Midway through the proceedings, the cameraman zoomed in on an attractive female amidst the crowd, going in for the “Honey Shot”. As her delicate features and demure smile were blasted on the big screen and across televisions island-wide, I could almost feel the earth shake from the collective moans of the crowd.
If you thought I was talking about the FIFA World Cup, you could not have been more wrong.
Rather, this was Singapore’s recent National Day Parade, where ME1 Gorgina Choo was the subject of a “Honey Shot” during the parade.
As one would imagine, being an attractive female in the service alone would be mean that she would already be spending most of her time at work battling the male gaze. The last thing that she would need would be for the entire nation to objectify her just because she was singled out for her looks.
All this woman had done was show up for work. But on EDMW, contributors had a field day sharing derogatory comments about ME1 Choo and her Thai-Singaporean heritage.
A piece on Alvinology fanned the flames of this toxic discussion, reducing the military regular to a slab of meat. In the article, a handful of other female military regulars are also singled out, and readers are asked to vote in a poll for who they think is the most attractive out of all the female regulars.
Basically, the National Day parade is not a fucking beauty pageant.
The SAF, for instance, regularly parades these attractive young women in front of thirsty male citizens in order to get them to sign on with the army. Seeing as most high-ranking military personnel are male, it wouldn’t surprise me if it is these men who make the decision to put the servicewomen on display. That is without a doubt, quintessential male chauvinism.
Usually, this cheap hiring tactic is laughed off by people, and I will be the first to admit that I have done so as well. But this sentiment is echoed throughout all of online media. A quick google and you will quickly find detailed profiles about how these servicewomen will win your hearts.
Very often, details of their back-breaking work are skimmed over so that we can find out what traits these “Down-To-Earth” women with “Girl-Next-Door” looks have, such as being able to sing, play the guitar, or hold your breath, cook.
These are traits traditionally used to describe the sexist ideal of the domesticated and obedient wife, and sound more like dating profiles rather than that of working professionals.
One can only imagine what secret mess tin recipes these women have hiding up their Smart 4s.
We have to realise that there is a fundamental flaw in the public’s mindset, that we so quickly zoom in on the physical traits of female servicewomen. The fact that we don’t even see it as a problem shows how rooted it is in our culture.
If even the notoriously archaic FIFA can take steps to address sexism, it is high time the SAF and other relevant authorities acknowledged that this is a problem, and take the steps needed to shift the attention away from these women, and eradicate this issue.
If not, this fixation that we have on attractive servicewomen will only fester. Already, we often hear about how attractive people get preferential treatment, and how they generally get undue credit at the expense of the truly talented people.
Just how many times have you heard a disgruntled male co-worker insinuate that his female colleague got promoted because she went beyond the extra mile to please her boss?
So long as these attitudes persist, nothing will change. We need to realise that everyone is responsible for perpetuating these ideas.
If not, I wouldn’t at all be surprised if misogynistic comments undermining the work of a servicewoman such as the one above find a permanent place in our society.
Is this the narrative that Singaporeans should grow up with? That mummy’s best achievement in life was locking down daddy to a marriage in order to receive a sizeable monthly allowance?
Having come so far as a progressive nation, it would be a tragedy to see all the work by our great female leaders go to waste. Simply put, we have to stop the problem at its source.