We are wo(men)

Prestige (Singapore) - - EDITOR’S LETTER - Lau­ren Tan | MAN­AG­ING EDITOR

In­vited by a girl­friend, I re­cently found my­self sit­ting through the open­ing night per­for­mance of a mu­si­cal — one so well-etched into pop­u­lar culture that I bet you, and you, and you, could sing along to the stand­out hits. The kind of the­atre where ac­tors break into song and dance, seem­ingly at whim, isn’t re­ally my thing. But there I was, awed, when mid-song, one of the leads dropped her eye-high leg kick into an im­pres­sive front split, while main­tain­ing a smile and per­fect pitch.

Then I did the hor­ri­ble — I judged the size of her thighs. And then I did it again with another fe­male dancer. It was so swift and un­con­scious the way the thoughts ran through my mind. Ac­tu­ally, I ob­jec­ti­fied the men too. If you’re go­ing to be shal­low, at least have some con­sis­tency, I say.

“We are all con­di­tioned to view the fe­male form as a cer­tain level of per­fec­tion,” my friend says to help ease my guilt. “And you were blown away by their tal­ents and con­fi­dence. Any­way, they need no val­i­da­tion and are proud of their bod­ies.”

Not that it re­ally mat­ters, but this friend of mine is one of those pint-sized dy­namos with per­fect hair and red lips who click-clacks into meet­ings in four-to-five inch pumps. She works hard and of­ten re­minds me to be a more as­sertive go-get­ter.

“Toast to fe­male em­pow­er­ment in your editor’s note,” she sug­gests.

Here’s the thing. I like equal op­por­tu­nity (and mer­i­toc­racy). If I’m go­ing to toast to fe­male em­pow­er­ment, then I’m go­ing to have to do the same for male em­pow­er­ment at some point. But I find the ter­mi­nol­ogy strange, let’s not even talk about whether it’s po­lit­i­cally cor­rect — though, yes, re­gard­less of gen­der, a per­son should be able to feel em­pow­ered. Any­way, what do I re­ally know about fe­male em­pow­er­ment aside from the op­por­tu­ni­ties at my dis­posal? I haven’t had to fight for my rights and voice as a woman. The women be­fore me did it so I could go about my day com­fort­ably think­ing that women’s rights ought to be sim­ply hu­man rights and vice versa.

I’m not sug­gest­ing misog­yny does not ex­ist.

I will say though that this magazine has al­ways cel­e­brated women. In th­ese pages have been women who’ve steered busi­nesses, cham­pi­oned causes, ad­vanced science and tech­nol­ogy, fol­lowed their pas­sions and sup­ported hus­bands and chil­dren who have steered busi­nesses, cham­pi­oned causes, ad­vanced science and tech­nol­ogy and fol­lowed their pas­sions.

We also cel­e­brate women for their keen fash­ion sense. How of­ten do we do a fash­ion shoot with men? Rarely. They usu­ally just get put in three di‰er­ent suits — same same, but di‰er­ent — for what’s in­vari­ably a piece about their pro­fes­sional clout. Per­haps we re­ally do have to cor­rect this clear gen­der bias and put them in sum­mer shorts.

Rather than me­an­der and rum­ble on some more, let me wish ev­ery­one a happy In­ter­na­tional Women’s Day. And to the men, thank you for sup­port­ing and re­spect­ing the fe­males around you.

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