Since I have been bashing IKEA so much “lately”

So here is a video of a little light IKEA competition.

Who do you think will be the fastests to assemble IKEA furniture? Gays or Lesbians?

A little hint and a shameless self promotion. I would be able kick all of their behinds when it comes to competitions like this one. Besides, I also hate to lose so I would be obsessed with trying to win a competition similar to this one and would have no patience with anyone messing around with me – unless it ended in a makeout session of course.

 

On another note S… beat me in Wordfeud this evening, so not talking to her for a few minutes.

I did end up claiming a moral victory for these words, so I felt that I could call this game a draw and not a humiliating loss after all. (no the word to the left did not spell “clit”).

Wordfeud

 

 

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?

 

 

Scared in my own home

As you might already know (beause you have read all my other blog posts right??!), then I am a big chicken and can’t watch a horror movie by myself unless I got heaps of pillows and the remote near me to either turn off the TV or pause the movie when I can’t take it any longer.

And if you think it is any better when there then are other people in the room with me. Then think again!

… I were preparing myself to go to bed and quite busy brushing my teeths in the bathroom while I had a staring contest with a blackhead that very soon would get some aggressive loving, when I heard chiming sounds from a phone that turned on.

“That’s strange I thought”

All my phones were turned on, and about to get charged. Besides, the sound didn’t come from the bedroom or living room, but from my guest room that I haven’t been into since Sunday afternoon.

I looked out from the door of the bathroom and over to the guestroom that is located just to the left, while I tried to listen for any unnatural sounds from the other rooms.

Nothing.

Looked down to my bedroom and then back down the hall towards the living room, kitchen and the guest room where the sound just came from.

Everything were silent in the apartment.

“No, I am sure that I heard the sound of a phone that just turned on”.

My heart were starting to beat so fast that I could feel it in my throat.

My palms became sweaty, while I armed with my toothbrush wondered how intelligent it would be to walk into a room from where you just heard a sound that shouldn’t have been there.

“Yes, you know, I walked into a room from where I heard a strange sound that shouldn’t be there and then surprisingly got attacked, officer”. Ya ya, I could just imagine myself telling the police that story, or whoever found my dead corpse a few days later.

“Crap”

I needed to open the door so I could turn the light on in the room.

Didn’t like the idea of opening a door to a dark room with strange sounds coming from it one bit.

My heart were about to kill me while it tried to get out of my throat, and it felt like my hair were standing up and out to all sides as well.

I slowly opened the door

And of course this is the day it had to open with a loud creaking sound while I pushed it fully open.

It felt loud. But could have been a normal creaking door sound, that doors normally make just to make themselves known at the most inconvenient times.

Nothing.

Only darkness and a pale light coming from the kitchen, and the hall I were standing in.

Nothing.

Silence and that feeling of “there is something really, really wrong, so fucking run away. JUST RIGHT NOW”

I tried to ignore that, while I looked around.

Nothing out of the ordinary.

The desk in the middle of the room, facing the windows to the kitchen. The guest bed against the wall to the toilet.

I am planning to move it over to the other wall facing the neighbour, so guests could sleep through instead of getting woken up by anyone who needed to relieve themselves in the middle of the night. I mean we all hate to be woken up by the sound of a flushing toilet. Right?

The bed were where I last had left it.

But then, the top drawer from one of my in the past furniture conquests.

A light came from it?

WTF?

My heart decided to run away. But I still took a step into the room towards the drawer.

It felt it would be urgently more fun to take a trip to the toilet to relieve myself.

“If anyone, or anything is hiding under the guest bed and is trying to grab my leg when I walk by, then I will fucking stab it with the toothbrush!!”

“Repeatedly!!”

But then also remembered that I haven’t cleaned or vacuumed below it in ages, so anything hiding there would probably sneeze themselves to death while trying to hide there, just about now.

I looked behind the door.

Still lots of nothing.

I mean nothing out of the ordinary.

Claiming that there is “nothing” behind the guest room door might be the understatement of the century.

So I tiptoed over to the drawer, opened it and looked down.

“What the hell??”

The drawer is my to-do drawer. I contains well, you know, things I need to do something about, and is packed with papers, notes and knickknack that need my attention.

One day.

And on top of all that were my old phone.

My very, very old phone.

That I haven’t used in more than a year.

Turned on, with a welcome message.

At that moment I looked up at the wall clock and noticed that it said 00:03

Yep, that was it. I am done for tonight.

I am sleeping with all the lights on in every room and if I hear any more sounds or electronics that turn themselves on, then I am moving into a hotel for the night.

Good night!