A woman was recently prevented from entering Kuala Lumpur Library in Malaysia for wearing clothes that were deemed to be “too revealing” by library staff.
No entry: Twitter user @SyarifahAmin, also identified by SAYS.com as Unis, shared her experience in a tweet and attached a photo of herself showing what she wore that day: a long-sleeved white shirt and a long pair of pants.
- “Got denied entry into Perpustakaan Kuala Lumpur this morning because of ‘pakaian menjolok mata’ (revealing clothes) ‘sebab nampak bra’ (because my bra was showing). This was what I was wearing,” she wrote on August 12.
- Unis, the co-founder of Malaysian Youth Advocates for Gender Equality, tried to explain to the staff that what she was wearing was not offensive but was still denied entry into the library.
- “I came here to study. I’m wearing long sleeves and long pants. I’m not going to wear a sweater to cover my bra lines,” she wrote in a separate tweet.
- In an interview with SAYS, Unis lamented that the library policy mainly targeted women, noting that she hopes it gets revised soon.
- “I would be very happy to raise awareness on this matter,” she said. “Public policies, a lot of them, target only women.”
- She added that she enjoys using the facilities and hopes that the particular security guard on duty at the time should be spared from blame.
- “I do not want [the guard] to lose their job because of this. I’m sure they are only doing their job according to their level of what is appropriate,” she explained.
- In a Facebook post, the library dress code stressed that no “revealing” clothing should be worn by visitors, including shorts, tight clothes and slippers.
Public reaction: Unis’ tweet, which has so far racked up over 1,500 retweets and 3,000 likes as of this writing, generated many angry reactions from Twitter users who took her side.
- “I’m glad you fought back, Unis. I don’t see how this is ‘inappropriate’ dressing,” one user wrote. “Honestly, I would’ve done the same thing too. It’s a library and you’re just there to study for God’s sake.”
- “Utterly absurd that you had to endure this,” another shared. “Creepy obsession with policing women’s bodies, the way we dress. How did we get here and how do we get the heck out. Glad you pushed back, but frustrating that you had to in the first place.”
- One user pointed out the double standards in such a policy: “How the heck is this menjolok mata? In cases like these, I can’t help but feel like the people who over-police women’s bodies are also the people hypersexualising femininity – not everything that a woman wears is meant to be attractive or sexy to others! People have got to stop projecting!”