Friday, March 19, 2010

In Geli we trust?

Screenshot of website
Screenshot of Geli's Facebook account
THERE's a new movement in town and it seems all set to change the political landscape. Gerakan Anti-Liwat is barely a couple of weeks old. But with a Malay acronym like Geli, it's hard not to be tickled by this latest of citizen initiatives to keep society's morals on the straight and narrow.

But the anti-sodomy movement isn't just about the right morals for all Malaysians. The movement, which founder Mohd Arshad Ishak declares represents Malaysians, has a desire to "know the truth". That must be why the group, with a Facebook following of nearly 350 fans as of 3pm on 18 March 2010, has invited Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to be its advisor in the movement's wrestle against sodomy.

Question is, will the politician bite the bait? And will the nation be forever changed from Geli?

Animal indecency

To answer that question, we need to ask another. Should anyone of us even take Geli seriously?

After all, Geli could merely be following in the great hoof steps of the Society for Indecency to Naked Animals (Sina), which was founded in the US in 1959. This anti-animal-nudity movement had as its rallying cry "Decency today means morality tomorrow", and the rather judgmental motto, "A nude horse is a rude horse." The movement urged members to summon people who shamelessly walked their naked pets in the neighbourhood.

The movement lasted for five years and gained both public ire and support, with supporters clothing their pets and offering money to the movement. But guess what? Sina was a hoax that began as a joke in front of the White House to poke fun at society's contradictions and double standards. Sina was actually a clever social satire by professional hoaxer Alan Abel.

Sina horse wearing red shorts on hind  legs
No longer nude, or rude
But even after Sina's real intentions were exposed as the work of hoaxers following a Walter Cronkite interview on CBC News, people still bought into the movement as if it were real and well, serious.

The public, for the most part, missed the point of Abel's spoof, even though President John F Kennedy reportedly got it. Abel wrote later: "I realise now that some people who were taken in will never forgive me. (Yes, Aunt Evelyn changed her will and I wasn't in it.) Others will never see anything funny about the spoof. Far too many will never be able to dismiss [Sina] as a hoax because the indelible print of newspaper stories and the sound of determined voices on radio and television linger."

"Perhaps naively, I never cease to be amazed at how seriously people take themselves, unable to see the funny images we all reflect," he continued.

Of course, today, we have copycat hoaxers running a similar gag. For example, the movement known as Small Animal Decency or SAD, which "works to keep animal nudity away from the eyes of innocents". SAD's mission statement is: "We believe that you don't have to be human to experience shame. We believe that the natural state of all animals is clothed. And finally, we believe that it is up to us to clothe all the animals in nature before our world becomes a cesspool of iniquity."

And then there's Malaysia's own Geli. Where does Geli stand? Is it a hoax? A gag? A spoof? A clever imitation along the lines of Sina?

Making a point

For certain, Geli is trying to make a point about morality and about the possible bedroom proclivities of Malaysia's opposition leader.

A decent squirrel from SAD

But is Geli as clever as Sina? For one thing, asking Anwar to be Geli's advisor could be seen as a stroke of some genius. But even if Anwar decided to humour the movement, would it really prove anything? After all, just because someone is seen to be associated with an anti-sodomy movement doesn't mean he or she isn't capable or hasn't done it.

Indeed, joining Geli is no proof at all of what one's preferences are in private. In fact, there are documented instances of politicians being anti-gay in public, but gay in private. So, unless Geli has a way to monitor what occurs in its members' or non-members' bedrooms, getting Anwar to be its advisor is weak proof for the point Geli is trying to make. And in fact, it could be no different from the sandiwara politicians are so good at perpetuating to maintain a particular public image.

Conversely, just because Anwar doesn't take up the invitation to be Geli's advisor doesn't mean the Parti Keadilan Rakyat advisor has committed sodomy. That would be like saying, a person who doesn't give himself or herself in to the police has clearly committed a crime.

Next question, is Geli as funny as Sina? Well, that would depend on your brand of humour. It's obviously not funny if "Allah does to us what He did (in Sodom and Gomorrah)." But it's hard not to guffaw at Mohd Arshad's claim that so "many Malay [Malaysian] Muslim young men practise unnatural sex" that even straight men who jog at the Bandar Tasik Permaisuri park have become their victims.

And really, while Sina promoted the notion of rude horses and SAD the need for squirrel underpants, Geli is just predicting violence, hell and brimstone. No fun at all. Nor very much imagination.

condom saying 'i do all the work and the toys get all the  credit?'
(© Julien Tromeur |

For certain, Geli isn't the only new movement in town trying to stamp its mark on our political landscape. A nascent association of pressure groups headed by the Persatuan Kebangsaan Pelajar Islam Malaysia (PKPIM) wants to start protesting the sale of sex toys.

Apparently, the open sale of such toys (batteries usually not included) is encouraging adultery and fornication outside marriage, and get this, the dumping of babies! Now that's either tragic because the statement clearly demonstrates a failure of our education system and/or intelligence and thinking, or it's meant to be funny because it's such a ludicrous statement to make.

Or even more revealingly, perhaps the message is this.

Muslims who have sex outside marriage do not, or perhaps should not, exist, or
Muslims do not need sex toys in order to keep their relationships happy and healthy, or
Both 1 and 2, or
Nobody is allowed to have fun because a bunch of Muslim youths deem that it would be immoral and this would lead to babies being thrown out.

Don't know about you, but I'm not sure if I should laugh or cry.

article written by Jacqueline Ann Surin, who prefers her pets naked and carries spare batteries with her, just in case. Courtesy of Nut Graph

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