Friday, March 4, 2016

Malaysian DC Comics super spy hopes to dispel Malay women stereotype

A Malaysian woman, who is the inspiration for DC Comics' first Malay character Obscura, says she hopes to dispel age-old stereotypes against Malay women, and that the super spy will also inspire young Malaysian girls to be "extraordinary". Martial arts exponent and spy Obscura, whose real name is Munira Khairuddin, is a character loosely fashioned after real-life intelligence analyst Munira Mustaffa, who is now based in the United Kingdom. Munira, who confessed to be a "huge Batman fan", said she was approached by a friend in 2014 and asked if a new DC character could be modelled after her, she told local fashion magazine Elle Malaysia. Surprised but excited, Munira gave the go-ahead and totally forgot about it until Obscura first made her appearance as the Malaysian super spy DC's "Batgirl#32" published in 2014. Obscura is the alias for Munira "Muni" Khairuddin, a high-ranking spy in an elite counter-terrorism squad. In the comics, Muni leads a team of people in the fight against villain Knightfall. Independent, passionate and dedicated, Munira said she was proud to be able to have a Malay woman portrayed as such a strong character, and hoped to inspire other young girls to greatness. She said the media frequently perpetuated the stereotype that "the ideal Malay woman should be subjugated, demure and reserved with marriage and a good husband as her end goal". "I think we live with this odd paradox about how we view Malay women in Malaysia," Munira told Elle. "Malay women form a significant percentage of the work force, yet people still struggle with the concept that Malay women can be more than just a wife/mother/daughter/sister." Munira, whose real-life work as a counter-terrorism scholar, strategic intelligence analyst and due diligence consultant for several international corporate intelligence and security firms could certainly give Obscura a run for her money, urged young Malaysian girls to be clear about what they wanted in life, and to go for it. "I used to have people laugh at me and make fun of me when I said I wanted to be an intelligence analyst and practitioner. So don't be afraid to persevere." She said she often had people telling her that it was unusual for a Malay woman to be in her line of work, yet another stereotype she was happy to dismiss. "Malay women have been doing plenty of extraordinary and unusual things for years – whether as single ladies, or as married women with children!" – March 5, 2016. Munira Mustaffa is the real-life inspiration behind DC Comics' character, Obscura. –]]>

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