I just found out that SlutWalk will be in held Singapore in September/October 2011 (Facebook page: SlutWalk Singapore x Kuala Lumpur) and immediately had questions raised in my head.
Firstly, is Singapore ready for this? Are Singaporean women and men ready to change their way of thinking about issues of sexual assault? Admittedly, I might be out of touch with Singapore now but I can’t help but wonder how much it has changed for the past 8 years. I know women (some are close relatives) who believe that when a woman is raped, it is her fault. SlutWalk is anti-thetic to this type of victim-blaming. So are the women in my life: grandmothers, mothers, sisters, aunts ready for this? I highly doubt this – not without some kind of open dialogue about the aim of SlutWalk. Admittedly, I might be out of touch with Singapore seeing that I haven’t been ‘home’ for more than 2 weeks at a time for the past 8 years. My sample of women I know is also severely limited. So maybe Singaporean women are, in fact, ready for a change? If so, I would like to see what types, what ages, which classes, which races, which religions such women belong to. Why are they ready (or not ready) for SlutWalk? When people gather for SlutWalk, will they truly understand what they are gathering for?
Secondly, is the word ‘slut’ even applicable to Singaporean women? Malay women? Chinese? Indian? I don’t ever remember being called a ‘slut’ in Singapore…actually I’ve never been called a slut (ever? yet?) but I have been endowed with ‘ice queen’, ‘prude’, ‘ bitch’ and its Malay equivalents such as ‘minah atas’. I actually don’t know what the current Malay equivalent of a ‘slut’ is. According to my dad, it was ‘minah rabak’ in the 1980s when he was in his mid-20s but I currently do not have my ear to the ground in terms of Malay slang.
Thirdly, will SlutWalk even be allowed in Singapore? Isn’t there some kind of rule against public protests? Maybe they’ll sell it as some kind of gathering a la Pink Dot.
And last, is SlutWalk even the type of change that Singapore needs? I wholeheartedly agree with the aims of SlutWalk (stop victim-blaming) but I can’t help but feel that when it is practiced in the Singaporean context, it is just like any other product that have been exported from the West.
The radicalism of the women’s movements in the Third World have to start taking over the dying movements in the First World.
- abbreviated from Sunera Thobani’s closing keynote at the 2nd annual F-Word Undergraduate Conference (UBC, April 30 2011)
As Sunera Thobani has stated, the women’s movements in the West are dying. I have been witness to that. The world seems to be in a moment of revolution – Singapore is one of them. We have made strides we should be proud of and celebrate. Why does Singapore continually look to the West for affirmation? Is SlutWalk another one of those ‘let’s just follow what the white women are doing’ trends? Because if it is, if it is not because Singaporean women really want it but some kind of trend-following thing, I would be very sad about the whole situation.
Women in Singapore have to start realizing that our histories are different from the West. We are inextricably linked but we do not have to continually look towards them for guidance. The West needs to look at us and take a page out of our book to learn about concrete social change. Case in point: 40% opposition for the first time in 45 years in Singapore vs. Harper majority in Canada.