Deconstructing ‘Modesty’ and the Bikini

In this video actress/designer Jessica Rey discusses the evolution of the swimsuit and argues how ‘less’ is not necessarily ‘more’, and how modesty in modern swimwear needn’t be associated with old-fashioned or unpopular but can also reflect dignity and beauty.

What is your take on the swimsuit? Do you think less is more?



Ladies Night: Gender Discrimination?

Letter on Today (July 10, 2012) lamenting price discrimination along gender lines. 

Imagine walking into a supermarket and seeing two price tags for, say, an apple: One for men and one for women. Nearly all of us would find this discriminatory.

As with ethnicity, gender is biologically defined, and to subject men and women to different prices at a store is unfair.

The hypothetical scenario seems absurd but, as a parallel, I went to a games cafe not long ago that was offering a Ladies’ Night promotion, where women played for free and men had to pay the full price.

After that instance, I began to notice that discount pricing for women is prevalent in numerous sectors in Singapore. 

Besides the classic Ladies’ Night at clubs, many restaurants, bars and even some gyms offer varying forms of ladies’ discounts.

The most blatant form of price discrimination against men is women’s-only credit cards, which offer discounts on clothes, food, recreation and so on for women. The analogy of different price tags is, perhaps, not that far-fetched.

All I am suggesting is equality and not that we not price discriminate.

Train operators should by all means offer student and senior citizen discounts, governments should tax the rich and poor differently, and bookstores should charge different prices for members and non-members.

But when it comes to innate biological differences such as race and sex, the line must be drawn. The relevant authority should look into this issue.

Sex should be treated the same way as race and there should be a law against gender and racial price discrimination.

After all, I hope we will never see a Chinese-only credit card, a restaurant offering discounts only to Malays or a club in Singapore offering “Indians’ Night”.

What are your thoughts? If this guy merely petty and making an unnecessary fuss over the matter? If you think his frustration is unwarranted, why? If you think he has a point, why? 

Imaginary Anti-Rape Campaign

I found this thought from a blogger ‘SheSearcher’ quite noteworthy.

Look at supposedly objective factual media reports of events in your local newspaper. What  angle do they come from? What assumptions are they making? What world views or beliefs underlie the nuance and tone of the reports?

In the above example, looking at it in reverse simply highlights to us how media tales of caution or police advisories assume – albeit subtly – a certain gendered order of society. It is probably such biased reporting that provoked the Slut Walks across major cities in various continents from Toronto to New Delhi.

Can you find any ‘biased’ media reporting today? Perhaps, like the above example, you might want to imagine it reported in a different way to see if it makes more sense. 

Are Critics Biased Against ‘Girly’ Female Leads?

Do movie critics subconsciously favor female roles that try to break the stereotype of the ‘vulnerable’ and ‘passive’ damsel? How do you judge a female character in a movie? Do you evaluate their ability to embrace either ‘power’ and ‘desire’ as mentioned in the article? 

‘Twilight’ vs. ‘Hunger Games’: Why Do So Many Grown-Ups Hate Bella?

If Bella fought Katniss, who would win?

This isn’t a Superman-vs.-Hulk stumper or anything; if you have even a passing acquaintance with Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight or Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, you know that, unless Edward or Jacob came to her rescue as they are wont to do, Bella is going to get stomped. Bella’s main distinguishing characteristic is her clumsiness; she can’t get out of gym class without getting injured, much less survive a fight. Over the course of the series’ four books, I’m pretty sure Bella never kills, or even injures, anyone. When she does resort to violence, it’s always ineffectual and comical, as when she hits Jacob and injures her fist. Katniss, on the other hand, is an extremely competent hunter and archer, a born survivor who is deadly when cornered. Through the Hunger Games series, she racks up a body count that would impress Dirty Harry. Thumb-fingered Bella wouldn’t stand a chance.

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When is it too far?

Excerpts from Funny Little World,

We all know that all ad campaigns are manipulative and a little bit bastardly. We all know to take commercials with a pinch of salt (size varying according to the source and the ad). Despite the laws and rules against false advertising, we all know that ads do not reflect reality […]

The ad ties a woman’s entire worth to her weight, as if a woman would be of no value to society just because she’s got the wrong BMI. As if it is justified for everyone to reject her just because of her weight. The statements “Women… what do they live for?” and “For those you love, and those who love you” in this context suggest that it is a woman’s responsibility to make sure she is slim and sexy for her loved ones… as if they would stop loving her or she would stop being worthy of their love if she weren’t the perfect 36-24-36.

Sure, many of us will be able to see through this and brush it aside. But what of the more vulnerable ones out there, the ones this ad isreally targeting? What about the young girls and women already struggling with self-image and self-esteem issues? What about the new mothers who are just taking that little bit longer to lose their pregnancy weight (especially seeing that the woman in this video is a new mother herself)? What about all the women out there who are already fighting destructive eating disorders? What are they supposed to feel when they see an ad that tramples all over their already fragile senses of self-worth?

But there’s a difference between slight exaggerations and hamming it up, and being outright offensive and irresponsible. […]

This ad is a contributing factor to a whole culture of sexism, superficiality and misogyny thatcauses women to feel like shit about themselves, to develop self-image issues and even eating disorders. Unlike what the ad itself suggests, being overweight doesn’t actually cause the depression – more often than not it’s the judgement and discrimination that causes overweight women to develop depression…

What are your own thoughts about the video? Has it gone too far? Or is the commercial well within the boundaries of creative persuasion? 

‘Slut walks’: Empowerment or Self-degradation?

From the liberal streets of Boston to the subtropical metropolis of Delhi and all the way down to religiously conservative nation of Indonesia, ‘Slutwalks’ have been springing up in protest of the against authorities trying to explaining away or pin the blame of increasing instances of rape or sexual harassment on the appearance and dress sense of women themselves.

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Why Fashion?

A Man’s Guide to A Woman’s Wardrobe
by Luke Leitch (original link here

In September 2009 I was working on the features desk of the Times in London when I was told that I was needed to cover for a member of the fashion team who had gone on maternity leave. Under-dressed and overwhelmed, I set off to report on a round of womenswear shows. From New York to Paris via London and Milan, I sat shabbily hunched among the straight-backed, soignée ranks of the world’s fashion professionals, staring dumbly at the catwalks like some novelty savage on his first day in court.

I have now spent two years embedded deep in female territory: in fashion, with a capital F. And I have started to get the hang of it. What has become clear is that fashion is to many women what sport is to many men: a pastime, a passion, a shared language, a form of self-definition, and a temporary escape from the opposite sex, all rolled into one deeply satisfying whole.

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