Nov 20, 2013

    Aware looks at more songs sung blue

    PURPLE Light may not be the only army song to have offensive lyrics scrubbed out, if a women's organisation has its way.

    The Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware) confirmed with MyPaper yesterday that it is looking into other army songs which "take a cavalier attitude towards sexual violence against (both) women and men".

    Executive director Corinna Lim said that initially the group was only aware of Purple Light containing an offensive verse.

    But since the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) banned the verse, following a complaint lodged by Aware, more people have come forward about other songs' lyrics. Ms Lim declined to name the songs, but MyPaper has learnt of some with explicit sexual and sexist references.

    Aware also posted an open letter on its website and Facebook page on Monday night, addressing criticism it has garnered since Mindef banned the verse in Purple Light. The verse, modified by groups over the years, had the line "kill the man, rape my girlfriend".

    In its letter, Aware defended its decision to raise the issue.

    "A society which treats mocking references to rape as entertainment then encourages rapists to view their acts as acceptable and causes rape victims to feel unsupported," it said.

    It also questioned the need to sing the verse to boost morale, noting that rape has been used as a tool of war in the Congo and Bosnia.

    "We suggest it is right to be cautious about tolerating these lyrics becoming a part of military culture," it said.

    One 20-year-old soldier serving his national service, who declined to be named, said he has heard of lewd songs being recited during marches, as well as recited them himself.

    "They can be interpreted as being a bit too sexual, but they're just songs, we're not hurting anyone by singing them and they perk us up when we're marching," he said.

    A check online found posts on several sites - including one belonging to a secondary school's uniformed group - with explicit army marching-song lyrics.

    On what appears to be the homepage of Clementi Town Secondary School's National Police Cadet Corps, the lyrics to the "army version" of I Ask My Love are stated as follows:

    "I saw this girl, who wears no bra/Her tits so big, can see from far/I ask her out, she say OK lah/So we book in, hotel Shangri-La."

    A former army regular, who is self-employed and who wanted to be known only as John, 29, said that it might be difficult to ban such lyrics in marching songs.

    "Each batch tends to change the words so they have their own version. It will be tough to keep track of who is singing what," he said.