Opinion

Singapore women want more from media than consumerism, beauty, fashion and sex tips

ShuQi LiuIn this guest post, ShuQi Liu argues that Singapore’s media scene needs to look beyond International Women’s Day and Mother’s Day to tackle women’s issues and celebrate their success stories.

When I first started my agency two years ago, I really wanted to help female entrepreneurs succeed by getting their message across in print and online publications. Unfortunately, Singapore’s competitive female magazine landscape does not make this easy. Let’s face it, there are scant opportunities to share what women on their way to success really want.

Content in women’s magazines is led by consumerist brand attitudes and superficial topics – beauty, fashion, entertainment and the occasional mind-blowing sex spiels.

Cleo Singapore

Cleo Singapore

Typically speaking, there are only two days in the year that newsrooms are open to women-focused stories – International Women’s Day and Mother’s Day. Only then do the floodgates for honest, intellectual sharing about women’s real life struggles and inclusive celebrations of life open. Women shouldn’t have to splurge on an advertorial campaign to tell their success stories for 363 days of the year.

As it is, these magazines paint an idealistic picture of the perfect life – slim-figured women with well-groomed tresses, perfectly painted faces, expensive drapes and luxurious fashion accessories. Beyond a glossy fashion spread, the reader does not get anything insightful other than what to place in their shopping bag.

The Straits Times

Written by women, edited by men?

Moving away from women’s magazines, current affairs publications like The Straits Times, Business Times, Reuters, Wall Street Journal and Financial Times are also not particularly women-friendly.

If you look at the bylines, most of the news breakers at these publications are women, but the editors and management team are dominated by men. As a result, the subtle messages that stem from a women’s perspective can get lost in translation when male editors copyedit and change things around. Often, this means that most of the published news represent predominantly male perspectives, so there is not much room for women to weigh in on important issues.

Is there still room for women to share their success stories and help give us a lift? Yes, there is hope. I’ve noticed the media landscape has been shifting in recent months. Content is becoming more insightful and engaging, and the media is beginning to address topics that engage the female population’s brain, which after all, is the sexiest part of her anatomy.

Lenny LetterIn the online world, there has been an influx of websites focused on insightful content tailored to the female reader. These include Motto, a new site for millennial women from the editors of Time, #Girlboss™, a platform to inspire women to lead deliberate lives, and Lenny Letter, a site by feminist and actress Lena Dunham, which features interviews with respected women such as Melinda Gates and Michelle Obama, to name a few.

Lady BossIn Singapore, Executive Lifestyle provides business motivation and lifestyle inspiration with tips and resources for success, happiness and work-life balance by Singapore’s fastest growing directory of business experts and lifestyle professionals. The New Savvy presents a financial guide and career tips for women, while Ladyboss Magazine writes about startups, growth and consulting by featuring women entrepreneurs and business leaders. In print, we see more opinion sections and byline articles sprouting. I particularly look forward to Lee Wei Ling’s guest contributions in The Sunday Times. Alas, she will no longer write for Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) due to editorial curbs. I wonder if this has got to do with a disagreement on the direction set by a predominantly male management team.

These burgeoning themes on career, leadership and success among women are the result of the rise in female literacy around the world, especially in Asia. One does not have to look very far to find a decisive, independent Asian woman with worldly perspectives to share. As such, it is heartening to see gradual shifts in editorial focus and structures. This will make more room for women to shine in the media limelight, away from the traditional glamour of beauty and fashion.

ShuQi Liu is director of Q Communications, an independent branding and communications agency

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