Wednesday, February 17, 2010

People We Love: Jolene Tan at The F Word.

As a good part of the world is celebrating the emergence of spring, we at the farm have also been busy preparing for a good harvest ahead. So do excuse us for the sudden dearth of posts.

For the time being, it's come to my attention that a very 'stray', familiar Singaporean feminist by the name of Jolene Tan has risen to write about feminism in Singapore's context at the prominent UK blog The F Word. In her first exquisite post, self-explanatory titled "A False Necessity: Singapore's Maid Trade", Tan incises:
I suspect that for many Singaporean women, abusiveness towards [Foreign Domestic Workers] is also connected to fear and anxiety about our own place in society. Patriarchal attitudes simultaneously devaluing and gendering care work and domestic work are well-ensconced in Singapore, but the prevalence of FDWs staves off, to some degree, arguments about the role of Singaporean women in private and public spheres, by replacing the grossly undervalued labour Singaporean women would have been expected to do with grossly undervalued labour that foreign women are made to do. The hierarchy and unfairness remain in place; we’ve just changed the demographic on whom the worst burdens fall. Which is, of course, from a humanitarian perspective, little change at all.

We need a rethinking of existing ways, and an understanding that care work and domestic work are work, and the people who perform this work, whomever they may be, should be accorded proper respect and status. Instead, we have imagined into being a hellish necessity: that there must be maids, who must be subjugated; and only by meting out the ill-treatment that defines this degraded role can we reassure ourselves of our own precarious superiority over it.
For those who are unacquainted with Tan, she was part of the Terrible Three™ who rattled the delicate sensitivities of our marital-rape-approving society with the No To Rape campaign a little less than a year ago--a cause we at the Barn not only fully support but have also written quite extensively on.

We happily welcome back the original "pro-gay, feminist family-busting" blogger (after the untimely death of Glass Castle); nothing excites us more than someone who goads Them Big Blogger Boyz and Unaccompanied Ursidaes!

But enough bootlicking sentiments and echo-chamber-chamber-ber-ber-ber-ing on my part.

Please just hop over to The F Word to follow Tan's on-going writing; already archived:
  1. "Same garbage, different continents" - On the fetishisation of Asian women as "delicate lotus flowers of mind-reading, uncomplaining wish fulfillment fantasy",
  2. "Important questions from Gita Sahgal" - On the very fishy and unfair suspension of duties for Amnesty Gender Unit's Gita Sahgal, after she called Amnesty out on their ties with an unsavoury organisation,
  3. "Race to the Bottom" - On the various ideals of beauty (e.g. big eyes, fair skin) that Asian women are subject, and the complications of "patriarchy [shaming] women and girls into aspiring to femininity, and then [shaming] women and girls for achieving it."


  1. Wow, you're too kind!

  2. Thanks for your support, Jolene. We really appreciate it! :) - FP


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