Saturday, April 02, 2011

What if it was Mr. Tin and not Ms. Tin?

Maybe it is her age. Or perhaps it is what she said. Or maybe it is her supposed immaturity. Or it could be just the party she is representing.

Or maybe, just maybe, it is because she is not a he?

I am of course referring to Ms. Tin Pei Ling who, being 27 years old, is the youngest candidate introduced so far by the People's Action Party (PAP) for the upcoming General Election. And I suppose most of you all now would by now be aware of the personal attacks and criticism that have been made against her, particularly in the online world.

There are evidently several contributing factors that provoked this spate of criticism and personal attacks against Ms. Tin. However, I cannot but wonder if, holding all other things equal, instead of being a female candidate, Ms. Tin was a male candidate, would she (or he?) being subjected to the same level and nature of criticism?

I suppose that even if she was a male candidate, Ms. Tin would still face questions over her age, whether she has enough life experience and whether she is competent enough to represent the people as a Member of Parliament. But, going through the criticism made against Ms. Tin, it is perhaps quite evident that some of the criticism had somewhat of a misogynistic tinge to them.

Misogynistic comments and attacks against women in the public sphere are not something new or which only appear locally. During the last United States presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton, who now serves as the United States Secretary of State, also faced misogynistic attacks in the form of hecklers who asked her to iron their shirts.

While I am of the opinion that those who wish to put themselves forward to serve in the public sphere should, regardless of who they are or what gender they are, be prepared to withstand scrutiny and criticism, reasonable or otherwise, from all quarters, I would draw the line at casting misogynistic comments or attacks against female public figures (this stance of mine is of course also extended to ordinary women, not just those in the public sphere).

So go ahead and question or criticise Ms. Tin on whether she is too young, inexperienced or perhaps not competent enough to represent the people as a Member of Parliament. But please do not continue to make misogynistic comments or attacks against her. Doing so will only perhaps lend ammunition to her supporters and backers to portray her as a victim of the "Wild Wild Web".


Anonymous said...

hi, maybe it's true that it's the sexes that pay a part... but i think the main issue here is, we have a GRC system... anyone being earmarked as talent by PAP can or may have a chance of going into parliament without ever getting a single vote from the people.
especially if the reason for being "elected" into parliament is due to no challange from other parties ie walkovers...
i guess at age 27/28, having only worked for a couple of years... many people will wonder what immerse talent is there to be selected as a PAP candidate.
nowadays with internet, people will be able to find out more about you and thus good or bad things do show...

LCC said...

To Anonymous (4 Apr 2011, 1611hrs),

It is my stance while it is okay for people to question or criticise Ms. Tin that she is too young, not experienced enough or not competent enough to represent the people as a Member of Parliament, the line should be drawn at making misogynistic or personal attacks against her.

This is because such attacks could allow Ms. Tin's supporters or backers to portray legitimate and reasonable criticism of her as nothing but attacks from misogynists and "trolls".

Anonymous said...

The ruling party cannot expect to have the cake and eat it. GCT himself in a moment of candor admitted that his party has been using (abusing actually) the GRC to bring into parliament and cabinet candidates whose ability to make it under their own steam is in doubt. In other words, without the consent of the people which is what the whole parliamentary system of govt is all about.

The ruthless scrutiny is but a reaction of the voters to this undemocratic and unsporting behaviour. In what form the critics choose to frame their retaliation is at their liberty to decide. The pap and its candidates have forfeited their rights to complain by virtue of this.

voters and Singaporeans have no obligation or responsibility to be 'NICE' to a potential thief in the act of stealing (a parliamentarian's seat) right before their eyes!

laicite said...

I agree with you, LCC. Politics is a dirty game and all, but I don't think there should be a place for misogyny. It's one thing to question her experience and her competency, but it is another thing altogether to make lewd sexual comments about her and derogatory remarks about her looks and how she dresses.

For those who think that the PAP's own dirty politiking justifies misogyny against Tin, there is a key difference in airing someone's dirty laundry in public - which is undoubtedly a fallacious personal attack, and making gendered assumptions about someone - which is an attack on the female gender. (e.g. by calling her a slut simply because she has had more than one boyfriend, one is not simply attacking her, one is also making and enforcing sexist assumptions about women)

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