Seeing red over Safra's 'healthy distractions'

SINGAPORE - An advertisement aimed at attracting people to sign up with the Safra National Service Association's clubs has ended up riling some online.

The ad shows two men working out at a gym ogling an attractive woman behind her back, with the tagline: "A great workout, good friends and some healthy distractions."

Several netizens saw the ad as degrading to women.

A woman named Cindy Ng posted a picture of the ad, which she said appeared at a bus stop in Upper Thomson Road, on the Safra Facebook page on Saturday.

She said this was "outright distasteful, completely disrespectful to women and borders on condoning sexual harassment".

Several other commenters - both men and women - agreed, with one user called Faith Toh claiming that "through this ad, Safra has endorsed the objectification of women".

However, others disagreed, saying it was "harmless" and did not degrade women.

In a Facebook comment, Safra said the ad was meant "to showcase some bonding moments among our NSmen while having a tongue-in-cheek approach to life experiences".

"Be it in the gym or anywhere else, it is not uncommon for some women to be checked out by men or vice versa," it said, adding that the ad was "not aimed to devalue women and neither does Safra condone it".

"We certainly believe in equality of both sexes," it said.

But this response appeared only to draw further ire.

Blogger and activist Kirsten Han said: "A guy seeing a woman walk past in the gym and thinking 'Wow, she's hot' in his head is one thing. Using women as objects to sell gym memberships is another."

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