Wah She Is Alive!

Yes I am alive! I have just been crazy busy and my muse aka S… went to pay homage to IKEA’s holy temple in Sweden, while I am now on my annual teaching gig.

Like in the previous 2 (or is it 3 now?) years then I am back to talk, and sometimes teach, about Journalism in Asia and how to avoid getting arrested, or beat up, while operating in an Asian country to future journalists.

This year I am actually enjoying it greatly and think it is because I have found a form that fits me well and also because I actually have been given time to do it properly this year so I don’t have to force feed the students with a crazy amount of information in a very short period of time.

This time I even have time to tell jokes and sound smart (or act like it).

So I like it – even told S… that I loved it, and greatly enjoy it so much that I could see myself do this more often, than the two months that I am doing this year.

Maybe this lesbian here enjoy it because she knows there is a time limit and that she don’t have to do it all year long (yes, yes she had begun to talk about herself in 3rd person again).

Anyway, as it is, I did piss off my boss as well so at the same time I am, unlike the previous years forced to work full time at my daytime job – as sort of a perverse punishment and catch up on missed hours where I am teaching along the week and weekends.

Actually I would like to do something targeted journalists and people in the media in Singapore on how to shoot, conduct interviews and edit video’s because my face cringes every time I watch a video that is supposed to have been produced by a Singaporean journalist or media professional at the “established media”. I mean, quite often the sound are horrible, post production and editing are outrageous and I wonder if they have ever been taught simple white balancing and color grading techniques, but also how they could instruct and help the people they interview on how to pose and dress themselves, so they as reporters can create content that are interesting to view and experience.

Or at least just do something that don’t make me want to gouge my eyes out while I watch them – yes I accidentally got to see videos from RazorTV among other.

I am not gone, I have not given up on the blog either. But I have just been through a period with little time and where I didn’t know if it still is worth it for me to continue this blog any longer. I will continue, just don’t really know how often I will be updating it and in what futuere format it will be in. I am still experimenting with if I should move over to a video blog instead – but it won’t be as often as I initially planned to in the beginning of this year.

But thanks for reading and thanks for following!

Guess what? Singapore did it again!! Dropped another spot on the World Press Freedom Index

A few years ago Singapore surpassed even Russia on the world press freedom index, and is now closer than ever to countries like North Korea and China when it comes to freedom for the press.

As many of the readers of this blog might not know, then freedom for the press is usually only something that is mentioned as a joke in Singapore, or at least followed by several question marks. So yes, Singapore is notorious when it comes to giving the press and journalists proper working conditions. It is so bad that it is has been many years since the established press had a proper piece in their publications that needed investigating journalism.

Singapore does not in its many universities offer journalism as a degree, so when you are looking at the staff on the major locally and governed owned  (they all are) news organizations in Singapore, then more than 97% of the staff does not have a classical journalistic education. They haven’t been taught basic skills on how to write journalistic pieces and ask the hard questions when conducting an interview – something that might be good for them, because Singapore is notorious for making use of deformation suits when news and magazines write something that individuals in power don’t like.

In all of Singapore, there are currently, including myself, only 4 (possibly 5 now) who have both an undergraduate and postgraduate degree in Journalism or broadcast journalism.

From the Singaporean governments point of view, then investigating journalism and trained reporters are very bad for the country.

Yes, you read it right. Investigating journalism hurt the Singaporean economy and should by all and any means be stopped! This does also mean that any foreign journalist who operate on Singaporean soils are investigated and monitored. This also include any foreigner who disclose that they have a degree in journalism when they apply for a job in Singapore, or declare that they are a journalist when they enter Singapore.

Media companies who operate in Singapore is also monitored, and this include BBC, Reuters and many other established organizations that you normally would see as having a high ethical standard and practice when it comes to journalism – well Reuters…. are there for making money not reporting or making critical journalism. Anyway, I mentioned Reuters for a reason, but more about them in a while.

But what does it mean for a country like Singapore when there aren’t a critical media, or a country where journalists can’t work if they are too critical and don’t follow the party (PAP) line?

First of all it means that individuals are generally reluctant to talk to journalists who ask sensitive questions, that is not really unusual, but it is unusual that individuals are outright scared about what it will mean to them and their families if they speak out on matters that the Singaporean government might find “sensitive” or bring the “Singaporean name” into a bad light.

Companies in Singapore can do whatever they want to do and often do illegal, or highly questionable ethical things without  getting in trouble about it because they know that the only who will be able to bring it to light are reporters who investigate it, and they can’t operate properly on Singapore grounds. This also mean that more and more western (and other Asian) countries have moved their shady deals to Singapore, or placed them in a Singaporean shell company. Latest that have been seen with the Panama papers – where the government said they would “look into it”, but we all know what that really means…

One of the world’s largest oil scandals have ties to Singapore and a Singaporean owned oil trading company, but because the owner have very close ties to members of the Singaporean parliament, then the company have been able to continue to operate (and still does) and scam in the oil trading business.

More recently Singapore have an Olympic scandal that at least are on levels with the 1994 Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding event, that have everything that a Olympic sports drama can have, tree party intrigues, violence and intense jealousy on a very public level, but nothing that local news dared to pick up on and follow.

Singapore decided to order the closure of the online news website The Real Singapore (TRS) because of content regarded as overly critical towards the Singaporean government and two of its alleged contributors were accused of “sedition,” that could lead to 21 years of prison. Bloggers have been hunted down and some have been prosecuted for what they said and wrote online, when they were critical of the so-called government.  Something that I have felt on myself, when the Singaporean version of the 50-cent party (locally called the 5 cent army) attacked me for some of my earlier blog posts, that ended with that some of my nearest family feared that it would hurt them and their children. This also included that I got my phone hacked several times, and had when it lasted had several hacking attempts on my private and company email accounts and online social profiles. All something that is completely unacceptable when it comes to governments and how they deal with their own citizens.

The 5 cent army is a number of about 30 people employed by the Singaporean government to monitor blogs, social medias and online posts, and attack those who are critical against Singaporeans “interests”.

Since many news organizations are working out of Singapore, then they have been forced to limit themselves on what they are writing about Singapore. This could be seen when I a few years ago fell over a story about how IKEA censored an article about gay couples in their own magazine.

When the story broke, then Reuters initially released a briefing that countries like Russia, Singapore and Malaysia among other censored and removed a story about a gay couple in their IKEA Family magazine. But about 2-3 hours later that briefing were edited so any references to Singapore were removed.

I were lucky enough to actually get to see the initial briefing, and still had the window open on the news desk with the old briefing when the edited and redacted version were released, so I had a side by side comparison to them, that then lead me to find out that IKEA in South Asia actively work against gay rights and still in does in 2016, that ended with me writing the blog post about IKEA Singapore in 2013, among other.

At that time I had a friend working for Reuters in Singapore, and called her to ask why they removed IKEA Singapore from the news, and she could tell me that her boss had received a call from “someone” in the government about the brief and were flatly ordered to remove any references to Singapore or that there would be consequences.

The only local news organization who wrote about the story after I tipped them about it, were the now shut down The Real Singapore. The other and more established organizations in Singapore did not mention the IKEA story at all.

Very few news internatonal organizations wrote about the story with the first version and the international news ended up writing solely about IKEA Russia because they never got to see and know that IKEA Singapore had done the same, and those who knew. Like BBC Asia, simply ended up not mentioning it.

So this means in reality that when news organizations like Reuters and BBC among other work out of Singapore, then they are also forced to not only limit themselves, but they are also applying Singaporean censorship onto news around the world and making journalism in your country less open because they need to operate under the good will of the Singaporean government.

Is that something that you can live with and can accept?

See the full 2016 World Press Freedom List here
Details about Singapore on the World Press Freedo List here

 

 

You really need to read this blog post by the Chiongs

The Chiongs, whom I am a big fan of, continue to write some of the most amazing posts that have ever come out of Singapore. Their blog is, if anyone were to ask me, one the most important voices in South Asia at the moment.

So what makes the Chiongs so special to me? Well, the only they – or rather Liv/Olivia write about is their Singaporean twosome life as a same-sex couple with a young daughter. This might sound boring and awful common to some, what it really should be, but this is Singapore and living in a same-sex married relationship with a child is not an every-day relationship. To many Singaporeans that is just not common at all, and is something that too many Singaporeans have some very wild ideas about what really is.

The (unfortunate) reality is that a same-sex relationship have just the same issues as the more conventional relationships. You know the relationships where there are one of each gender in. The Chiongs blog is a perfect example that they, we, are just as normally boring when it comes to it. We work, we sleep, we watch Netflix in bed – and yes once in a while we have sex too, and through IVF (or magic beans and comfortable Birkenstocks) we have children together too.

The Chiongs through their blog is just so perfect in educating the average Singaporean about what is means to be a same-sex couple and that there really is nothing to fear from someone like us (no really, it’s true. Nothing to be scared about at all) and I hope that other couples would come out and tell their stories as well because we need every voice to speak up -or something like this will happen.

Liv wrote back in October about an issue that they have to go through in doing something as what should be one of the most simple things in life for a couple with a child. That is to find a kindergarten. But where they then are met with questions if that is even legal for them, and that the kindergarten first needed to check with MOE (Ministry of Education) in Singapore before they could let them know if it were legal for them to accept a child of a same sex couple into the kindergarten.

. . . .

You should read their blog post here as it is a very interesting read, and it makes me wonder why I am so eager in getting pregnant myself, and why I still have the idea and somehow expect that my children should have the opportunity to grow up in Singapore – or at least make sure that they spend some years there.

I mean is Singapore really a viable option for same-sex couples who want children and a normal life?

 

 

 

Her is coming to Singapore, and no. I am not talking about myself in 3rd person

Her, the most important app in the lesbian universe from Dattch have finally discovered Singapore! Yes, it took them a while to locate our little Red Dot(yes, yes, it can be difficult to locate even with a map and a clear “how to reach” guide), but now they are here – eh almost.

A few days ago, Robyn Exton emailed me (and I am sure quite a lot of others as well) where she asked me if I could help with translating their app into Chinese.

Robyn Exton mass email

Getting an email from the founder of Her, is to me like having two unicorns galloping through my kitchen while Jesus (the guy on the cross, not the Indian homeless guy from down the street) at the same time popped by to ask for a cup of sugar, so it took me a few re-reads before I got past the “it’s soon time for Her to lanch in Singapore”.

And then, I began to wonder about the email and what she wrote? “huh” “are they planning to launch a Chinese version of Her in Singapore?” and I wondered if we really had a large “Chinese” speaking lesbian community that I have missed out on? Sure there are Singaporean Chinese lesbians and bi’s, and I am supposed to be partially part of that group, but why would anyone ever make a Chinese app for Singapore – and then begin to talk about doing it in both Mandarin and Cantonese??

Would they also begin to do it in Hokkien, Teochew and other dialects like Malay and Tamil? That would be a crazy difficult task to do. It would be inclusive and very accepting of them to do so, but it wouldn’t really be worth it, as from my point of view, the queer community in Singapore is very English speaking.

So I wrote back to Robyn, and told her my point of view of translating it into Chinese. Didn’t get a reply. Didn’t really expect it either (oh yes I did!) as I am sure that she is very busy with taking over the world one lady at a time.

What do you think? Do Singapore really need a queer/lesbian community and dating app in other languages than English? Should it be launched in other languages than English or should they just make it available for Singapore now, now, now!

The next question will be if, or when, MDA and the religious community in Singapore will shit bricks and demand that they register the app with MDA as if anything, then this app will probably be seen as something that clearly will corrupt the innocent Singaporean youths minds.

Over the weekend I reached out to a few contacts who are closely connected to Dattch, and from there I could understand that Singapore is not the real goal. Taiwan is, but it were seen as something that could be included with the Taiwan launch. That explanation made it more understandable to me, and is really not something that I take offence to – I mean just make it available in Singapore, and I will forgive you.

I called Her a “dating app”. That is not exactly right. It is more a “lesbian social app” that have a social approach that focus on a social matchmaking experience mixed with Pinterest, that at the same time gives the user a better insight on what is going on in the nearby queer world and It further also promise that it is able to match you up with someone who aren’t an ex of your ex’s ex (good luck with that). You can read more here, here and here, or take a peek at their website here.

Her is only(??!) available to the non inclusive Apple users for now. Windows, Android and especially Blackberry users are left to stay in the closet for a while longer. I guess Dattch, the team behind Her, read this article that claims that women prefer Apple phones over Android? Well, hopefully they will see the light soon and launch on other devices too because Apple in Taiwan only got 9% of the market share.

 

 

 

 

Miriam is into women and is not allowed to engage in relationship conversations with her colleagues

Where is the line between innocent contact and sexual harassment in the workplace? Miriam found out the hard way when she were accused of sexual harassment at her place of work.

Miriam, 29, is a lesbian and last year, her sexuality suddenly became an issue at her workplace after she had touched a female colleagues hand and was suddenly accused of sexual harassment because of this incident.

Miriam had seen her colleague as a confidant and only seen the touch as an innocent touch without a sexual thought in mind when they talked about their relationships. To her it were an emphatic gesture that were meant as a mean of emotional support and not in any way of communicating sexual interest at all.

But after this episode her sexuality suddenly became a problem at her workplace and her team leader demanded that she did not participate in personal conversations with her colleagues any longer. Something that she felt were crossing several boundaries, since she and her colleagues used to talk about their personal life’s daily, and that it were an integrated part of their work day.

Miriam were happy about her job at a retail store at Vivo City, a shopping mall in Singapore. A company she had been working with for several years and generally felt that she had been well treated and in the past also worked at their other locations around in Singapore. She had never concealed the fact that she had a girlfriend and that she were lesbian to her colleagues or superiors. It never felt that she had to limit herself or hide her sexuality while she worked because it weren’t something that came up negatively and she felt liked and accepted where she worked.

It therefore came as a huge shock to her when she suddenly were accused of having violated a colleague and were called into her manager’s office to discuss a “sensitive situation.”, where she were told by her manager that a colleague had felt physically and verbally sexually assaulted by Miriam and had accused her of sexual harassment.

“I was told that I should have touched my colleagues hand a little too affectionate and in the wrong way, and that three other colleagues felt that I had looked at them wrongly in the backroom of the store”.

While talking to her manager, Miriam were told that she no longer were allowed to participate in any personal conversations with her colleagues, especially of any that related to relationship matters and that she should walk away if any of her other colleagues began to discuss their personal relationships while she were near them. Her manager also stressed to Miriam that colleagues do not touch each other in any way whatsoever.

“My manager said that it had nothing to do with the fact that I liked women. But I think it had everything to do with it” said Miriam.

She later found out that the accusation of sexual harassment came from her very close colleague that she had known for years and that the colleague also had told the manager that three other women in the department also felt harassed, but that the manager haven’t directly confirmed this on her own.

Miriam and her colleague had been good friends and close colleagues for some time, they had often lunch together and seen each other outside work as well. Her colleague had even been to her home and met her partner at least twice before in the past, so things between them quickly became very familiar and they had often talked about private matters together both at work and outside work. Her colleague had more than once curiously asked into Miriam’s sexuality and at the same time expresses that she weren’t happy in her marriage and often thought of leaving her husband.

“I asked at one point whether she considered whether she were into women or felt attracted to women, but she answered ‘no’ to that” said Miriam, who at the same time stressed that there had never been anything but friendly feelings between them as colleagues.

The accusation of sexual harassment ends in a sick leave for Miriam and she end up asking if she could be transferred because she didn’t feel welcome there any longer and felt really bad about the whole incident and felt unfairly treated by both her colleague and manager.

 

“No raised eyebrows if I were heterosexual”

Her other colleagues whom she were told, that they should have felt that Miriam should have looked at them wrongly  in the backroom of her workplace, never acknowledged to have been part of the accusation of sexual harassment when she confronted and asked them about it, and Miriam feels convinced that if she had been heterosexual and had behaved in exactly the same way then neither her colleague or manager would have raised an eyebrow.

“I’m more careful at my new workplace. When we make fun and joke with one another, I am always a little nervous and think, uh, oh, I don’t hope they perceive anything I’ve said in the wrong way”.

Miriam is not her real name and she wants to remain anonymous. She confided in me through a number of emails and conversations from August to November 2015 where I got to know about her story. I know about her workplace in Vivo City and her new place of work, and have been able to confirm the existence of several of her colleagues and manager that she named while telling me her story.

Can you be out at your workplace? Are you able to be fully open about your relationship to another woman, or do you feel that you need to limit yourself compared to your heterosexual colleagues?

 

 

Have you tried to comment?

Have you tried to comment on a blog post but got an error?

I got a message from a reader who mentioned  that it weren’t possible to post a comment on some of my older blog posts. If you happen to experience the same, then please let me know about it.

:)

 

 

 

A small error in the previous post

I am not really sure what happened but the headline for a post that I have in my draft folder and the one that I posted yesterday crossed paths and ended up on several websites as the subject line or headline for the post instead of the one that I originally named the post to be.

So some of you who yesterday dropped by lured by the headline might have been gravely disappointed, and I am sorry about that.

I have been working on a post called “Gold Star Lesbian vs. Me” and is about that I find some, yes, SOME, gold star lesbians to be incredibly obnoxious when they are on a mission to tell the world that they NEVER went past the 3rd grade boy kissing, and from there went straight to (ha, ha straight) women, and by the way, never looked back and felt rather saved and proud by it at the same time – You might know the kind of characters who generally will use every opportunity that they can find to bring it up and remind you (i.e. me in this case) that not everyone need to wait to their 20’s to see the light.

Anyway as I said. I am working on the post, so it will come next week…. maybe.

Oh yes, the post also ended up on my LinkedIn page instead of the FaceBook page, and I don’t think that I have had so many views on my profile before.