In Singapore, the modesty of men can’t be outraged. Cue the backlash—or so I thought.
The issue came to light this past weekend when The Straits Times reported that 27-year-old Teo Han Jern would be sentenced to 10 weeks in jail for covertly taking obscene videos and photographs of 33 men in public toilets. He would not, however, be charged with outrage of modesty.
This was due to the fact that Singapore’s laws with regards to insult to modesty fails to account for men. Had his videos and photographs been of women instead, Teo would have received a much longer jail term of up to 6 months.
District Judge Kenneth Yap later based his interpretation of men’s and women’s modesty through nothing less than the layout of a men’s toilet.
“The fact that male urinals and changing rooms are typically more ‘open concept’ than their female equivalents would, to some, speak volumes of a differentiated approach to modesty,” he said.
Instead, I saw anger, indignation and complaints, directed at who else?
Feminists, of course.
Rather than argue against the glaring lack of injustice shown by the law, commentators (mostly male) thought it’d be a good idea to start pointing fingers and calling out feminists for staying silent.
“Where are all the feminists?” they cried, without realising that their same calls for equality made them feminists too.
Although feminism as a movement claims to fight for the equality of all sexes, many mistakenly equate feminism with being concerned only with the rights and benefits of women.
This resentment is fuelled by the fact that women do not serve National Service, and cannot be caned.
Meanwhile, heated discussions continued to brew over a completely different topic—what feminism even is these days.
After all, Teo’s verdict shows that inequality and discrimination isn’t just something faced by females, but males as well.
And given that men are statistically less likely to suffer from sexual assault and harassment, protection from the law with regards to such offences isn’t something many think about.
Feminism is flawed and many a times overly-convoluted, misunderstood and misrepresented. But for all the movement’s faults, it is not a punching bag for shuffling blame and airing one’s frustrations freely.
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