Monday, April 20, 2009

Aware making me wary and weary

I'm tired. Exhausted too.

Tired of the rhetoric.

I'll keep this short.

It is important that the new guard at AWARE not only outline their agenda and goals, but define and explain specific terms they have been using in their rhetoric.

"Gender equality"



"Women's issues"

Be accountable, be transparent, be open, be honest.

Define, describe, explain, elaborate on what you feel these terms mean to you.

What is included and what is excluded.

This is beyond queer issues (which will be addressed by the Singapore Queer-Straight Alliance). It concerns the group and the label "women". Does this encompass all the women, the chromosomally and/or anatomically female too? And does "women's issues" involve all the issues related to each and every woman in Singapore?

It will be helpful to know what is their ideal Singapore. I mean, everyone has their ideal Singapore. Like for Lee Kuan Yew, the ideal Singapore is where University graduate ethnic Chinese marry each other and produce graduate-material children.

So, what is this new team's interpretation of AWARE's vision? You know, the vision will be the same, but the interpretation, strategies and outcome/implications are different with different teams.

A note worth repeating: Let us be bold but fair and gracious as we question or criticise the new guard/team. Let us help them to be more accountable and open and honest.

Sure we may feel a bit unsatisfied that Josie did not really answer most of the questions posed to her on television last night, sidestepping them and all. But that does not mean we should stop asking questions. If they are truly keen on helping to make Singapore a better place, they will always be available and accessible, to answer every question.

I had the privileged to meet and listen to Madison Kelly, a male-to-female trans person, over the weekend. She's so down-to-earth, and knowingly/intended or not, spews such simple advice once in a while.

"When you're offensive, you can't really have a conversation." This probably applies to everything we do. Sometimes, conversations help us appreciate differences better. I'm going to use this quote over and over again by the way.

The next one is another simple, yet very wise, piece of advice (paraphrased it a bit): "When people feel they can be themselves, it makes dialogue so much easier." The statement speaks for itself, and applies to any one who wants to speak and also to be heard.

I'm a sucker for inspiration. Sometimes, the smallest things or the most mundane experiences inspire me in many ways. So I hope there are some out there who are as inspired as I am listening to these two pieces of advice.


humph said...

"When you're offensive, you can't really have a conversation."

While I understand where this is coming from, you know how sometimes you find yourself offending others by simple virtue of the fact of your being, eg. being gay, without needing so much as to squeak a peep. And some of these kretins' prejudices no amount of peep squeaking would cure, so hey if you're going to find me offensive no matter what I do or say, then well, I'll hella be offensive. It's fun.

Sam Ho said...

that's true.

well, maybe that is the element in all of us that some might find offensive.

but whatever we can control, namely what we say, i believe it's meaningful we try not to be offensive.

i know what you're talking about. when i was in national service, i could sense a distaste for me by some of the 'hokkien peng', which consists of working class (lower income) men, just by the fact i look "eurasian", primarily spoke english, and they assumed i am a rich boy.

or when i make a humble attempt to order food from a hawker stall, speaking in mandarin or teochew. some folks take the opportunity to mock or even scold me.

sometimes, you don't have to do anything to offend. i agree with you.

but i'm not in the business of making everyone happy.