In a kopitiam (local café), Obedient Wife (a married, hijab-wearing Malay-Muslim woman) is being interviewed by Journalist (a single woman of Chinese ethnicity who dabbles in Christian theological ethics) on her ground-breaking solution to rid Malaysian society of sex-related social ills.
JOURNALIST. Serve husbands like first-class prostitutes. Throat-grabbing headline. A refreshing change to have the excuse to talk about sex publicly.
OBEDIENT WIFE. [sips from her cup of teh tarik (local latté)] Terima kasih (thank you). I feel so misunderstood by feminist organisations. The Muslim ones should know better. The secular ones, typical response, what with their Western values and all. They have accused me of degrading women by this one remark.
JOURNALIST. Well, it does remind one, and not in a good way, of why Eve was created for Adam.
OBEDIENT WIFE. [enthusiastically] You are Christian? We people of the Book should stick together! Let me explain. A man married to a woman who is as good or better than a first-class prostitute in bed has no reason to stray. The key to make a man gentle and loving is a first-class loving wife—an obedient wife.
JOURNALIST. And this is your home recipe for sex-related social problems.
OBEDIENT WIFE. Yes, the solution we are proposing is one that is guaranteed to work, as it is backed by the Qur’an. Rape, incest, prostitution and sex trafficking would cease. When a man’s desires are met, he will also cease having girlfriends, mistresses, prostitutes and [triumphantly] best of all, second, third or fourth wives. A satisfied husband will also not beat his wife. [She leans in and whispers] The sex scandals in your church, God help you, need another solution-lah*.
JOURNALIST. [resignedly] Indeed. But going back to you, as founder of the Obedient Wives Club, what is your long-term vision?
OBEDIENT WIFE. [proudly] With 800 members in Malaysia and 1 000, worldwide and branches in Jordan, Malaysia, Jakarta (Indonesia), we hope to have bases in London even Rome, Insya Allah (God willing).
JOURNALIST. [admiringly] Sounds like you’ve a movement in the making. And you’ll be confronting Western values head-on as I hear that the OWC conducts sex workshops.
OBEDIENT WIFE. Heavens no, that’s haram (prohibited)! This is how everything has been twisted out of proportion. What we have are motivational talks, counselling sessions and discussions among our members.
JOURNALIST. Are these sessions reserved for Muslims only?
OBEDIENT WIFE. On the contrary, women of all faiths are welcome. [Mischievously] Better than the state of affairs for inter-religious dialogue in this country! [Her hand phone beeps].
JOURNALIST. There are allegations that the OWC is linked to fundamentalist Islamic movements? Would you care to...
OBEDIENT WIFE. [smiles sheepishly] I’m sorry I need to go. Thank you for this opportunity to spread the good news. But wifely duty calls.
* lah is a end-sentence suffix used in colloquial speech.
This single act is dramatised from news coverage on the OWC, available at, among others:http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2011/6/4/nation/2011060415112....
Sharon A Bong is Senior Lecturer in Gender Studies at the School of Arts and Social Sciences, Monash University, Malaysia. She is author of The Tension Between Women’s Rights and Religions: The Case of Malaysia (2006) and former Coordinator of the Ecclesia of Women in Asia, an academic forum of Catholic women theologizing in Asia. She is also a member of the Asian Regional Committee of the Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church.