity. Far from it, they are the ones disgracing the women; they are the one fulfilling their sexual fantasies on a free porn website. How cheap they are!

This is an important indication that nationalists uttering to protect the nation is not a safe refuge for women. These nationalists are in fact the enemies of women. They abuse women by dictating personal decision over relationship and reproduction. They abuse women by exploiting sexuality and body.

The text said "Sky Net" logo on the TV in the back ground

The text said “Sky Net” logo on the TV in the back ground

To continue with my main point, the blog owner posted the 400-page document on August 23, 2012. I thought he changed his attitude. I thought he realized he needed to start protecting women and stop abusing their private matters. But, the next day, he posted another nude photos of a Burmese lady. What is even more surprising is, he highlighted the logo of a Burmese channel “Sky net” on the TV in the background to confirm that she is truly a Burmese.

There are many other photos and videos with exact names and locations such as cities and countries where the videos were taken. Some materials were taken secretly and make available on the internet.

The blog also links to another porn website. I am not too sure if that belongs to the same person. On the second website, the most popular post, as I visited in August 2012, was a nude photo of a Burmese medical doctor in Thailand.

I expected that the woman’s privacy be protected – or at least respected – by Burmese nationalists who have been upset and/or worried about Kalars taking advantage of Burmese women’s sexuality. To my amazement, supposedly the nation-loving and culture-loving blog owner only publicized the photos of the doctor. The visitors left more than a hundred comments that said they wanted to have intimate relations with her (note: of course, their languages were sexually explicit, not even some decent comments about woman’s body or the sort, but abusive hard core comments). There is no single comment that said the woman’s privacy should be respected. The point I want to make is, there is no such thing as respect for the woman. It was a plain abuse and disrespect.

Book titled "Fearful of the extension of Burmese and Buddhism" (Left); Real Burmese Girl (Right)
Book titled “Fearful of the extension of Burmese and Buddhism” (Left); Real Burmese Girl (Right)

The more I browse the blog, the more disturbing things I found. The blogger posted the book “Fearful of the extinction of Burmese and Buddhism” on the same day as his posting of a Myanmar-born porn star. Similarly, he posted a blog post about Rohingya’s protest in the Middle East on the same day as his posting of a pirated video in which a woman was being forced to take off her cloth for filming. I found it strange that the blog owner was publishing nationalist posts and nude photos/videos of women at the same time – how contradicting it is. This makes me wonder, if the nationalists are using pornography for anti-Muslim campaigns.

I need to mention another but similar point. The blogger posted photos and videos of women specifically in Burmese traditional longyi (women skirts). This is because the visitors asked if the women were really Burmese. The blog owners highlighted longyi to prove that they really were Burmese. I asked to myself: “is this part of Burmese nationalism? are they that nationalistic that even their sexual fantasy prefer specifically Burmese? This may sounds strange, but it is difficult to make sense of how the nationalists can be that sexually abusive against the women they said they wanted to protect. Perhaps, they do not want Burmese women to have relationships with ‘Kalars’, but they think they can abuse the women themselves. Whether or not this is how they think, but this is how they appear.

In any case, the women need not be protected from Kalars, but from the Burmese nationalists such as the blog owner and the visitors, the sex fanatics who have no respect or what so ever for the women.

The hard core, sexually abusive comments on this web blog explains why anti-Muslim and anti-Rohingya movement in Myanmar is characterized with sexually explicit language. Perhaps, they are more or less the same people — or the same sort of people. On various websites, insults against Muslims in Myanmar have to do with specific words such as male’s private part, mother, and the F word, just like the comments on the porn blog.

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