Breaking News: Women are not people.

I don’t give a shit about your politics. I don’t care whose side you’re on. (And there are people w/o a side. Deal with it.)

I don’t give a shit about that.

What I want to say is this: you disgust me, all of you, linking and retweeting to a candidate’s personal pictures & private information, making scurrilous speculations about their life.

The Straits Times asked Tin Pei Ling about her marital status and whether she would have children. That was misogynist. Irrelevant detail only thought relevant b/c these are thought women’s affairs, b/c a patriarchal society expects these to affect her job performance. Misogynist.

The Temasek Review is no better. No, not just that – it’s much, much worse. It’s tearing down a candidate simply b/c of her personal appearance & her relationship history, positioning her as a ‘gold-digger’ b/c that’s it, isn’t it, that’s all a woman ever amounts to. Defined by her sexual relationships. & surely choosing them based on $, b/c she is incapable of supporting herself.

The comentariat on Temasek Review and Online Citizen also need to get their fucking act together. Bitch. Cunt. Slut. If ever there were a case to be made against the reclamation of gendered insults, Exhibit A would be the comments threads. (And I say this as someone who very proudly takes those words back from patriarchy.)

Seriously, Singapore Internet. Wake the fuck up. Sometimes I hate you soverymuch. Don’t claim to be politically aware and whatever, not when you can’t even be bothered to treat people as human beings.

— Weds.

Of Star Trek, Spring Break, and Sexual Assault

Trigger warning for mention of rape/assault especially of inebriated persons, and of sexual slavery.

For those who don’t know me, I am a student in a field related to media analysis, and I’m a rape survivor, so these are both issues in which I have really strong interests. Specifically, I’ll be addressing the rape-apologist ‘Spring Break’ T-shirts marketed by the Star Trek franchise.

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The rest is not silence but belongs to me.

Someone once said I could never truly be invisible.

I offer my lived experience as proof I can never be truly visible. At least, not in my lifetime. My revolution is a long way from now.

Because while we are supposedly taking down the master’s house, the master is laughing at us.

Bugger the master. I’m building my own house.

*

I am wary of groups. Groups mean labels. Yes, St. Thomas says if we have words for things it helps us deal with what they are. But groups — consciously or unconsciously — create and Us and a Them. There is rarely anything comfortable about having an identity built on such a base, for your comfort is someone else’s marginalisation.

& I have always been a Them.

I do not have the luxury of relying on a community to take care of my needs, to affirm my value as a member, because they continuously erase me, despite claiming to be in my interests. I feel as though there are bits and pieces of me that exist in some strange limbo that detach at will whenever I am with others, so that I am never whole. So excuse me for not conforming, because I don’t buy your assimilation bullshit.

I am everyone’s Them. & I will always be an Other.

*

We didn’t intend to.

Speaking as a Muslim, intent does matter. Especially when you intend to sin. But could you imagine walking into a shop, knocking over a vase, and then getting out of it by claiming you didn’t intend to? Of course not. You pay for the vase and leave quickly.

The difference is that human beings aren’t vases.

*

Words have power. I bear their weight, and the weight of my own truth. Because silence is hardly useful, or innocent.

Silence is not consent.

Voice is justice tearing through the nerve cells, reaching for one more dawn. & Voice is a terrible, beautiful thing. But even as it is claimed, it can be taken away, or coerced. Eroded, bit by bit.

Silence kills voice.

Silence is not consent.

The same people who tell you that you are cowardly to hide behind words are the ones whose worlds shatter when you speak. For criticism is nothing — nothing — compared to the unbearable weight of the system upon our shoulders, and the trials a voice goes through to be heard cannot, and should not, ever be trivialised.

*

I do not claim to represent a community. I speak for myself because no-one will speak for me. I do not believe in “solidarity” as-is, for I have experienced for myself the insidious nature of this very top-down relationship. I am not in solidarity with people who demand that I let go of my baggage, for if their ideal was so noble, they would not erase us.

& I do not believe that the enemy of my enemy is my friend, because with friends like these, I don’t need enemies.

*

Must we react? What are we reacting to? Can we never do things for ourselves, of our own volition, to explore the chasms inside ourselves that we have to cross, & cannot cross alone?

*

I struggle to know the worth of me and mine even if it has been trampled, glossed over, erased, and obscured in old books, in single sentences that leap at me on pages. I’m not interested in telling you how your world was built on the backs of me and mine. But every time you say I am angry, every time you shove your Oh So Privileged Voice in my face and expect me to be silent, to be complicit, my voice will be thunder and typhoon spilling from my lips. The clouds swelling in the sky over your head will make you tremble. I will shout until I have no voice left, and even then, even if you have crushed me until I am a speck of dust to the eyes of you and yours, you will still hear me roar.

*

I once wrote that kyriarchy had much in common with fruits. I never saw myself in that analogy, because being me is like being trapped in a small room where everyone is throwing things and they don’t ~mean to~ but the bulk of it hits you. Maybe an orange, being eaten while the others ignore it.

So I will try to be a durian. I don’t expect it to be easy, or less tiring. Weighed against what others suffer, what others have paid and are paying — their blood, their freedom, their lives — mine seem insignificant. Dusty skin does an excellent job of hiding the scars, and words never leave scars, do they?

But a price — no matter how small or how large — would have been exacted from me anyway.

For daring to exist.

What I would remind you is that durians grow on trees. With several others, that may grow at different speeds and from different heights, but all of them will eventually ripen. & break free.

I am not alone.

There are more of us than you think.

always talking cock.

i.

dekho dekho,
dekho wo kaise ban kar english bolti hai.

ii.

at home:
kals were kals,
please was pliss,
vowels ran unaspirated and rampant.

at school:
kals are cauls,
please was pleese.
vowels full.

Kals at home.
Cauls at class.
Cauls are always better than kals.

iii.

You’re from India? You don’t sound like it!
You’re from India? Your English is so good!

rinse, repeat.

iv.

teacher speaks a wird tae me
every nae and ken
ill-gab.
takken oot and replaced with spang-new
impruived
vyce.

v.

You are logical and erudite but we’re terribly sorry, your accent is heavy, says the TOEFL to my mother.
we look at each other
then to the radio tuned to the BBC
I spend a week listening
You are logical and erudite, but we’re terribly sorry, your accent is heavy, says the TOEFL to me.

vi.

move to new country
they were colonised once too,
they’ll know how it feels.
try kal at school
everyone act blur
try caul at school
why so cheem.

vii.

i’ll lurk in the airport toilets
when you’re changing your lips
i’ll catch every word
every code switch
every slip
of your syllables
store and pickle it
Ye Olde Standarde English Shoppe

forty percent off if you buy a non-rhotic R.
no refunds.

viii.

i suka-suka write. where got square, where got circle, where got accent, where got anyone tok liddat one.

ix.

amma picks up the phone
listens to the nice Amreekan speak
I am terribly sorry, she says,
enunciating each word
you are logical and erudite
but your accent is too heavy
please speak to my husband.

What NOT to do for #Japan.

All these things are insensitive and inappropriate.

– not everyone can send money due to not having any, someone else controlling their bank account, or the sheer red tape of donations or even not having enough spoons to walk down to the bank and transfer money. some people with disabilities can’t use phones either so phone donations are sometimes out of the question.
– not everyone’s God is the Abrahamaic God, so laughing at the “illogic” of praying is ridiculous. sometimes prayer is the only thing someone can manage, that does not lessen their capacity for action. assuming that people are stopping ~all action~ to pray, why, you think they can’t pray AND act by helping in shelters or something?

– saying people only get hit by natural disasters because they don’t believe in the Abrahamaic God is preposterous and by extension trying to proselytise on that basis is not only hurtful to the people affected, it’s also against the bits of your holy book that remind you about humanitarian needs.

– using a natural disaster that is still affecting people as a backdrop for a story/fanfic/whatever… SO MUCH NO.

– citing a country’s history as reasons why you should not be compassionate makes you… well you guessed it, a shitty excuse for a human being. because no matter how you look at that… it’s just fucking racist.

– citing a country’s present actions [e.g. whaling] is racist too, just fyi.

because if your ends were that noble, you wouldn’t need to co-opt human suffering to achieve them.

Cross-posted from Tumblr.

An Open Letter to Writers

Dear Writer,

The most important thing for you to consider is your audience, correct?

This is also the most problematic.

Kyriarchy means the “audience” you think of is less universal than you think. In fact, I’d go straight out to call utter bullshit on the idea that any character, or any story, really, is ~universal~ because the mosiac of human experience directly contradicts any notion of complete universality. It’s when you try to impose a default, to say that this is the human experience captured in literature, when the bloody idea of it becomes nothing more than a bad joke. It’s like parading a cat in front of your family and saying this is the universal representation of all animals. I still see this perpetrated by many, many others like you who decline representation because it’s pandering to ~special interest groups~.

Isn’t that just the thing, though? The imaginary audience. What you need to realise is that stories about the most privileged group are everywhere. Seriously. There are hundreds of thousands of millions of stories out there for them. You get AWARDS for just writing about this specific class of people and nobody else. You get even more awards for writing for the privileged gaze!

But guess what! The majority of the world isn’t in that demographic. The majority of the world is sick of having to read the same characters over and over and over. They will support you. They are the ones paying for you. They are the ones who will spend hours kneeling on the floors of bookstores and petitioning libraries looking for your work. They care, because you cared enough to write about them, about telling them their stories existed, their stories mattered. I’m willing to bet they don’t really bother with your style, because it’s your content they care about, that spoke to them, that ignited their imaginations as readers. The spark that says I am a human being damnit, I matter!

And to do this, you need to approach the issue humbly. Be willing to learn. Be willing to question what you have been told, be willing to understand you will make mistakes, and that if you do, it is your responsibility accept them gracefully and move on. Try again. Do better. Because, by now, you should have realised the point of my letter. And that is that writing for a privileged audience doesn’t change anything. They don’t care: they will toss your work aside. There’s thousands of other books about them. But we, we are the ones who will pick them up, dust the cover, read the blurb and think, this might just be worth my while. We, the ones who don’t get to see ourselves humanised, the majority of us, when are you going to admit you need us, huh?

Wednesday Does A 101

Because today is International Women’s Day, I thought I would begin by providing an overview of feminism – of what it means to me as a Singaporean woman, and also an overview of what I practise. (Yes, this is a 101. Something I said I’d never attempt.)

Bolded words in this text are technical terms that may require additional reading.

What is Feminism?

At its simplest, feminism is about gender equality. However, the requirements to achieve this change by place and time.

Historically, feminism has been about women’s rights, in the first wave oriented about suffrage and in the second wave (women’s liberation) oriented about workplace equality.

Yet this discounts the essentialist construct of a gender binary and fails to acknowledge the construction of feminism in a white/Western setting.

Many feminisms exist, therefore, all of them with the same end-goal, but with varying principles and priorities.

Read more ->