Monday, 12 June 2006


From “most sexist female” artist to …?

Although I did not hope to open Glocal Canvas with this kind of post, the issue was too compelling to ignore.

In Hong Kong, Sammy Leung Chi-kin and Kitty Yuen Siu-yee host Commercial Radio 2’s So Fab radio show. On Friday, 2 June 2005, they launched an internet poll on their show asking listeners to vote for “the most popular singer/actress for indecent assault”. In view of a public outcry, the title of the poll on Sunday was changed to “the sexist Hong Kong female artist”, for the former poll was considered insulting and degrading to women. [South China Morning Post, 6 June 2006] Perhaps, the original poll also fell foul for abetting a criminal activity. Now the two hosts have offered an apology, and the Commercial Radio has suspended the popular duo (sent on no-pay leave!) as well as their program for two months. The issue will also be investigated, among others, by the Broadcasting Authority.

Nevertheless, this controversy showcases the prevalent attitude towards women even in a free-developed society like Hong Kong. By changing the poll title, we are made to believe that naming sexist women would be perfectly consistent with showing respect to women. But this may not be the case. To a great majority of populace, especially in developed societies, the term ‘sexy’ – which as per the Oxford Dictionary (2nd edn, 1989), ‘sexy’ means “sexually attractive or provocative, sexually exciting” – no longer rings any alarm bell. However, this term too is an instrument of women subjection (just do a Google search of the term ‘sexy’ to find this out). After all, why would males fancy and find sexy some female artist more than others? It may not merely be because of their appreciation for nature’s beauty. In the guise of bringing freedom and empowerment to women, constructs such as ‘sexy’ incrementally results in nothing by male dominance. It is a vicious circle aimed at undermining the dignity of women: first women are made to outclass each other in a race for infinite sexiness and then they are made a commodity for sexual and other exploitations. For example, do not some still suggest that ‘she’ invited rape or indecent asault by (not) wearing a particular kind of clothes or by behaving in a particular way?

My fears are that as ‘sexy’ has been made to appear an innocuous adjective now, in future even voting for a woman whom one would like most to indecently assault might be considered appropriate and acceptable (after all, the named women should take pride and feel powerful for being such a desirable person!) The critical point is not the social or lingistic change, but who are benefitting by such change.

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