Sunday 7 August 2016

Sexism award: May the breast man win

Last month, my favourite women’s group after the new Ghostbusters — the Association of Women for Action and Research (also called Aware or Ballbusters) — asked for nominations for its Alamak Award.

The award is “an annual search for the most annoying, you-have-got-to-be-kidding-me instances of sexism in Singapore”.

The winner will be announced in October.

One of last year’s nominees was an ad by “bust expert” Slim Fit promoting treatments at 50 cents each to celebrate SG50.

That was a steal, considering that currently, for its 51st National Day promotion, Slim Fit is offering a bust treatment at $8 and not, as one might expect, 51 cents.

Singaporeans may pledge ourselves to be one united people, but Slim Fit pledges to “give you beautiful breasts”.

In the end, Slim Fit was beaten out for the Alamak Award last year by “all the anti-mother sexist attacks” during the General Election.

They included an attack by National Solidarity Party candidate Cheo Chai Chen on People’s Action Party candidate Tin Pei Ling.

He said in Mandarin: “She has just given birth, so voters should let her go home and rest, and take care of her child. In general, mothers love their children, so they spend a lot of time with them.

“If voters choose her, she might focus more on her child than on her voters. This is her weakness.”

Mr Cheo lost the election, but congratulations to him on being a joint winner of the Alamak Award.

Even though this year’s nominees have yet to be announced, I shall go out on a limb here and predict the winner.

No, it’s not the people who commented on what Ms Ho Ching wore during the state visit to Washington, DC, last week, as sexist as they were.

Here’s a sampling of the online comments:
  • “Omg! Is that pajamas Ho Ching is wearing. obiang!!”
  • “I spotted those Fit Flops and my heart sank... even if she didn’t care about his she looks she represents our country for God’s sake!”
  • “At least she wore stockings? imagine if she had dirty ugly toenails.”
  • “Looks like an uneducated Chinese housewife in a wet market.”
  • “She like a walking wallpaper.”
  • “Even as curtains go, this is really ugly.”
  • “Do the hair, some makeup. If not for husband at least for Singapore.”
  • “Please don’t let her poor interpretation of the sarong kebaya insult our Peranakan bibiks who have more style and opulence. Even the matriarchs of the bygone days would raise their scorn and ask whose servant is that dressing beyond her station and all so salah.”
  • “She needs more than a make-over, in fact she needs a complete overhaul. Everything need to be replaced: under-carriage, engine, chassis, tyres, upholstery, stereo system and the whole 9 yards.”
  • “Haven’t you seen transgender and lesbians dress even more spiffy?”

And people say I’m mean-spirited.

Even as Mrs Hillary Clinton, the wife of a former US president makes a historic run for the White House, signifying major progress for women in America, the wife of our Prime Minister visiting the White House was still being judged for her appearance.

Even as Ms Ho was lauded for carrying a pouch designed by an artist with autism, she still wasn’t spared: “The bag does not match her dressing at all!!! Big heart but no dress sense.”

Well, at least she wasn’t carrying a Kate Spade bag with a monkey print.

Still, those comments are not as jaw-droppingly sexist as the individual I believe should — nay — will win the Alamak Award.

The envelope, please.

And the winner of this year’s Alamak Award will be…

Mr Edmund Wong Sin Yee.

That’s the lawyer who defended a man accused of brushing his forearm against a woman’s breast on a train.

During the trial, Mr Wong asked the victim to stand up.

He told the judge: “Your Honour, I want to see... how attractive when (she) stands up, you know.”

What is this? A courtroom or Tinder?

The victim said: “Is this necessary? I feel very offended.”

Mr Wong: “Well, I mean, I think it’s important because I’m going to ask you even more insulting questions later on.”

Thanks for the warning.

Mr Wong explained his defence to the court:
“I want to show that if she is wearing a very low cut (top) with a very voluptuous breast protruding out (of a) half cut (top) then of course... the higher the tendency that people might commit such an offence.

“So I’m trying to put my case that, you know, looking at the day (how) she was dressed and... her breast size and all these things... whether there is temptation for anybody or the accused to do such a thing.”
So what Mr Wong was insinuating in his own clumsy way was that if a woman did not want to be molested, she should not wear a low-cut top and have big breasts.

Which is bad news for Slim Fit.

But good news for Aware because its search for the most annoying, you-have-got-to-be-kidding-me instance of sexism in Singapore is over.

It’s like he was trying to win the Alamak Award.

The judge later rebuked Mr Wong for staring “inappropriately at the victim’s breasts” and called his conduct “completely unacceptable and deserves disapprobation”.

His client was eventually found guilty of outrage of modesty and sentenced to five months’ jail on Wednesday.

As for Mr Wong, he should start preparing his acceptance speech now.

- Published in The New Paper, 7 August 2016

UPDATE: As predicted, Mr Wong did win