President Halimah Yacob has urged podcast channel OKLETSGO to apologise to all women for their “offensive, humiliating and misogynistic” remarks made towards women on its podcasts, adding that it is not okay to treat women like “dirtbags and punching bags”.
“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.”
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.
In the post, President Halimah stated that she received many emails from concerned people as they are worried about the kind of values that are being promoted to the youngsters. She added that degrading women to boost ratings or just for the sole purpose to make people laugh is not justifiable.
“Taking cheap pot shots at women to boost ratings or to make some people laugh no matter how offensive, cannot be justified under any label be it freedom of speech or encouraging conversations. How do you encourage healthy conversations about the role of women and families, when your starting point is to degrade women,” she wrote.
Ever since the programme aired its first podcast episode on 2 February 2019, it had slowly made its way up to be a crowd’s favourite. The podcast is famous for its relatable and unfiltered style.
In an episode that talked about sexually attractive older women, one of the hosts jokingly told that he likes women with “bums and legs”, resulting to laughter from the other hosts.
“If we continue to perpetuate the image of women being inferior, existing only for the purpose of male sexual gratification, then we have to be held responsible for being one of the perpetrators of violence against women,” Madam Halimah stated.
She went on to say, “Our women in Singapore have worked very hard to raise their status through education, employment and in raising healthy families. They are important in building healthy communities which will be undermined by such podcasts.”
“They don’t deserve this treatment by OkLetsGo or any other group.”
Podcast host agrees on upsetting women
In a Facebook post on Saturday (13 June), one of the hosts Mr Dzar acknowledged that their “style and stage personans” might have been upsetting to women.
“We recognise that there has been a diversity of opinion on the issue and see the feedback from all sides of the topic,” he said.
He continued, “We appreciate the constructive feedback that leaves us space to improve and grow as we have been over our short year-long journey thus far.”
Mr Dzar said that the programme reached the level that it is now due to the support of the community, which includes women. As such, he said that his team will work on improving the content and work hand in hand to “build bridges”.
“We remain committed to our open-minded approach and will not shy away from tough issues affecting our community,” he noted.
The host also wrote about the criticism that it received in its latest episode, which aired before the President’s post. He said that it was not the programme’s intention to degrade women.
While he agreed that the language used during the episode is “out of ordinary”, but added that it was true to their “flavour”, which according to him has attracted a large amount of listeners.
OKLETSGO says sorry
Following a few hours after the President’s post went public today, OKLETSGO took to its Facebook to apologise to its listeners who they have “hurt with our words and content”.
“We reflected on this more, and we are truly sorry it took us this long to realize the extent of hurt that we have caused,” it said.
It added, “Thank you, Madam President and respected individuals/groups for amplifying the voices of those who have been hurting, and we take this opportunity to sincerely apologize to all our listeners who we 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 will be more careful in the way we portray matters moving forward”.