Tattoos and ‘our culture’ — Hafidz Baharom

DECEMBER 4 — Once again, we are mired in a controversy that stems from yet another thing that is not “our culture”. In this latest fiasco, it seems that tattoos are not “our culture”. Allow me to sigh long and hard enough to throw out my back, since I’m now in my late 30’s.

Whose culture is against tattoos? “Our culture”. Define this usage of “our“ for me? 

Oh, you know, Malays.

You know, Malaysia is no longer Malaya, and we have diverse cultures even among the diverse people in this country?

Plus, if we really want to talk about Malay culture, put down the guitars, sell off the drum kit, and go have fun with the gamelan. Hell, go joget your heart out at the keroncong bar instead of attending that K-Pop or U2 concert!

Go back and live the days only acceptable Western thing was the Dikir Barat, which wasn’t even Western to being with — one wonders about that name quite often.

Yes, those are Japanese stylised tattoos going all across one’s body. Yes, those are tribal tattoos going on someone’s sleeve. No, they’re not Malay Malaysian culture, but Malay Malaysia has evolved far beyond their own culture.

More importantly, not everything in this God blessed country has to adhere to Malay Malaysian culture!

If you find something like tattoos offensive, then why on earth are you salivating over half naked tattooed bodies, getting a hard on, and then condemning it after? Avert your eyes, pixelate your brain and move on.

Quite honestly, a lot of things are not “our culture”. Gyms are not “our culture” — go work a paddy field or mine a quarry. Hell, go learn silat, play sepak raga, knock off someone’s headdress and get stabbed for it ­— that’s “our culture” going back to the good old Melaka days!

Makeup isn’t our culture — go grate chalk, mix it with water, enjoy. Why are you at MAC, Sephora, Victoria’s Secret or even Bath and Body Works? Go home. Mascara isn’t Malay Malaysian, it’s ancient Egyptian. No, you don’t get to go to Thai Odyssey for a massage — go find an urut batin at home.

Netflix and chill? No. Go for wayang kulit and kuih.

Let’s not even get started on food and beverages, because I’m not giving up my Starbucks toffee nut lattes for a kopi O just to adhere to this “our culture” mentality. I don’t even like mint tea, and even then it would be Arab culture and “we” are not Arabs!

Malaysians, please stop being idiots — none of us are following “our culture” to the letter in this day and age. We adapt, we learn, we follow all other cultures. Sure, there are those who don’t follow our ways but they don’t have our inhibitions from religious scripture either.

So who are you to pass judgment on people who don’t believe as we do? The only reason to do so is if we’re somehow jealous or we don’t understand it. And that is fine — as long as we let them have their say.

This, after all, is the basis of freedom of expression — let people be people as long as it does not cause physical harm towards others. Unless it’s consensual — which is pretty much what tattoos are.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.

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