November 18th, 2013

The perplexing case of Purple Light

Image courtesy of Justin See(Thanks to all who have come out in support of the move against the problematic Purple Light lyrics. Please take the time to read Fikri’s post and Nicholas Liu’s letter on this subject.)

Note: the post below contains examples of abusive language.

“Booking out, see my girlfriend
Saw her with another man
Kill the man, rape my girlfriend
With my rifle and my buddy and me.”

It started simply. Several men at a workshop on violence against women told us of these lyrics in an NS marching song. They were disturbed by the attitude expressed toward sexual violence. In their view, such lyrics should not be part of the National Service experience.

We agreed and raised the matter in a letter to MINDEF and SAF.

MINDEF and SAF agreed and said that they would take steps to “immediately halt” the singing of these lyrics.

So far, so agreed. Yet our brief Facebook update on this generated an explosive reaction and spawned a thread of more than 700 comments. Criticism of us quickly spiralled into extremely abusive language. We (and others who welcome MINDEF’s move) are, among other things, “sensitive little bitches” and a “useless bunch of morons” who run a “feminazi group” which is “pushing for female supremacy” through “nitpicking”. We should “get fucked”.

All because we think Singapore is better off without soldiers singing about their buddies and rifles standing by as they rape women, and we said so publicly.

We have also seen many positive and supportive messages from people of all genders, including men who were uncomfortable with singing the lyrics in NS. But the strength of the negative response is noteworthy. Why does this bother some people (mostly men) so much? This important question goes to the heart of why the lyrics are so problematic to begin with.

To explore this, we’re going to respond to the main criticisms we’ve heard.

1. Why did they ban the whole song? It’s not even the original version.
MINDEF told us it would halt the singing of the specific lyrics that we quoted. We repeated this on Facebook and to journalists. The idea that the ban applies to anything else originated somewhere else. Moreover, we criticised lyrics that have been sung by many and that are defended by many. That criticism doesn’t rest on it being the original version of the song.

2. AWARE doesn’t care about men.

  • Why do you pick on “rape my girlfriend” and not “kill the man”? Our particular expertise is violence against women and girls, and how sexual violence is trivialised, normalised and excused. Naturally we focused our remarks on the matter closest to this experience.
  • What about other verses involving sexual assault against men? Sexual violence is deplorable, regardless of the gender(s) of the victim or perpetrator. Initially, we had only been informed of the lyrics quoted above. Others have since told us about other marching song lyrics that take a cavalier attitude towards sexual violence. We will investigate these too.

3. There’s nothing wrong with these lyrics.

  • They keep morale up in NS when men are going through difficult times. Do men need to sing about raping women for this purpose? We have a higher opinion of them than that. Moreover, MINDEF and SAF do not appear to believe rape songs are necessary to military operations. In view of the use of rape as a tool of war, such as in the Congo and Bosnia, we suggest it is right to be cautious about tolerating these lyrics becoming a part of military culture.
  • It’s only words. So why are people so upset they might not be sung? Words are powerful. They shape social norms and our collective sense of what is acceptable. Our contention has never been that singing “rape my girlfriend” will by itself cause anyone to commit the deed. Rather, a society which treats mocking references to rape as entertainment then encourages rapists to view their acts as acceptable and causes rape victims to feel unsupported.Globally and in Singapore, rape is under-reported precisely because rape victims feel they will not be taken seriously. This is especially true of rapes by intimate partners. Contrary to stereotype, these are more common than stranger rapes involving men jumping out in a dark alley. Almost all rapes in Singapore involve a victim and a perpetrator previously known to each other, and marriage continues to be a defence to charges of rape. The scenario in the lyrics – rape by an angry partner – is not an outlandish joke. For many rape victims, it is a hellish reality.

4. AWARE has no right to make this criticism.

  • Because AWARE staff didn’t do NS. Men who have done NS first raised this issue with us. Moreover, in the recent Our Singapore Conversation exercise, many said NS experiences had an important influence on their values. All of society should be concerned with an institution so central to nation-building and which has a substantial impact on a large proportion of the population.
  • Because AWARE doesn’t support NS for women. We’ve actually spoken about our proposed reforms for NS many times, including several times in the last month.
  • Because AWARE doesn’t stop women from breaking up with their boyfriends who are doing NS. It’s true, we don’t.

5. AWARE shouldn’t have posted about this after doing it.
Why not? Too often social and political comment focuses on what’s gone wrong, without recognition of what’s been done right. Not only is this unfair to public bodies and figures when they make progress, it encourages a politics of despair, and a perception that all social and political conversation is empty grousing, done in vain. But we believe in the possibility of change and we seek to share this belief with others. We’re told this makes us “arrogant”; we prefer “hopeful”.

6. Other things are more important.
This has come up time and again: we were “making a mountain out of a molehill”. By writing a single polite letter to MINDEF and posting one Facebook update? Perhaps these critics believe the only appropriate amount of effort to spend on combatting the trivialisation of rape is none. Some offered a laundry list of alternative issues and campaigns for us, invariably without having found out anything else about our existing work first.

But this brings us back to the start. Why did so many people spend so much time writing over 700 comments on our Facebook page, and more elsewhere?

This episode has revealed how urgent the underlying issues are. Why are so many men so deeply attached to the idea that National Service should involve singing about raping women? Why do they find it so threatening that women have raised an objection to this, and that a public authority has taken that seriously? What other common practices and assumptions contribute to a hostile and degrading environment for women, in the military and elsewhere? And most importantly, what else can you and I do about it?


  1. Bret Goh

    Hi AWARE, seems like u ladies still don’t get what the fuss is all about. If it’s a fellow Army Commander who came out and put a stop to this song singing about raping women, all soldiers will gladly stop singing the offending lyrics.

    But when a women’s group try to come in and meddle in the our NS affairs, thing will be very different. Ultimately, the Army is male dominated organization formed by Singaporean males conscripted into the SAF. We went through a lot together and it’s natural that we will feel pissed that a group of women who had not done NS has the cheek to come tell us what to do in the Army. And the fact that Mindef has ignore feedback on so many issues from NS serving guys while reacting so swiftly to AWARE’s complaint makes the situation even more fiery for us.

    For many, the banning of the lyrics is not the issue, but the supposed meddling of NS matters by a group of NS ignorant females. How will you feel is a group of outsider men come in and meddle in AWARE’s affairs?

    Continue to be stubborn about what your group has done, continue to live in your own feminist world, let’s wait and see what good will come out of it.


    • Hi Bret, AWARE has already responded to this criticism of “women not doing NS interfering with NS”, which I am pretty sure you did not bother to read.

      As they have said, this issue was first brought up by a group of MEN to them. You seem to be missing the whole point about how the reason why AWARE brought this up to MINDEF was because it was trivializing rape and sending the wrong message to others about how our society views rape, and it is DEFINITELY not about them wanting to interfere in your manly army bonding activities. It is NOT about telling you what to do in NS, it is about telling not just the army, but the whole of Singapore that rape should not be taken lightly. It just so happens that this song is sung by men serving NS. I’m sure that had it been sung elsewhere, AWARE would have brought it up to the relevant authorities as well.

      Also, I’m certain AWARE won’t mind men getting involved in their affairs, as long as the men are level-headed and not misogynistic like you are.

    • Rei

      “Several men at a workshop on violence against women told us of these lyrics in an NS marching song. They were disturbed by the attitude expressed toward sexual violence. In their view, such lyrics should not be part of the National Service experience.”

      Hi Goh,

      Did you actually read the article or were you too caught up in your stubbornness to bother?

      Also, as seeing how MINDEF has been taking in more female soldiers over the years, it makes perfect sense to create a more condusive environment where rape isn’t a cultural joke but some thing taken seriously. Especially when we see how women serving in the US Marines can be raped and subsequently mocked as according to the rape culture. (eg Ariana Klay)

      By the way, do you realise how ironic the statement “supposed meddling of NS matters by a group of NS ignorant females” is?
      Ask yourself why are issues on abortion or birth control decided by men. Why should pregnant women be fired? Would you like you daughter or wife to be fired because of so-called NS for women?

      Draw parallels more. You’ll be surprise how often women, living in this patriarchal society have suffered and how men who are suppose to fit into their social roles suffer too, even if AWARE is not focusing on the men.

      Feminists groups are often mocked as illogical women (oh look, social binary) how seek supremacy. No. That is not the true spirit of feminism. And while many may be feminazis, you have to consider the fact that we still look at people through the lens of their gender and sexuality.

      Hilary Clinton. Omg will she be the first female president?
      Barack Obama. Omg the first black president?

      I think that isn’t really needed. But it’s unavoidable because we still live in a patriarchal society where women are still being put down because of their gender. Not denying the existence of men being rape or abused, but the majority of the minority being put down are still the female population.


      • Person


        Firstly, I would just like to clarify that I am a male student, who have not gone through NS.
        I would just like to express my opinion on this topic because I think that I understand the misunderstanding here. I think that there is nothing wrong with Bret Goh’s stand and I think that it is indeed the reason behind the outrage.
        However, I also understand the perspective put up by all the others who have violently objected and even protested against his stand.

        I think the misunderstanding lies in the fact that it has appeared as though AWARE was, as put in Goh’s words, “meddling with of NS matters by a group of NS ignorant females”, even if the fact is that it was NS men who raised the issue up with AWARE initially. In today’s world, people often just look at the surface of things when there may have been many aspects to the issue and I think that this is just another such case. Those who have contributed to the outrage may have overlooked the fact that it was NS men who brought up the issue initially and while AWARE may be right to continue pursuing the issue, they should have be more careful on how they approach it, especially since NS has been the center of much discontent among Singaporeans, especially males, since it was implemented.

        So in summary, I just want to say that it is because it appears as though AWARE was meddling with NS issues, without even putting any visible efforts (emphasis on the word visible) into tackling the bigger problem of female inequality (which is the fact that NS is only compulsory for males), that many are angry towards this issue. I would, too, dare say that this public and eager expression of their part in this ban feels inappropriate and that it was a wrong move (or at least done in the wrong manner).


        P.S. To those who would like to use to say that I am ignorant or have not completely read up on the issue, please don’t, because I have spent the past hour reading up on this issue, inclusive of the comments on different pages (although I would admit that it may not have been the complete story). As such, I would welcome any non-aggressive and actually constructive comments and any other different perspectives on this issue.

  2. Joel

    The hostile reactions to the issue show you exactly how far gender issues in Singapore have to go to be taken seriously. A relatively innocuous corrective met with the kind of vociferous misogynistic and symbolically if not physically violent reactions suggest there’s a lot more in the public space of thought that needs to be confronted.

  3. whatsgoingon

    These are terrible lyrics which will continue to haunt and disturb me and many people I know. What is alarming is that there don’t seem to have been any decent people in charge in the SAF. Don’t any officers in our armed forces have daughters or sisters? Don’t they think? Also, these officers have encouraged cohorts of our young men to sing these words. How can we trust them with our sons if this is the education they impart? Boys are being turned into monsters during NS – and we have no choice but to give them up to such training. Thank you AWARE for bringing this up and pursuing it.

    • Rei

      I suppose if they would prefer, maybe songs from pop culture may show them why rape jokes indirectly promote rape culture aka Blurred Lines. It’s not just AWARE. It’s about ‘little bitches’ whining about a song.

      And clearly people who use the words ‘bitches’ and ‘hoes’ and have a mother, sister or wife are truly frightening. I support Xiaxue’s stance.

    • lamerat

      We do not lose sleep nor trouble ourselves with trivial matters like the lyrics of a song. We are guided my strong moral values compatible with socially accepted norms. I find the fact that you have ‘no choice’ but to leave the education of your sons entirely to the SAF and discourage their own conceptualization of what’s right and wrong extremely disturbing.

      People in this society needs to grow up.

    • Jasmin

      If a simple song like this, sung for 3-5mths max during a person’s entire NS period is enough to turn boys into monsters, I would just like to say the Singapore education system has terribly failed, and probably also, the parents’ upbringing has failed.

      Apparently, by your logic, we shouldn’t work, because the work place is harsh and real, and people in there are mean and will backstab you. The work place turns us into monsters that sacrifices our own morals simply because “you see other people doing it”.

      Also, we shouldn’t study, because what the content that we study now has no relations to our adult life. The education system has failed because we have wasted our time studying useless stuff. Maybe you can suggest to have all our syllabus changed to moral education instead.

      Oh, and as a farewell note, please also note that the “terrible lyrics” are not advocated in the service and that it has just been a couple of black sheeps.

  4. Harry Chen

    Clearly, the outburst related to this ban highlights a pervasive trend of condoning anti-social behaviour towards certain segment of society as a twisted means of forming social groups with perceived common goals. While I personally believe that an outright ban on words will only add fuel to fire (banned information is commonly perceived as exclusive and hence actively pursued when unmonitored), I would start with education combined with condemnation, and let the acceptance of the idea that words are indeed powerful slowly sink in. That way it will become crystal clear, that such behaviour, is unacceptable.

  5. Harry Chen

    @Bret Goh, I find your attitude alarming, and it betrays your arrogance (which is not shared by many a decent man that I served with) built on nothing but assumptions and ignorance that our females do not know the situation inside our camps. You seemed to have blatantly ignored the fact that this issue was brought to the attention of AWARE by MEN, and you seek to further entrench the misguided idea that only men should be able to address an issue that affects everyone directly or indirectly as servicemen, servicewomen, fathers, brothers, sons, daughters, mothers etc. You ARE in fact, the reason why such acts have gone on unfettered.

    • Jasmin

      Yes, the issue may have been brought to attention of AWARE by men, but as always, go through the hierarchy. A new staff member of a MNC does not approach his/her CEO to complain about wages; a student does not ask the principal on why his workload is so much. In fact, you don’t see McDonald’s telling KFC to make their prices more equal so that they have an equal and level playing field. Instead, I would like to ask, Why not let the men who raised the issue to AWARE address the issue with their superiors while serving their time? I am of course assuming the men who reported the issue are currently still in the service. If you ask, what if the men that reported it are not from the service? Well, let’s just consider ourselves, the accuracy and reliability of the men that reported it. I’m sure people inside the service have been fighting for the removal of the inappropriate language used too.

  6. Daryl

    Dear AWARE,

    I agree with much of what you say here, but I feel that you have only addressed the poorest, most badly reasoned objections to why many are against your action. The real reason so many are against what you did is a lot more nuanced, and I feel that this guy did a good job presenting the best case against what you did: Hope you read and consider what he says.

    Best regards.

  7. Feminism is for everyone

    Thanks for all your hard work AWARE, it must be hard now that hating against feminism without trying to understand it is a contemporary meme upon itself. I understand where AWARE is coming from, but a learning lesson could be that basing a position on ‘misogyny’ was a mistake in positioning, which has caused the issue to be polarised along gender lines. Part of the confusion lies in no moral criticism of the “kill the man” part, creating a large double standard and thus showing AWARE to be only concerned in gendered interests (which your organisation has indeed stated to be constrained to due to problems of bandwidth, very unfortunately). So apparently, it is not okay to joke about rape but it is okay to joke about killing people – a case of dissonance wherein people can fairly feel there is some injustice that remains. Rape is bad not just because it is misogynistic, and hopefully AWARE could tailor its public relations more inclusively in the future to avoid such backlashes. (But I also understand that your organisation is first and foremost concerned with women’s rights and having to bear an oversized political burden here..)

    Not to trivialise the issue, but the whole ‘saga’ has also exposed in Singaporean society a troubling section of people that omg! actually think that joking about rape is okay; and this allows us to have a substantial view of what pressing gender issues remain out there. This incident has at least shown that Singapore desperately needs much more understanding and awareness of the harm of rape and the rape culture that legitimises it invisibly in society, which is traditionally the role of the ‘feminist’ and in our civil society, AWARE. This is a great burden for your organisation, but I also hope that AWARE can step up its promotion of awareness about such issues as an advocate. We will support you as individual capacities :))

  8. Chum

    I would like to start by stating clearly that I’m no misogynist. I believe in treating women right and would never condone sexual violence against women. Now that that’s clear, I would like to perhaps explain why there was a public outrage against AWARE’s actions.

    First and foremost, most men in Singapore view NS as a sacrifice. They give up two years of their precious youth to serve the country, to endure the tough training that NS has in store for them. The environment that they live under for these two years is apalling to most people, some simply cannot take the regimentation and lash out against their commanders. Thus, when AWARE contacted SAF to ban the singing of these lyrics, it’s akin to sending a statement to the men – Not only do your commanders have complete authority over you, even organizations that have no affliations with the military whatsoever can push you around. How do you think they will react to such a statement? Of course there will be a public lashback.

    Secondly, I would like to point out that there was no outreach at all to our men serving the NS before this ban was initiated. The lyrics were sung for over ten years, and then suddenly it became inappropriate and had to be banned. Instead of directly contacting SAF for a ban, perhaps AWARE could have put up a campaign to encourage NSmen to stop singing the offensive lyrics. People don’t like to be told what to think, when you contact SAF to ban the lyrics, what you’re saying is basically “you have no choice, we deem this offensive and thus you cannot sing it”.

    Furthermore, what then, of the NSmen who had been singing these lyrics for over ten years? You say that those lyrics promote misogyny, and by your diction it seems you feel that you have achieved victory in this matter. Are you saying that those men have been avid promoters of misogyny for over ten years? Are they your opponents now? Nobody likes to be demonized, and you are giving them a reason to set themselves against you.

    Lastly, here you are defending your actions, when you and I both know that the real issue here is not the inappropriateness of the lyrics, but how you have gone about handling the situation. AWARE is, after all, a publicity organization, and this kind of publicity is hardly what you want your organization to face. Instead of publishing this article above, I would suggest that you acknowledge that there were some misjudgements on how the public would react to your actions, and what the organization actually had in mind when it contacted the SAF about this issue. You need to try and understand why the people had these reactions, because you need them on your side.

  9. Harry Chen

    [[Purple Light, rape, and the real reason men are angry with Aware.]] I refer to the post by Daryl which contains the link to the facebook posting with the said title.

    I regret to say, some people don’t get it. You cannot speak for men in general. Not even if you’re the most powerful person on Earth with a penis.

    Thank you.

  10. Alex

    Aiyo, don’t all of you know it’s impossible to win an argument with a woman. Just give up.

    It’s clear that AWARE doesn’t care for the other side of the story, giving little to no merit to the concerns and responses of others, especially the men who have found AWAREs actions pretty much akin to complaining when they have absolutely no locus standi to do so. The incessant defense of actions without giving merit to the objections of others shows that they aren’t open to differences in opinion.

    I personally have no issue with AWARE and their cause. But when they handle an issue like this, without respect for others opinions(however different), it just does then a disservice.

    How can AWARE expect others to open their minds and ears to listen to them when they won’t do the same and listen to the other side of the story? If you don’t respect others, why should anyone respect AWARE’s cause?

    It’s sad that now the obviously sexist statement I started with “Aiyo, don’t all of you know it’s impossible to win an argument with a woman. Just give up”, is actually proven by AWARE. I just find it sad that I, who was once open to the message of aware, am totally turned off by AWARE’s handling of this issue.

    For someone claiming to fight for women’s rights, gender equality etc, you seem to prefer to do a disservice to women. Good job AWARE.

  11. Marcus

    Hi all,

    First and foremost, I like to address that I do agree that the lyrics in question are distasteful. However, to put things into perspective, it is a tongue-in-cheek modification of a popular marching song and to be honest, not the only one to feature sexual content and misogynistic lyrics and it would be naive to think that this would change anything in the army. But of course, SAF has a image and honour to uphold so since the public has lodged a complaint, it needs to deal with it and rightly so. Fair enough.

    I think what most people who are angry are not really angry about the ban on the lyrics. Honestly, all the men who sang it have mothers, wives, daughters and sisters whom they no doubt love dearly and would gladly stop singing it when presented with the alternative view from those who are affected by it. Why we start singing it is because it is a form of camaraderie that comes during service and the lyrics of the songs are never taken too seriously…if not there would probably be a dozen murders every other day. They are just there as an escape from the dreary reality that all NSFs feel.

    And as per all things Mindef, complaints are handled without much fuss (usually) and before you know it, a directive will be passed down to ban this or to perform that (seriously, wearing my beret in public?). There will be grumbles here and there no doubt but after a while, people will “just follow lor” and things would go back to normal with yet another successfully passed directly. Therefore, I think this would have been the case and I even dare say, no one would say a word about it because it is honestly a trivial matter (not rape I would like to qualify but the changing of lyrics in the song). No reason would be given and no one would ask because that is how it works there. Life goes on.
    However, in this instance my dearest aware, you just had to glorify yourself and make it a point to tell the whole world what you did. Mindef could have handled it the way they have done all these time and no one would question anything but no…you would have none of that. You had to let the whole world know what you have done like that guy/girl (better include) in the office who has to claim credit for the whole world to know that he/she has made an excellent cup of coffee for the boss which he/she (this one even more sentive) likes.
    Do you honestly think that there wouldn’t be a backlash online after you posted that? Is the organisation that naïve? Yes, I agree that things done right should be given recognition but it must only be done when unites a society rather than divide. What you have done if you have not realised, is divide a society over a trivial issue and create a bigger emphasis on the glorification of rape and other sub-topics. Doesn’t that go against your initial agenda? It would be great if you have done something like creating a fund raiser for the victims of typhoon Haiyan and helping the thousands of mothers and children who have lost their homes in the disaster and boost about it. People would applaud your actions and you would help to unite the society into a common cause.

    But I guess the damage is done. I am sure that there will be replies to justify and to rebut my comment but I will rest my case after this (just have to get it off my chest). I believe you have done your organisation and more importantly, our society where men and women enjoy a much higher level of equality than most other countries, more harm than good as a result of this incident as the spotlight is back on the issue of men vs women.

    Or perhaps that is something you hope to achieve so you can continue to justify your self-righteous existence.

  12. Bret Goh

    For those who commented on my posting, u guys can go on to criticize and debate on what I’ve written. But seriously, there’s really no need to think too deep about it and give me a long righteous reply. What I’ve said is the bare truth on why there is an uproar in the first place.

    Why not we do a test, get Mindef to change something to NS training and then few months later, get AWARE to ‘meddle’ in something similar. Let’s see what happens ok?

  13. Daniel Ling

    Ever watched a Hollywood movie set in the mystic East, written by an American, with inputs from Asian consultants and their American-Chinese friends? They tend to be odd caricatures of Asian culture, missing the nuances while seizing on and overplaying concepts like and “yin and yang”(Last Samurai and The Forbidden Kingdom come to mind). It’s a dead giveaway when they use the word “chi”.

    Well, to an NSMan, the complaint to Mindef certainly sounded just like that, and I’m guessing, for similar reasons.

    I can’t blame AWARE for what it did; after all, only hindsight is 20/20. However, while the high road is an easy one to take, it’s not always the best. The robust defence this article puts up is eminently justified, but it WILL come across as defiant. The title, “perplexing”, WILL come across as a high-brow, back-handed insult to the angry mob. Not always the best option to quell what has developed into a PR disaster.

    In short- don’t preach to the converted.

    I have few solutions- even 10 years down the road AWARE would likely be remembered as “the group that got Purple Light banned” (however inaccurate a characterisation that may be). But perhaps a less indignant tone will serve your interests better and cushion the landing a little.

    Just a thought.

  14. […] wrote a good response to some of the arguments brought up against them here. My favourite in that list is […]

  15. Alfred

    Please, do not hide behind the men who initiated this concern. They brought up their burden in your workshop, but ultimately this case is not up to this organisation to voice out. If somebody wants to make this known to MINDEF/SAF, let it be the men in your workshop, not women who have no enter the military world like yourself.

    This is a very good metaphor:
    “A group of people barge into a kitchen of a high-class restaurant demanding that the kitchen immediately halt the usage various ingredients. They claim that these ingredients are unhealthy and promotes obesity.”

    Do you think that is morally correct? Shouldn’t a more toned-down and rightful approach be administered? I.e. Shouldn’t the waiters/waitresses be informed first of the comments before the kitchen?

    I just want to say in this situation (of AWARE), the order and is wrong. The way they chose to tackle certain concerns are (albeit with a understandable agenda)is incorrect. I recommend a withdrawal of personal pride, and an increase of brain usage when such issues come into sight.

    • Harry

      You know what? Alfred’s absolutely right. This issue I concerns only men. And to a larger extent, impotent men with low IQ who wants to sing a song about raping …… You know what?! It’s all concerning only men so women should just shut up, OK?!

      Ok thanks. Peace. No offense. And all those things that people say but absolutely don’t mean it.

  16. LLL

    “Booking out, see my girlfriend
    Saw her with another man
    Kill the man, rape my girlfriend
    With my rifle and my buddy and me.”

    The only thing I can say is that, I am really surprised such lyrics are approved by a force who is supposed to protect Singaporeans regardless male or female. What is the motto and mission of MINDEF? I look up upon you all because of what you all do to PROTECT Singapore and the people, but with these lyrics, I must say, you need to change the person who wrote this song because he/she does not understand the responsibility and duty of a Singaporean regardless of gender. How is “Raping your girlfriend and killing the man who took your gf” going to boost NS’s morale?

    It’s not about AWARE or gender issue, it is the logic of this song. Is it LOGICAL, written with COMMON SENSE and incorporating the MOTTO and MISSION of MINDEF? Who in the world will write something like this?

    • Daniel

      Dear LLL, your post reflects a serious misunderstanding about how NS songs work.

      I’m guessing it’s cos you haven’t served, which is the whole reason behind the uproar- the song was taken out of context by a group of people who have a poor understanding of the whole NS experience. The Sunday Times on 24 Nov 2013 had 2 very well-written op-eds in the Think secion (one by a lady who, kudos to her, understood the situation so well what she said I couldn’t have said better myself).

      If you have served, surely you would know that
      1. MINDEF does not “approve” these song lyrics. MINDEF is a Ministry, and is separate from the SAF. Not sure why AWARE chose to write to MINDEF, which does policy work.

      2. Even then, the SAF does not approve song lyrics. In BMT, we are issued a little handbook with some basic song lyrics somewhere inside, but these are the basic, “vanilla” versions of the song. No rape lyrics here.

      3. Nobody “writes” the non-vanilla versions of these songs. They are improvised. Like how rappers improvise and freestyle, we improvise lyrics about our most hated sergeants, the hottest sister/gf among our platoon mates, the worst cookhouse dish etc.

      4. The most memorable ones get passed down from generation to generation. So “charging the person who wrote this song” would be as impossible (and pointless) as trying to find the kid responsible for introducing a particular version of “fire and ice” or “catching” in a primary school.

      I’m not saying that the song lyrics are right, but I’m just saying that targeting them alone demonstrates the lack of cultural understanding that engendered the defensive and strong response that it did.

  17. Surya

    You know AWARE, if you don’t want such sexually abusive lyrics, don’t you think that women should change their attitude when their husbands/boyfriends are enlisted in the Army? There is no smoke without fire, and I think that the reason these lyrics exist is because NSMen in the past have experienced such pain of losing their girlfriends. So, it is a two-way thing. I think that if the NSMen need to change, so do the women and their attitude towards NSMen.

  18. Nick

    I don’t condone sexual violence of any sort. However, AWARE’s reaction to this matter clearly demonstrates their misguided tunnel vision. Would “Rape the man, kill my girlfriend” somehow be more acceptable, or at least less deplorable, to AWARE?

    • Nick

      How about “Kill the man, kill my girlfriend”? Perhaps “Kill the man, kiss my girlfirend”? Alright “Kiss the man, kiss my girlfriend”? Everybody’s happy now.

  19. Harry

    It’s so much fun watching reaction from men in general here, over the relatively trivial issue of a ban on certain inappropriate practices. If only our MEN applied the same energy and vigor in the usage of their mental faculties with regards to self improvement and cross cultural communication and understanding. But I guess banning singing about raping people must have touched some raw nerve here, somewhat comparable to the case where a robber being arrested points to a shoplifter asking, “shouldn’t you be arresting someone else first, officer?”

    So much fun. So interesting.

    • Chum

      Please don’t be a stereotypical keyboard warrior, skipping the arguments completely and moving on to personal attacks. Hiding behind your anonymity on the internet does not mean you have the right to judge others. Come on, you’re better than that.

  20. Harry

    Most of you here have friends or relatives who are female, yes? Did you even bother to find out who was responsible for coming up with the ban in the first place?

    Why are we putting guns in your hands? What makes you people think that you are any different from those in WWII who did what they did, because “everyone did the same, and sang the same song of war, and obeyed orders without question”?

    On the surface you seem like a bigoted lot, but in reality, you’re dangerous. If you don’t even know that the roles you play are for the protection of your friends and families first and foremost, you’re not fit to carry firearms.