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Does the SAF Only Hire Attractive Women?

Does the SAF Only Hire Attractive Women?

  • Culture
  • Opinion
On a recent televised broadcast of a live event, thousands of people, all decked out in national colours, rubbed shoulders with one another in plastic seats as they waved tiny flags with vigour. It was warm, humid, and shirts were damp from perspiration, but no one seemed to care.

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.

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But objectify her the nation did.

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.

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Some members even said that she would be able to earn more as a “siam bu” in a Thai disco.

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.

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These are regulars serving in the Singapore Armed Forces we’re talking about, not insecure university students who step out of their comfort zones and slip on bikinis and wear cheap sashes before voting for the cutest “Hall King” and “Hall Queen”.

Basically, the National Day parade is not a fucking beauty pageant.

You could make the argument that this was a show of representation, proof that there are not only men working in the SAF, but also selfless women who have defied stereotypes for a career in the army.

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.

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For starters, tell us about Gorgina’s favourite aspect of her work, which involves the maintenance of military helicopters, rather than tell us that her favourite dish to prepare is Basil Chicken Rice.

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.

 

Have a thing for women in uniform? Tell us your deepest desires at community@ricemedia.co and we will blacklist you. Seriously. Have you learned nothing?

Author

Shaun Tan Staff writer