Practice 1.

October 9, 2015 § Leave a comment

Under the cut is my practice for writing the LNAT Essay. After having looked through samples from the website, it appears they want a very streamline approach and content knowledge should be concise and brief. However, even then the website claims that tutors are primarily focused on how the argument it crafted, rather than its content. Apparently, they also hate the Yes/No?Yes/No balanced approach – one website explicitly warned against “sitting on the fence”. So I had to take on a rather extremist standpoint, as compared to GP. This is just a practice for me to see how I can approach the question. Definitely not a sample answer standard. (I might come back to edit some stuff later, depends how hard working I am haha!)

Can’t say I am pleased with this though i am tentatively satisfied I can churn out something and adapt my writing style for this new structure. Will practice two more essays tomorrow, maybe two on Sunday and then go in for the LNAT on Monday and try not to have a mind block during it.

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Gender

August 30, 2015 § Leave a comment

Instead of freaking out on how I have yet to receive my confirmation email for my LNAT account (who even does real person email verifications anymore? I want to book a bloody test not give you my bank details, jesus) and without which I can’t even book my LNAT dates. Which apparently the test slots prior to 20th of October are running out, just like my blood pressure at the thought my procrastination has led to my own inability to even register for Oxford. God I am an idiot. Can all of us (i.e the 1 – 3 people who still read this blog) hold a prayer circle that I can get a LNAT test slot in before the 20 October deadline? It is much appreciated. Really.

Though this piling inadequacy has been enough to get me cracking on my PS (literally just started, I may have an H3 in Lit but I’ll let you know I’d have a H5 in Procrastination) After reading a few Law PSs (one of which was a Lithutianian student who wrote about how she once led the campaign against having her school closed down, like what the seriously?) I realised the whole “additional and wider reading” component is much more critical than I once thought. Which just means more reading on top of all the backload of history reading I have yet to do.

Speaking of reading, GP Prelims is tomorrow Hurrah! I am not too concerned because I find that when I am stressed out I simply cannot write. The minute I write essays that I go, “didn’t prepare at all, let’s YOLO this mofo” I magically perform better. So as a public service to all you people worried about tomorrow’s exam: be afraid. very afraid. Ms Hidayah mentioned something on the comprehension being more difficult than usual, which leads me to believe it might just be on science/technology (ugh for us Arts students) or it is about the very philosophical-how-the-heck-do-I-have-examples-for-this-crap topics like kindness, or gratitude or hard work or some other inane topic.

As for essays, the heavy emphasis on Language might mean that Language question is coming out. Hopefully, it can be on a topic that I am good on, such as writing etc But if worse come to worse, I am planning to do the social/gender question. In the recent time trial, they combined one of the iffy subtopics I predicted which was Gender and Politics (the horror) so hopefully there would be a gender-only question this time. So as a public service, I am compiling a list of examples for all of you plebeians to use if you are also planning to do those kinds of topics. May the bell curve be ever in your favour.

Gender

Women in politics

(1) As of two decades ago, the number of women sitting in parliament has doubled. However, while commendable strides have been taken to balance the playing field for women in such male-dominated areas such as politics, this only equates to women taking up an average of 20% of parliamentary seats across different countries. (Source: UN Women)

  • Nordic regions top the list at an average of 40.5%, Americas at 26% and Asia at only 18%

This might have been useful for the Gender and Politics question in the time trial:

(2) “More women in politics does not necessarily correlate with lower levels of corruption, as is often assumed. Rather, democratic and transparent politics is correlated with low levels of corruption, and the two create an enabling environment for more women to participate.”  – UN Women

(3) There is a UN Resolution on Women’s political participation, which calls on member countries to reduce discriminatory practices that directly or indirectly bar women against political participation as well as inculcate zero-tolerance practices against gender-based work place harassment of elected women officials or within political parties.

(4) In Columbia, government bodies and the women civil society has partnered up to impose a legislature mandating that its parliament must reach the quota of having at least 30% women candidates in national elections. An accompanying ad campaign titles: “Democracy without women is incomplete” similarly drove home the message on the importance of gender inclusivity in politics.

  • However, does the implementation of such a quota really solve the root cause of female discrimination in politics? Moreover, it may perpetuate even more discrimination against women as it seems to implicitly imply that the female candidates who were chosen to run for election were able to do so, not based on their individual merit, but instead on the quota system.
  • Hence, to tackle the root cause of the system is to engage a shift in the mentality of the country’s political system itself. More education and support systems have to be put in place to encourage girls to go forward into politics (and other male dominated fields, such as STEM) and through this grounds-up movement, only then can we truly eradicate the root cause of inequality. The feminism movement is a movement based on equality and not superiority or favoured treatment of women because we are women. For true gender equality to be attained, it is not so much about simply giving women positions or places in male dominated fields on account of their gender, moreover it is enshrining an equitable and fair playing field for both genders to compete for the job without the fear that their gender might hold them back. It is about equal opportunity for women, not simply patronising them.

(5) Singapore scores poorly in the area of leadership. With 94 male ministers versus six female, the country is in 128th place in terms of the share of women in ministerial positions.

Women and the Media

(1) The Media as the Fourth Estate drives home its power as a powerful channel of information, with the ability to influence social norms and perceptions. Ideally, the Media should strive for impartiality and unbiased viewpoints, however in the case of gender, females are more likely to be grossly misrepresented. Female politicians/political candidates receive on average, less air time as compared to their male counterparts

(2) Human Rights Lawyer Amal Alamuddin received international fame after her marriage to actor, George Clooney. However, media coverage seemed more fixated on her clothing and fashion choices, rather than her work as a lawyer (she is one of the lawyers working on the Armenian Genocide case as well as campaigning work to end rape and sexual violence towards children in conflict zones.) Prior to one of the hearings for the Armenian Genocide, journalists pestered her about the “designer” gown she would be wearing to the case.

Women in the Workplace

(1) There is a persistent wage gap between men and women consistent around the world, with women earning only 70% of a male counterpart of equal educational or workplace criteria. A study by (insert random university here, they don’t really check but the study is real) found that given a completely identical work portfolio for a high-position leadership role, employers tended to choose the male applicant over the female applicant up to 40% of the time. Hence highlighting the subconscious bias towards males in the workplace.

  • “Contributing factors include the fact that women are more likely to be wage workers and unpaid family workers; that women are more likely to engage in low-productivity activities and to work in the informal sector, with less mobility to the formal sector than men; and  the view of women as economic dependents; and the likelihood that women are in unorganized sectors or not represented in unions” (UN Women)
  • In Singapore, blue-collared male workers earn up to 30% more than their female counterparts!

(2) Women bear a disproportionate responsibility on unpaid care work (which means household chores, caring for children etc). In the EU, 25% of women cited “care for family and personal responsibilities” as being the main reason for not being in the labour force. This is as opposed to 3% of men who cited the same reason. On the whole, women also have less time for leisure, political participation, self-care and education as compared to men and in virtually every country men spend more time on leisure, whereas women spend more time on unpaid housework

  • In Singapore, it is cited that although an equal amount of women and men enter tertiary education, there is a fall-off of employed women in their 30s, with the top reason cited as being caregiving and child-rearing

(3) More women than men work in vulnerable, low-paid or undervalued jobs. On average, 49.1% of the world’s working women work in vulnerable employment, opening them up to exploration and work-place harassment, unprotected by any legal legislation. (Men take up a lesser percentage of 46.9%.) In Southeast Asia specifically, this percentage goes up to 63% vs men’s 56%

  • Could be due to the limited education opportunities open to women, especially in patriarchal communities where males are given more access to higher education

(4) However, it has shown that having female representation in the boardroom actually contributes to overall enhanced business and organisational performance. Companies who have three or more women in senior management and top leadership positions have displayed higher scores on all dimensions of organisational effectiveness.

  • According to a 2012 study by the NUS Business School and BoardAgender, more than 60 per cent of Singapore Exchange-listed firms do not have a woman on their boards, and only 7.3% of the current 5,000 board positions available are held by women (AWARE Singapore)

(5) In a rural Indian province, there has been increased allowances for women onto the police and fire department force, a field typically viewed as male-dominated and unsuitable for women, who are perceived as being physically and psychologically weaker. There has been an increase in female participation in these forces up to 30% which is a huge milestone for the province, given its history of child brides and female disenfranchisement.

(6) 40-50% of women in the EU have reported experiencing unwanted sexual advancements or harassment at the workplace

(7) In Singapore, a recent survey done on Human Resource departments in Singaporean firms, it has found that up to 52% of them believe that women are not given the same career opportunities as men. The most commonly cited reason (at 71% in large corporate firms) being lack of work-life balance and lack of opportunities for women to fulfil their personal familial duties.

  • Which brings me onto how peeved I was when the Speaker of Parliament came down to our school and simply dismissed the question on the fact that there isn’t much being done to ensure women in the labour force are afforded the additional protection against discriminatory work policies regarding parental leave etc. Yeah sure, giving women “four months of parental leave” is sooooo generous as compared to the 1970s! (for the record I think in the Nordic region women are given up to a year of PAID parental leave) Wow, I didn’t know we were still measuring ourselves to the outdated and patriarchal standards of the Confucian times.
  • I think there has been a ratification in the Singapore parental leave policy, which is that women still get 4 months of parental leave while men now get 1 month (if I am not wrong) However, this unequal leave periods still entrenches the gender stereotype that women are the caregivers, while men are the providers
  • There is also the whole discriminatory practices by companies against pregnant women or companies terminating the contracts of female employees who have become pregnant
  • A 2011 Survey on Parental Leave by AWARE have reported that a majority of companies only offer 3 days of parental leave (36% of companies)
  • And the whole baby bonus thing as an incentive to have babies is pure bullshit. While it is generous of the government to give families money for each child they have, that in itself isn’t much of an incentive but more of a “here have some spare cash cos you are going to need it”. Raising a kid in Singapore requires a whole lot of dough. I think it is safe to say that if it weren’t for us, our parents would be comfortable millionaires right now.
  • Yeah, in any case the SOP’s PC PAP response to the question really pissed me off. 

Women and violence 

(1) A 2013 global report by UN Women have found that an average of 35% of women have faced some form of sexual or physical harassment by either an intimate partner or a stranger. However, in some countries, the percentages go up to 70%

(2) 1 in 10 girls have been forced into sexual intercourse/sexual acts world wide

(3) However, such cases of domestic abuse or sexual harassment by a family member/partner against women often goes unreported to the police. In the EU, it is reported that only 13-14% of women go to the police regarding their most serious incident of partner violence

(4) In the US, staggering 83% of girls aged 12 – 16 have faced some form of unwanted sexual harassment in public schools.

Non-Binary/Transgender Rights

(1) The National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force surveyed 6500 transgender individuals in the United States in 2011.

  •  41 percent reported that they had attempted suicide compared to 1.6 percent in the general population.
  •  64 percent had been sexually assaulted
  • 55 percent had lost a job due to their identity
  •  78 percent of transgendered individuals that have identified in their schooling years have reported they had been harassed
  • 35 percent had been physically assaulted.
  • Nearly 15 percent left school because the harassment was so severe.

(2) As of May 2015, 32 states still had no laws banning job discrimination against transgender individuals.

(3) The US Army issued a new rule that transgender soldiers could not be dismissed by mid-level officers. The discharge decision must be made by top civilian personnel.

(4)Also in 2015, a U.S. federal court ruled that the Affordable Care Act prohibits discrimination against transgender individuals by a federally-supported health care provider.

How We Pick the TIME 100

April 20, 2015 § Leave a comment

Recently skimmed through the TIME 100 edition mainly because for some reason Kanye West was on the cover (I still have no idea why he was on the cover except the possibility that it was done in TIME’s desperate attempt to boost sales for this edition) It was kind of ironic because a few issues ago, Taylor Swift was also on the cover of Times – except with a four page spread. Take that Kanye.

Anyway, I was mainly perusing the issue for the articles on the women honourees and was delighted that the UN Security Council, Samantha Power, was also given a centre fold spread! (mainly because I keep mentioning her in my GP essays but always cannot recall to mind her name)

TIME

In our annual TIME 100 issue, we tell 100 stories of individual influence. But taken together, these stories are an anthem to interaction, the convergence that occurs when you harmonize a good idea.

The technology that connects us also connects our worlds, of art and science and business and politics. So when we were debating whom to approach to write for this issue, we looked for people who could speak to their subject’s influence in all its dimensions. Entrepreneur Elon Musk writes about Kanye West’s “long game” as the music superstar moves into the worlds of fashion, design and philanthropy. Apple CEO Tim Cook is running the most valuable company on earth—but Congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis writes about how Cook has also used his position to elevate issues from privacy to the environment to LGBT rights. Former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson writes of actor

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Gifted and Talented Programs Dumb Down Our Students

February 9, 2015 § Leave a comment

Highly applicable to the Singapore context and can be used more for the crafting of argument and evaluations although much less use for concrete evidence. Obviously for evidence you can just look to the semi-elitist programmes in place in primary schools (GEP), secondary schools (IP program? Kind of?) and JCs (practically everything to do with JC stinks of backhanded elitism)

TIME

In America, we place great value on natural talent. We idolize the sheer genius of Albert Einstein and the creative brilliance of Steve Jobs—framing their success within the idea that geniuses like these are born, not created.

We have a surprisingly antiquated and misguided idea of how real talent comes to be, and this mistaken belief is holding our country back. There is no place where this myth is more destructive than in education.

Since the inception of “Gifted and Talented” programs, we have operated based on the idea that children are either born with rare and exceptional intellectual capacity, or they are not. In other words, being gifted is exactly that—a gift, having little or nothing to do with a child’s effort and everything to do with his or her natural ability.

This pushes parents of bright young children to become hyper focused on proving their child’s giftedness at…

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In which I “overuse” quotation marks.

February 6, 2015 § Leave a comment

Someone shared this on FB and I happened glanced through it, and thought it would be pretty useful for GP! It’s basically a list of all the violation of Human Rights committed by over 90 countries around the world as of 2015. Yes, naturally Singapore is among one of them as well.

For Singapore, the violations spanned over lack of political and civil rights – namely

1. Lack of freedom of speech, association or peaceful assembly,

2. Our country’s staunch anti-LGBT stance

and

3. Our exploitation of migrant workers.

These might be useful for GP especially since the school is harping so much on ethics and rights for the past few lectures/tutorials. Also, good to know general knowledge I suppose.

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1.   I largely agree with the first point, democracy in our country is at best only in its following of the basic democratic structures of fair elections, equal voting rights etc. But we are hardly an exemplary case in fulfilling the essence of democracy. One might argue that these international NGOs are placing “western ideals and expectations” on the Singaporean society’s “inherently different culture” – which Ms Hidayah interestingly mentioned in class is a form of Moral Relativism. Moral Relativism is basically whereby one applies different moral standards tailored to each unique circumstances, so it’s not a “one-size fits all” concept. The idea of our society being culturally and societally different from that of “Western expectations”, thus gives rise to the argument that our society’s “norms” are being unfair treated as “human rights violations” in the eyes of the Western idealists. However, applying this same idea of each country simply going by their own Moral Relativism of adhering to their own cultural background, it would seem similarly “unfair” to condone the practice of female genitalia mutilation (FGM) or child brides in African/Asian/Middle Eastern countries given they could similarly give the excuse of it being “a cultural custom of their society” and that NGOs were placing the Western imperialist expectations on a society that was “culturally different” from that of the Western world.

Just a thought.

2.   I’m a LGBT proponent and it is encouraging to see there are some pro-equality movements in Singapore, such as the Pink Dot. Perhaps in the future, there will be greater progress made in this field.

3.   The Human Rights article seems to have overplayed the Little India riots that took place, because I don’t remember anything about the migrant workers going to the extent of “torching houses, stores and vehicles”. I might be wrong though, I wasn’t really invested in that issue because it got messy pretty fast. That being said, I have heard of horror stories of companies abusing or not paying their foreign workers and many instances of Singaporean families abusing their domestic helpers, which I am entirely disgusted by. Ms Ng mentioned in class about how Singaporeans viewed domestic workers as a “necessity” but at the same time, they are not exactly embracing them with open arms. It’s like we treat them as part of the construction sites or the road works when we pass by, like they are simply part of the scenery of scaffolding and heavy machinery. I’m not exactly absolving myself of this behaviour because I am equally or as much guilty of doing this but I thought it was a very good point she raised up.

The World’s Obsession With Amal Isn’t About Her Accomplishments

January 30, 2015 § Leave a comment

As a service to greater humanity a.k.a my two to three loyal followers (yes I check the stats and that’s what the hit counter is for) I have decided to set up a GP folder where I share interesting news articles to perpetuate and ostensibly improve DHS’s GP A rate through my pretentious online blog.

Anyway, I feel like the article below regarding Amal Clooney is on point on the depiction of women in the media. Particularly how it seems the media while trying to pander to the times of feminism and gender equality, seems to only do so to show how “current and hip” they are in not reducing women to what bloody clothes they are and are not wearing.

Aside from using this as evidence for media/gender essays, I feel it also has the potential to be a original and unorthodox introduction starter as well as providing a humorous enough link back to be placed in the conclusion to tie up the essay neatly with a pretty pretty bow that the Cambridge markers seem to like.

TIME

Amal Clooney is at it again— doing something celebrities don’t usually do, and looking like a movie star while doing it.

This time, she’s arguing in the European Court of Human Rights against a Turkish politician who denied the existence of an Armenian genocide 100 years ago in which more than 1.5 million people were brutally murdered. That’s, like, sooo impressive… but who is she wearing?

When a reporter from The Telegraphasked her, she cheekily replied “Ede and Ravenscroft,” the legal robes maker that has been selling drab back judge costumes since 1689, the year Benjamin Franklin’s parents met.

Once she did that, the focus shifted from the history of the Armenian genocide to Amal’s sense of humor and fashion choices. The global reaction to her comments was proof that jig is up: it’s stop pretending you care about what Amal Clooney is doing, when you really just…

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