Friday, May 29, 2009

"Sexually challenged" is offensive

(Unpublished - May 26, 2009)

"Sexually challenged" is offensive

I refer to Tan Keng Soon's letter "'Sexually challenged' isn't an offensive term referring to gays" (ST, May 26).

Even as a happily married straight-identified man, I feel the term is offensive.

I disagree with Tan in his equation of "sexually challenged" with the "physically challenged". While the latter is a politically correct neutral term we use today, the former is far from harmless.

The fact that we use "challenged" indicates a presumption that there exist a singular, superior, desirable and rightful identity or form of being.

In this case, "sexually challenged" delegitimises and devalues non-heterosexual identities, shoving them to the margins and keeping them there.

To use "challenged" shows an arrogance, ignorance and intolerance that creates division and undermines diversity.

In other cases, does it not speak of chauvinism that a woman be labelled as "gender challenged" relative to a man?

Does it not speak of self-righteous bigotry that a person of monotheistic faith calls another person of polytheistic faith "religiously challenged"?

How about "morally challenged"? Do we label others just because they do not fit our expectations or live up to the dogma we respectively subscribe to?

As in the above examples, the use of "sexually challenged" indicates that sexual minorities are lesser people, subnormal, deficient and inferior.

"Sexually challenged", in this instance, is laden with specific kind of value judgement that is heterosexist and homophobic. It also exposes the reliance on reproductive sciences to dehumanise homosexuality.

Just because gay or transgender people cannot reproduce does not mean they are not people.

At the same time, do single heterosexual persons fall under the category of sexually challenged just because they cannot singularly reproduce?

It is fear, misinformation and the lack of interaction with sexual minorities that causes many like Tan to believe homosexuality is experiment, optional and merely a lifestyle.

Ho Chi Sam

I feel a bit tired writing to the press. Most of the time, I find myself repeating the same message. But perseverence is key to getting the message across, I guess. People have told me not to put too much effort into writing, because the editors will just 'destroy' it any way.

4 comments:

solo bear said...

>> I feel a bit tired writing to the press. Most of the time, I find myself repeating the same message. But perseverence is key to getting the message across, I guess. People have told me not to put too much effort into writing, because the editors will just 'destroy' it any way.
>>

Some netters have called ST the Shit Times. Quite appropriate.

As for sexually challenged, TSM is taking the stance that homo is going against the order of nature - something the LBGT community objects.

>> It is fear, misinformation and the lack of interaction with sexual minorities that causes many like Tan to believe homosexuality is experiment, optional and merely a lifestyle.
>>

I feel differently. After intense discussion with gays over the internet the last few weeks, I am beginning to believe that there is a gay agenda to infiltrate society.

Here is my take on that.

Sam Ho said...

hi solo, sometimes i feel the new paper has better journalism than the straits times hahahaha. what do you think?

when it comes to "order of nature" debates, it obviously boils down to how people think about "nature" and usually, our conceptions of nature are informed by education and religion.

for me, i don't believe in the gay agenda. if there is an agenda i'll support, it'll be the "queer agenda", because there are other alphabets/acronyms in the queer movement.

it's a long long battle, and often invoked are biology, (universalist) moralism, issues of "nature" and "nurture", and at the end of it, the true issues become sidelined.

i don't believe that sexual minorities should remain in the margins or in the subaltern/subterrains of the eco-system that is our society, although many (some sexual minorities included) feel that's ok.

there's also the trap of claiming superiority. if i say you are misinformed or intolerant, it implies that i believe you are inferior in some way, or "challenged". but when it comes to a debate, i guess all of us have to stick our necks out. the right to speak is balanced with the obligation to be criticised based on what we say.

for the "gay agenda" in singapore, i see it not as aggressive as many would perceive. the real threat is when you have many camps claiming moral right and superiority or universalism. that's quite scary because all other positions become invalid or delegitimatised.

and interestingly, most of us are too preoccupied with discomforts, and we forget about the nice things in life that we already. human "nature"?

keep writing.

skeptic said...

In the same forum letter, he also indirectly insults the blind, deaf and mute. By calling them abnormal. While what he say may be technically correct.. it is very insensitive.

Sam Ho said...

yes, that part was a bit insensitive, saying they're not normal.. it's quite arrogant though.

i think the letter writer is emotionally handicapped.

we've spent so many decades trying to spread awareness and acceptance of people who are blind, deaf or mute, and this letter destroys that spirit.