Friday May 11, 2012
Mothers will decide the future
By WONG SAI WAN
Women will be a major force in the 13th general election as they wield more influence in modern Malaysia.
IT was in Standard Six (that was what Year Six was called then, those 40-odd years ago) when I was first introduced to the phrase “the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world” during our final exam comprehension test.
We were supposed to write an essay about that topic and most of us were stumped by it because we did not know what it meant although we knew it had something to do with mothers.
I remember that at the end of the exam, our teacher read out a few of the more creative essays, including one that talked about how the entire world was kept spinning because of the rocking motion of the cradle.
The author of that essay was yours truly.
However, it was a lesson well learnt because the same phrase came up as my comprehension question when I was in Form Three.
However, this time I got it right as I expounded on the virtues of motherhood and how it was a mother’s duty to shape the thinking of her children.
The essay was given an “A” although I doubt it would have even received a “C” in these politically correct days.
The emphasis for fathers was always on their job, almost as if they had no role to play in bringing up the kids.
But 40-odd years ago, a father REALLY did very little to help raise the children.
He would bring the money home while the homemaker mother (termed housewife those days) decided how the kids were raised.
Mothers were usually the single influence on their young.
Many of us baby boomers of the 1960s and 1970s were brought up like that.
We listened, loved and were doted on by our mothers but feared, admired and obeyed our fathers.
Although mothers played an important role, the person who set the rules in the home was the father.
Most of us obtained our views of the world through the eyes of our fathers, which was why most of the hippies of the 1960s grew up to be some of the most conservative leaders of the world.
They all fell back on to the conformist and old fashioned values of their fathers.
But things have changed.
Fathers and mothers now play a more equal role in bringing up their kids as well as in influencing their way of thinking.
The expectations and values of our society have also changed tremendously.
Malaysia had a population of about nine million when it was formed in 1963 and almost 50 years on, there are three times as many Malaysians, numbering almost 29 million.
However, the gender ratio remains as it was before, with 106 male for every 100 females.
With the 13th general election expected in the next 100 days, I feel that women will be the crucial factor in deciding who will win.
This is going to be the tightest polls Malaysia has ever had and the mothers of the 1980s will matter.
These mothers are the first of Generation X who have not only emotional influence on their children, but also hold an intellectual sway on their grown up children, who are the new voters that both sides are out to woo.
If we ever want to see the idiom “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world” at work, we just have to wait till the general election comes along, which I say will take place in the next four months.
Political parties are spending a lot of time wooing the young and new voters but I feel that their time would be better spent wooing the womenfolk.
Just like in my time when I was in the 20s and would listen to almost every word my father said, the 20-somethings these days will respect the views of their mothers.
You get the mothers and their children’s votes will surely follow.
Women have come a long way since the days of my mother.
They are more educated and more exposed to the outside world, as most of them are working mothers and they are more politically astute.
Gone are the days that they would vote for whomever their husband supported. Gone are the days that they were bereft of political opinions.
These days women, especially mothers, are as opinionated as the men, especially when it comes to their own well-being and the welfare of their children.
They will not hesitate to make their views known.
Come election day, those views will be expressed publicly.
Surf the Internet and you will find plenty of examples of strong opinionated Malaysian mothers.
On Twitter-verse, they do not hesitate to jump in to argue their point of view if they disagree with you.
Be prepared for a tongue-lashing if you write something that they feel is encroaching onto their rights or the rights of their children.
This is why environment and welfare have recently become important issues in Malaysia because these are matters that women care about.
Political parties better not try “bluffing” these mothers because they are as connected to the cyber world as their children.
These women will not be subtle in telling their children who they think is right or wrong.
If political parties have not been wooing the womenfolk for the past four years and now hope to garner their support, I have news for you – it’s too late.
This Sunday is Mothers Day and may husbands and children treat the mothers like the queens they truly are.
Executive Editor Wong Sai Wan wishes all mothers a wonderful Mother’s Day and may they wield their newfound power judiciously.