Is singing about rape ok?

Apparently, some men who have served or are serving their National Service think that “good old chauvinistic humour” (quoting Jacob Anand, a commenter on The Real Singapore) is perfectly fine.

The issue of marching song Purple Light came into the spotlight recently when female rights advocacy group AWARE Singapore was informed by some full-time National Servicemen at a group meeting that lyrics about rape were added to the marching song:

“Booking out, saw my girlfriend
Saw her with another man
Kill the man, rape my girlfriend
With my rifle, and my buddy and me”

What was AWARE going to do? Sit back and ignore its role in maintaining female equality? It had to step in to ensure females are not debased, even in a song that contains rape lyrics. AWARE did what it was supposed to do. (Why they took this long to know that such lyrics existed remains a mystery, though.)

The entire issue was quickly solved by the Ministry of Defence who banned the particular lyrics from being sung and encouraged servicemen to refer to the original verse or change it to another verse.

However, what is puzzling are the various remarks from servicemen who are attacking AWARE, the feminism movement and in fact, saying that singing about rape is perfectly normal.

“It’s just a song,” says popular blogger Darryl Kang.

Sure, it may be just a song sung in cadence to lift spirits in the midst of an exhausting march.

But the fact remains if something like rape is being treated lightly by grown men who think it is okay to brush it aside, something is truly wrong with society.

Rape is no laughing matter. Women face objectification every day from males who think they are no more than mere sexual playthings of their wildest fantasies. They face objectification from males who think subservience reigns supreme, that men are above all and it is ok to invade a woman’s privacy and have sex with her without her consent.

Because rape is not just about sex. It is about dignity, privacy and the right to self. When you rape someone, you strip them of their self-worth and meaning. You erase their ego and mark your territory like you are the Mugabe of dogs.

Since when was rape a normal occurence?

Sure, rape itself may be separate from the casual rape namedrop in a song. But if such a misogynistic action is being carried out nonchalantly, we are normalising a brutal and humiliating action, something that should never be normalised through song.

While it remains to be seen if a rape culture in Singapore does indeed exist, the various news headlines that have sprouted on this issue in the various years is still a sobering reminder that there are sexual deviants out there.

Rape is real. And for the numerous batches that continue to sing about rape, every time it is being sung, rape becomes desenitised.

Something as heinous should never be desensitised.

Sing something else — the actual song is not banned anyway. But don’t put into song, the millions of women all over the world who have been victimised by something as torturous as rape.

Because when you sing about rape to “lift your spirits”, you are putting down the spirits and struggles of rape victims.

It’s not pretty.

Photo: Coconuts Singapore