Sunday 6 July 2014

Alamak! I may have objectified women but no award nomination for me

Hi, you may know me as the writer of this column.

What you may not know is that I am also a sub-editor at The New Paper.

What that means, at least in my case, is that I design some of the pages and write the occasional award-winning headline in the paper you’re reading.

About a week and a half ago, I laid out the centrespread about good-looking spectators at the World Cup, such as Korean newscaster Jang Ye Won, who had become an Internet sensation.

Besides a picture of her, I also included pictures of other attractive World Cup spectators on the two pages.

And, yes, they were all women.

But it’s not because I am a male chauvinist pig. I was born in the Year of the Horse.

I tried to find pictures of attractive male spectators in the wires but couldn’t. Granted, being a heterosexual man, I may not be the best judge as to what constitutes an attractive male spectator.

I’m sorry I don’t wear pink. I avoid pastels because they tend to make me look washed out.

Not that I have anything against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and Transformers. Some of my best frenemies are LGBT.

By the way, the new Transformers movie is terrible, but I can’t wait for the next one.

Like Hard Rock Cafe, my motto is “Love all, serve all.

I don’t let my gender and sexual orientation get in the way of my work. I have other biases for that.

Anyway, if you want good-looking men, The New Paper had earlier run a story about “the hottest footballers to watch during the World Cup”.

The list was topped by Portugal player Cristiano Ronaldo, better known in Singapore for the Zinger Double Down Ronaldo Box, Ronaldo Buddy Meal and Ronaldo Feast now at KFC. He’s not only good-looking – he’s finger-lickin’ good too.

I had nothing to do with that story.

So my beautiful spread on the beautiful women of the beautiful game was just to even the score.

To my chagrin, on the day it came out, the Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware) posted a snapshot of my page on Facebook with the comment:
“Like it if you hate it: Objectification of women emerges at the World Cup, with newspapers and commenters discussing the physical appearance of female newscasters and spectators.”

I was crushed that Aware didn’t compliment my layout.

But Aware is right. Such objectification of women is politically incorrect.

So why didn’t anyone object to the earlier objectification of the footballers?

That is why we need Amare.

But you know the greater irony?

On the same day that Aware called out the objectification of women in The New Paper, the paper also ran a two-page spread on senior Manhunt finalists with pictures of almost a dozen bare-chested men.

Actually, the Manhunt pictures showed even more skin than the World Cup spectators pictures. Objectification to the max, man.

Moobs over boobs, dude. Laddies over ladies, baby. Bros before hos, amigo.

And I laid out that spread too.

Like I said: “Love all, serve all.”

But all Aware cared about was the objectification of its own kind.

So on Thursday, when the association announced that its annual Alamak! Award is back to find “the most annoying, you-have-got-to-be-kidding-me instance of sexism in Singapore” over the past year, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be nominated.

On the one hand, I don’t want to be accused of sexism. On the other hand, it’s an honour just to be nominated.

But to my relief or disappointment, I wasn’t.

The nominees are:
  • Lawyer Suresh Damodara, who in defending a serial rapist, argued that the victims did not suffer “the usual trauma” of rape because they were unconscious after being drugged by the rapist.
  • Budget airline Scoot, which advertised that the airline is “better than your girlfriend” because it “knows when to be quiet” and “always spares a thought for your wallet”.

  • Science Centre Singapore chief executive Lim Tit Meng, who wrote in an e-mail to staff on International Women’s Day:
    “I have my reasons why not many women can have the stature to hold the highest position. One of them is simply about the complex nature of women which challenges them with communication barriers in even understanding their own gender well, let alone having to compete or co-labour with the men at work.”
  • Goldheart Jewellery, which wants women to find “strength” in their “own weakness” presumably by buying jewellery.

Online voting on the Aware website will close on Aug 18 and the “winner” will be announced on Aug 25.

The last time I checked, the Science Centre guy has the most votes.

Considering that Dr Lim is also an associate professor of at the National University of Singapore Department of Biological Science and part of his name refers to a female body part, he should know about the “complex nature of women”.

He has since apologised for the e-mail.

If Dr Lim wins the Alamak! Award, maybe The New Paper will do a story on him and I’ll get to lay out the page.

I want pictures of his moobs.

- Published in The New Paper, 6 July 2014

UPDATE: The Tit man did win the Alamak! Award, but no one cared.