Is Singapore Airlines’ Use Of The “Singapore Girl” Sexist?

A couple of days ago I shared Singapore Airlines’ latest ad, which highlights their new A380 cabins. The ad is a pleasure to watch, as it’s a visual masterpiece. Like most Singapore Airlines ads it’s a bit abstract, though in the end it makes a connection to Singapore’s product.

On the post about the new ad, reader Chris left the following comment:

It’s a beautiful ad, but I just wish it was more than just the “Singapore girl”. Like, it is 2018, after all. Could they not have one male cabin staff member to include, or maybe a businesswoman working on spreadsheets? I do love the ad, I love the airline, but I just wish there was some modest effort at least to acknowledgement that there is more balance to life, relationships, gender, sex, call it what you will, than in the 1970s…

I like when airlines try to display diversity in all forms, and usually I’m very quick to pick up on that, and to the contrary, quickly notice when an airline just follows the typical stereotype of female flight attendants and male business travelers.

What I found most interesting about Chris’ comment is that I don’t think I’ve ever viewed a Singapore Airlines ad and thought to myself “that’s sexist,” even though the theme is very much there. Singapore Airlines always uses the “Singapore Girl” in their ads, and more often than not the only context in which you’ll see a female passenger is if it’s the wife or daughter of someone.

I do think they should show more diversity, including with the passengers they use. What got me thinking the most, though, is how I’ve never really put much thought into whether the consistent use of the “Singapore Girl” is sexist. Nearly half of Singapore Airlines flight attendants are male, so why aren’t they ever in ads?

As I brainstormed, I came up with a few reasons I may have never thought much of this:

  • Singapore Airlines’ ads are so visually stunning and captivating that I just don’t pay attention to the details in the same way I usually would.
  • I’ve loved Singapore Airlines since a very young age, and the “Singapore Girl” is the symbol of the airline, so I think I’ve thought of the airline and the “girl” as being one in the same.
  • I don’t think Singapore Airlines is objectifying women in the same way that other companies have historically done in advertising. The way I view it, they’re not using the “Singapore Girl” as a sex symbol, but rather as a symbol for warmth, care, and compassion. Don’t get me wrong, that’s still potentially sexist, as it fits the stereotype of women staying home and taking care of everyone. It’s something they’ve built their marketing on for decades, though that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t adjust that over the years, as it’s not 1980 anymore.

At the same time, it’s 2018, and even if it’s not the intent, it might be time for them to update their image. Singapore Airlines has 40+ year old female flight attendants, so is calling them Singapore “Girls” really appropriate? Isn’t that infantilizing?

What do you guys think — is the use of the “Singapore Girl” sexist, and is it time for an update to the image? What needs to change — would more male flight attendants in the ad help, do they need to drop the “girl” name altogether, or what?

Comments

  1. Singapore is one og the worlds most elegant and sophisticated airlines
    How people can get possible sexist from this ad shows what is wrong with Americans liberalism today

  2. I think that we are focusing too much these days on focusing on very little details. don’t think its really a big deal at all. Sure they may focus on women more but it’s their campaign. I think we are too sensitive when it comes to gender equality, how everything must be equal, equal, equal. I’m all for it don’t get me wrong but its shoved down our faces these days a lot of things are having the fun sucked out.

  3. Well, sex sells and Singapore Airlines is selling sex. Not surprising since prostitution is not only legal in Singapore but partaking is a common activity and an integral part of the culture for Singaporeans and expatriates there (e.g., see https://sg.news.yahoo.com/singapore-socialite-sentenced-teen-sex-scandal-095857228.html ). That combined with legal gambling (directed at foreigners, Singaporeans have to pay a big penalty to enter) and you realize it is truly more of a SIN City than Las Vegas. Morality has a price in Singapore and it’s cheap.

  4. Totally sexist, starting from the name all the way to the stereotyping of women are caregivers. Referring to women as girls is already sexist. Stereotyping women as caring is sexist, even if you view it as a “positive” stereotype it implicitly limits the roles that women are viewed in (and restricts men from “women’s” roles). Just take a look at Asian Americans in Hollywood to see a prime example of “positive” stereotypes severely limiting depictions and perceptions of a group. Singapore girls are sexist, and I won’t fly Singapore because their focus on Singapore girls honestly creeps me out. Please keep the sexism out of airlines.

  5. Before us as outsiders start deeming whatever sexist, do note that there are literally thousands of hopeful girls/females/women who embrace the idea of the singapore girl and want to, and are proud to, be a part of the icon.

    If the girls themselves think it’s fine, who are us all to call whatever sexist?

  6. Feminists are of two types: opportunists and angry.

    Opportunists are hypocrites. They come up with slogans like “I don’t need too be modest to be respected” But will throw a fit if the wrong person objectified them. They are more likely to use sex, guilt and shame as weapons.

    Angry feminists are just nihilist. They just would like a world without men until they figure someone/ something else they have a problem with.

  7. Who are YOU to judge what people think of an ad? Who are YOU to say that 40 year old flight attendants are ashamed of being called girls.

    Ridiculous left wing propaganda.

    Let’s all ride those Singapore Girls…because they are a GREAT way to fly.

  8. I’m all for gender equality but people are making a mountain out of a mole hill in this case.

  9. Great post, and from a psychological perspective the subtle sexist messages are the most harmful. I don’t think Singapore Airlines woke up and said, “Let’s produce an oppressive ad.” But by telling a narrative that reinforces the role of women as either helpers or sidekicks they help perpetuate the old way of thinking.

    I see why some are saying, “What’s the big deal?” but when you think about it, like Chris and Lucky have, it is a big deal because stories like this keep us stuck. I have nothing against the airline itself, and this is not the only example of a tacitly sexist ad. But good for you, Lucky, for shedding light on this–because that’s how we get beyond it.

  10. This is an outrage! It is inconceivable that in [insert current year] any advertisement would not feature all of the underrepresented communities of the world in direct proportion to their share of the globally warming population. The use of gender binary terms clearly violates the human rights of the persons. Blog readers should stop worrying about their selfish interests of getting points and miles to travel to interesting places and devote their time and attention to this critical grievance

  11. Yes, it is sexist and to an extent plays to a stereotype of Asian women as submissive, elegant, mysterious, thin, even child-like (ie. “Singapore Girl” instead of “Singapore Woman”). I believe it was viewed as fine for the time the concept was created by an ad agency (the 1970’s I believe) but is well overdue an update. Singapore Airlines is a notably conservative organization though when it comes to branding and marketing so I think that is unlikely.

  12. Singapore knows that the Singapore girl icon is a great marketing too and so they continue to use it. That’s what every company does.

    Also @Lucky et al. Why do people keep using the term it’s “2018” or whatever year it is as an argument. It is both nonsense logically and incredibly arrogant to use that as an argument.

    Imagine if Europeans in the 19th century said “it’s 1830” as a justification for colonisation or if people in the South said “it’s 1930” in order to justify segregation.

    There is only right or wrong, not right or wrong “for this period of time.” If bribery is wrong, then it’s always wrong no matter what century you’re in or what country you’re in. Same goes for slavery, adultery, or intentional dishonesty.

    When people use arguments like “it’s not 1980 anymore” generally are doing so because they have no foundation for what they are advocating other than because it is “progressive.” They also often times do it with noses pointed high in the air. Though to be fair I don’t think @lucky was using it in this way. He was using it correctly to mean that people’s values have changed over time, which is indesputible.

  13. What does this have to do with points and miles? I stopped reading TPG and came here because of his sensationalistic crap, and there are plenty after you, Ben.

    Please stick to material.

  14. @Justin you are not Asian enough to make this comment. Take a look at how the Japanese does similar as well with their airlines, is that sexist? We Asians view ladies dress as such as pure elegance, something men was not gifted enough to behold from God. The ability to distinguish what’s morally correct and what’s not differentiates barbarians and humans

  15. Many gender norms are rooted in millennia of biological evolution; women are hard-wired to care and nurture. Singapore Airlines capitalizes on this fact. A small, shrill minority in a handful of western countries is determined to take all that apart, but in all likelihood, neither Singapore, Singapore Airlines or Singaporeans care much about them or what they think.

    The backlash to out-of-control “diversity and inclusiveness,” and the witch hunts aimed at anyone with a dissenting opinion, is building and is not going to be pretty when it happens. Look at the response to Qantas and the ridiculous guidance they gave their staff this week.

  16. The “girls” at Singapore Airlines are aged out of the system (limited by two six year contracts) at no more than 35 years old unless they are promoted to purser. Beyond the obvious age discrimination, the ads may not be overtly sexist but the airline is. And though I’ve only flown them twice, I’ve never seen a male Singapore FA in an airport anywhere even though I assume they must exist.

  17. How would the pilots feel about being called Singapore boys?

    To me, it’s not an issue of some roles being shown in that light. It’s the lack of other opportunity. If the women had the full range of choices that men did, there would be nothing wrong with women choosing to be go-go dancers, etc.

  18. Why are people attacking lefties? Singapore Airlines is selling sex. SQ is selling the fantasy of the submissive sexual Asian woman by putting their FAs in body tight fitting Kebayas. Hey man, to this red blooded American, that’s sexy as heck! For female SQ FAs, there are age and weight restrictions. Once a cabin FA reaches her thirties (so no longer a sweet young thing), she has to retire or be a gate agent. If they weren’t selling sex, they have them wearing those tight fitting Kebayas (seriously, that plus those sext slippers they wear in fight would be a disaster in an emergency). Just visit Singapore someday, nobody wears those Kebayas (which is Malaysian by the way) so it is not a “traditional dress” of Singapore at all. I thought it would be conservatives who would be outraged at Singapore Airlines selling sex.

  19. Mike you should STOP reading this blog if you dont like it really,, !!!!!!!1!!!!!!!!!!!

    The people defending singapores sexism are Drumpf Supporting RACIST TEABAGGERS. the author is right IT IS 2018 already, sto p OBJECTIFING AND INFANTALIZING WOMEN!!!!!!1!!!!!

  20. @JW: I’m not Asian enough? My mother is Japanese and my wife is Singaporean. Oh, and btw my Singaporean wife, who is 100% Asian has similar views to me on the “Singapore Girl”. Namely, that it is anachronistic and plays to a stereotype which she hates. I have lived in Asia for a long time and am a Krisflyer Elite Gold member on Singapore Airlines. Give me a break. You speak of “We Asians”. Asians are not a monolith and do not all think alike. I don’t presume to speak for an entire race and neither should you.

  21. @Donald Osborne

    Why do foreigners keep pointing out to the fantasy of “submissive, sexual Asian women”… Dude it’s an Asian airline most of the passengers are Asian it is catered to the Asian market and Asians don’t fantasize of “submissive, sexual asian women”, just “women”. Like someone earlier said: you just aren’t Asian enough to judge this topic. Is this ad sexist? Maybe. Is this ad taking advantage of sex sells? Probably yes, but so do american, european, african, indian etc. ads. Everyone stop with their inherent racist Western notion of the submissive sexual Asian women.

  22. I think of the Singapore girl like the mascot of the airline and much like the mascot of other brands, she too has a sex, just like how the Air India Maharajah is a male. So it makes sense to feature the Singapore girl in their adverts. They have featured their male FA’s in their safety videos though not the most recent one, but honestly it is more of an advert for Singapore. While they maybe could use male FAs but i just think the SQ Kebaya is just a strong brand signal of SQ and Singapore as a place.

  23. Everyone tries to gain advantage. Men try not to be too overweight and usually shave. Women wear revealing clothes. College students try to put window dressing on their resume. Anti-sexism moves should be done but there is no end to it.

  24. It would be nice if every little minutiae in life does not become a social justice campaign. This is not a Weinstein-esque ad campaign that TRULY objectifies women (i.e., the average person would not see this objectification). If SQ were demeaning their FAs, I might see a post, but they are not. Then, when we get hypersensitive – and if some of us dare to differentiate hypersensitivity from from supporting true sexism – you get the far left screechers chiming in and implying that anyone who is not a social justice warrior is somehow a “racist” (showing they are just randomly tossing a serious term out as a smear) and things devolve from there. As someone else suggested, I read OMaaT for points and miles as well as airline news. I see that this falls under an airline theme, but this is not really news as, unlike the Qantas issue, I have seen no concerns about this ad elsewhere. If I want political wars, I go to Twitter or a variety of website. I know your blog is far bigger than mine, but I decided to work to keep my material on focus and, IMO, politics is not the focus here. If it is, I am in the wrong place. Do what you do best, Lucky – points and miles, commercial aviation, etc. and leave the social commentary to other forums, please.

  25. I would point out that while on the surface to western audiences it may seem sexist, to the audience in Singapore -and a lot of other parts of Asia- it isn’t.

    That is amplified even more so by the popularity and desire for some young women in Singapore to become “Singapore Girls”. The application process is selective and highly competitive. Would such a controversial objectification of women garner so many applications and interest??? I’ve talked to many that are/were Singapore Girls and they don’t see the role as such. It’s actually something seen as prestigious in Singapore. Most get burnt out after a few years and do it in their 20’s to travel while they are young and single or married but without kids.

    The biggest complaint though -if you talk to the crew- is the nature of the work. Kiasu (crazy) passengers, long hours, and the flirtatious and temptation driven nature of the crews on layover – makes for a good soap opera honestly.

    Read up on the history of the Singapore Girl and how their agency created it, it’s an interesting read. And much hasn’t changed over the years. Singapore Airlines Girls ARE the brand and are considered iconic. VietJet Air’s use of female flight attendants on the other hand, now that is sexist objectification. This isn’t.

    https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/the-singapore-girl-from-an-experiment-to-an-icon-8253406

  26. @Chinese Guy: 1) Yes, other non-Asian companies do take advantage of stereotyping and defined gender roles in their marketing. That does not mean it excuses an Asian company from doing the same. It is not a sufficient excuse for someone to say “well, that guy did it too” if they too are doing something wrong or damaging. 2) I’m sorry, but your assessment that Asian men are somehow immune to racialized perspectives in their romantic interests is just wrong. Again, I am part Asian, my wife is Asian. We talk about this stuff with our Asian friends. Asian men and women ARE influenced by race in their partner decisions and stereotypes effect that. For example, some Asian women in Singapore prefer Asian men because they are seen as “safer” and less likely to cheat. Other Asian women prefer ex-pat men for other reasons. But this idea that the submissive Asian woman stereotype suddenly stops at a racial border is just wrong and incorrect. Asian men can be influenced by it too. That’s just a fact of life.

  27. @KeepingItReal I agree about all these Drumpf supporters. Everyone knows that the worst thing you can possibly do to a woman is to honor her for her beauty and grace. Women should be treated exactly like men in all circumstances because gender is an artificial social construct with no meaning. The uterus and childbearing are all a lie perpetuated by the white male patriarchy to oppress others. To state or imply otherwise is just pure hatred.

    In this spirit, I think everyone should start referring to these workers of the world as “Singapore persons.” This neutral term will not be a microagression. I am so excited about this topic and all of the progress that we are making here at OMAAT that the thought of traveling to the Maldives in F for free now bores me.

  28. With #MeToo going global [1], it is not surprising that even ads like SQ’s that have consistently shown their “Girl” in the best possible light would suddenly be scrutinized and questioned. To borrow a [despised] phrase, this is “#fakenews”

    [1] “‘The backlash is coming’: The global wave of #MeToo”: https://goo.gl/dVtsFm (The Washington Post, March 5, 2018).

  29. I’m a Singapore citizen and a female. I do not find that offensive or sexist. Singapore girl is an icon of how SIA branded themselves to be different from other Airlines since the beginning long time ago. SIA also kept the iconic uniform of what Singapore Girls wear, for them to stand out against other airliners. Singapore is a small country, for us to be known and stand out against the other countries, let others know that we have such an outstanding airline, they will need be different from other airlines which can make people remember them. Actually things can be pretty simple or complicated, it depends on how the people want to see it. One thing is for sure, it’s always the people making everything complicated.

  30. There are easy updates that could be made to the “Singapore Girl” concept that would keep a lot of what people like about it while making it more contemporary. First, the company should refer to the concept as “Singapore Woman” instead of “girl”. That would point to how Singapore Airlines and Singapore the country have grown up since it first came to be in the 70s. It would also point to a more mature, confident icon better reflective of the Singapore of today. Second, as Lucky says, how about having an independent female character in the ad, ie. a female business traveler working the bloomberg terminal instead of just a man. Third, have a token male flight attendant shown too. I remember when I first started flying SQ, I was almost surprised to see male flight attendants but they do a great job and deserve to be recognized too and why not start to develop a male icon to represent Singapore and Singapore airlines too… I’m sure alot of Singaporean men would like a masculine representation of them on the global stage. So, three minor fixes and the core depiction including the sarong kabaya, the general tone of service and excellence, the female flight attendant being at the centre could all remain.

  31. The Singapore Airlines advertisements have always been respectful towards the “Singapore Girl” she is revered and looked up to as a great example to others. I can’t understand how anyone could possibly find it unacceptable.

  32. I don’t get it. Which part of the ad is sexist? The Singapore girl is a brand, chosen to represent the values that SQ offers. What Sally said.

    Everyone is too sensitive nowadays. OK, I’ve said enough. I am going to go to my safe space now and draw with my box of crayons.

  33. I went on a guided tour of SIA HQs in Changi a couple of years back, and it was painful. We were literally told that only South East Asian women could become flight attendants because body shapes from other regions simply don’t look good on the sarong kebaya, and that most of the Singapore girls don’t stay beyond 30-35 years old, they simply won’t renew their contracts unless they become pursers. I guess the add, although beautiful, just reflects the corporate culture.

  34. “women are hard-wired to care and nurture”

    You obviously have never met my mother. God bless her, she’s a complete harridan who cares about no-one but herself, and nurtures only grievances.

    The point?: any sweeping generalisation will be wrong, and most of them are used to put people down – even the ones which purport to be positive (“Chinese people are such hard workers”; “Black people are such great athletes”; “The Gays are so sensitive and supportive”).

    Do I think Singapore Girl is sexist garbage? Well of course it is.

    Reminds me of satirical American Express ads from the 1980s, where the surly female ticket agent was transformed into a willing happy person after the AmEx card was flashed, so much so that at the end of the transaction she suddenly ripped open her blouse and, smiling, asked deferentially “And would you like to rub my t1ts too?”.

    This stuff is designed to tittivate lecherous old geezers – like me – because we buy the most premium tickets. They know their market and, tragically, this crap works.

  35. It’s always been sexist and degrading to women in general and the profession in particular. It’s a shame.

  36. I think it’s a cultural thing and to a degree an industry thing.

    Asian and middle eastern airlines nearly ALWAYS only feature attractive young females in promo stuff. But it is also often the case for western airlines although this has changed a little over the past couple years.

    I remember seeing a promo pic for a Star Alliance ad where they had a crew representative in uniform from each star alliance member. Every single one was female.

    I don’t really have a position on it. I guess it’s what people want to see as they continue making ads with pretty girls. If people didn’t like it I guess their research would show this and they’d make more inclusive ads.

  37. Misogyny truly runs deep, very deep…

    The whole concept of flight attendant back in ‘50s (when the profession has become mainstream) was to satisfy majority of travelers from 50s. Air travel being just regular representation of then established cultures quikly setteled into male-passenger—female-servant roles. But that was ‘50, when women could aspire to wide range of professions: secretary (serving), flight attendant (serving), nurse (nurturing), teacher (nurturing). It is beyond belief that the symbol built on values from ‘50s is still persisting today, and that so many people find it appropriate. It seems we need to roll back everything and go back to that time, as nothing is wrong with persisting these models by enshrining them into corporate “brand” and insisting that number of inches of someone’s bosom is appropriate criteria for service industry.

  38. Yes, of course it’s infantilizing. It’s like something out of the 1950s, not 1970s.

    And the sexualization is definitely there – those tight dresses. They must be figure-hugging – anything else is obviously unacceptable.

  39. They sucked u in to watch the video then THEY tried to sell u on the Airline. Sold me how about an obese man or woman would that help u feel better or sell the airline better ?
    I love their POINTS now is that sexist too ?

    CHEERs

  40. Donald Osborne wrote: “SQ is selling the fantasy of the submissive sexual Asian woman by putting their FAs in body tight fitting Kebayas.”
    You are clearly an uneducated person who does not understand foreign cultures and looks at everything from your own narrow bigoted perspective. Go to South East Asia and you can see that ALL women who wear a Kebaya wears them tightly. No woman wears them loosely. Yes, the Kebaya is of Malaysian/Indonesian in origin – did you know that Singapore was once part of Malaysia? Historically in the past they were always part of Malaysia therefore there is nothing wrong with them using a Malaysian dress. You are clearly a typical hysterical leftie who attacks anything that might seem not in alignment with your viewpoints. You claim to be a “Red blooded American”, wow…does that mean you are a communist?
    “Just visit Singapore someday, nobody wears those Kebayas”. First of all this is not true. Secondly just because few women wear it on a daily basis, this means they are not allowed to use it? How about all of the traditional clothing from other countries where people don’t wear it daily, should they be banned from using them too?
    If you’ll notice from the comments, many of the defenders are from South East Asia, and the ones attacking the dress are cultural imperialists who are insisting on forcing their own cultural norms on other cultures. This is a classic example of “The Ugly American” trying to impose their values on other countries. It’s disgusting.

  41. I think applying the current western cultural environment to the ‘Singapore Girl’ concept of SQ will inevitably lead to the conclusion that it is sexist and inappropriate.

    However, I’ve always though that SQ shows the ‘Singapore Girl’ as an ambassador, someone that is professional and is good at the job they do. It’s supposed to be the physical embodiment of the ideals of the airline. SQ doesn’t use it to sell sex, or sex appeal.

    I agree that the concept of the ‘Singapore Girl’ icon needs to be updated and evolved as well as the ads that SQ puts out.

    – Have a professional woman with a stay at home husband taking care of the kids
    – Have a male flight attendant in the ads, show a female pilot operating a flight

  42. Good grief. If some of those leaving comments here had been my parents in 1961, I’d have been sent to a concentration camp for coming home from school and announcing that I thought my first grade teacher was pretty.

    These narratives are getting almost as old and tiresome as I am now.

    Make the world a better place, folks; try to find something – anything – to be happy about.

  43. We may all have varied viewpoints. But at the end of the day, its what keeps their brand alive. Its the perception it creates that appeals to their target clients. I think SIA is being consistent in the way they chose to communicate their brand values. Its that WOW effect 8-9/10 clients get each time they launch a campaign which to me sets them apart be it in the 1980’s or 2018.

    Besides that, lets not forget that SIA’s home singapore is an asian country where by apart from the liberalist hype and all still remain committed to the essential values of the family where the woman is trafitionally seen as an epitome of care, warmth, with a humane aspect which bonds the family together. SIA started in the 70’s but even in 2018, the truth remains the guy will never be able to replace the woman naturally in some areas. If it were the case global adverts would have proven the contrary. Professionally it can be themed sexist given male/female gender balance “hype” but we all know if we replace the female figure with the guy. Much of the allure will fade away. So SIA BIG THUMBS UP

  44. Another PC comment by someone with too much time on their hands. Nothing at all sexist about this campaign which has been around for years. People need to lighten up a bit and stop trying to mmm and issues out of nothing. I too blame the liberal media for senationalizing this crap. It is now in style for everyone to be offended by everything. Makes me sick.

  45. Who uses the term liberalist??

    Also, the comments on this article are great fodder. Love how people are so angry. Its hilarious. Like I figure 1/3 are Russian state promoted comments to derail discussion, 1/3 are huffy liberals (not liberalists…), and 1/3 are angry conservatives. And the liberals take the Russian and conservative bait, and the conservatives are just mad to begin with because things aren’t like they used to be, and the Russians keep going because Americans can’t help but to comment on crazy comments with non-native english grammar. Great for popcorn, bad for society.

  46. Excuse me, if I recall, Ben shared what he found to be a well done “commercial “ for an airline he finds consistently above average. He found the “commercial” beautiful and well done and shared such with the blog and asked others if they shared his view. (Young man we need to chat!)
    So aside from the first Michael, Sally, CMorgan and myself, who all focused on the beauty of the production, we got every sex driven male on the planet focusing on the girl. The only honest one was the nice Paul who summed up all the others in his final paragraph to justify what he got out of it.
    Aside from the beautiful graphics what I saw was a strong confident young lady who saw the positive in life around her and decided to apply those principles to her work. But, my main focus was everything around her!
    Others gave us clear definition of their morales or lack thereof by focusing on how “hot” she was etc.. for those who are politically motivated, please find a different forum, this is not it.

  47. I find this marketing strategy to be sexist, oppressive, and offensive. SQ needs to progress to the modern age. In fact, working women in Hong Kong and Singapore are some of the very toughest and most professionally accomplished in the world, even more so than their western counterparts.

  48. Good grief, man. It’s an advert. Let it go. Like others said, stop reading between the lines and report on the good stuff. Travel. Thats why we read.

  49. Did anyone see Anne Hathaway give a speech at the UN? She wore a beautiful red dress with a low neckline. She looked gorgeous! With her pretty smiles and moves, she was very good to look at.
    For all of you hypocrites criticizing the Singapore girl, why are you not up in arms with Anne Hathaway dressing the way she did? She was speaking about a very serious and important subject, yet she dressed in a ravishing sexy red dress. Why aren’t you hypocrites berating her for not wearing a dark business suit with a high neckline??? It’s apparently OK for American women to dress in beautiful and sexy clothing but not Asian women? You hypocrites are despicable.

  50. Lets have more airline economy flight and hotel reviews and discontinue all these type of postings ?

  51. Have you heard galley talk aboard SQ? It will shatter whatever “Singapore Girl” fantasy one might have. For most of the crew, it’s a job, a lifestyle. I often joke that it is like national service for women. Many take pride in their work but the image is unrealistic, not to mention all the list of things female crew are prohibited from doing while in uniform. Much shorter list for male crew.

    SQ and CX are amongst my favourite carriers but I’ll give CX the edge for being more “practical” and progressive. Their F bed and amenities are good, though food is poor. I like their recycling and environmental initiatives that go beyond fuel use. SQ has good service and much better food but the rest seems like a throwback to colonial times. The Suites are not comfortable but they were innovative and look grand — like SQ girl, it’s an image they’re projecting. Idk chalk it up to the difference between HK and SG. Fascinating how the two are so different despite their colonial history and similar demographics.

  52. Leave your feminist propaganda out! Virtually all female models are choosing to be models as a profession. If the feminists like you bully Singapore Airlines to stop using the models, are YOU going to support them financially? Look what happened to the grid girls, women who had respectable jobs, paying taxes into the system, and now out of work and using welfare thanks to leftard feminists.
    Liked your blog better when you just stuck with points, miles, and reviews.

  53. The appearance of the Singapore Girl is not at all sexist. This uniform is giving an elegant touch to fantastic women, who do a brilliant job. It’s modern, to scandalize this kind of “feminism”, even when it does the contrary at the end. Woman who work for an airline have their own money and are independent. The real problem are cultures, where women are pregnant with 15.

  54. shame on you. feeding the divisional spirit that is dividing both the united states and the world. the discussion of racism is far bigger than you are able to carry on here but you bate the issue for your need for attention and online commerce. shame. how very sad for you and your parents and your mother in law and those that have held their tongues. do you really think five credit card or mile based comments or articles per day are going to save the sinking ship you are on? do you think it will always be enough to keep a man from newport and palm beach happy for life? have you known men from brown or the everglades club before? wake up. he will be expensive and flighty and your gig of pushing credit cards is close to an end. i used to like this site, now i just look in to see the train wreck. again, shame on you for your disingenuous and desperate race bating. you are intact the racist here by even slurring singapore airlines making an issue for your own financial gain. yes, i know i have written “shame” three times. better to to write it than to be it.

  55. @Emirates4Ever
    Glad that your name suggests that you support an oppressive regime like the UAE..

  56. It’s a beautiful advert – a work of art. I did not find it sexist in any way. I think we can take political/sexist/ageist correctness too far. I simply viewed it for what it was – a masterpiece for conveying everything that Singapore Airlines is. More of these in the future please & don’t be swayed by negative – however well meaning – comments.

  57. I think the question is absurd. How can you apply such a narrow (very very Western, in particular American) vision of what constitutes “sexism” to another country that may not share those same terms? And how about diversity? Who gets to decide how diverse a foreign airline ad should be? Is it based on their ethnic mix? On what you are familiar with?

    My understanding is that the “Singapore girl” is a symbol of pride for many Singaporeans, and I have really never heard anyone accuse them of sexism for using the Singapore girl theme until this article.

    It would be just as easy, if one wants to go in endless silly circles, to question whether this article (and indeed the comment that inspired it) smacks of cultural imperialism….

  58. @ Kerry

    Yes, except versions of this ad are made to be shown in those western cultures, to entice us evil Imperialist westerners to give them our money.

    So, if I want to communicate with someone, surely it behoves me to try not to be offensive in their terms?

    Isn’t that just basic, you know, good manners? Like not wearing beach kit in a church, bare legs in a mosque, etc.

  59. I wonder what the reactions would be if airlines only hired muscled athletic young male flight attendants.

  60. I just think that Singapore airlines have a very authentic and native Singaporean uniform, that it features Batik fabrics and traditional cuts. As a national airline of Singapore I expect them to show their culture, therefore the male flight attendants just have a very simple suit, which isn’t as distinguishable.

  61. Is it sexist (not just the ad but the whole ‘Singapore Girl’ thing)? Yes. Well, for those of us that live in the west.

    Would those in asia consider it sexist? Maybe, but also a cultural norm.

    I’m not defending it but sometimes it is difficult for those of us outside a country or culture to have an understanding of these things. And if I may, I will use an American example that the rest of the world really struggles with – guns. I guarantee you that almost every other western country and most other worldwide non-war zones find it incredible that in this day and age american people can walk into a department store and buy a gun and carry it legally with very little restriction. Pretty much any non-american you speak to about this will be absolutely perplexed and find it extremely odd and outdated. Yet, for many americans, it is a social norm. A proud fact of their history. And one that other countries don’t really have a right to interfere in.

    And it is true what others have said about Singaporeans and Singapore Airlines – they have an absolute affiliation. Singaporeans will tend to be extremely loyal to ‘their’ airline on longhaul flights even if it costs them more because the airline very much caters to the service style they like. It is quite rare to see Singaporeans travelling long haul with an airline other than SQ actually. If SQ is a choice most will go for it.

    Singapore Airlines literally helped put Singapore on the map. Like Emirates did for DXB or Qatar Airways did for Qatar. Born in its own rite only in the 1950’s Singapore Airlines was basically the Dubai of its day – Singapore Airlines playing a central role in establishing SIN as a global transit hub and helping develop Singapore as a country at the same time.

  62. My problem is that a company that’s majority-owned by Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund calls a subset of its employees “girls” — a term heavily weighted with colonial baggage and … umm … quaint (?) … assumptions about race, class, and gender roles. A socially responsible company would at least ask hard questions about this, but I don’t think the Sedition Act exactly encourages that. I do have to wonder, though, what Ho Ching (Temasek’s CEO and the PM’s wife, conveniently) would think about being called “girl” …

  63. If Singapore Airlines was a regional carrier operating solely within SE Asia then perhaps Singapore Gir may be somewhat appropriate.

    But they’re not a regional player. They are a global player and one of the first things they need to do is to strive to not offend anyone. That’s tough in a global environment but surely they can come up with something better than to advertise Singapore and it’s culture than “Singapore Girl”.

  64. @The nice Paul,

    I was being somewhat sarcastic, and my point was more that if we walk down this road we end up in endless, ridiculous circles, accusing each other of mindless minor “micro aggressions”.

    I personally don’t think the ad campaign is sexist or lacks appropriate diversity for Singapore. I do appreciate others may feel differently, but to answer your question, the “Singapore Girl” concept has been a key point of advertising and pride for the airline (and the country that subsidises them) for generations. So, do I feel that the airline (and the city-state) should adjust their entire long-term concept to conform to a currently popular Western idea of liberalism? No. I do not.

    And while I was actually joking earlier, in truth I really do I feel it’s offensive to assume everyone shares a “universal” value system based purely on the assumptions of people in London, NYC and LA.

    I mean, if you really can’t handle an Asian airline using a woman in a respectful QiPao dress to advertise than what CAN you handle?

  65. I really think people should lay off this issue as a Western vs. Asian thing. There are a myriad of opinions in Western countries and Asian countries. Not all Westerners think the same, not all Singaporeans or Asians think the same. There are Westerners who don’t find the Singapore Girl sexist and there are Singaporeans/Asians who do (and vice versa). After reading this thread I asked an Indonesian (male) friend and a Singaporean (female) friend what they think and they both flatly said it WAS sexist. I’m not expressing an opinion on it, but just pointing out that it’s a gross generalization to say this is about western imposition of alien values or that this is part of “Asian” culture. It is similarly arrogant of people to reduce Singapore or “Asia” to a single point of view based on their broad-brush generalization of their “culture”.

    I would also point out that there are varying degrees of sexism. I don’t think the issue is as black and white as many people here are trying to make it out to be. There is really overt sexist discrimination like sexually harassing a co-worker or deliberately not hiring/promoting someone because of their gender and then there are more subtle forms like gender stereotyping and emphasizing defined gender roles which can on a more social level limit opportunities for women. I think many people can distinguish between the varying degrees of sexism and it doesn’t serve any purpose for people on both sides of the debate to reduce it to either a complete non-issue or a horrible example of sexist oppression. Most instances fall in-between those two extremes.

    And just as there are varying degrees of discrimination I think there are varying degrees of reaction to that discrimination. Many of us have the sophistication to be able to have a proportional perspective. Someone can feel that the Singapore Girl is an anachronistic form of gender stereotyping and not be completely outraged by it.

  66. Over the years there’s this sexist issue surfaced about Singapore girl, this is not the first time. SIA had also made a statement long time ago saying “To remove the Singapore Girl icon from SIA is like removing Mickey Mouse from Disneyland…”
    Singapore founded in August 9 1965, separated from Malaysia, we are only a small island country, one small dot on the map whereby you can’t even see it unless you are searching for it on where it is. How many people back then know about Singapore or heard of Singapore. With the ending of Malaysia Singapore Airlines in 1972, Singapore Airlines continued on its own. An airline from a small country no one knows about and trying to compete internationally, SIA chose the Singapore Girl branding with Sarong Kebaya. The term Girl back then was just a friendly way of referring to the girl next door. Since Singapore is a small country, We don’t have the space for everyone to have our own lot and houses, Singapore govt started having this public housing called HDB or we lived in kampong. For those staying in HDB, there can be as many as 15-20 families living in that 1 level and a block consist of as much as over 20 plus levels. So a lot of the families refer the daughters of their neighbors to the girl next door. I’m just trying to explain alittle of Singapore culture in a short few sentences that when we use the term girl, we doesn’t have any negative thoughts or feelings or sexist whatsoever. SIA just trying to use and remember the origins of Singapore. we will have our 53 years of independence this year but we still need to remember our kampong spirit and keep our traditions. Without those we may not be what and who we are today.

  67. Some people will find any little thing they can to be outraged about. Soo many serious things going on in the world and if this commercial gets you outraged then you really need to get a life.

  68. In the UK we don’t get paranoid generally about calling a female “girl” or male “boy”. What is acceptable in one country may not be in another, but it is simply rude to enforce your own ideas on another country or culture – in this case let’s remember Singapore is in the East not West. If you want to stay safe in your own cocoon then don’t travel.

  69. Well, I suppose it’s oerfectly fine as long as the next commercial has the Singapore “boy” making my in-flight bed while I finish my business plan review…..says the business woman flying Singapore in J.

  70. @CMorgan – “SeekerOfTruth” commented earlier that my username here means I support the repressive government of the UAE lol. You know, Emirates, UAE.

  71. @ Nigel
    You claim to speak for an entire nation, but “we” don’t all agree with you. My racist English parents made a point of referring to every Jewish man as a “Jew-boy”. It was utterly offensive, and deliberately so. “Boy” has a long history of being a derogatory term in England, and I’m mystified that you think it doesn’t.

    I’m also guessing you’d be pissed off to hear foreigners referring to the queen as a “girl”? But how could that be so if we in the U.K. don’t care?

    Both titles when referring to adults are diminutives. They deliberately make small – in the masculine case they are emasculating, in the feminine infantilising. But you seem oblivious to any offence you may be causing. Can’t say I think that’s good manners.

  72. The nice Paul – I am sorry you grew up in a racist household – perhaps that masks your views. Thankfully I did not and neither (I assume) did my many colleagues and friends who all use the phrases “boy” and “girl” without offence and none is taken. I am of course not speaking for the nation, but rather from my own experience of living in the north and south, village, town, and city, with friends and colleagues of many cultures, faiths and nationalities. I have heard many people- British and American – call HM The Queen “A good old girl”. I am not offended, and as I hsve heard that the Duke of Edinburgh uses it, to her face, I assume neither does she!

  73. All of these discussions are mainly based on not being able to compete with the highest standard of service ‘Singapore girl’ can offer.
    What’s wrong with ‘Singapore girl’ that performs their duties to ensure that the customer have the utmost level of service expected from SQ.
    Attentive, hardworking and the willingness to aknowledge that customer is king. There’s nothing wrong with the tight, comfortable kebaya uniform designed by Givenchy. The SQ girl readily and willingly helps put up passengers’ bag in the overhead while other airline FA would just crossed their arms with ‘if you can’t lift that bag don’t expect me to do that for you’ attitude (you’ll see a lot of kebaya worn in the hospitality industry in Malaysia, Indonesia,Thai, in fact GA/TG/MH have kebaya as part of the uniform)

  74. @ Nigel

    I had a feeling you might throw “good old girl” back at me. Which is not, of course, the same as calling someone a “girl” – I’m not sure why you would pretend it is. Then again, I’m not sure citing the notoriously, er, unreconstructed Duke of Edinburgh’s usage is doing your case any favours either.

    The fact that you seem to think racism is uncommon in England suggests that you have led tooa pretty sheltered a life. Here’s a vile incident from just last week: https://www.channel4.com/news/student-racist-abuse-recorded

    But hey, maybe those “girls” should just accept that the language used was just a bit of fun, and no-one should take offence, eh?

  75. @ Paul I have never said racist is uncommon. There are some vile incidents, as you state. The thread is about whether the use of “girl” is, so perhaps stick to the topic in hand.

  76. @ Paul actually the thread is about “girl” as sexist not racist – you introduced racism in your thread. And if “girl” and “boy” is sexist, what should we say instead of “boyfriend” and “girlfriend”?

  77. @ Nigel

    Thank you for telling me what I can and can’t post about it. Most kind of you to give me the benefit of your instructions.

    If we go back to your OP, what I objected to was (1) you claiming to speak on behalf of an entire country – when clearly you can’t, because I don’t agree with you; (2) your argument (I paraphrase) that no reasonable person could possibly find the term “girl” offensive.

    I illustrated, with examples, why that and similar terms *can* be offensive (irrespective of whether or not they are offensive in the exalted milieu you cited of your various friends and relatives in different parts of the UK). I did not go so far as to suggest that you live in a middle class bubble where your experience of the UK is perhaps only partial – but I am certainly explicitly stating that now. My post on racism – with example – was intended to illustrate that point.

    If you really can’t see from your own experience how “girl” might be an offensive term, I cite by way of gentle example a lovely scene from Absolutely Fabulous: Patsy is in an upmarket commercial art gallery, where the uber-posh assistants are sneeringly in charge. She just snaps her fingers from the other side of the gallery and shouts: “Oi. You – shop-girl”. She uses the term “girl” because it is infantilising and insulting – it punctures the bubble of posh entitlement which the gallery assistant wears. Patsy knows the devastating impact it will have, and wields it like the brutal weapon it is.

    But maybe you are right, and no-one among your extended network of friends and family would dream of referring to each other as anything but “boy” or “girl”, and maybe they mean no offence by it – it can be fun. Depending on what is meant.

    It is usually a mistake to extrapolate our own personal experience and assume it is The Way that the rest of the world really is. Travel should broaden the mind, and all that. You could spend some time in the US South or South Africa; my working assumption here is that you are a white middle class Englishman: try calling black people in those places “boy” or “girl” and see how you get on.

  78. More over-politically correct leanings from a wet behind the ears millennial. I’ve been suckered into enough pathetic click bait headings so it’s time to hit that unlike button.

  79. @ Paul you are so wrong. I am from a very working class mining village in the north of England and my dad was unemployed for a number of years. Some of my family are mixed race and I have dated black guys prior to marrying my husband.

  80. @ Nigel

    You see – that’s a living illustration of the beauty of diversity!

    I am intrigued though: a black guy who didn’t mind you calling him “boy”? That’s a bit unusual.

    Can I ask if you’ve spent much time in, say, the southern US or South Africa? I’m still curious to know if you think using boy or girl there would likely be acceptable. And, if not, why you think a multinational airline that operates there, among other places, is ok to use such terminology.

  81. @ Paul – thanks! I have been to the Southern US and South Africa on holiday, so don’t think I am qualified to comment, though with their sometimes appalling history I can see why it would be unacceptable – wherever I go I would always be careful to respect local culture, or indeed avoid it e.g. I choose not to go on holiday with my husband to the Middle East out of respect for their laws, or use their airlines – it is not for me to impose my own western ideas on other cultures. And I guess that is my point really on all of this – an Asian airline chooses language that is acceptable for their culture. Yes they may go to countries where terminology is culturally different, and it is for others to choose to use them or not. But airlines generally show their own cultures in their offering, which may go beyond food and drink.

  82. not at all.i love how they use singapore girls to promote the brand and it’s service.ask any sales rep at any office of what their opinion is of them are.i know of a few who promote singapore airlines and everything great about them and it is not sexist at all.

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