September 20th, 2011

Alamak! Award 2011: The nominees


The results will be announced at AWARE’s Big Ball on October 17, 2011.

We are well into the 21st century and yet we still have remarks, commercials and policies that perpetuate gender stereotypes and sexist attitudes. So AWARE has created the Alamak! Award, an annual search for the most annoying, face palm, gut wrenching, you-have-got-to-be-kidding-me instance of sexism in Singapore.

Here are the nominees for the first Alamak! Award, submitted by members of the public. Nominations were closed on August 31. The voting deadline was extended to Oct 15 from October 7th due to popular demand BUT IS NOW CLOSED.

The final results are shown below…

Here are the nominees…

Obedient Wives Club Singapore

This initiative by the controversial Global Ikhwan group promotes the view that wives should keep their husbands happy in the bedroom by serving them like “a first-class prostitute”, so as to prevent social ills like prostitution, divorce and domestic violence. News that the Obedient Wives Club was setting up a branch in Singapore made international headlines this year. We say that the Club’s distorted and reductive views of marriage and gender roles is socially divisive and dismissive of the real root causes of marital problems.

Read more here.


The Singapore Armed Forces’ “Our Army, My Boyfriend” Ad

Sexist stereotypes can alienate both men and women, which leaves this recruitment ad in the unfortunate position of pleasing no one. Featuring a group of women giggling and gushing over their girlfriend’s army scholar boyfriend, this ad annoyed men with its shallow portrayal of the SAF soldier as a trophy boyfriend who, rather implausibly, “always has time” for his adoring partner. And it would take a woman with nerves of steel not to be irritated by the ad’s depiction of women as wide-eyed, simpering bimbos – that cloying chorus of “so sweeeet” alone is enough to turn your stomach.

Watch the ad here.


Singapore Airlines’ Employment Policies

It’s a great way to fly – well, perhaps not so much for its female cabin crew. Unlike most other global carriers, SIA’s stewardesses have to resign once they are pregnant unless they can get a ground position, which is difficult to obtain. Steps in the right direction: The airline’s Returning Mothers Scheme, which allows crew to rejoin the company if they meet employment criteria, as well as the initiative announced last year that grants pregnant cabin crew an ex-gratia payment amounting to two months of their basic salary when they resign. But such an exceptional airline and national icon should be held to higher standards of excellence. How about doing away with the automatic termination, paying full maternity benefits, extending the crew members’ flying years and hiring female pilots?

Read more about SIA’s employment policies here, here and here.


Great Eastern’s “It’s Great To Be A Woman” campaign

It is great to be a woman. Also great: Great Eastern’s declaration that “we’ve committed ourselves to helping women live well, stay healthy and be empowered”. Not so great: This campaign’s consistent, persistent use of cutesy pastel pink, which seems more infantilizing than empowering. Even less great: Campaign taglines like “It’s great to be a Daddy’s girl. It’s sad to be a Mummy’s boy”; “Discrimination works. Especially on Ladies’ Night”; and “Imagine the fuel we save by asking for directions”. Trading in sexist stereotypes that imply all women relish being coddled like princesses is not only a strange way to convey a message of empowerment, it also has nothing to do with the stated mission of “uplifting womanhood and helping women take charge of their health”.

Visit the website.


Desmond Choo, the People’s Action Party’s candidate for Hougang during GE2011

During a rally, the 33-year-old PAP candidate spoke in Teochew of meeting an old man who said that choosing an MP is like choosing a wife. “If your wife is unable to cook, there’s no point. You must choose a wife who is able to do things for you,” Mr Choo quipped, thus delivering arguably the most sexist analogy of the recent General Elections. In the final tally, the first-time candidate received only 35.19 per cent of valid votes. No one can say for sure whether his loss boiled down to his old-fashioned concept of wifely duties, but it certainly didn’t help.

Read more here.


Note: AWARE called for nominations from the public over the last 2 months and these were the names submitted.


  1. Mike

    I vote for Desmond Choo … he single handedly did it while all the rest needed loads of $$$, creative advertising teams, planning, marketing, management approvals, etc :)

  2. tempest

    What about all the “The men don’t get it” credit card promotions and ladies only deals?

  3. wennndie

    Alamak how couod AWARE leave out Lee Kua Yew who is surely this state’s most chauvinistic male?? He will and should win handsdown for all the MCP statements and discriminatory policies he created over the years includinf his belwo the belt shot at the poor student recently. We must never forget he has said before it was a mistake to educate women. as if he could stop progress.

  4. Ling

    You should also include the recent series of advertisement by London Weight Management, New York Skin Solution and the Yunan Hair Solution. Totally degrading to women and propagating down right sexist views of women and their self worth.

    • zm

      Indeed, I certainly feel that those commercial ads and programs by London Weight Management, New York Skin Solution, and Yunan Hair Solution are really degrading to women and portray a rather sexist views of females. Particularly, their recent series of ads can be really stereotypical and affect the self esteem of many who do not have the idealized image as portrayed by the ads.

  5. kkart

    I think the SAF one is especially sexist also for a slightly different reason. The campaign as a whole, seems to almost willingly disregard the contributions of the many women who serve the nation in the armed forces. By focusing on the gender roles of “My Son”, “My Boyfriend” etc., they seem to limit the definition of a soldier to include only males (in the various stages of their life). While I do accept that the Army had probably intended to reflect the realities of the median soldier, it should keep in mind that such than less than ingratiating generalizations do little to aid their message.

  6. Wisewoman

    It was a tough choice, but I feel that enshrining sexist opinions as company policy makes SIA the worst offender. Desmond Choo would be a close second for making such remarks while contesting to be part of our government.

  7. nanashee

    How about that delightful incident where our ex-MM asked a female student pursuing higher education if she had a boyfriend?

  8. Max

    If Desmond is nominated, then Tan Cheng Bok should be nominated too. He said PERSONALLY that wives should ask husbands’ permission before going into politics.

  9. London Weight Management could be a late contender

  10. I mean I want to see » Blog Archive » The Slappable Politician Award

    […] has come up with this Sexist-est Alamak Award…and I thought I might want to give out one of my own. Now, you don’t want to slap […]

  11. fabrizzo

    reminder for aware too,sexism is a neutral term.while pointing out instances which are insulting to women,one also needs to point out instances where men become the target of’s not a one-sided issue;hence the term EQUALITY.

    • Anthea

      Agree that sexism is bad, whatever the gender. And discrimination in all forms is bad. However, much of the gender discrimination or sexism, wherever you go, is still against women and girls. Hence in its fight against gender discrimination, AWARE’s primary focus has to be on women and girls first and foremost. It is not case of for every act of discrimination against women, one needs to show also a discrimination against men. And vice-versa. (BTW – discrimination can also be in the form of attitudes.)

      However, if you feel that the male folk has been badly done by AWARE’s actions, or by the fight for equality for women, or that there is a glaring example where men have been discriminated against, then by all means bring it up to AWARE or talk about it.

      • audrey

        It’ll be nice if all men are like my dad, my husband, my brothers and my son — i feel cared for, loved and protected when they are around — these men are so gracious and gentlemanly. I wonder if it’s because the women in my family treat them like gentleman?

        As i think deeper, even my boss and my male colleagues are nice to work with. so far in my 20 years career, I’ve not encountered sexual harrassment at work and I do not deny the existence of sexual harrassment, neither do I deny I am an attractive woman.

        I don’t sense a glass ceiling in my career, I know I can go as high and far as I want (or can).

        I have daughters, and I teach them to respect themselves and the people around them, including men. And they will honour their grandfather, father, uncle, brother and in future, their husband and father-in-law.

        my husband married me when I was 19, we went through uni and have 4 kids…I enjoy serving my husband and cooking for my family, i feel safe seeking my husband’s permission…i agree with Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, Dr. Tan Cheng Bock and the old man Mr. Desmond Choo quoted on choosing a wife….

        I disagree with OWC as it does make me feel inferior, and I disagree with AWARE fighting for women’s rights…

        I wish my life is perfect, but it is not. i was sexually abused by different men who don’t know each other over a span of years, from kindergarten to early secondary school. I didn’t learn to protect myself until I was a teenager and learned to confide in my mother…I realised it’s not my fault that they commit evil acts on me, and that other women needs to be protected too…and because these happened so many years ago, none of the men are brought to justice.

        it still hurts me emotionally, i wish my childhood memories have more innocence, while i’ve forgiven them….i teach my girls to protect themselves and be free to talk to me, and i watch for signs of hurt…and remain sensitive to my girls.

        so i wonder….will there ever be gender equality? men and women are made differently to fulfill different roles in life…if men and women accept the differences and respect the roles they are best suited for — life will be so much better.

        The 2 men who sexually abused me in private were verbally abused by their wives in public…i cannot but link their perverse behavior to the disrepect their wives had shown them…and i am just a victim.

      • fabrizzo

        try looking at certain situations from a men’s point of view,understand they have feelings just like women and arent stonecold,then u would find many instances where men are marginalised or shortchanged.and im not saying it’s aware’s fault,just that they do way less to address such stuff then when it comes to women

      • Anthea


        Did you even bother to read what I have written? We get it – men are hurt too. Do you want AWARE to mention this whenever they talk about say rape, domestic abuse, pay discrimination etc even though most of the people on the receiving end are women? Will that make you feel better to have the attention focused on men? You sound like some whites who complained during the civil rights march in the US how they had it bad too, and why was the attention being focused on the blacks.


        From the bottom of my heart, I am very sorry with what you went through, and I can only imagine the pain and the difficult healing process you had/have to go through.

        Regarding the reason behind the perpetrators actions – I am no psychologist, but I find it hard to believe that their wives are to be held solely responsible. If their wives had not abused them publicly, would you have said instead the wives did not respect them at home?

        Regarding respect and honour, they go both ways. Just as a woman respects and honours her partner, so should the partner respect and honour the woman. Otherwise, the woman might as well be a doormat.

        Do you want to get paid less than a man for the same job just because you are a woman? Did you not go to university? Do you vote? Do you want your daughters to be doctors or lawyers if they so wish? If yes, how can you say that you do not agree with the fight for women’s rights. If women had no rights, you would not be able to vote, go to university, demand a fair wage, dream of being a professional etc. Surely you see that? And don’t tell me these would have been given automatically.

        Men and women are different, but that does not mean they cannot be equal. And what roles are men suited for? And women? Please explain.

        If you say that equality is not possible, then are you also saying the different races cannot be equal to one another as well?

      • fabrizzo

        I get what u wrote-the focus has to be on women and girls.As if that isnt a bias enough stance at all.Women rights have advanced so far,im sure many would agree men and boys have been neglected for a time.Im unsure of your analogy of white and blacks,im sure racial grounds has been evenised more thoroughly than gender.I won’t be a complacent male and imagine all’s fine with us,if that’s what u are intending to trap me into doing with such a comparison.Women have never been slaved like blacks.I mean,i can’t imagine a civilisation where all females,black white or asian,have been enslaved,since it takes both genders to continue generations,thus already putting them on even grounds.
        The issue u list are pertaining more to females,no doubt,but that just means issues affecting males have been overlooked,for u being unable to list any.Not knowing doesn’t mean it don’t exist.

  12. Truly Equal

    I would vote for the SAF. Indeed, I believe AWARE should fight for the rights of all women to be enlisted at 18 into the SAF. Women deserve the full rights to serve national service the way men do. Including yearly IPPTs, and fitness tests and remedials for those out of shape. And also about 30 days of reservist as well.

    Yes, lets fight for equality, why should the men alone be given this honorable opportunity to serve the country by law?

    • Anthea

      Indeed. While you are at it, let’s also make paternity leave mandatory. Why should women get all the advantages of having at least two months off after giving birth? I say, bring it on!

  13. Anthea

    My vote would be for Singapore Airlines, followed by SAF and Great Eastern. The Obedient Wives’ Club is farcical, and Desmond Choo was shooting off his mouth without thinking (and right now is not influential). But organisations such as SIA, GE and SAF are ones that make their influence felt, especially in perpetuating gender stereotypes. For example, SIA’s employment policies will not be tolerated in any developed country, and I wonder why they are tolerated in Singapore. Well, I guess as long as employment policies are not (overtly) racial, anything goes.

    • fabrizzo

      i feel that SIA’s problem should be labelled as family planning problem,instead of sexist,if indeed pregnant air stewardesses are retrenched thus discouraging them from setting up gives the wrong idea to the nature ofthe problem.i vote great eastern,because their messages are downright shallow.Really turns me away from any insurance policy they might try selling to me in the future

      • Anthea

        Family planning problem? That falls squarely on the laps of the female employees? Pray, do explain.

        GE’s ad is silly at best, and can be easily fixed if they understand how unprofessional the company has been made to look. As for SIA, the rot goes deeper and longer, and the highlighted problem (or as you sugar coat it – family planning problem) has been discussed for as long as I can remember. Goodness I even remember a (female) friend of mine being asked (when she interviewed for a managerial position) to apply for the air stewardess position. Hopefully things are different on this front at least.

  14. […] Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) has announced the nominees for its first-ever Alamak! Award, a “search for the most annoying, face palm, […]

  15. Ken leon

    Is interesting the PAP candidate is the biggest fall. Anything AWARE wants to iron out with PAP. PAP went throught the most stringent and careful selection process. Does AWARE wants to help PAP?

  16. Jin Cheng

    AWARE are doing personal attack lately. First LKY, now Desmond Choo.

    Why is AWARE not aware that there are basic differences between men and women. Both could never be equal for only a couple completes each other to form a whole.

    Pursuing to make women to be like a men is just plain sexist.

    I vote for AWARE.

  17. Observer

    I think Desmond Choo should not be on AWARE’s list. He was merely recounting for an elderly resident had told him during a rally. He has never made similar remarks in other situations so it was not and never his own view. So technically it is a bit of cheap shot just because he is a political figure … hopefully not because there is a hidden agenda against the PAP and he is a scapegoat.

    Besides that, there is an older generation which perhaps have this same viewpoint as the elderly resident. So are AWARE members going to tell their parents that they are wrong and nominate them?

    • fabrizzo

      too true!have they forgotten they have fathers and grandfathers,and no one gender can sustain offsprings alone?

      • Anthea

        So, if the elderly gentleman had something racist, would Desmond Choo repeated it without adding his two cents’? If he had, would you excuse it as being the viewpoint of the older generation (after all, we all have fathers and grandfathers don’t we?) Yes? No? Why?

      • fabrizzo

        I dont have the exact words he said,but im sure u are all overreacting.Plus lacking respect for the elderly.

  18. fabrizzo

    anthea,why do u say i sugar coat it?did i say a family planning problem is less severe than a sexist one?or is that just your assumption?to me,such a policy doesnt just harm the women,it harms the family as a whole,which loses out on the extra income,or the stewardess wife not willing to give birth.u on the other hand,insisting on it being called sexist,is purposely targeting the men for blame,claiming that male stewards have the advantage in such cases?pray do take note that flight attendants are mostly females,as with numerous other service staff please use some discretion before u respond from a sexist point of view.u would lose support takling this problem u would otherwise get from the men.
    the recent stint of swco attempting to squeeze the juice out of ex husbands should also be included here.their idea is:ex wives get the kids,ex husbands foot the more sexist is that?why cant ex husbands get the custody if they can financially manage better than the wife?and if both cant handle the expenses,they are clearly in need of welfare,just like any poor family.
    yet another point in the law which charges gay acts while not lesbian ones is clearly double would homosexual females benefit the society,if it’s clear that male homosexuality is harmful?

    • Anthea

      Good grief, fabrizzo, if a woman is forced to “retire” because she gets pregnant, that’s a family planning problem? If it is not sugar coating the problem, then it certainly is a euphemism for sexism for sure.

      If it is a family planning problem, why aren’t the men involved? Or do you think the responsibility lies with the woman? A definition of sexism is “discrimination or devaluation based on a person’s sex, as in restricted job opportunities; especially, such discrimination directed against women” ( So, how about calling it as it is.

      I don’t know – male stewards are allowed to retire at a much later age compared to female stewardess. Disadvantage or advantage for the male steward? You tell me. Also, what has the fact that the majority of SIA flight attendants being female got to do with your point? Do clarify. Oh wait, is it supposed to show sexism against the males is in force? Then by all means make your point as such. If there is a discrimination against men then we should definitely look into it and ask SIA why. (But then you do know the answer don’t you? Their image is based on perpetuating the myth of the Asian female. Ever wonder why there are no SIA female pilots?)

      Why are you bringing up the swco? But do a search on AWARE’s website, and you will find that they have been fighting for equality on the family front, and that their suggestions have been soundly rejected by the government. If the husband is more capable or suitable than the wife, than of course, he should get the custody of the kids. But seriously, in intact families, how many husband spend as much time as the wife in looking after the kids? The reality is women still shoulder the burden of caring for kids among other things. And it is the woman who, more often than not, gives up her career for the family. Surely you know that or are you deliberately being obtuse? BTW – custody of kids depends on more than just being able to “financially manage better”.

      And I absolutely agree with you that the laws on homosexuality should be abolished for both male and female. And whose fault is it that 377A was not amended? Blame the politicians who say they are thinking of the “conservative majority”. Why specifically (male) gay sex? I don’t know – you tell me.

      And if you are complaining this was not included in the list, then you should have nominated it. Remember the short list was based on nominees put forward by the public.

      • fabrizzo

        Look,it’s not that they retrench female attendants early out of no reason,it’s due to complications involving their pregnant status.I agree it’s a problem,but it isn’t one which treats men better than women.U think the men like it any better?U think the husbands like it that their wives are forced to retire or not have any children?By giving it an ugly label of sexist,do u think it’d just garner more support blindly?U’d just drive away support from the men who just had enough of women complaints.
        Now u say husband wont spend as much time as wives taking care of children.That very remark IS sexist,im surprised u havnt noticed.On what pretext can u say that?have u not known many loving fathers?
        Why there isnt female pilots im not sure.They have no reason not to employ their expertise if they got the qualifications.Do ascertain that they really are indeed ignoring women’s qualifications when selecting before u fire off at them.
        As for the list,wasn’t it made by aware?So they gathered info from the public?Sorry i wasnt there when they did so!I’d think its an unnecessary event anyway.
        In so many areas,like clothes choices,women have all the advantage and variety to fit the occassions.For tops they can choose sleeveless with a very light top so they can take on and off with ease in aircon or outside.I dont see that many choices for men,and i’ve hunted high and low for many articles which shouldve been unisex but hasnt been.Plus their freedom to wear a huge variety of not just styles but coverage for various entertainment jobs and performances.I’ve seen women on stage in hotpants,but yet i dont see men in anything other than long pants.

  19. […] We are well into the 21st century and yet we still have remarks, commercials and policies that perpetuate gender stereotypes and sexist attitudes. So AWARE has created the Alamak! Award, an annual search for the most annoying, face palm, gut wrenc… […]

    • fabrizzo

      Not sure if that’s really the best idea to tackle the problem.first we must understand what sexism really means.I mean fully,not just our individual interpretation

      • Anthea

        Why don’t you share with us what you think sexism means? You sure seem to be very unhappy with this list and especially, seem to think that men’s rights are being eroded with women working towards equality. Well, that’s the impression you’re projecting anyway.

      • fabrizzo

        Abthea,u are quite exactly the kind of woman who has gain many advantages but fail to see them,thus whining for more.Yes,I’ve seen in many fields the fight for women rights eroding the rights of men,intentional or not.Women buying and using men stuff are deemed as ok,but a man doing the same would be judged upon as being effeminate and even gay,and the stuff im talking about arent skirts and dresses which are undoubtedly female.Now even more preposterous is the mentality some have imbued that extreme short pants are a girl’s item.Have a man’s right to the length of his pants or sleeves on his top been dictated against him by females in such wear?
        If i shared with u my meaning of sexism i would be commiting the very mistake im advising people against,and that is their own mistaken interpretation.I dont dare say my impression of it is the correct one,but i can say that’s due to the very ambiguous version im getting from everyone,due to the duplicity of such a word.

  20. Women's right

    I don’t think there is a need for it anymore, Women are now earning more than men, I dont see why certain parts of the women’s charter should be here today, (such as paying maintainence). Women charter was implemented in the early 60’s where women are financially dependent on men, though however 1 must agree that it’s very near extiction. I’m fully aware of women’s rights and would fight for it, but I just dont understand about it now that women have everything they want (In Sg), what’s all the fighting now about? I’m a guy, and due to the women’s charter I’m very afraid to get married let alone in Singapore due to the biased women’s charter. Even though if my future wife cheats on me, she is most certainly to take my children and have a lifetime of maintainence on her bankroll using my hard earned monthly income. The said scenario happened to my friend few years back, and even though in his circumstances of having no child, he lost his house too.

    • Anthea

      Do a search on Women’s charter, and see what AWARE has proposed to the Government. For e.g., the renaming of the charter to “Family Charter”, and the provision for husbands to seek maintenance from wives. BTW – do you really think that women have everything they want in Singapore? I mean, do you really have everything you want yourself?

      And if you are afraid of getting married because of Women’s Charter (I mean, seriously? when pre-nuptials are possible?), I wonder what women felt before this Charter came about?

      • Women's right

        I dont know what women felt before the charter came out, because I wasnt born yet. Its a hige financial risk to get married esp with a draconian charter around, it even makes it compulasary to the extend of maintaining your ex wife after divorce, what rubbish is that?

        Not everybody get what they want in Singapore, and what do women want more in Singapore?

  21. Calm and Collected

    I think that a lot of interesting points got raised here. This is healthy. There may be some truth that there cannot be pure gender “equality” but that does not mean we should not strive for it either as an evolving society. However, it also means that in striving for it, we also consider differing points of view which may reveal instances whereby the other gender is placed in a “disadvantaged” position. Arguably, there is no perfect solution on such issues, mainly because people do not see an issue in black and white. For example, if one person is a conservative, it does not mean that they have a conservative view of everything, in some areas they may be actually more liberal. With regard to feminism, gender, equality etc, there are are so many intellectual stances one can take. I have discussed such issues with pure hardcore feminists when I studied feminism in Australia. In Singapore, let us embrace what we have achieved e.g. women’s charter and perhaps focus our efforts on clearer-cut areas like violence towards women, and not purposely look for the devil in every shadow.

  22. Erica Poon

    why is it we can no longer see the results? cannot change rules halfway mah… it was exciting to see the horse-race so far. wait pple think aware trying to manipulate the results

  23. Feminist

    It’s atrocious to nominate Desmond Choo. Be fair Aware! Why are the rest of the nominees an organization or management and he is an individual? Please be fair!!!
    Singapore Airlines! OvEr 30 years bias .. Stewards are not contract basis, whereas stewardess are! Both genders doing the same thing, why stewardess cannot be full-time employees?!

  24. […] has also lifted some-more than a few eyebrows. The Singapore bend of a organisation recently won a tongue-in-cheek award given out by a Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware) for a many chauvinistic […]

  25. […] We are well into the 21st century and yet we still have remarks, commercials and policies that perpetuate gender stereotypes and sexist attitudes. So AWARE has created the Alamak! Award, an annual search for the most annoying, face palm, gut wrenc… […]