Episode 10: Fighting Sexual Harassment – Call Out or Cancel Culture

Host: Angela M. Kuga Thas

Featuring Guest Speakers: Fadiah Nadwa Fikri, a lawyer by training and currently doing her PhD in Southeast Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore and Daniella Zulkifli, Vice President of the Association of Women Lawyers and is part of the team that drafted the Anti-Sexual Harassment Bill.

“Cancel culture” is notably one of the most contentious phenomena, and more people are trying to define and understand it. The act of publicly denouncing misconduct or problematic opinions, especially from those who wield power or authority, has long been practiced by society. However, social media has changed how people are able to network and mobilize others to act in solidarity.

Many construed the #MeToo movement as cancel culture and compared it to mob rule or a short-lived sense of justice that punishes and shames the accused summarily without a fair trial. The lack of nuanced conversations on social media further adds to polarising the discourse, and often does not address the structural problems of sexual harassment.

The criticism towards the #MeToo movement assumes that everyone has equal access to freedom of opinion and expression. For a long time, the public and political spaces were insulated by the norms of acceptable sexual behaviours from perpetrators. The #MeToo movement gave people the collective power and strength to tear down the wall of silence and demand accountability as their last attempt for justice. To describe cancel culture as either good or bad is not helpful and may risk obscuring the power dynamics in which it operates.

In this episode, “Fighting Sexual Harassment – Call Out or Cancel Culture”, we interrogate cancel culture against the history, context and power relations in which it is defined, and its effectiveness to bring about the necessary discourse and social change beyond call-outs.

*This episode contains content that might be distressing to some listeners as we delve into the topic of sexual harassment. GOSSIP has always been about having difficult conversations and exploring the nuances of the issues with a gender lens. Questions are deliberately designed to provoke in order to help deepen reflections from guest speakers. It is in no way an attempt to diminish or discredit the struggles of survivors of sexual harassment but an attempt to initiate a conversation on how we should move forward in a way that addresses the issue and provides survivor-centric redress with the full support of the surrounding/affected community.

Click here to listen to the podcast.

These are the personal opinions of the speakers and do not necessarily represent the views of their organizations or institutions.

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