Featured News Opinion Vogue and SIA: No to non-traditional values, yes (finally) to pregnancies

Vogue and SIA: No to non-traditional values, yes (finally) to pregnancies

Sense And Nonsense by Tan Bah Bah

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Forward SG?: Looks like Singapore will move at its own pace, by apparent consensus, and only when it deems itself ready. It has said it will repeal Penal Code 377A, which penalises sex between males. But to guard against the move sparking a drastic shift in societal norms, the government will also amend the Constitution to protect the definition of marriage between a man and a woman to stave off future legal challenges.

As one of the almost unnoticed consequences perhaps of the government’s pledge to maintain this society’s values, it has decided to rein in Vogue Singapore magazine. The Ministry of Communications and Information on Oct 14 issued Vogue a stern warning and shortened its permit from one year to six months for breaching content guidelines. According to the press release, Vogue went off the rail for local lifestyle magazines on four occasions within the past two years, for nudity and content that promoted non-traditional families.

An MCI spokesperson told CNA that the last time a permit was shortened was when action was taken against local arts magazine Art Republik in 2014 for two severe breaches of the content guidelines for “religiously insensitive/denigrative content”.

“Earlier cases include Cleo, which was placed on shorter permit in 2008, and Singapore FHM, which was placed on shorter permit in 1998. Both magazines made repeated breaches pertaining to content on sex, nudity, and the promotion of promiscuity and permissive lifestyles,” CNA quoted the spokesperson as saying. LGBT content will continue to warrant higher age ratings even as the government repeals 377A, MCI said.

Vogue, whose global editorial director is Anna Wintour (on whom The Devil Wears Prada was based), defines its readers as change agents with a hunger for fashion and a heart to positively shape future generations. In essence, they are women with a strong sense of style and a strong sense of purpose, according to their mission statement.

Long before Vogue Singapore, there was Cosmopolitan.

The title had been prohibited in Singapore since 1982 because of its even more extreme liberal values, but the government lifted the ban nearly 20 years later. The international version was available on shelves from 2004, but under shrinkwrap to prevent browsing. The local version of the glossy publication was launched in 2011, targeting single, professional women with high disposable incomes, and between the ages of 22 and 35. It disappeared in 2016.

A reader was reported by The Straits Times as saying: “I will miss the magazine. Cosmopolitan was a great read that gave us empowering real-women stories, the latest fashion and beauty news, as well as sexy advice and tongue-in-cheek instructions on ‘handling his bits the right way’. Yet maybe because of the publishing guidelines in Singapore, it never went as far as its overseas counterparts.”

We all have to grow up eventually.

Singapore Airlines just did.

SIA’s air stewardesses are now able to apply for temporary ground positions when they get pregnant and return to flying after giving birth, The Straits Times reported. The move stops its longstanding practice of ending cabin crew’s contracts when they are with child.

Hitherto, stewardesses were placed on no-pay leave on declaring that they were pregnant and forced to leave the company the day after they submit their child’s birth certificate. To fly again later, she had to reapply to SIA under a returning crew scheme, which does not guarantee her re-employment. A somewhat medieval practice.

Now, the crew will still be placed on no-pay leave but can apply for ground positions in the company, in areas such as administrative work, handling of passenger feedback and requests via e-mail, content creation and event management. Surely, a much better deal for SIA girls.

Sher-li Torrey, founder of enterprise Mums@Work, said airlines like Scoot and Delta Airlines have been hiring returning mums, proving that they can perform the physical requirements of a cabin crew’s job, The Straits Times reported.

The new policy is one in the right direction as it does not limit the career of air stewardesses, she said.

Forward SIA. Forward SG.

Tan Bah Bah, consulting editor of TheIndependent.SG, is a former senior leader writer with The Straits Times. He was also the managing editor of a magazine publishing editor.


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