Thursday, December 22, 2011

[event] Anatomically // Self-Destruct vol. 6 // 24th Dec 2011 @ Chapter Six Studios

2-piece shredder grindcore SETE STAR SEPT (JP) blasts into SE Asia for the 2nd time with their 1st show on the tour in Lion fucking City!

This formidable duo is an absolute mess in the best way, shredding and grinding their way into a whirlpool of noise grind chaos. For the kids who heart blastbeats, get ready!

Supporting them are reviled grind bastards WORMROT (needs no introduction, really!), neo-crusties ABYSMAL FORNIKATE from Johor Bahru, and experimental noise fellas CIRCUITRIP!

Do you want to miss this show? No, not really. Gear up for a night of blas(t)phemy this X'mas Eve!

Doors open at 6pm, tickets are $7 apiece. Go!

Brought to you by 7x0x7.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

[tour] Night Hag (AU) SE Asia Tour (Jan 2012)

So, here's another bunch of highly-combustible, pissed-off Australian kids coming your way. What's new, you ask? We say PLENTY! Hailing from Adelaide, Australia, NIGHT HAG play a style of dark melodic hardcore, known in most circles as "blackened hardcore", a term which has been slowly but surely creeping into the excited vocabulary of many voracious ear-punishers in the scene -- first originating via bands such as the States’ own ravagers TEEN CTHULHU and then Canada’s anarchos ISKRA; and lately utilized by the earwax-removing BLACK BREATH and YOUNG & IN THE WAY.

This label may be alien to some. Why 'blackened' hardcore? Do you mean dark hardcore? No. All of the aforementioned bands come out with something which is like a cross between the hellish, cold brutality of Norwegian black metal and the harder, bleaker sounds of hardcore-punk. Imagine crust and black metal, powerviolence and black metal, grindcore and black metal, and even d-beat and black metal! At this point in time, the genre is still fresh and very encouraging for those who want to see a bit musical progression in the hardcore-punk scene. That said, not many are that successful in blending the many disparate influences into a cohesive free-flowing unique blend.

And NIGHT HAG does it well. They will be blazing a trail through Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia in a blitzkrieg 2-week tour so if you already like what you are hearing, you won't want to miss this!

More details for the Singapore show soon enough.

Brought to you by 7x0x7.

p/s: They've got a Soundcloud here, too.

[event] Tribal Gathering of Jaw Benders // 17th Dec 2011 @ The Substation

As the year comes to an end, join The Substation on Saturday 17 December as they close the year with great original music by local bands, musicians and sound artists. The first annual Tribal Gathering of Jaw Benders will kick off with Gagging Sessions from 2pm-6pm, and conclude with performances by a wide-range of musical acts from 7pm-2am.


Gagging Sessions
Saturday 17 December, 2pm-6pm
The Substation Theatre and Balcony
Admission: Free

The Substation’s Tribal Gathering music programme invites all local emerging and established bands, sound artists, vocal/voice artists, and traditional musicians to share new, original works. The Gagging Sessions will be held in The Substation Theatre for full band, orchestral and electronic sets, and on the Balcony for acoustic and sound art sets.

4pm - 6pm Max Lane

3pm Narisa Chan
4pm Anechois
5pm Deon The Band


Tribal Gathering of Jaw Benders
Various Artists
Saturday 17 December 7pm–2am
The Substation Theatre and Balcony
Admission: $20 / $15 (concession) for admission to The Substation Theatre (balcony performances are free) available from the box office

Contact Mish’aal at 6337 7800 /

A diverse range of artists such as Naz, circuitrip, and The Analog Girl will be performing in the theatre, as well as on the third level balcony, spilling glorious sound onto the whole stretch of Armenian Street.

7pm Bardo
8pm Naz
9pm Cyril Wong
10pm Circuitrip
11pm Red Over Darjeeling
12pm Analog Girl

730 Seyra
830 Caracal
930 Marilyns
1030 Cesspit
1130 Akta Angkasa
1230 The Psalms

At the alley, there will be satay, Ramli Burgers from the famous Uncle Ramli and drinks from KICKstart BREWiches Cafe on sale!

Monday, December 12, 2011

[event] Parkway Drive (US) live in Singapore // 14th Dec 2011 @ *Scape Warehouse

Blasting out of Byron, almost as an affront to the serenity of their surrounds, PARKWAY DRIVE quickly established themselves as the most formidable force Australian heavy hardcore had ever seen. A five-piece of awesome power and charisma, they caused a storm in their homeland that is quite literally without precedent, charting in the national Top 40 with their utterly brutal 2005 full-length debut “Killing With A Smile”.

Having recorded their first two albums with Adam Dutkiewicz of Killswitch Engage, Deep Blue was tracked and mixed in Los Angeles, CA by Joe Barresi (Queens Of The Stone Age, Bad Religion, Tool), and mastered by legendary mastering engineer Brian Gardner.

Crisp, unprocessed and impossibly heavy, the production on Deep Blue brings out every nuance of Parkway Drive ‘s freshly re-focused sound.

With 13 tracks in all, standouts include “Sleepwalker”, “Deliver Me” and “Unrest”. Bad Religion guitarist and Epitaph owner Brett Gurewitz makes a guest vocal appearance on “Home is for the Heartless”, which brings epic punk rock choruses and crazed metallic finger-tapping guitarwork into the established Parkway paradigm.

One of the most anticipated heavy releases of the 2010, Deep Blue charted at # 2 on the ARIA chart and #39 on the US Billboard 200, #1 on the ARIA Australian Artist chart and # 1 on the Independent chart. In October it won the Best Hard Rock / Punk album at the Australian Independent Music Awards, was presented the inaugural ARIA for Best Hard Rock / Heavy Metal Album and was voted the number 1 metal album of 2010 in UK’s Classic Rock Magazine. More recently Deep Blue achieved gold sales status, this being the bands first gold album.

Venue : Scape Warehouse, Singapore
Date : 14 December 2011, Wednesday

Pre-sale Tickets sold at:
- Inokii, 14 Scotts Road, Far East Plaza, #03-30
- Boards N Stuff, Cathay Cineleisure Orchard, 8 Grange Road, #02-21/22 (Please bring exact cash)


Opening Acts :
After The Sky (SG)
Ruins & Remains (SG)

Brought to you by Prettig Productions.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

[event] One More For The Road // 10th & 11th Dec 2011 @ Home Club

Wake Me Up Music, Singapore's premium indie record label, is taking a long long nap after more than a decade of contribution to the Singaporean music scene.

Before we take that nap, let's bring back the old times and have one hell of a party!

The two-day show will feature current and past Wake Me Up Music bands and also other bands who have been such great friends to us.

This will probably be the LAST TIME you'll see bands like Surreal, Sky in Euphoria, Vertical Rush, Marchtwelve, My Squared Circle and Pension State come together for a show like this.

So do come down and party with us for one last time.

Venue - Home Club (20 Upper Circular Road)

Date & Time - 10 December 2011 (Sat): 8.00pm-10.00pm
11 December 2011 (Sun): 4.30pm-10.00pm

Charge - $10 for 2-Day Pass (Tickets sold at door)

Day 1 (Current Bands)
A Vacant Affair
Kate of Kale
The Marilyns

Day 2 (Reunion Night)
Sky in Euphoria
My Squared Circle
Vertical Rush
Pension State

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

[event] SlutWalk Singapore 2011 // 4th Dec 2011 @ Hong Lim Park

On 4th December 2011, Singapore will be having our very own SlutWalk. As you may have heard, SlutWalk started in Toronto in Feb 2011 as a response to a policeman's statement at a safety forum that "women should avoid dressing like sluts in order to not be victimized." This sparked a backlash which resulted in SlutWalk groups forming all over the world to protest a culture that blames victims for rape, and to challenge the attitudes that come with that, attitudes which usually leave sexual crimes under-reported as a result.

This is not just a women’s issue or a men’s issue; it is everyone’s issue — regardless of gender identification, class, religion, race, or any other identity markers.

One does not need to identify as ‘slut’ to be a part of SlutWalk. SlutWalkSG is asking you to join them to make a unified statement about sexual assault and victims’ rights and to demand respect for all. You do not have to wear your sexuality on your sleeve; you do not have to "vamp it up" either. SlutWalk Singapore is asking you to COME AS YOU ARE — whether in t-shirt and jeans, in fishnets, in a sari, in a jacket, or in a tudung. No matter how you visually identify, they are welcoming ALL those who feel that prevailing attitudes as to why sexual assault happens need to change. Everyone deserves to be respected for who they are.

This will be a carnival-style event with speeches, performances, and booths, so anyone can attend.


Music: Johnny Eye Glass // Seyra // Jen Lin (DJ)

Performances: Muay Thai Demonstration by Vanessa Lee // Fire Dancers

Speeches: SlutWalk Organizers + more to be announced!

Booths: SlutWalk Merchandise booth // SlutWalk Logbook booth // Sexual Assault literature "library" // Drinkdings drinks booth // BackatMONKS // Eros Coaching // Maid By Me // Hello Stranger // Sayoni // Women's Muay Thai SG // AWARE Sexual Assault Befrienders Service (SABS) // Oogachaga

SlutWalk Singapore is proudly sponsored by these groups and organizations: Sayoni, The Patatas, Eros Coaching, Sheeps, Drinkdings, & BackatMONKS.

[event] Dub Skank'in Hifi Soundsystem Presents Bass Rebels // 17th Dec 2011 @ Bar Bar Black Sheep

The Dub Skank'in Hifi Soundsystem folks are back with a musical vengeance, this time at a brand new spot: Bar Bar Black Sheep at Boat Quay!

Get away from the hustle and bustle, and surge forward with some serious bass by the river.

From heavyweight dub to blistering ska, from roots reggae to old school jungle, come soak in the bass and enjoy the sweet sounds and boisterous beats of the black, gold, red and green served to you by their selectahs.

If you missed Zul Subvert's mad all-vinyl set previously, than be sure to catch this one for some awesome old school D&B and Jungle.

And VJ Panda will be joining the party again with more electrifying visuals.

So come on down to Boat Quay on 17th Dec and join Dub Skank'in Hifi Soundsystem's brand new night; BASS REBELS.


Rumshot aka Firman
Firman has been in the music industry since his teenage years. Having been a percussionist and drummer for various acts, he is well rooted in the scene and has accumulated tons of experience. Rumshot, his stage moniker and alter-ego, rocks the floor with his all-time favourite selections for skanking. There is no time for breaks, Rumshot will keep you comfortably moving in your dancing shoes.

Ras Irie aka Wan
Wan is the founder of Straits Records - the sole record store in Singapore that offers a wide variety of alternative and hard-to-find collection of music and vinyl. He has been in the music scene for most of his life; an avid and recognized collector and distributor of music.

Sham Em aka Sham
Sham has been a music fanatic since his crazy, hazy teenagehood, with a no-holdsbarred attitude towards music, all in the name of (listening) pleasure. A percussionist, sound/music designer and ethnic music instrumentalist, Sham graces the decks with his borderless selections of Dub, Dubtronica, Dancehall and Reggae for our nights.

Guest DJ – Zul Subvert HQ
Subvert HQ (Singapore) have been holding parties since 1998 featuring the likes of Friction, Stamina MC, John B, A-Sides, Pendulum, Cyantific, Sonic, London Elektricity as well as recently Logistics and Hospital Records' Chris Goss. We've played everywhere from Hong Kong, London to most of Asia.
Zul had also graced the decks on Dub Skank'in Hifi's Birthday Bash. He's well informed with his music selection and had rocked the dance floor till the wee hours of the night. More music and info at:

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

[tour] Sete Star Sept (JP) SE Asia Tour (Dec 2011)

Noise grind freaks take warning, because December will see manic 2-piece bass and drum grinders Sete Star Sept from Tokyo, Japan hitting up our region for a whirlwind 7-day tour. This is actually their 2nd tour of S.E. Asia, as they played a few shows way back in 2005 (if we are not wrong), though only in Malaysia and not anywhere else.

Links to their Facebook and MySpace pages can be found on their main website,, and they have plenty of live videos on Youtube as well, so anyone who is curious to know more about the band, please feel free to check out whatever is available online.

If they are playing your city, you do not want to miss out on the show. For all the kids who heart blast beats, get ready!

Brought to you by the peeps from 7x0x7.

Monday, November 28, 2011

[event] Thursday Night Thrash! // 15th Dec 2011 @ The Substation Gallery

HÅRDA TIDER (youthcrew mosh hardcore from Malmo, Sweden)
MILISI KECOA (80's inspired hardcore punk from Bandung, Indonesia)

ENAM JAHANAM (destructive hardcore punks)
BLOODY REJECTS (hardcore, no doubt about it)
TSA ( 80's style pinoy hardcore)
ABRASION (grinding fucking violence)

Brought to you by Blackhole212 / Prohibited Projects / Epidemic Records

You can download Milisi Kecoa "Kalian Memang Menyedihkan" 2010 full-length here:

The upcoming HÅRDA TIDER/MILISI KECOA split CD will be released by Epidemic Records.

[event] OutPost 2: Singapore Really Really Free Market

Post-Museum presents:
OutPost 2: Singapore Really Really Free Market 19
The first-ever outdoor session since it started in Jan 2009.

Join them for this session of the temporary market based on the concept of giving and building a community based on sharing resources, caring for one another and improving the collective lives of all.

Everything is free! Come share your stuff (books, cds, toys, food, etc) or skills (tarot card reading, hair cutting, poetry writing, singing, etc) by giving them to others who need them!

By sharing, we are reducing consumption and waste of our natural resources, re-using what we don't need anymore by passing it on, and most importantly, showing everyone that there are more sustainable and loving ways to live.

This session is part of the Singapore Unity Project Commemorates International Human Rights Day which features a number of 'booths' from various local NGOs.

Everyone is welcome to come by to just experience the joys of giving and making friends! 

[event] UpToTheSkyFestival // 3rd Dec 2011 @ Old School


Deerhoof (USA)
Mogwai DJ Set (UK)
White Shoes & The Couples Company (ID)
Chad Valley (UK)
The Trees and the Wild (ID)
Zebra & Snake (FI)
Tenderfist (MY)
The Great Spy Experiment (SG)
Orange Grass (TW)
Bani Haykal (SG)
They Will Kill Us All (MY)
Little Fox (TH)
The Dorques (PH)
9 Maps (HK)
The Cambodian Space Project (KH)

Video screening program featuring:
Vincent Moon from La Blogotheque (FR)
Dimas Wisnuwardono (ID)
Ho Tzu Nyen (SG)
VJ Artist Brandon Tay
and many more!

Rock! Paper! Poster! Art Exhibition
in collaboration with KittyWu Records

Official After Party: Mixtape + Confessions at Kinki Bar (invite-only)
From 11pm to 3am

Early-Bird Tickets to UpToTheSky out now on Gatecrash!
Adult: $89
Students: $50

get your tickets now! ->

Proudly organized by Figure8 Agency.


It all started with Deerhoof. Comprising band members from the USA and Japan, Deerhoof is known to be one of the most creative and interesting bands in this decade. Sure, Deerhoof has never performed in South-East Asia, but it’s a band that is close to the heart of any alternative music lover.

Figure8 pondered over how they could bring this band to the people in Singapore. Then, a crazy idea emerged! They thought about all the amazing bands in the region and how awesome it would be to bring these bands together and play with a band like Deerhoof.

One thing led to another… and UpToTheSky Festival was born! The Festival would have a fantastic line-up of bands! Yes, you may think that this is an insane idea… but they are proud of it!

If you love chilling out with friends over great music in an intimate atmosphere, come join them on 3 December at Old School, Mount Sophia. Immerse yourself in a full day of indie music and come discover twelve of the hottest bands in South-East Asia such as The Trees & The Wild (ID), White Shoes & The Couples Company (ID), Tenderfist (MY), The Great Spy Experiment (SG), The Cambodian Space Project (KH) and much more. Our international guests include Deerhoof (USA) and Zebra & Snake (FI).

The Festival will also feature a flea market and you'll get to see a fantastic selection of independent music videos including the work of Vincent Moon, the guy behind The Take Away Shows / La Blogothèque; Dimas Wisnuwardono, one of Indonesia’s most promising filmmakers; and Ho Tzu Nyen, one of Singapore's best contemporary artists, who was featured this year at the Venice Biennale.

Check out the official line-up and schedule on!

[event] Official SlutWalk Party 2011 // 1st Dec 2011 @ Home Club

backatMONKS B@M!, in collaboration with SlutWalkSG wants to bring everyone back to the good o’ naughty times. A time when having fun, getting a'lil tipsy (COMPLETELY SMASHED!) and looking smoldering hot didn't automatically = an invitation to be raped.

On the 1st of Dec 2011 at Home Club, B@M! will return with its doors open to everyone irregardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation, to host SlutWalk's Official Party! LGBT, QABC, DEFG are all welcomed!
Come down and exercise your right to party and dress however you like without fear, support the cause and have some misconceptions debunked. Not to be missed! It's a guaranteed 100% consensual great time!

Now in its 5th event this year, BAM has seen over 1000 girls, 5000 shots and a few more broken hearts AND they are determined to keep delivering LEGENNN...

(Wait for it)
..DARY parties.

1st Dec 2011
Doors open at 7pm ( 1 FOR 1 TILL 10PM! ) till late
Tickets: $15 (pre-sale) / $20 at door – inclusive of a bottle of Hooch/Asahi
Location : Home Club, 20 Upper Circular Road, #B1-01/06

Ticket Purchase, table reservations, more information:
or visit their website

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

[shoutout] Shock&Awe! #4 out now!

Hot off the press this week comes the eagerly-anticipated fourth issue of Malaysian DIY-punk zine Shock&Awe! Need there be any introductions? If you've yet to know of this gem, we'd suggest that you grab it real quick before it gets snapped up (nah... we don't think they're that exclusive). But grab it real quick anyway. Because you seriously don't want to miss out.

They're having 3 launch parties in various cities in Malaysia towards the tail-end of Nov and in Dec to celebrate the birth of this new issue. If you're gonna be in the area, it is highly recommended that you go check out the shows, because we'd easily describe the line-ups as it is: gile babi*! 

They also wholesale at reasonable prices should you want to stock the zines in your distro/shop, with zines already currently distributed in a good number of places, from Singapore to France to Australia to Canada. Of course this is all on top of being pretty much ubiquitous in their home country of Malaysia (all over the bloody place!). For more details on where exactly they are distributed and where exactly you can lay your grubby hands on the zines, see here:

Anything else? They can be contacted at We're sure there's that fanmail/hatemail column they're dying to fill.

*literally translated as crazy pig; also understood as out of this world.

[tour] Milisi Kecoa (ID) and Hårda Tider (SE) SE Asia Tour (Dec 2011)

Known for their energetic sets and heartfelt singalongs, the widely-loved MILISI KECOA from Indonesia are finally venturing outside of their home country to do a tour of Singapore and Malaysia, and then coming back full circle to Java to do an island-wide tour. And if this didn't sound good enough, their mates HÅRDA TIDER from Sweden are coming along with them!

Already, we know heaps of Swedish hardcore-punk fans are beyond stoked, as this is the first time any band from that region has stepped over to our shores. Imagine some tough-as-nails hardcore with mosh parts, except, y'know, played by punx coupled with a distinct Swedish Käng influence.

Singapore show (handled by Blackhole212/Pathetic Ape) details round the corner so keep your eyes peeled!   

This could potentially be one of the best closing tours of the year yet.

[event] Tribal Gathering of The Tongue Tasters: To Whom It May Concern // 3rd Dec 2011 @ The Substation Theatre

Tribal Gathering of The Tongue Tasters: To Whom It May Concern
By Enam Jahanam
Saturday 3rd December 2011, 8pm
The Substation Theatre
Admission: $15 and $10 (concession) available from The Substation box office
Contact Mish'aal at 6337 7800 or email

ENAM JAHANAM, or The Six Destructives (translated from Malay), is a DIY-hardcore band influenced by punk and skinhead culture, and the Oi! sub-genre. The band’s musical and ideological cues range from 1980s punk to music being made from current hardcore and Oi bands the world over.

ENAM JAHANAM emotes with screams and yells over a wall of angry yet melodious noise.

ENAM JAHANAM consists of members who have been involved in hardcore/punk/Oi from the mid 90s, and who play in CIRCLE OF FRIENDS (hardcore), LEAD (II) NITRATE (emo hardcore punk), BLINDED HUMANITY (crust), TOPSY TURVY (crust grind), EXKORIATOR (metal-punk) and many other bands, and who have also been involved with bedroom distribution labels like Azadghei Records, Sxetan Collective and Prohibited Projects.

[event] Frottage: Casual Encounters at The Pigeonhole iv. // 1st Dec 2011 @ The Pigeonhole

Unrelenting hardcore-punk party starters 7x0x7 are back after a month's mini-hiatus! This time a solo endeavour, they bring you the return of the cult series of intimate musical presentations Frottage, at book cafe and dynamic arts space The Pigeonhole.

This fourth installment features more heartfelt sincerity, headlined by Australian alt-folk musician WELLS, and supported by local indie singer-songwriter NICK CHIM and voodoo psychedelic prog trip-hop outfit THE PSALMS

Beware: there may be an overload of beards.

1st Dec 2011 (Thurs)
The Pigeonhole, 52/53 Duxton Road
Doors open at 7.30pm, performances begin at 8pm.
$10 at the door

[event] SlutTalk Singapore // 3rd Dec 2011 @ The Substation Classroom Level 2

On the 3rd and 4th of December 2011, Singapore will be holding its very own SlutWalk as a statement against sexual assault, victim-blaming, and slut-shaming. In a bid to contextualize SlutWalk Singapore, the official programme kicks off with a full first day of workshops, talks and discussions, touching on issues surrounding sexual assault, victim-blaming/slut-shaming, sexuality and consent.

3rd Dec 2011 The Substation, Classroom 2 @ Level 2

(Note: You can choose to attend one of these talks/workshops, or a combination of them. You do not need to attend all if you are unable to.)

*There will be a break of 20mins between each component.


Exploring Sex, Sexuality, and Intimacy by sexologist Dr. Martha Lee (talk)

Sex, sexuality and intimacy are distinct terms which are often used interchangeably. This session aims to explore the difference before discussing what owning your sexuality means and the ways one can better understand/enhance their own sexuality.


SPARKS*: Action for AIDS's response to combating HIV/AIDS by Avin Tan (talk)

Knowledge coupled with action can make a difference and the SPARKS* programme is designed to arm you with basic HIV/AIDS knowledge and how you can play your part to stop HIV/AIDS. You will also learn why there is stigma & discrimination surrounding HIV/AIDS, and have some myths debunked.


Promoting Consent, Preventing Coercion: What Men & Women Can Do to Prevent Sexual Assault by gender equality advocacy NGO AWARE (talk)

Explores the law on sexual assault in Singapore, myths of sexual assault, and outlines steps men and women can take to prevent or intervene in sexual assault in Singapore.


Challenging Complicities coordinated by Singapore Queer-Straight Alliance (roundtable discussion)

Keynote speakers: Wong Pei Chi, Dr Ingrid Hoofd, and Alex Serrenti.

An intellectual roundtable discussion on the freedom to gender identity and its alleged complicities in crime and victim-blaming, it also aims to elevate discussion on feminist and gender identity advocacy in Singapore, with two main topics for discussion:

i) Drawing the lines between crime, victim-blaming, risk management and “complicity” in crime: how may we, as advocates, best articulate ourselves to effect change in mindsets here?

ii) SlutWalk — actual empowerment, reclamation or a continual espousal of male-centric ideas of femininity?


SlutWalkSG: Local Relevance, Global Challenges facilitated by Dr. Joel Gwynne (lecture + discussion)

Explores questions such as: How is SlutWalkSG different compared to SlutWalk as a global movement? Why are Singaporeans becoming involved with SlutWalk? Do women in Singapore experience sexuality differently to women in the West? How do ideas about multiculturalism and multiracialism affect attitudes to women's sexuality? In an apparently "post-feminist" world, what challenges do we face when attempting to make sexual assault and sexual labeling a relevant and crucial social issue?

(This discussion will be preceded by a 20 min mini-lecture)

**Limited to 20 participants only. If interested to attend, please email Dr. Gwynne at


Policing Desire and the Whore Stigma by sex workers’ outreach initiative Project X (workshop)

Anyone can be labeled as a whore/slut if she steps out of The Line. And if you’re labeled a whore/slut, you’re less than human and warrant being treated less than human. As such, some key questions we aim to unpack include: Who constructs these forms of control? How do these forms of control manifest and what are its implications? How do we take back control over our minds and bodies?


[tour] Wells (AU) SE Asia Tour (Dec 2011)

With an EP with songs about loves lost, WELLS a.k.a. Matt Spinelli will be travelling through Southeast Asia to find himself, forget about others and meet new life-long friends. Look for a man with a beard holding a crappy acoustic guitar on the back of a Vespa flying down the coast of Vietnam (and southwards) and ask him for a tune or 2, and he will be more than happy to oblige.

Details for Singapore show to be unveiled in the next few posts!

Brought to you by friends of Lesstalk Records and 7x0x7.

In the meantime, you can listen to WELLS here:

[shoutout] Blackhole Radio #7 November 2011

November rolls around and Hafiz Bastard gives us yet another month of the now-infamous Blackhole212 Radio podcast. This month's selection features a good smattering of European punk amidst a few others from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the United States. If you didn't know DIY hardcore-punk is international, you better know it now.

Missed the other months'? You can still check them out here: That is the power of podcasts -- they're pretty much timeless, and it's never a case of snoozin' and losin'.

Friday, October 28, 2011

[food for thought] Why Vegans Don’t Join Freegan Omnivores

This article is originally from

When vegans are challenged on the impact that their consumer vegan lifestyles have on the planet — the destruction to animal habitats caused by supporting agriculture, the fossil fuel burned in all stages of food production, the animals that are killed in the harvesting of grains, etc. — they typically admit that their diets are not entirely death-free, even though there are no dead animals on their plate. “But,” they will add, “at least I have less of an impact than you.”

Sure, the industrial production of vegetables, grains and beans is often deadly for insects, mammals and fish, and it’s certainly not carbon neutral, but compare the damage caused by eating these foods directly to the suffering and destruction wrought by omnivores who inefficiently funnel those grains and beans through animals first. Veganism isn’t perfect, vegans admit, but it is the best way for anyone to reduce their negative impact on the world while still surviving.

Unfortunately, this isn’t true. Freeganism would reduce their impact even more… even if they were still eating animal products. 

Freeganism is a form of ethical consumption in which food and material goods are recovered from the trash rather than purchased. Because these things are goners otherwise, freegans can “liberate” them and not have to feel responsible for any evils committed in their production. Thanks to Freecycle, Craigslist and beetSwap, the recovery of trashed material goods has become commonplace, so it’s dumpster diving for food that makes freegans stand out.

People who know nothing about dumpster diving imagine it to be a disgusting venture, but the food freegans find is often in good shape: fruit that is slightly bruised, vegetables that are a little withered, an egg carton with only one cracked egg, still-frozen meat just past the expiration date, cheese with a small mold spot, unopened beef jerky that someone returned.

Since a lot of these foods are packaged, they aren’t damaged by mingling with the real trash; some food co-ops will even wrap the produce up nicely before dumping it, specifically so freegans can more easily save the food from meaningless oblivion.

As long as there are unlocked dumpsters, freegans have no problem finding fresh, edible food of both plant and animal origin.

Since these dumpstered foods will go to waste unless freegans utilize them, eating them has no more effect on animals or the environment than if the food were to rot away. Actually, it has less impact, since any vegan not eating dumpstered food contributes to agricultural demand by buying food. Dumpstered food always meets or exceeds vegan ethical requirements, then, even when it is animal products. Isn’t that great, vegans? You can eat animals just like the rest of us, and the only difference is that you don’t have to pay for yours!

Yet few vegans do this. This isn’t just the squandering of a valuable loophole — by not dumpster-diving all of their food, vegans fall short of their own principles.

In an interview in Satya magazine with founder Adam Weissman, Weissman explained the tragic irony of consumer veganism when freeganism is an option:
The word freegan was chosen largely to satirize an attitude prevalent among many vegans who seem unconcerned about the social and ecological impacts of the goods they purchase—so long as they are vegan. Sweatshop-made Nike shoes are fine, as long as they aren’t leather. Chocolate soymilk is great, despite the destruction of rainforests, exploitation of child slaves in the African chocolate trade and use of GMO plants.

The term freegan was created to express the notion that to live the “cruelty-free” lifestyle vegans advocate, we need to remove ourselves as much as possible from the capitalist economy, rather than taking the tunnel-vision perspective that we should only be concerned about animal flesh and secretions.

To many vegans, freeganism may seem marginal or extreme. Yet many vegans fail to recognize that the organized vegan community reflects bourgeoisie, white, liberal cultural norms, and to people outside of this demographic, eating tofu instead of hamburger can seem far weirder than getting good food that a store has needlessly thrown away.
Organic farmers will shoot, trap and poison mammals, birds and insects as readily as non-organic farmers—they simply won’t do it with petroleum-based pesticides. And of course, many organic farmers subsidize animal agriculture by using factory farm manure to fertilize their crops. Even agriculture practices not intended to harm animals cause massive numbers of deaths—machine threshers chop animals to bits, animals on land or in dens are crushed under agricultural machinery, small animals are shredded as soil is tilled.

I came to realize that for an animal liberationist, an organic, vegan diet was a lot like buying meat at the supermarket—being complicit in animal oppression, but letting someone else do the dirty work, so we don’t have to think about it.
Freeganism is a philosophy, an approach to living, not a set of lifestyle rules. Our focus is far more on building a new and more sustainable culture from the ground up than it is on micromanaging the lifestyle choices of individuals. Many of us are turned off by the very negative “vegan police” approach of looking down on someone who owns a leather belt or hasn’t yet given up ice cream. It’s much easier to get people to want to make positive changes if we make them feel welcome as they are, rather than having to constantly worry if they will be judged for not being “freegan enough.”
And let’s be honest, there are lots of people who don’t like the idea of animal agriculture, but just can’t bring themselves to give up meat, dairy, etc. We can look down on them and call them murderers and weak-willed hypocrites, or we can try to meet them halfway which, after all, is what we are doing by encouraging people to buy meat analogs. If we tell meat-eaters who are sympathetic but just can’t bring themselves to kick the meat habit that there is a way they can continue consuming animal products without economically supporting factory farming, they just might go for it.
When the interviewer asked Weissman if he ate meat, dairy or eggs, he responded:
I don’t, but I have no ethical objection for those who recover discarded animal products. I think the meat and dairy industries are hideously evil, but our complicity with them is primarily at the cash register, not the dinner table. I’ve heard many vegans argue that consuming animals’ bodies is disrespectful, and I’m baffled by what measure of respect is afforded to animals by letting their discarded corpses end up in landfills or incinerators. Personally, when I die, I want my corpse dumped in the woods so that it can feed other animals. Living beings have always consumed dead beings, keeping matter and energy a constant part of the life cycle.
That all makes sense, except the part where Weissman says he doesn’t consume dumpstered animal products. However, that contradiction is not unusual. From an ethical perspective, food loses the vegan/non-vegan distinction once it hits the garbage, but many still cannot let that distinction go. Why is it that so many vegans refuse to eat freegan animal foods even while paradoxically admitting that it is not against their ethics, and possibly even admirable?

When I was vegan, I had a few freegan friends who would eat animal products from dumpsters. I understood that this was at least as good as veganism, and I never openly objected to this, but it made me uncomfortable. For one thing, though they shared my vegan ethics, they were not vegan. What they ate made them omnivores. That vaguely put them on the side of the wicked in my mind, even as they had even less of an impact on animals and the environment than I did. 

Veganism teaches that animal products are unnecessary. Whether or not we can get them without participating in the system that created them, why would we? On top of that, most vegans develop such a strong psychological aversion to animal products that they believe they are missing out on nothing. “Veganism is not a sacrifice,” these vegans have been known to think. I know I certainly didn’t see the point in eating animals, even if I could morally justify it.

But the implication of a meat-eating freeganism is that animal products are desirable. As a vegan, I didn’t appreciate that. Part of the commitment to veganism seemed to be not liking animal products, whether or not that actually helped animals. Vegans were supposed to be above the hedonistic enjoyment of chewing on bloody flesh. With each meaty bite, then, my freegan friends sunk to the lowly level of pleasure-seeking meat eaters, even though they loomed over me in a strict ethical sense.

And there were more practical concerns. How can you be sure those chicken-fried steaks on the plates of self-proclaimed freegans really came from a middle school’s dumpster? Couldn’t sneaky omnivores lie and say they dumpstered their meat, just to avoid your judging gaze? Besides, if they still liked meat so much, could they be trusted to not buy animal products in a scenario where both freeganism and veganism were inconvenient?

Overall, meat eating freeganism just seemed somehow immoral, even in the absence of any real victim. 
Wondering if that was just me, I recently eavesdropped on a freeganism thread at Vegan Represent!. Let’s see what these representative vegans had to say about their meat-eating ethical superiors:
Dropscone: Ahh, I’ve got a friend who [dumpster dives non-vegan food]. I can sort of understand it, but the thought makes me feel queasy.
VeganUU: Since I’m a vegan for health reasons too, I think freegans are a little nutty. The negative health implications of consuming animal products are profound and disturbing, and I just don’t get why anyone would risk it.
Emiloid: I don’t think I could stomach it. Maybe pastries would be OK, but nothing with hunks of cheese, egg, or meat. Bleh. … I would probably be a “vegan freegan”. I love the idea of further reducing my impact on the world, and this is a great way to do it. I just have to get past my own squeamishness.
bumblebee: I am morally opposed to humans eating meat altogether (unless they are starving) because I believe the world already has plenty of natural scavengers that would be happy to eat it. Also, I do think unless we rid ourselves of meat eating entirely, we will retain a taste for it and crave it, whether it is available from a dumpster or not.
Anik: Participating in the economy in any way indirectly causes cruelty to animals. Buying tofu that came from soybeans from cleared Amazonian rainforest (just an example, i just read that this soy mostly goes to animal feed) supports practices that destroys the habitat of animals, as well as killing them in the process. As veganism is based upon the idea that one must take responsibility for unnecessary pain caused, the vegan must be aware of a less painful option to buying this tofu. Dumpster diving is the answer! All food that is dumpstered IS vegan. The ‘ew gross’ factor of dumpstering i think shows similarities to the omni’s defence of meat-eating — “but I like the taste of it”. It doesn’t really take into account what this preference is doing to animals. I’ve only been dumpstering once so far, but i believe there is a moral imperative to reduce pain not only through a boycott of animal products, but through reducing my consumption.
veganshawn: I am all for dumpster diving and things not going to “waste” but meat and dairy is not food to me; it is waste already, so I have no problem with it rotting away.
Tin Can: I would definitely consider dumpstered meat or whatever non-vegan. In line with what seems to be the consensus, I would agree that freeganism is an admirable lifestyle, and have no moral objections to eating such non-vegan food, but I couldn’t do it myself.
vegankitty: I agree with Tin Can. Meat and dairy products, no matter where they are from, are never vegan. By definition they can’t be: vegan means no meat or dairy products. To call food vegan just because it is from a dumpster dilutes the meaning of veganism and is also confusing to non-vegans.
VeganVeronique: Freegan = yuk! They should give it to real homeless people. Or send it to the fellas in the 3rd world places.
shade: I don’t think that I could get over myself to be a freegan. Props to those that do it though!
boko maru (responding to shade): Haha, this actually reminded me of something a meat-eater would say to a vegan.
Kat: I’ve kind of become a freegan since moving to this town and working at the hotel. It’s not unusual for people who check out of the rooms to leave things behind in them, like unopened bottles of lemon-honey iced tea, or unopened packages of granola bars. I’m also, as we speak, eating a croissant that was salvaged via Food Not Bombs. But I’m careful not to let people see me eating this stuff, because I don’t want to send out a message that I think it’s okay to go out and purchase these things.
LesMiserablesLove: We’re interested in dumpster diving, albeit not all the time and not for non-vegan food.
VeganShawn: I will not eat non-vegan food even if it is free and going to waste, I would rather the bugs and microbes enjoy it, thank you very much.
Panthera: I’ve moved into an intentional community which is wonderful in almost every other way including the fact that a lot of our food comes from Trader Joe’s dumpsters. Unfortunately, almost everything is non-vegan. Meat is not a problem, because that is so clearly different. But these [non-vegan] baked goods are killing me. They literally surround me. I am trying to keep Purely Decadent [vegan ice cream] on-hand, but that gets expensive. Since I’m open about being an AR activist, I think it’s especially important for me not to be lax about ovo-lacto consumption, even if I’m not contributing to the industry.
veganshawn: To me it is a slippery slope, where do you draw the line? I think accepting the eating of non-vegan foods at certain times sets yourself up for failure in the long run as a vegan.
La Végétalienne: I dunno, the “slipperly slope” doesn’t bother me too much because the symbolic approach to veganism doesn’t really do it for me. I’d rather make decisions on a case-by-case basis than maintain personal purity. I guess the way I see it is that all grocery store food is part of the industrial food system that condones and promotes animal cruelty, so unless you’re growing your own food, you’re probably still contributing to said system on some level.
Panthera: My boyfriend has decided that although eating those items doesn’t constitute a direct violation of rights, it’s still not a moral act, so we’re now on the same page.
Freegans could make a “Defensive Vegan Bingo” with the reasons vegans give for buying processed soy and wheat rather than eating dumpstered animal products.

That animal products go bad more dramatically than vegetables do is one of the most common knee-jerk vegan responses, but it’s unlikely that defensive vegans pleading this one would make an exception for freegan meat that is frozen or dried. Nor are they likely to accept an omnivore’s leftovers that are destined for the trash, even though buying a vegan meal instead of eating the doomed meat contributes more to the death of animals.

Saying that dumpster meat should go to the homeless is an even flimsier defensive reaction. If freegans shouldn’t take animal products from dumpsters because homeless people (or scavenger animals) need them more, then neither should they take fruits and veggies, because homeless people and scavenger animals need those more too. Of course this also falsely assumes that anything a freegan doesn’t take will find its way into someone else’s hands or claws. Anyway, freegans with kitchens can more easily prepare meat than a homeless person could. And animals without thumbs probably won’t bother with packaged meats.

Some vegans say it comes down to convenience. This is a surprising admission, since we know how vegans feel about omnivores who won’t give up animal products because of laziness. Vegans admire freegans for being more low-impact than they are, but they don’t see a contradiction in their settling for a higher-impact lifestyle when they criticize consumer omnivores for doing the same.

Vegans are afraid of sending confusing messages to omnivores and so don’t want to risk being seen eating dumpstered animal products? Since when do vegans care more about what omnivores think than in doing the right thing? Plus, as Weissman said, this meaty freegan lifestyle, while more nuanced and complicated to explain, might be more appealing to omnivores than a straightforward self-flagellating, seitan-chewing veganism. Instead of rolling their eyes at omnivores who love cheese too much to give it up, freegans take them to a dumpster and show them how to get cheese for free. That sure beats a slice of Daiya pizza.

The vegan argument for health obviously has something to do with this fear of freegan animal products. Some vegans grow unusually paranoid about cholesterol or animal-derived saturated fats, thinking them poisonous in any amount. This excuse is pretty weak too, though, because if eating dumpstered animal products is better for animals than buying tempeh, it doesn’t seem right for vegans to value their own perfectly smooth arteries over the lives of animals.

One of the most obvious reasons vegans don’t join the ranks of freegan omnivores is the aversion that many vegans develop against animal products. After avoiding meat, eggs and dairy for so long, the appearance and smell of these foods vegans once loved come to disgust them. When vegans rant about how disgusting bacon is, you can see how conditionable the human mind is. This psychological block against animal foods is something that most ex-vegans initially have to wrestle with as they re-introduce animals into their diet, even if they’ve stopped believing in veganism entirely. Admittedly, for dietary veganism, this is useful. If you don’t see animal foods as both inherently wrong and repulsive, you’re liable to be flexible in a situation where veganism or freeganism is impractical. And flexibility is not the key to a consistent vegan life.

So vegans don’t want to dumpster dive for fish sticks because fish sticks have lost their tantalizing appeal. But vegans who won’t dumpster dive for meat are like omnivores who don’t want to go vegan because tofu is gross — by holding onto their prejudices, they hurt the animals. Just as omnivores ween themselves onto bland analog meats so they can become more moral, any vegan who truly cares should train themselves to stomach dumpstered meat.

But there is also the issue of vegan purity.

When I saw Pamela Rice (the organizer of New York’s Veggie Pride Parade) speak at a library, she bragged about how long she had been vegan, and how that meant her body was now completely cleaned of animal products and was pure veggie. When you are vegan for a while, all animal flesh takes on sinister and taboo connotations, no matter the context. Many vegans just don’t want that death inside of them. If omnivores are graveyards for animals, so are freegans.

Seeing it this way is counter-productive. Because of their purity mindset, most vegans will not eat animal products out of the garbage. In fact, they would sooner put animal products into the garbage, even if the animal products are only minor ingredients. If they are at a restaurant and their order mistakenly comes out with animal products, purity vegans will send this food back, knowing it will be thrown out. More food will have to be prepared for them, which means more sentient beings killed because vegans feel queasy about eating animals.

Purity veganism, then, is one cause of wastefulness that freeganism seeks to correct. Not that vegans are to be blamed for a significant percentage of the food that gets thrown out in this world. But vegans would live up to their own standards better if they weren’t so opposed to eating dumpstered caviar or pulling over to pick up road kill.

Vegans say their shining example informs omnivores that they could be doing better. But if that’s the case, freegans prove vegans could be doing better. (And then there are people who commit suicide who show freegans that they could be doing better too, but please don’t commit suicide.)

In my interview with ex-vegan Cory Kilduff, Cory said, “A lot of vegans weren’t too into this idea [of freeganism] because it was like these guys had found this loophole and then weren’t involved in the whole pleasure-denying aspect of it.” Though vegans will never say that pleasure-denial is an important tenet of veganism, vegans do seem to get especially offended by meat eaters who truly enjoy their devilish delights. Ethically, it’s the killing of the animal that is bad, but the enthusiastic masticating of its corpse seems somehow wrong too.

Freegans aren’t evil by any strict philosophical definition, but for purity vegans, freegans have dumpster-dived their way into a morally ambiguous zone.

The philosophical difference between consumer omnivores and freegan omnivores is significant, but they’re on the same page when it comes to devouring delicious corpses. This injects confusion into the black and white vegan world. Meat is the murderous bread of Satan. So how could bacon ever be more animal-friendly than an Amy’s vegan pizza? The line between evil eaters and good eaters is blurred. And potentially it could lead to embarrassing situations, like where a vegan judges a meat eater, only to learn that the meat was going to be thrown out, and thus it’s the vegan who should be judged for buying food. 

Ultimately, one of the most important reasons vegans don’t eat dumpstered animal products may be preservation of the vegan identity. Being a meat-eating freegan is more moral than being a consumerist vegan, but it leaves your identity somewhat in flux. Omnivorous freeganism doesn’t offer the same pre-packaged meaningfulness that purity veganism does. I think this is also why some vegans are philosophically okay with eating bivalves like clams and oysters, yet never do.

“I’m vegan besides mollusks” is annoying to explain (“What’s a mollusk for God’s sake?”). The simplest way for otherwise vegan clam eaters to handle that would be to eat clams yet call themselves vegan, but then they would become like fish eaters who call themselves vegetarians, something vegans hate too much to do themselves. The other route is for bivalve-eating near-vegans never to say anything about being vegetarian or vegan, but then they will often find themselves in situations where they are offered meat or dairy.
Also, if you eat one animal product, slippery slopes and all that.

So vegans who are okay with eating clams don’t eat clams. And vegans who are okay with eating meat from dumpsters don’t eat meat from dumpsters.

If vegans really believed that it’s important to reduce suffering as much as possible, though, they wouldn’t be consumer vegans. Sadly, it’s easier to be vegan and feel good about yourself by buying “humane” animal-free products, even though buying vegan ice cream to stop from eating non-vegan pastries from the trash helps no one, save for the ethically tormented vegan who wants to avoid an identity crisis.

On the other hand… since there is plenty of vegan food to be dumpstered, am I positing a false dilemma between consumer veganism and omnivorous freeganism? 

It’s true that some vegans like Adam Weissman get all of their vegan food from dumpsters. In that case, satisfying a preference for foods untainted by animal flesh or secretions isn’t going to hurt the animals.
But Weissman also happens to be the founder of Not all vegans are that devoted. Most vegans who dumpster dive at all are part-timers — they get a few free things now and again to supplement their purchases. And unless they are diving at a vegan co-op, they are going to find meat and cheese more often than Gardein and Follow Your Heart. So if vegans turn their noses up at dumpster meat, they are killing more animals by buying processed veggie foods later.

If vegans think about it, they realize that by not dumpstering all their food, they are participating in a system of death. But they believe it is enough not to let the most obvious end results of that death cross their lips. There is a vegan veil over the demise of animals in agriculture and most vegans don’t see the need to lift it and take the next logical step of freeganism. Vegans know that buying tofu hurts more animals than eating a steak out of a dumpster. They just don’t give a shit. Fuck the animals! Vegans have convenience and their images to worry about!

That’s too bad, because with omnivorous freeganism, everyone wins.

While freegans don’t participate in the agricultural system but also don’t deny themselves the pleasures this system offers, vegans do just the opposite — they contribute to a system that destroys habitats and kills animals but without fully reaping the benefits of all this death.

Freegans are also easier for omnivores to get along with than vegans. A freegan is not going to hold it against a meat eater for enjoying a steak. They may protest participation in the system, but the enjoyment itself is still seen as a good, since freegans also allow themselves pleasures of the flesh. Also, it’s just hard for a freegan to judge a meat eater who buys a filet of meat when the freegan has no problem eating the leftover gristle and fat. How are you going to lecture a meat eater when you have a sentient being’s muscle caught between your teeth?

Of course freeganism has its problems too. For instance, what happens if everyone becomes a freegan? But until we arrive at that point, it’s clear that vegans could be doing a lot more to save the animals… if only they would eat them.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

[event] Freedom Film Fest 2011 // 28th Oct 2011 @ The Substation Theatre

The Freedom Film Fest was initiated by Malaysian NGO Pusat Komas as a means to educate the public on the values of human rights. The festival's circuit in recent years has included Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Johor, Perak and East Malaysia.

Due to our shared political and cultural history with Malaysia, Singaporeans For Democracy will host the Singapore leg of the festival again for the second year running. None of the films shown in the eight year history of FFF has been censored or banned by the Malaysian Government.

Entry is free so feel welcome to bring along all your friends and family.

When: Friday, October 28 · 7:00pm - 11:30pm
Where: The Substation, 45 Armenian Street


1. MENCARI KARTHIKA (40 mins) 2010
Dir : Norhayati Kaprawi
Language : Bahasa (English subtitles)
Rating : Not yet rated by MDA
First-time filmmaker Norhayati Kaprawi was inspired to make “Mencari Kartika” after surveys by polling house Merdeka Center found a large majority of Muslims in Malaysia supported the caning of part-time model Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno for consuming alcohol. This documentary explores the Muslims’s perception of ‘justice’ in the context of Malaysia that is lauded for its modern, progressive, multi-racial image.

2. AKU SIAPA? (50 mins) 2010
Dir : Norhayati Kaprawi
Language : Bahasa (English subtitles)
Rating : Not yet rated by MDA
Why do Muslim women in Malaysia wear the hijab? What are their challenges? Through a series of candid interviews with Muslim women, young and old, urban and rural, director Norhayati Kaprawi uncovers why Muslim women wear the hijab, and why some take it off. “Aku Siapa” is a necessary viewing for those who are curious about the hijab and those who want to better understand Islamization and its impact on women in contemporary Malaysia.

3. ULU BENGOH DARUM PIIN (Upper Bengoh Under Water) (20 mins) 2011
Dir : Joachim Leong
Language : English (Bahasa subtitles)
Rating : Not yet rated by MDA
Building of the controversial Bengoh dam will forcibly displace 1,500 residents from their ancestral homes. However, contrary to popular expectations, the recent election results showed that the Bengoh residents did not use their ballot to express their unhappiness. The films ventures into the soon-to-be-submerged villages - accessible only by foot- to discover why they chose the same candidate who supported the very project that would forcibly displace them.

Dir : Arvind Raj
Language : English (Bahasa subtitles)
Rating : Not yet rated by MDA
Transitioning from a man to a woman is but the first change in Sharan’s life. She wants to become a nun by dedicating her life to Bauchara Matha, a Hindu deity who is known to be the protector of the transgender community. The filmmaker follows Sharan on a journey of several rituals that are rarely performed and never recorded on film before.

5. HURUF J (23 min) 2011
Dir : Afiq Deen
Rating : Not yet rated by MDA
What happens when your status changes from “married” to “divorced”? What has this very personal issue got to do with human rights? First-time filmmaker Afig Deen employs animation, wordplay and interviews with divorced mothers to highlight the struggles of these women, while finding closure with his own personal struggle as the son of a divorced mother. A winner of Freedom Film Festival 2011.

6. LOT, UMAH AM (The Sea, My Home) (23 min) 2011
Dir : Liaw Pey Wen
Language : Bahasa (English subtitles)
Rating : Not yet rated by MDA
For most Indigenous People, the land and forest is tied up with their identity. But what if your indigenous identity is not tied up to the land but rather to the sea? This documentary gives us a peek into the lesser known lives of the Indigenous Orang Seletar who have for generations called the Straits of Johor their home. A runners-up of Freedom Film Festival 2011.

[muse] On The Difference Between Good Dogs and Dogs That Need a Newspaper Smack

This article is originally from

Today I’m feeling 101-y, I guess, so let’s talk about privilege.

It’s a weird word, isn’t it? A common one in my circles, it’s one of the most basic, everyday concepts in social activism, we have lots of unhelpful snarky little phrases we like to use like “check your privilege” and a lot of our dialog conventions are built around a mutual agreement (or at least a mutual attempt at agreement) on who has privilege when and how to compensate for that. But nonetheless fairly weird, opaque even if you’ve never used it before or aren’t part of those circles. It’s also, the way we use it, very much a cultural marker – like “Tolkienesque” or “Hall-of-famer” or “heteronormative,” you can feel fairly assured that a large number of people will immediately stop listening and stop taking you seriously the moment you use it.

The fact that people are stupid isn’t news, however. And actually that’s kind of why the concept of privilege is important – because privilege isn’t about being stupid. It’s not a bad thing, or a good thing, or something with a moral or value judgement of any kind attached to it. Having privilege isn’t something you can usually change, but that’s okay, because it’s not something you should be ashamed of, or feel bad about. Being told you have privilege, or that you’re privileged, isn’t an insult. It’s a reminder! The key to privilege isn’t worrying about having it, or trying to deny it, or apologize for it, or get rid of it. It’s just paying attention to it, and knowing what it means for you and the people around you. Having privilege is like having big feet. No one hates you for having big feet! They just want you to remember to be careful where you walk.

At this point maybe I should actually start talking about what privilege is, huh?

Well, we’re right here online, so let’s start with the Google definition. As per standard for googledefs, it’s hardly comprehensive, but entirely adequate for our purposes here, particularly the second entry:
If you talk about privilege, you are talking about the power and advantage that only a small group of people have, usually because of their wealth or their high social class.
This is the basic heart of the idea. Privilege is an edge… a set of opportunities, benefits and advantages that some people get and others don’t. For example, if it’s raining in the morning, and you get up, get dressed, climb into the nice warm car in your garage, drive to the closed parking lot at work, and walk into the adjacent building, you don’t get wet. If you go outside and wait at the bus stop, then walk between busses for your transfer, then walk from the bus stop to work, you do get wet. Not getting wet, then, is a privilege afforded you by car and garage ownership. So far, so straightforward, right?

Some examples of social privilege work exactly the same way, and they’re the easy ones to understand. For instance, a young black male driver is much, much more likely to get pulled over by the cops in America than an old white woman. Getting pulled over less, then – being given the benefit of the doubt by an authority figure – is in this case, a privilege of being white. (I’m not getting into the gender factor here, intersectionality is a whole different post.)

Okay, again, so far so straightforward. And thus far, there’s not much to be done about it, right? You’re not going to, as a white person, make a point of getting pulled over more often, and nobody’s asking you to. (Well, I’m not, at least.) So if someone says “check your privilege,” if I tell you to watch where you’re putting your feet, what the hell does that mean?

Well. This is where things get a bit tricky to understand. Because most examples of social privilege aren’t that straightforward. Let’s take, for example, a basic bit of male privilege:

A man has the privilege of walking past a group of strange women without worrying about being catcalled, or leered at, or having sexual suggestions tossed at him.

A pretty common male response to this point is “that’s a privilege? I would love if a group of women did that to me.”

And that response, right there, is a perfect shining example of male privilege.

To explain how and why, I am going to throw a lengthy metaphor at you. In fact, it may even qualify as parable. Bear with me, because if it makes everything crystal clear, it will be worth the time.

Imagine, if you will, a small house, built someplace cool-ish but not cold, perhaps somewhere in Ohio, and inhabited by a dog and a lizard. The dog is a big dog, something shaggy and nordic, like a Husky or Lapphund – a sled dog, built for the snow. The lizard is small, a little gecko best adapted to living in a muggy rainforest somewhere. Neither have ever lived anywhere else, nor met any other creature; for the purposes of this exercise, this small house is the entirety of their universe.

The dog, much as you might expect, turns on the air conditioning. Really cranks it up, all the time – this dog was bred for hunting moose on the tundra, even the winter here in Ohio is a little warm for his taste. If he can get the house to fifty (that’s ten C, for all you weirdo metric users out there), he’s almost happy.

The gecko can’t do much to control the temperature – she’s got tiny little fingers, she can’t really work the thermostat or turn the dials on the A/C. Sometimes, when there’s an incandescent light nearby, she can curl up near it and pick up some heat that way, but for the most part, most of the time, she just has to live with what the dog chooses. This is, of course, much too cold for her – she’s a gecko. Not only does she have no fur, she’s cold-blooded! The temperature makes her sluggish and sick, and it permeates her entire universe. Maybe here and there she can find small spaces of warmth, but if she ever wants to actually do anything, to eat or watch TV or talk to the dog, she has to move through the cold house.

Now, remember, she’s never known anything else. This is just how the world is – cold and painful and unhealthy for her, even dangerous, and she copes as she knows how. But maybe some small part of her thinks, “hey, it shouldn’t be like this,” some tiny growing seed of rebellion that says who she is right next to a lamp is who she should be all the time. And she and the dog are partners, in a sense, right? They live in this house together, they affect each other, all they’ve got is each other. So one day, she sees the dog messing with the A/C again, and she says, “hey. Dog. Listen, it makes me really cold when you do that.”

The dog kind of looks at her, and shrugs, and keeps turning the dial.

This is not because the dog is a jerk.

This is because the dog has no fucking clue what the lizard even just said.

Consider: he’s a nordic dog in a temperate climate. The word “cold” is completely meaningless to him. He’s never been cold in his entire life. He lives in an environment that is perfectly suited to him, completely aligned with his comfort level, a world he grew up with the tools to survive and control, built right in to the way he was born.

So the lizard tries to explain it to him. She says, “well, hey, how would you like it if I turned the temperature down on you?”

The dog goes, “uh… sounds good to me.”

What she really means, of course, is “how would you like it if I made you cold.” But she can’t make him cold. She doesn’t have the tools, or the power, their shared world is not built in a way that allows it – she simply is not physically capable of doing the same harm to him that he’s doing to her. She could make him feel pain, probably, I’m sure she could stab him with a toothpick or put something nasty in his food or something, but this specific form of pain, he will never, ever understand – it’s not something that can be inflicted on him, given the nature of the world they live in and the way it’s slanted in his favor in this instance. So he doesn’t get what she’s saying to him, and keeps hurting her.

Most privilege is like this.

A straight cisgendered male American, because of who he is and the culture he lives in, does not and cannot feel the stress, creepiness, and outright threat behind a catcall the way a woman can. His upbringing has given him fur and paws big enough to turn the dials and plopped him down in temperate Ohio. When she says “you don’t have to put up with being leered at,” what she means is, “you don’t ever have to be wary of sexual interest.” That’s male privilege. Not so much that something doesn’t happen to men, but that it will never carry the same weight, even if it does.

So what does this mean? And what are we asking you to do, when we say “check your privilege” or “your privilege is showing”?

Well, quite simply, we want you to understand when you have fur. And, by extension, when that means you should listen. See, the dog’s not an asshole just for turning down the temperature. As far as he knows, that’s fine, right? He genuinely cannot feel the pain it causes, he doesn’t even know about it. No one thinks he’s a bad person for totally accidentally doing harm.

Here’s where he becomes an asshole: the minute the gecko says, “look, you’re hurting me,” and he says, “what? No, I’m not. This ‘cold’ stuff doesn’t even exist, I should know, I’ve never felt it. You’re imagining it. It’s not there. It’s fine because of fur, because of paws, because look, you can curl up around this lamp, because sometimes my water dish is too tepid and I just shut up and cope, obviously temperature isn’t this big deal you make it, and you’ve never had to deal with mange anyway, my life is just as hard.”

And then the dog just ignores it. Because he can. That’s the privilege that comes with having fur, with being a dog in Ohio. He doesn’t have to think about it. He doesn’t have to live daily with the cold. He has no idea what he’s talking about, and he will never, ever be forced to learn. He can keep making the lizard miserable until the day they both die, and he will never suffer for it beyond the mild annoyance of her complaining. And she, meanwhile, gets to try not to freeze to death.

So, quite simply: don’t be that dog. If you’re straight and a queer person says “do not title your book ‘Beautiful Cocksucker,’ that’s stupid and offensive,” listen and believe him. If you’re white and a black person says “really, now, we’re all getting a little tired of that What These People Need Is A Honky trope, please write a better movie,” listen and believe her. If you’re male and a woman says “this maquette is a perfect example of why women don’t read comics,” listen and believe her. Maybe you don’t see anything wrong with it, maybe you think it’s oh-so-perfect to your artistic vision, maybe it seems like an oversensitive big deal over nothing to you. WELL OF COURSE IT DOES, YOU HAVE FUR. Nevertheless, just because you personally can’t feel that hurt, doesn’t mean it’s not real. All it means is you have privilege.

That’s not a bad thing. You can’t help being born with fur. Every single one of us has some kind of privilege over somebody. What matters is whether we’re aware of it, and what we choose to do with it, and that we not use it to dismiss the valid and real concerns of the people who don’t share our particular brand.