Lee Seok Hwai – Straits Times Indonesia
A 30-year-old army major is making waves in Taiwan for joining the growing ranks of women in uniform posing online without their uniforms – or much of anything at all for that matter.
Major Fan Chun-chen, a communications officer at the Missile Command of the General Staff Headquarters, exposed her most private side on her blog in June, Taiwan media reports said, becoming at least the third woman in the military to do so in recent years.
Popular opinion is divided over whether or not a tough line should be drawn between such antics and their profession – especially when it comes to people in the military.
Almost everything Maj Fan has to offer can be seen in a number of the 1,500 photographs on her blog, grouped under themes such as “OL (office lady) style”, “Lounging at home” and “Extreme narcissism”.
Most showed off her cleavage and bare legs. Some pictured her apparently almost nude, wearing only fishnet stockings that did not exactly cover her backside and with her private parts covered only by her arms.
“I just love to show off myself,” she wrote in the blog, without concealing the fact that she is a military officer. “I love myself so much. No more pretenses.”
As of last week, her site had attracted more than 20,000 eyeballs. The ever-alert Taiwanese media splashed some of the provocative pictures in the top-selling Apple Daily and on television, to the dismay of some observers.
Ma Wen-chun, a legislator with the ruling Kuomintang, said soldiers are still soldiers even after work, and should be held to higher standards.
“How would she be able to lead male servicemen after this?” he was quoted as saying.
In response, Defence Ministry spokesman Luo Shao-he said on Sunday that Maj Fan had not broken any military rules because she had posted the pictures on her personal blog and had not revealed any secrets – at least of the military kind.
But he added that military personnel should be mindful to separate their private lives from work, and be “responsible” towards society.
The following day, a disciplinary hearing at Missile Command ruled that Maj Fan had “damaged the image of the military through her personal acts, as well as neglected the basic requirement to be poised and prudent for servicemen”.
The officer claimed that the photos were not meant for public view, and she had forgotten to lock access to the albums.
She shut down her blog last weekend in the wake of the media attention and was given just a minor warning.
But many people took her side after the ruling, calling the military sexist and old-fashioned.
Well-known writer and commentator Lucifer Chu wrote on his blog: “What is the big deal? She did it after office hours.”
A China Times reader, Lee Fu-sheng, wrote to the newspaper to complain: “Why doesn’t anyone make a fuss about male soldiers taking off their shirts during combat practice?”
Maj Fan, who joined the military after graduating from senior high school, is not the first female soldier to provoke an attack of “shock and awe” on Taiwan online.
In 2007, Lieutenant Chen Chi-chun of the air force posted a series of pictures of herself dressed both in her uniform and sexy outfits. She was told to remove the photos of herself in uniform.
In 2009, Chen Hsueh-wei, a sergeant with the Combined Logistics Command, was slapped with warnings for uploading to her blog a picture of her lifting up her army fatigues to reveal her bra.
Sociologist Peng Huai-chen observed that it has become common for young Taiwanese to post sexy self-portraits on the Internet.
“There is no right or wrong about it,” he told The Straits Times.
“But the latest incident tells us that in an era of all-encompassing media and virtual networks, we need to be careful to separate the public from the private, and be mindful of prevailing social considerations.”
Reprinted courtesy of Straits Times Indonesia. To subscribe to
Straits Times Indonesia and/or the Jakarta Globe call 021 2553 5055.