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Bad girls? They're just misunderstood

These girls' antics, ranging from allegedly slapping their mothers to smoking have been a talking point on the Internet. -myp

Tue, Dec 06, 2011
my paper

SUGAR, spice and everything nice - that's what girls are supposed to be made of.

But, judging from some of their Facebook profiles over the past few months, you would think that Singapore girls are a tattooed, cigarette-smoking bunch who spew vulgarities.

These girls' antics, ranging from allegedly slapping their mothers to smoking while still in their school uniforms, have been a talking point on the Internet, with netizens labelling them as "Pai Kia Girls" (literally Bad Girls) or "Gen Z Ah Lians".

This has led many to question: Are our girls getting out of control?

The figures tell a different story. According to statistics from the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports, there were 78 female juvenile-court referrals last year. This was a significant dip from 2007, when there were 115 referrals. Similarly, there were only 81 new admissions to Singapore Girls' Home last year, compared to the 113 new admissions in 2007.

So, why are teenage girls receiving so much flak only now?

I, for one, am pointing the accusatory finger at social media.

As a friend pointed out, we saw such misbehaviour when we were in secondary school four years ago. The difference? We were still using Friendster and it did not offer a status-update option.

The latest "bad girl" thrust into the spotlight is a 15-year-old who posted news of her supposed pregnancy and impending nuptials on Facebook (FB).

Underage sex aside, netizens were outraged that she was not only unapologetic about her actions, but also bragging about her situation.

Unapologetic? Yes. Bragging? Hardly.

I'd say this is simply the language of the iGeneration.

Her FB status read: "Can't believe I'm pregnant and getting married at 15, amazing."

To my girlfriends and me, that is no different from saying: "Can't believe I actually passed my algebra test, amazing."

You see, having grown up in a tech-savvy age where we can update all our friends on Facebook or Twitter about what we are up to with just a click, we have developed a mentality that everybody is interested in even the most inane details of our lives.

Unfortunately, we do not have the tendency to filter our online posts, or think about any potential backlash.

Having easy access to social- media platforms also proves to be a bane when we are emotionally charged and want to vent our frustration.

A mere five years back, I'd have called a close friend if I have something to unload.

Today, it's so much easier to whip out my smartphone to give vent to my feelings online - which also saves me the trouble of repeating myself to different friends.

No, I'm not defending "Adelyn Hosehbo", the 14-year-old who updated her FB status to say she had slapped her mother after getting nagged at.

If she did assault her mum in any way, it is absolutely unacceptable behaviour.

What I do not understand is the fresh bout of criticisms she received after posting a status about wanting to quit smoking if she got more than 150 "likes".

Let's face it, many Singapore women these days are on an equal footing with men on the social and corporate ladders.

So, why the prudishness when we see teen girls expressing themselves openly? After all, this is a reflection of their changing socio-economic status.

Truth is, girls are still judged more rigorously, often unfairly, than boys if they stray.

So, keep that in mind and do not be too quick to jump to conclusions.

Instead, talk to a "bad girl" and you might find that she is just Miss Misunderstood.

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