Singapore: From vaginal warts to masturbation, taboo-breaking Singaporean podcaster Nicole Lim tackles topics that may make some squirm but has won a following in socially conservative Asian societies.
With her series Something Private, she has tapped into a growing appetite for more open discussion about sensitive issues affecting women in the city-state and beyond.It has featured interviews on subjects ranging from domestic violence to disabled women’s dating experiences and intimate relationships involving multiple partners.
The podcast has racked up tens of thousands of downloads, mostly in Singapore but also in Indonesia and Malaysia, where traditional media shy away from covering topics often considered taboo.
“I was trying to look for honest and open conversations around sexual health and wellness, but when you look at women’s magazines that exist in this part of the world it’s very lifestyle,” the 24-year-old shared. “Where’s the platforms for tougher conversations or things that are more hard-hitting?”
Lim’s aim starting the podcast last year was to discuss sexual health after a friend was diagnosed with herpes. “It was quite shocking, I’m already in my 20s and I don’t know anything about this STD that I could have gotten as well,” said Lim, who launched the series after graduating from university and now runs it full time.
Lim’s open discussion of touchy topics in the face of deep-seated conservatism reflects a tension at the heart of Singapore – a city-state that is outwardly ultra-modern but where many still hold traditional values.
“We are a nation that’s very progressive but there’s also this Asian conservative side to us that we’re kind of trying to reconcile,” she said.And her show, she hopes, could help shift mindsets and empower women in a society which remains deeply patriarchal.