January 13th, 2010

Not OK to say boys will be boys and girls must beware

The alleged groping of a woman by four men at the Siloso Beach Countdown Party on New Year’s Eve sparked much debate in the media in the first two weeks of January.

AWARE was asked by RazorTV to comment on the matter. We did not think that it was appropriate to comment on the incident itself since the facts are not clear, but the public reaction to the incident was disturbing. This is the statement we made:

“The photos show a woman being groped and molested by four men. It is difficult to give a good analysis of this event because we do not know what led up to it and what ensued. But what we can clearly analyse is the public reaction as expressed on RazorTV.

The majority of interviewees focused on the woman’s behaviour instead of that of the men. Many essentially said that she deserved it. It has been suggested that both her actions and her clothing invited this behaviour.

We find this reaction both incredible and disappointing.

A woman who attends a beach party in a bikini is not “asking for it”. Wearing a bikini to a beach party is not an invitation to be molested.

Likewise, flirting with a guy is not an invitation to be groped or raped by a gang of his friends.

Nor is a woman getting drunk consent to letting a stranger put his hands down her pants.

A woman has the right to be safe in a crowd whether she is alone or with her friends, whether she is drunk or sober, whether she is in a bikini or ski suit. To suggest that a woman is obliged to modify her behaviour to assure her safety is to accept that men are sexual predators and do not need to take responsibility for their actions.

We don’t accept or believe this. We don’t think it is ok to simply say that boys will be boys and girls must beware.

We aspire to a society where men and women respect each other. This is not a world devoid of sex and sexuality but one in which people treat each other with dignity and consideration.”

Do you have another point of view? Tell us.

12 Comments ...

  1. Daphne Ong

    In addition to the point made in the article, which I agree with, the it’s-her-fault reaction by the public underlies misogyny and double standards when it comes to sexual crimes.

    In many rape and molest cases, the victims are put on the stand, especially if they are female and attractive. The victims are the one who come under scrutiny.

    “In order for women to stay safe from sexual crimes, they should dress and behave conservatively.” That’s the same as saying in order for a person to stay safe from robbery, they should not carry a wallet. We can see from our own and other societies around the world that the only requisite for a woman to be sexually assaulted is just being female, whether in a bikini or a burka. Why criminalise the victim instead of the criminal?

    It is my point of view that this attitude towards sexual crimes involving female victims is a symptom of women being seen as sex tempters by nature, that a man would rather blame a woman’s disposition for his lust than to blame his own hormones. The very need for a man to blame something for lust, which is a reaction created by nature to ensure the survival of the species, shows a lack of understanding of his own human nature and how to control it.

    I feel there is a need to educate both men and women about molest and rape as crimes just like any other crimes, and to highlight the current hypocrisy and double standards associated with them. This should also be taught as part of whatever sex education tweens and teenagers receive, as many girls experience some form of molestation at a young age and often don’t tell anyone till a long time later. I was shocked to learn how many of my female friends were victims of molest and/or rape, and that helped me feel less alone, and made me wish I knew more about it as a young girl.

    We must dispel the notion that it is alright to touch a woman just because she “looks like she wants it”. No means no, whether you’re snatching a person’s wallet or grabbing her bosom. Molest and rape should be viewed as the crimes that they are.

    #428
  2. Fed Up

    The Razor TV comments actually sounded like they had all just watched some soft porn: “She’s a naughty thing and deserved for some guy to give it to her good.”

    The kink factor then got escalated by claims she was trans. Where’s the Sun Times headline? “Naughty Tranny caught in Beach Orgy Scandal!”

    And even more pathetic were all these strapping young NS trained men saying “Get involved?! No way! I’m Singaporean.”

    Seems that the takeaway is that a woman in distress needs to get help from her friends because guys will stick together and otherwise don’t want to get involved.

    God! Grow some balls.

    #429
  3. Tania De Rozario

    “To suggest that a woman is obliged to modify her behaviour to assure her safety is to accept that men are sexual predators and do not need to take responsibility for their actions.”

    Agreed. To suggest that a woman is obliged to modify her behaviour to assure her safety is to imply that society in general should view men as being unthinking, unfeeling, hormone-driven animals led purely by their inability to control themselves. Do we think so lowly of our men?

    Every human being has the right to safety in public and private space. Saying that a woman deserves to get molested because she attends a beach party is no different from saying that a woman’s rightful place is in the home: Restricting freedom of movement using the excuse of tradition is no different from restricting freedom of movement using the excuse of clubbing culture. If all of us stopped frequenting spaces in which women constantly get molested, we’d have to be off the streets altogether.

    If clubbing culture dictates that a woman should expect to be molested when going for a party, this culture has to change and should -not- be viewed as something that is natural or acceptable.

    And I wholeheartedly agree with Daphne about the fact that molest and rape need to be addressed within the scope of sex education and should be positioned as the crimes that they are.

    #430
  4. uberVU - social comments

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by unfluff: Not OK to say “boys will be boys, girls beware”. AWARE’s statement on reactions to Sentosa groping incident http://bit.ly/7mULKA #awaresg…

    #431
  5. mrv

    the article is true and correct. I share your sentiments too. It is unacceptable to have such a perspective.

    However, I think the big hurdle is enforcing that perspective.

    Just how do we keep drunk people from doing drunken acts? Or should all nightspots be brightly lit so that ladies could see clearly if they are groped?

    Maybe, just maybe, we should all stop drinking. haha.

    On the other hand, education is not the solution as we see traditional moral standards decline with each Singaporean generation. What are the youth into these days? If the grown men of today are unruly, how much more our sons?

    Maybe, there should be a minimum age for internet use.

    I think the solution is an empowered woman. Someone who chooses not to be messed with. Someone who will say, “Stop It”. Is the secret ingredient Confidence? or Self Belief?

    Why are molest victims even unsure that they are groped? Why is it that most molest cases go unreported? The girls made that choice at that moment because it provides the best benefits. To avoid being in the wrong.

    Imagine a world where people aren’t afraid to be wrong. How many molest accusations would you see in a club in just one night?

    I have presented the solution to your problem in the best of my meager knowledge.

    Maybe, just maybe, more action and less talk needs to be done.

    #432
  6. I agree that the molesters should be severely punished. They got off too easily. However I am concerned about the part of the article that says:
    “A woman has the right to be safe in a crowd whether she is alone or with her friends, whether she is drunk or sober, whether she is in a bikini or ski suit. To suggest that a woman is obliged to modify her behaviour to assure her safety is to accept that men are sexual predators and do not need to take responsibility for their actions.”

    This to me is an irresponsible statement. Instead of teaching young women to keep away from situations that compromise her safety, the article appears to say that it is OK not to do that.

    I see this molest issue as a criminal issue, while the writer sees it as a feminist one. To me, it is not responsible for the writer to be telling young girls that they can be drunk, walking alone, wearing a bikini in a crowded place. That is not asking for trouble. That is just plain irresponsible behaviour.

    Feminists should stop this blanket “it’s not your fault” argument. The point is NOT who is at fault .The point is SAFETY. And it is the safety of the woman that is on the line – not the criminal’s.

    The bottom line is this – if the woman does not care for her own safety, you expect someone else will?

    Related article
    The discussion in the above link is about rape, but it can be seen in molest context as well.

    #433
  7. Ch'ng Kim See

    From Zhuang Jin Shi

    I agree with Solo Bear. This is a matter of safety and security. In a burglary or theft context, one is advised NOT to display or keep valuables openly in cars, or NOT to keep cash and jewellery at home. Doing so only invites perpetrators – it is tempting them. And law enforcement cannot be anywhere and everywhere.

    (Please use my aka Zhuang Jin Shi.)

    #434
  8. Janet

    So… uh you mean that ladies need to keep their “goods” hidden away at home?

    Quite frankly this is an epic failure to grasp the salient issue.

    > The point is NOT who is at fault .

    Uh yes it is. That IS what it’s about.

    The public said “it is HER fault” and the writer’s point is that it is not.

    Nobody is stopping you from teaching the woman how to make a well place kick to the groin if you are concerned with safety. I’m sure AWARE is supportive of self defense education.

    But THE POINT of this piece is that it is not OK to blame the victim in any scenario.

    #435
  9. Tweets that mention Not OK to say boys will be boys and girls must beware | AWARE Singapore | Association of Women for Action and Research -- Topsy.com

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tania Chew, euniqueflair, Errol Tan, Joanne Lee, Tania De Rozario and others. Tania De Rozario said: Not OK to say "Boys will be boys and girls must beware" :: http://www.aware.org.sg/2010/01/bikini-girls-ask-for-it/ :: #awaresg […]

    #436
  10. Connie Singam

    My comment is based on the limited perspective I have from watching Razor TV.
    I was most disturbed to see the men behave the way they did, like vultures descending on a helpless victim and concerned by the way the victim, cowering and helpless, was reacting.
    After years of raising awareness by feminists about respecting the dignity and humanity of women and treating them as equals, male behaviour, as seen from the reports, does not seem to have changed much. I am, here, seen to be casting aspersion on all men. There are many good men out there. And thank goodness for that.

    There are women too out there who need to be empowered to stand up for their rights and dignity. Women too have an equal responsibility to demand to be treated as equals and with dignity.

    Connie Singam

    #437
  11. Faceted

    I gotta disagree with some points of view. Regardless of gender, showing off more skin simply begets looking.

    It’s an undeniable notion in any society, and to try to deny it, would simply be fruitless. Be it a girl in a bikini or a guy in his underwear, dressing in that way simply invites people to stare and to look and perhaps to lust at and objectify the human body.

    Yes, it may not be an invitation to be molested, but I believe we can be discerning as to how we dress nowadays. No, girls don’t deserve to be raped or molested, but they need to really act more responsibly

    I fully agree with solobear:

    “to me, it is not responsible for the writer to be telling young girls that they can be drunk, walking alone, wearing a bikini in a crowded place. That is not asking for trouble. That is just plain irresponsible behaviour.”

    Yes, the public is wrong to blame the victim. No one deserves the treatment the girl got. It is exceptionally disturbing that society comments as to how the girl invited the whole situation. Yet at the same time, AWARE needs to take a more even handed approach to this whole matter.

    It’s never ok to blame the victim in the situation. And no, “ladies (don’t) need to keep their “goods” hidden away at home, but hey, there’s a right place and a right time, and some sense of decency and decorum to be observed yea?

    #451
  12. B Leong

    Just email the organizers at: marketing@sentosa.com.sg to express your displeasure and boycotting of future events.

    Thanks for alerting us to such a menace.

    I believe without this, it will happen again. Do you think teenagers will listen to Channel 8’s TV dramas showing women being bullied or attacked on TV (aka Jeanette Aw in the Little Nyonya), or feisty feminists like us? Even the Siloso beach party website shows 5 bikini babes dancing on the top banner. Fresh meat!: http://www.silosobeachparty.com/gallery.php

    One way to encourage action is to post the names of media officials, the Siloso Beach Countdown organizers, and such people, and other channels of communication, so we can express our indignance through effective channels of influence.

    #483