| On 1 year ago

OKLETSGO Podcast Saga: Is it enough to forgive and forget?

By Zat

Has the storm settled yet? Is everyone ready to put aside this entire OKLETSGO saga that has unfolded? Not quite yet.

The three hosts, Dzar Ismail, 34, Dyn Norahim, 38, and Raja Razie, 38 have since apologised yesterday after being thoroughly chastised and condemned by not just the Mufti of Singapore, Dr Nazirudin Mohd Nasir, but also, the President of Singapore herself, Mdm Halimah Yacob.

The three hosts weren’t moved when women like Nina Lestari—whom Raja Razie mocked in a tweet—asked for an apology. Neither were they moved to apologize when their die-hard supporters started attacking women who commented on their Facebook post.

Below is their apology:

Good on all of you.

Podcast episodes with misogynistic content still on Spotify

The only episode OKLETSGO have removed (from my observation) is the one titled: “Help! Kawan Anak I Gelarkan I MILF” or “Help! My Child’s Friend Calls Me A MILF”. All other episodes where there are blatant displays of objectification of women are still up for impressionable young men to listen to and emulate.

Below, I’ve compiled 4 instances where the hosts used humour to mask blatantly offensive, humiliating, and misogynistic remarks towards women. You can find all these files for download here.

Apart from making crude jokes about women, the three hosts have also disparaged the gay community by referring to them with the slur of ‘pondan‘.

The private Telegram group where men downplay rape

In the OKLETSGO Telegram group, which has since been made private after all this kerfuffle, several users (and one alleged admin), have made clear that regardless of apology from the hosts, they see the objectification of women as mere locker-room talk. One made the inference that some women were not even pretty enough to be gang-raped.

In another instance, transgender sex-worker activist, Sherry Sherqueshaa’s gender identity was questioned when it was seen that she supported AWARE’s statement of condemning OKLETSGO hosts disrespect for women.

I understand people like this are not used to crass joke. But to the extent of comparing it to gangrape is inappropriate. Also, you’re not even that pretty to be gang-raped.

Women has always been a sexual object since the time of Adam and Eve. We know the limits to everything and ladies know it well too. So you don’t have to use this against us. We relax.

But this Sherry, is she a real woman or not?

Debunking OLG Fans suggestions

If you’re not comfortable with it, don’t listen

Many of OKLETSGO supporters have mentioned that if listeners are not comfortable with the content of the podcast, they don’t have to listen to it. But not listening to it, does not make the problem go away. The problem is still there, but people are simply told to turn the other cheek. That doesn’t make the misogyny go away. It just emboldens the creators to continue on this trajectory knowing that they truly are free to say anything they want.

Spotify is a free app that is easily downloadable, regardless of age. I have had teachers come up to me to say that their students listen to OKLETSGO and she worries that they will think such talk is perfectly acceptable. That they will mirror such language on women they meet and think it’s okay to tell them that they ‘cannot take my eyes off your cleavage’.

I’m not about to curtail anyone’s freedom of speech. But you should expect consequences for the things you say. In this case, from the President and the Mufti of Singapore.

It’s just a joke

Aware says it best:

“Attempting to frame tragically outdated views on gender as some sort of boundary-pushing, “no holds barred”, progressive schtick takes some mental acrobatics. What’s more traditional and conservative than patriarchy? Some deeper reflection seems to be in order here.”

Some fans were worried that after this saga, OLG would not be the same through the lens of a filter.

It takes certain shortsightedness to think that entertainment for the self should come at the expense of acceptable human behaviours. So, are you saying that you only listen to OKLETSGO because they disparage women? Come on, you’re better than that.

“We’re only human. We’re not perfect”

No one is asking for perfection. Far from it. All that is asked of you is to be more responsible for your speech. Unfortunately, OKLETSGO rise in fame will also be their downfall if not wielded properly. Now, what they say matter. Drawing the line between explicit content, education, and being intentionally lewd for ratings is an exercise that needs to be done carefully.

There are other programs out there that also demean women. Why don’t you stop them too?

This is a classic red-herring argument. It’s a ‘look over there’ argument that attempts to excuse or forgive the hosts’ behaviour. There are some things that are simply not within our control. But for the things that are, such as this podcast, we must do something about it, if only because its impact is more instantaneous, apparent, and quickly damaging if not reined in.

Moving forward—what can OKLETSGO do?

Here are some suggested actions by AWARE:

– Continue to condemn the actions of your fanbase in harassing your critics through rape threats and doxxing. Do not encourage that repugnant (and possibly illegal) behaviour with silence or, worse, your own remarks, private or public.

– Have an episode, or multiple, where you thoroughly examine your perspectives on gender. Educate your listeners about the dangers of objectification, slut-shaming and other problematic myths about sex. We are happy to support you on this.

– Sign up for the next edition of our Sexual Assault First Responder Training, which is designed to put attendees into the shoes of a sexual assault survivor.

– Commit to more nuanced, sensitive, trauma-informed discourse in all future content whether or not the President is listening.

Other Singapore podcasts that don’t sexually objectify women & are educational

If you’re craving for a good podcast, here are some suggestions as outlined by Nada Azmi:

I Don’t Know What I’m Doing – A Dad Pod

Randomly Relatable

Taip and Thrive

The Aida Azlin Show

The Good Life Podcast

The Onion Aunties

Fempreneur Secrets

In their apology statement, the three hosts mentioned:

“This episode is a chance for us to unlearn some of what has been normalized around us, and truly take steps towards positive change. We will reflect and tweak our approach to not cause offence to any particular group within and beyond our community. The growth of our channel has made clear that we have a responsibility towards our community, and not only specific segments of it.

We want to make clear that we do not condone misogyny in any way. Violence against women in all forms have existed for the longest time, and in many parts of society. But we can learn to undo it, and play a part in ensuring it does not go any further. We apologize for the objectification of women and will be more careful in the way we portray matters moving forward.”

We’ll be staying tuned, OKLETSGO.

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