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Valar Qringaomis

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Blaming newspapers for accurate reporting

So the latest allegation of "gender bias" is levelled against TODAY:

Umm Yusof - Dear TODAY The stark gender bias in your coverage...

"Dear TODAY

The stark gender bias in your coverage today of the new GE2015 candidates is quite disappointing.

Why is Ms Jaslyn Go - the only woman amongst the five candidates profiled - headlined by her biological status as "Mother-of-two" while the male candidates are described by their professional or academic qualifications?

Defining a woman primarily by her reproductive status damages her electability to public office, as it gives no indication as to her professional credentials or her suitability to lead the country.

Ms Go is also the co-owner of a family-run construction company, and brings the perspective and experiences of a SME businesswoman to the table.

If you wish to define Ms Go as "Mother-of-two", then - in the interests of gender equality - I hope to see the following:
1) "Childless husband wants to campaign on housing issue" (Mr Redzwan Hafidz)
2) "We are not against immigration, says father-of-one" (Mr Daniel Goh)
3) "Father-of-two wants to speak out for the average Singaporean" (Mr Dylan Ng)

Thank you,
Estella Young (Ms)"


The article in question:

Mother-of-two drawn to party over issues of education, cost of living | TODAYonline

Here, we read about Jaslyn Go Hui Leng, 43 that,

"Her children are aged 12 and 10, and Ms Go said she feels strongly that education policies should encourage children to enjoy the process of learning."

and that

"I felt strongly about it as a new mother. I was worried for my children, how they were going to … pay for a decent house and having to compete for places in schools, and (for) job opportunities"

It is easy to see that her having children is linked to the political issues she is interested in.


Meanwhile, in Engineer wants to campaign on housing issue we learn that Mr Redzwan Hafidz Abdul Razak is interested in providing "people the choice of an alternative — an alternative party", housing (which is an especially pressing issue for young Singaporeans) and education and "the quality of living for the Malay community as a whole"

There is no link between his issues and his childlessness. I suppose the headline could be "Malay-Muslim wants to campaign on quality of living for Malays", but then Today would be bashed for being racist and/or Islamophobic.

The headline could also be "Man wants to campaign on housing issue" or "New WP candidate wants to campaign on housing issue", but then that would be bland.

In We are not against immigration, says NUS Assoc Prof, we learn that Assoc Prof Daniel Goh Pei Siong is an Associate Professor of Sociology, and he was asked during the party's press conference about immigration issues.

He was inspired by his son to join the Workers Party, so I suppose the headline could've been "I was inspired to join the Workers Party by my son, says father of one", but then he's come out as a WP member since January 2013 so that wouldn't have been so relevant. We also wouldn't have learnt what he represented politically, which is, you know, important in election-related news coverage.

And the last article is Banking exec wants to speak out for the average Singaporean, where we find out that Dylan Ng Foo Eng worries about "about the bread and butter, the overcrowding, the overpopulation ... To me, it’s about the universal issue facing Singaporeans".

Once again, there is no link between his issues and his having children. And he doesn't even say his children inspired him to join politics.

I suppose as Estella Young (Ms) suggests, the headline could have been "Father-of-two wants to speak out for the average Singaporean", but then Today would be bashed for suggesting that the average Singaporean has children, has two children and/or is a man (i.e. a father).

To go back to Young's concerns, if reporting on a woman's reproductive status (in the status of a newspaper headline) "damages her electability to public office, as it gives no indication as to her professional credentials or her suitability to lead the country", she presumably thinks that a person's profession gives an indication as to his professional credentials or his suitability to lead the country. This is a worrying claim and smacks of elitism: instead of being led by lawyers, economists and mathematicians, is it really better for the country to be lead by engineers, NUS Assoc Profs and banking execs?

I note too that the various candidates reproductive status was mentioned - both for the men and the woman. So there is no differential treatment there.



So the moral of the story is:

Instead of bashing newspapers for accurate reporting, bash female politicians for adhering to stereotypes.
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