Gender-equality organisation AWARE took to its Facebook on Monday (15 June) to “strongly denounce” the hosts of OKLETSGO podcast for their misogynistic remarks made about women in their recent episodes.
It also noted its support for women who spoke up against the said language in the last few days.
“We strongly denounce the misogynistic language from the hosts of OKLETSGO, and support the women who spoke up over the past few days to call out said language,” it said.
The podcast channel, which has taken the number one spot in local Spotify charts, has come under fire recently for objectifying women.
Hosted by three former Mediacorp deejays – Dzar Ismail, 34, Raja Razie, 38, and Dyn Norahim, 38 – the programme gets tens of thousands of listeners each episode. Some of the topics highlighted in the podcast include religion, sexuality, drugs and prison life.
The hosts had uttered several misogynistic comments over a number of past episodes and in one, openly commented on the “cleavage” of a woman guest during an interview. They have made other sexual remarks about women in other episodes as well.
Following the controversial incident, President Halimah Yacob has urged the trio to apologise for their degrading remarks on women.
“Women are not objects to be made fun of, ridiculed and trampled upon, and no one has the right to do that to them. Women have the right to be respected, valued for their contribution in the family and in our society,” said Madam Halimah in a Facebook post on Monday (15 June).
She added, “Hence, the Podcast OkLetsGo should sincerely and humbly apologise to all women for their offensive, humiliating and misogynistic remarks on their podcasts about women. I received so many emails from very concerned people.”
Just a few hours after her post was published, OKLETSGO issued an apology to all its listeners who have “hurt with our words and content”.
The hosts also said that they “do not condone misogyny in any way” and apologise for the “objectification of women” and that they will be more careful in the way they portray matters moving forward.
Although the hosts have issued an apology, AWARE stated that it wants to “deconstruct some of the ideas and arguments that have come up so far’.
“Talking on air about your favourite female body parts (vis-à-vis sexual positions) is textbook sexual objectification. Telling a female guest that you can’t pay attention to what she’s saying because her cleavage is too distracting is not only objectification, it’s sexual harassment. Declaring how much you “love young girls” is borderline paedophiliac and invites listeners to sexualise young girls,” AWARE said.
What is sexual objectification?
Explaining what sexual objectification is, the gender-equality organisation said that by portraying a woman based on a collection of body parts solely with the intention of sexual gratification, the person is deliberately seeing the woman as an object and not as a complex human being.
“By treating women as inanimate items without agency or personhoods, you see them as tools to be used or products to be consumed, and forget that they exist independently of you,” it wrote.
It added, “This might seem rather abstract, but objectification is itself a form of violence and has very real effect: While men tend to have functional, holistic views of their bodies, women have more fragmented, compartmentalised views, which – studies have shown – impact their mental health (leading to eating disorders, depression and more)”.
AWARE also asserted that misogyny doesn’t have to be intentional for it to be regarded as a problem. It added that though one’s purpose was not to degrade women, but “unconscious attitudes and biases seep into your behaviours all the time”.
“Attempting to frame tragically outdated views on gender as some sort of boundary-pushing, “no holds barred”, progressive schtick takes some mental acrobatics. What’s more traditional and conservative than patriarchy? Some deeper reflection seems to be in order here,” it explained.
The organisation went on to say that OKLETSGO’s response of “haters gonna hate” is a thin cop-out. “This line of thinking itself violates the speech rights of those criticising the show, by implying if they have a problem, they should exit the conversation,” it added.
Additionally, AWARE also slammed OKLETSGO’s response of stating “we’re not perfect” as it puts words in critics’ mouths.
“They never asked for perfection, simply for you to exercise the responsibility conferred upon you by your platform, and understand that your speech has a real impact on society. Saying ‘we are not mainstream’ bizarrely implies that only mainstream media has a responsibility to be progressing,” it explained.
Despite applauding OKLETSGO’s move of bringing in marginalised individuals like transgender activist Sherry Sherqueshaa of Project X to the show, AWARE stressed that unfortunately she was “subject to the aforementioned verbal harassment concerning her cleavage”.
“You can take actions to promote trans representation while simultaneously demeaning a trans person. No thing is “all progressive” or “all regressive”, as much as online culture operates within a false condone/condemn binary,” AWARE wrote.
It continued, “People have their blind spots. “Good” behaviour does not erase or redeem “bad” behaviour. For example, it’s great that the hosts have supported single mothers and fulfilled some fatherly responsibilities, but that’s irrelevant to the discussion at hand. It doesn’t make it OK to say that they “love young girls”.”
Suggestions moving forward
AWARE also gave some suggestions to the hosts on how they can go forward with their podcasts.
The first is for them to continue to express their disapproval to their fans who harass OKLETSGO’s critics by rape threats and doxxing.
“Do not encourage that repugnant (and possibly illegal) behaviour with silence or, worse, your own remarks, private or public,” AWARE stated.
The organisation also suggested for the podcast channel to have an episode or multiple episodes that looks into the hosts’ perspectives on gender.
“Educate your listeners about the dangers of objectification, slut-shaming and other problematic myths about sex,” AWARE said, adding that it is happy to help them with this.
If that’s not all, the organisation also recommended that the trio sign up for AWARE’s Sexual Assault First Responder Training, in order for them to understand the feelings of sexual assault survivors.
“Commit to more nuanced, sensitive, trauma-informed discourse in all future content – whether or not the President is listening,” AWARE concluded.