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Discreet Lens for Discreet Filming: Looking at how normalising sexual harressment has made injustice prevalent today

I was guided to a site by a colleague of mine while at work. Check this out,” he says — so I did. “discreet lens” was what was displayed on my Google Chrome URL bar. Hmm?

“Discreet Filming for new creators” was what it proudly advertised, showing what appeared to be an elegantly designed pole with a button right at the base. As I combed through the entire page, it was evident what this site was supposed to be.

Ah, satire…

Discreet Lens: Satire
Discreet Lens: If you still aren’t sure, yes, it’s satire

I chuckled, closed the page and went back to my work, completely forgetting about it. It wasn’t until an hour or so later that I had to be reminded by that same colleague about it, before learning that the site was created to spark a conversation about injustice from voyeurism.

Well, it clearly didn’t work.

That was my first thought when I heard it. And as I started digesting why, I was reminded of how another entity operates.

There’s nothing subtle about the site for Discreet Lens. Every word that is written there is clearly pointing out what it means; the jokes so blatant and in your face that you could file a sexual harassment report against it.

“High IQ but Low EQ? Don’t worry. This camera is idiot-proof.” I see what you are doing.

Only university students with 4.50 GPA & above get 20% off? Ok, cheeky.

Original price at $690 price but the pre-order price is $420? Ha. Ha.

Discreet Lens: University Discount
Discreet Lens: Back to university with 20% off – if you have a 4.50 GPA or above in the fine print

It amounts to little more than a surface-level commentary on a subject that is deserving of discussion that is more complex and nuanced; no different to meme material you find online by the usual suspects on social media. You see it, you maybe share it, and then you forget about it. And that would be the norm wouldn’t it?

On further reflection, the Discreet Lens website functions very much like news.

Most news about the subject of voyeurism is presented in a bare minimum of details —  what happened, whodunnit, when it happened, where it happened and how it happened. They spoon-feed you the facts, just like how the Discreet Lens website hands you its jokes on a platter.

News is and always has been, all about delivering content fast and direct to the consumer. Ultimately it gives enough information to know, but it simply isn’t enough for you to understand, especially as a third-party looking at it. It all feels exceptionally hollow.

And this matter-of-factly structure happens so often that it actually becomes monotonous. The content is regurgitated onto us that it requires little to no effort to think, because we usually know what to expect. This makes the issue of voyeurism almost boring. And what happens when you become bored? You move on, and then you forget. And that is the scariest thing that can come from this.

Does the name Rayson Chee ring a bell? 

Maybe, Joel Rasis?

Perhaps, Ryan You?

These names belong to students in the news that have been caught committing sexual offences. Which of these names can you admit to recognising?

There are hundreds of these stories appearing in the news every year, and though the details may change in every account, they are presented so similarly that it becomes almost predictable. It almost normalises the subject matter.

Discreet Lens: Sexual Harassment
The hundreds of news coverage on sexual harassment every year makes it some like it is almost normal.

Worse still is that there doesn’t seem to be any slowdown. Just two years prior, the number of cases for outrage of modesty had gone up by 22.2% compared to the year before. The rise of technology has, of course, had some effect on that number, with it being more accessible and much easier to do it. Still, the media has so far not had much success in stemming the tide — because most content about it is just at the surface level.

And therein lies the problem with the Discreet Lens site and media in general. The way that they are presented doesn’t provide enough of a platform to empathise and think about the issue, making us move on and forget about it. 

That is possibly why voyeurism and the injustices it gives to its victims persists in such a high amount to this day, and it will continue to see no change when there isn’t a medium that can have a deep enough conversation about the problem. If there is no one voicing out against the systemic prevalence of voyeurism, then the relevant authorities have no reason to become more strict; with the cycle continuing again and again.

NUS voyeurism article - feature pic
Voyeurs may become more bold, especially when there is no tightening of measures.

Which makes Monica Baey’s case that much more interesting. You remember her, don’t you? Of course, you do. She has had success in invoking change. So why was her story able to register onto the minds of millions of Singaporeans, when the hundreds of others before her weren’t able to?

I believe that the reason why Monica Baey’s story succeeded was also the same reason why the current Black Lives Matters movement is trending right now — we were made into first-hand witnesses.

The Instagram Stories that she posted spoke to us in a way that it was almost as if she was sitting next to us and telling us about her ordeal. There was more detail and, more importantly, emotion that you could see; both of which aren’t seen in the Discreet Lens website or news.

Her words were enough to make thousands of others demand much-needed change in the handling of such cases by schools, change that ultimately did come eventually.

And that change has somewhat been extended unto a lot of us as well. Now we are more strict ourselves; our eyes laser-focused on other accounts of injustices from harassment, as the cases of Yin Zi Qin and Terence Siow would show.

The framework is already there for conjuring up change. But ultimately for me, the moment we start to normalise the issue, the harder it is to reason the authorities to change. 

Visuals and additional renders courtesy of Discreet Lens. Photos by Soloman Soh of the DANAMIC Team and courtesy of Hannah Xu.

Russell Matthew Loh

Watcher of films and player of games. Dabble with writing in between.

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