Suffice it to say that I am so angry right now.
Many people in society hate queer people for being queer. This is not a newsflash. This is a fact.
But this is a fact which has been rubbed in our faces recently, too. And I am not speaking merely of the late Tyler Clementi, God rest his soul. To all those delightfully, wilfully ignorant folks who like to comment on articles by saying, ‘Oh, Singapore is fair and free, we let gay people live in peace here — we’re not Uganda!’ — well, fuck off.
D’you call jailing two men who had sex in a restroom living in peace? Not for having sex in a public place, mind. We have a law for that. No, the public prosecutor chose to use S377A, the law which criminalises homosexual sodomy. (Not heterosexual sodomy, oh, no. We legalised that three years ago in the same penal code revision where we decided we’d keep this clause.)
D’you call filming and distributing a video of two girls having sex living in peace? So much so that they have been turned out of their school?
The latter disturbs me, yes.
Not for the same reason that many people are disturbed. I find it disgusting and nauseating that the people who are going on about ‘Youth these days should know better’ mean that the girls should have known better. Not their schoolmates who filmed them, no. They should have known better than to be queer.
To anyone out there over the age of, say, 25: don’t act so shocked that teenagers have consensual sex, or that they do it in school restrooms. Tell me, where the fuck else is there to go? When you consider (a) how much the Confucian ethic has worked to ensure that teenagers spend most of their time in school; and (b) that sexual agency is denied to youths and especially to girls — it’s not surprising. Trust me. I’m sixteen and a student. I know.
But look at the words being used to describe the incident. ‘Steamy.’ ‘Tryst.’ Even in the midst of the condemnation, I’m so glad to know society can take the time out to continue objectifying female sexuality and reframing it for the male gaze.
I wonder if the students who filmed the video ought to leave the school as well? Of course not. You can shame people for having sex, you can shame people for being queer — and make no mistake that this was an act of deliberate intimidation, threatening all the more because it sends the message that ‘you are transgressive and that legitimises my hate‘ — but as long as you aren’t actually a filthy lesbian slut, you’re safe within the loving arms of a kyriarchy that sweeps your misdeeds over.
Psychologist Daniel Koh, of Insights Mind Centre, felt several aspects made the ACJC case especially disturbing.
First was the fact that the incident happened in a public place and involved two girls, ‘something society may not accept yet’.
Yeah, it’s your job to make society comfortable. Keep your legs closed, you shameless woman. And for God’s sake, you’re not allowed anything other than to be pursued (remember the passive voice) by a man.
At least nine current and former ACJC students The Straits Times spoke to said they knew of the incident, with one having seen the video on his friend’s mobile phone.
‘What I saw disgusted me,’ said the second-year student, who said he could not bring himself to continue watching the rest of the clip.
I am amazed, my dear, that you weren’t turned on. I mean, we all know that queer female sexuality exists solely for the (straight) male gaze. Or were you disgusted by the fact that they were queer? Yea, for ’tis a monstrous, repugnant thing indeed, queer sexuality. Or female sexuality. Or just sex in general. Carry on, Jeeves.
But if that second-year student was disgusted by the fact that society sees fit to hound and harass and police queer and female sexualities, and if he was disgusted by the fact that the system and the media enable this, then I apologise to him. It’s why I’m disgusted, after all. It’s why we should be.
You think this incident is unimportant? You think this event means nothing? Damn right it’s not funny, but read this (TW for suicide, self-harm).
Another local commentary (here) is really good — points out my arguments a trifle more coherently, too, FWIW.