It’s Ok Now. You Are Safe.

The last two days has been heartbreakingly painful. The stories that has been coming in from girls and women about their experience with abuse, particularly with religious figures or workplace/school settings has been difficult to digest.

But with every story that gets sent to me, there is a silver lining.
For many of them, they are telling me this story for the first time. After carrying something so heavy for a long, long time – they are finally building that courage to click on my DMs and with trembling hands, and soft tears running down their faces, recounting their story and typing it out to me.

This I have realised, is the superpower of @beingbravelywoman.

For many of us, these stories are plastered with shame.
Shame which should have never fallen on us in the first place.
And shame can consume you.

Here is an analogy to illustrate how this works.
Think of shame as a demon. A demon that will whatever it takes to devour you completely. The only way to get rid of this demon, it to expose the demon to Light. And this Light is not the normal light we are familiar with. This Light is a process. A process which requires you to tell your story. Your story of what happened to you. Each time you tell someone about it by shining Light on what happened to you, the demon gets weaker and weaker. Eventually, there will come a day, where it is destroyed completely and can no longer have a hold on you.

Every woman who came forward to tell me their story for the first time, ends their DM with me with the same message.

“I feel so much lighter now.”
“I feel a little relief.”
“I actually feel so much better.”

And not everyone deserves to know your story. And not everyone will know how to carry your story. So choose wisely who you wish to tell. But tell someone. It doesnt have to be the whole story if you are not ready yet. It does not have to be every single detail. But whatever you can, tell.

This is why therapy is always encouraged. Because you TELL someone your story in therapy. It’s something you keep talking about. You keep exposing the demon of Shame.

So look around your circle, identify those you trust and expose shame.
And if you can’t find anyone, you have @beingbravelywoman.
I will be here.
I will be listening.
You will be safe.

Okay Lets Go Read This Unpopular Opinion

The original phrase, ‘see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” is often used to refer to those who deal with impropriety by turning a blind eye.

I don’t think I need to go into detail to prove the highly misogynic content of the people behind OLG.
That’s already all over social media here, here and go google the rest.

What I want to bring your attention to, is how we need to reframe this as a society.

Here are some facts.
1. OLG is an entertainment platform just like all the others out there.
2. They are entertaining and funny. (when they don’t speak about women)
3. They are a highly influential platform for Malay youths.
4. They objectify women in every other episode and speak about women in an extremely degrading and insulting manner.

No one force you to listen what? Don’t like, don’t listen lah!

Why do Malays get upset when The Straits Times publish articles on drugs or low income families but use a completely unrelated picture of a Malay boy? Don’t like, don’t read lah.

Why do Muslims get upset when mainstream media uses an obviously Muslim looking man or woman in a hijab to depict a terrorist? Don’t like don’t listen lah, don’t watch lah, don’t whatever lah.

If you can see the logic behind why the above statements are problematic, then you might get a slight idea of why people are livid, upset and angry over how misogyny is celebrated by such an influential & public platform which is popular amongst youths.

But there are plenty other obscene content out there. You all just hate it when Malay people are successful.

Ok, first of all…… what?
Second, the largest voice calling them out are those from the Malay community and a majority, Malay youths. (Which can I just say – I am highly impressed and proud of this generation of youth)
Third, the issue of misogyny is the world’s oldest prejudice.
People are not angry about the profanities used. People are angry because whether you like it or not, when you own a public platform and you speak in a demeaning way about something or someone, you inevitably normalise this behaviour.

On an entirely different note, imagine if a local podcast ran by 3 Chinese men, spoke they way OLG podcasters do, about Malay women.
Imagine if they said
“Malay women’s breast are as big as soccer balls”
“If you have lots of cash, Malay girls will come”
“Malay women are barang baik” (Nice goods)

Can you imagine how ALL the Malays in Singapore, Malaysia and some say JB, will unite against this podcast channel? Against these 3 men and their podcast?
How all Malay men and women will demand for the complete apology, shutdown and deletion of their existence?

Yet, when popular Malay men do it to women, the same community will now defend these men completely. Why??

It’s not OLG, It’s us

Although I wrote to OLG last year in October which I detailed here, and they replied with “thank you for your valuable feedback. We will curate our content better in the future,” it’s clear now that their response was simply a “k.thx.bye.”
Because here we are again, with more people but the same feedback.

But the more important question I feel is this – if their content was so demeaning towards women, how did they become so popular?
We know what it says about them but what does it say about us as a community? What does it say about our people?

Plus I know I was not the only soul in Singapore who gave them feedback prior to this furore. So why did they not heed? What or more alarmingly, who gave OLG the audacity to continue bashing women the way they did?

Easy peasy, you and me.
If we in our everyday life, normalise misogyny – what’s so wrong in listening to a podcast that does the same? It’s NORMALISED!
So there’s nothing jarring about a podcast which simply reflects the way we interact and treat women or men who demean women.

Also, when the Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore, endorse you so publicly, what do you care about people’s feedback?

And when the Senior Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Social and Family Development, who heads the office for women development collaborated with you, surely you must be doing something right?

Don’t get me wrong. These are two wonderful men I’ve personally met.
And we can always give them the benefit of doubt of not knowing the content of OLG prior to their “collabs.”

But this explains the audacity.
When you have a continuous rise in popularity with the majority NOT calling you out, when other people of influence and authority “collaborate” (see also: endorsing – especially in the world of influencers) with you, despite the misogyny in your content, why would you give a damn?

This is why people speak out. This is why those who have influence and authority must say or do something.
This reinforces a zero tolerance attitude which will be reflected to the society.
We see you, MP Zainal Sapari.

But do me a favour while we are on the topic of influential people, go back and look at all the personalities, asatizahs, artists, politicians etc who collaborated with OLG.
Again, we can extend the benefit of doubt to them because maybe at that time, they themselves weren’t listeners of OLG and had no idea how misogynistic the content was.
But surely, they must be aware of this furore by now.
Are they still choosing to remain silent?

But not being a misogynist is not enough.
You must be anti-misogyny. 

This starts with you. It starts from your home. It start’s with how you raise your sons. With how you treat your daughters at home.

And men, we don’t need your secret allyship when you call us on the phone and tell us how much you support women yet in your circle of boys, stay silent when they rampage through Misogyny Town.
Or how you write an article on ‘feminism’ yet laugh when your boys objectify and joke about women.
Or how you use your asatizah status and quote hadith of the Prophet and his respect towards women to show you are pro women but when OLG is called out, you stay silent.

You have benefited from a system that favours you while it oppresses us, so the onus is on you – to use your hands, your voice, your heart and your soul.
To do whatever it takes, despite that pressure and fear of being made fun of by your bros, to SAY and DO the right thing always.

Lastly, I am pretty damn sure you can still be successful, famous and popular, without the need to plunder on the dignity and honour of women. 
Once OLG cleans up their act, I will gladly follow their podcast.

Bravely Yours,