Here are just some of the few current issues I am interested in:
The most recent incident being the ‘brownface’ ad from broadcaster Mediacorp, featuring actor Dennis Chew as 4 characters. What sparked controversy is his skin being darkened to depict an Indian man and a Malay woman wearing a headscarf.
Another more internationally known example involves Kim Kardashian, an American celebrity. In 2019, she released a shapewear brand, initially called ‘Kimono’. Kim received backlash for borrowing the word for a traditional Japanese style of dress for her venture.
Recently the ban on plastic straws have grown into more of a ‘trend’ rather than sustaining the environment. Supermarkets stopped distributing plastic bags(for free, but they are available for 20 cents per piece). And if companies really want to save the environment, why not stop plastic bags altogether? I believe that this is a case of “green washing“.
Some critique that banning plastic straws is not an empathetic move, especially for the disabled. And I completely agree. There’s nothing wrong with saving the turtles, but we should really look out for our fellow species first.
Feminism & Women’s rights
I feel most strongly for this topic, because it is relatable to me. This has been an ongoing issue and women who have been assaulted are made to think they are to blame. Below are some articles and links to support my view.
“It took me years to realize that only 1 thing could have stopped me from getting raped that night— and it wasn’t my skirt, it wasn’t my smile, it wasn’t my childish trust. The only thing that could have stopped me from being raped that night, is the man who raped me. Had he stopped himself.” -Thordis Elva
Google ‘Rape in India’ and its impossible to miss the overwhelming articles on different cases. This is no surprise, as rape is fourth most common crime against women in India. According to the National Crime Records Bureau 2013 annual report, 24,923 rape cases were reported across India in 2012. -Wikipedia
As particular case which brought international concern was the 2012 gang rape in Delhi. The men took it in turns to rape the Jyoti, victim and then they used an iron bar on her. Leslee Udwin interviewed Mukesh Singh, one of the rapists. One particular line he said struck me deeply: “A decent girl won’t roam around at nine o’clock at night. A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy,”
The idea of women being responsible for men’s savageness is outright disgusting. Both articles boil down that this should not be the case, and that men should be held 100% responsible for their own actions.
The following article suggests victim blaming: where rape victims are held responsible for the tragedy. Phrases such as “don’t dress this way” or “don’t go out till late” do suggest that it is a woman’s responsibility to prevent any potential assault on her.
If I were to do a project based on this, I would love to shed light on the misconceptions of sexual assault. My target audience would be women, to let them know that it is ok and they are not the only ones who face this. My second possible target audience would be the public who are ignorant to this situation, and undermine women’s rights to this issue. To do that, I have collected the societal myths vs facts on sexual assault in Singapore.
Many times victims or sexual assault are often suffer in silence. Victims are encouraged to report it, and yet ironically in some societies the same victims are seen as “less than” or “impure”. I would like my project to evoke discussion and contribute to change— to shed light on this taboo. To let people know that it is okay to speak up and tell others what they have been through. There is no need for shame for something women cannot control at all, and if more than anything else, the rapists should be the ones hiding their faces. Women should possess the right to wear anything they want, go anywhere they want at any time of the day, and not feel unsafe/intimidated around men.
Following this, I have gathered some information on artworks and designs that involve a similar feminist notion to my topic. These impactful works encourage change and provoke thought.
- Fuck housework by Virtue Hathaway,
The words “Fuck Housework” is printed in black olde english lettering, similar to old posters that are often used for manuscripts and formal letters. The informal and vulgar word “fuck” is used in such a manner instead, producing such a controversial poster. This controversy however works very well for the poster. The feminist message is brought across as of high importance and should be seen as equally legitimate as old, precious english manuscripts.
The fact that no colours are involved deems this poster as old and antique. This relays the message that women have been fighting for their rights since the olden days, and the struggle for women’s equality still continue till today. Following the comment from a judge that commented that the poster is “against public policy and does nothing but demean our society”, Hathaway responded: “He is right. The poster is an expression of outrage against public policy, the public policy of exploiting women.”
Ringgold is known for her feminist works, especially her support for black women. The textile-like design offers us the words ‘WOMAN’, ‘FREEDOM’ and ‘NOW’, boldly laden in black, red and green. The triangles are echoed and repeated, stretched and frame the words to give a voice that continually chant, scream even.
Working with Typography and graphics, Kaiser incorporated words that reveal the workings of a contemporary feminism. The words—“corporate”, “stop being desperate”, “your body, are twisted, elongated and distorted on a towel. Even the material she has chosen is one that is clearly well thought, for a towel is an intimate object used to envelope a naked body. The print evocatively uses chains and a ladder, a symbolic critique of a feminism that prioritises climbing up the ladder in free-market society.