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Things that cause rape June 11, 2011

Posted by laïcité in Feminism v Patriarchy, Rants, Society.
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I could write a whole post on rape statistics. I could mention how provocative clothing plays no role in a rapist choosing his target (Want to know what is the major factor? Appearing vulnerable – even if that means dressing like a conservative, docile, demure lady like your mother taught you.) I could also mention the fact that even the most non-provocative people in the world fall victim to rape – infants, the elderly, and even Muslim women covered head to toe.

But all that wouldn’t matter anyway. Because rape isn’t a natural disaster like an earthquake, and rape isn’t a disease like lung cancer. Rape is not a phenomenon that simply happens to you. What is the point of looking at the “odds of getting raped”  (and then blaming a victim for not being careful enough) when rape is only caused by one thing?  It is solely a result of one person’s conscious choice: the rapist’s.

 

 

My entire life philosophy in 9 minutes April 9, 2011

Posted by laïcité in Rants, Religion, Science.
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If there is one thing that frustrates me more than conservative right wing religious extremists, it is the anti-science brigade that proudly denounces rational and scientific thought in favor of the mumbo jumbo world of psychics, homeopathy and astrological signs. The “faithful” folk that are blind to reason and rationalism, and prefer to let faith guide them into the bs-filled world of faith healings and alternative medicine devoid of any evidence or scientific validity. The mystical types who claim that my life is empty without the belief in a higher power or the afterlife, but who are themselves arrogant and ignorant for not recognizing that the sheer beauty of the natural world is more worthy of respect than any “god” described in obsolete texts, and how the mysteries of the scientific world instil awe, wonder and curiosity – not the need for magic and miracles.

I only wish I could refute them as eloquently and elegantly as Tim Minchin did in this awesome video.

Science adjusts its views based on what’s observed.
Faith is the denial of observation so that belief can be preserved.

An atheist’s holiday message December 31, 2010

Posted by laïcité in Rants, Religion, Unbelief.
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I had originally wanted to pen a post on what it means to be an atheist during the holiday season, or rather, what the holiday season could possibly mean to a godless, souless heathen. You see, this is the time of year when excessive public displays of (the Christian) faith is supposed to be socially acceptable. It is CHRISTmas, after all, as many of them like to point out, oh so unaware that the practice of Christmas was actually a pagan festival adopted (or hijacked) by the Christians, and that December 25 is nowhere near the estimated birth date of Jesus. And what kind of holiday encourages you to lie to your children about a fat bearded man in the North Pole watching to see if they’re naughty or good? Probably a holiday adopted by people whose entire moral system is based on a bearded man in heaven deciding who gets to go to hell.

But I digress. All that was supposed to be in my original rant, but I decided not to be a Grinch. Let the Christians have their Christmas, stolen rituals and all.

Then I came across a holiday message that I really did want to share. In his holiday message, the comedian Ricky Gervais shared about why he is an atheist in the most eloquent, non-inflammatory and yet non-apologetic way. I loved his message so much that I even posted it on my facebook, something I rarely ever do, which them prompted some nasty self righteous comments calling me a fool and a corrupter – but that’s another story.

Anyway, the point is that I’m glad that I did not go ahead with my holiday rant because I could not have possibly put things in a better way than Ricky Gervais did.

Wow. No God. If mum had lied to me about God, had she also lied to me about Santa? Yes, of course, but who cares? The gifts kept coming. And so did the gifts of my new found atheism. The gifts of truth, science, nature. The real beauty of this world. I learned of evolution -– a theory so simple that only England’s greatest genius could have come up with it. Evolution of plants, animals and us –- with imagination, free will, love, humor. I no longer needed a reason for my existence, just a reason to live. And imagination, free will, love, humor, fun, music, sports, beer and pizza are all good enough reasons for living.

 

Forgiveness is probably the greatest virtue there is. But that’s exactly what it is -­‐ a virtue. Not just a Christian virtue. No one owns being good. I’m good. I just don’t believe I’ll be rewarded for it in heaven. My reward is here and now. It’s knowing that I try to do the right thing. That I lived a good life. And that’s where spirituality really lost its way. When it became a stick to beat people with. “Do this or you’ll burn in hell.”

You won’t burn in hell. But be nice anyway.

Ultimately, we cannot assume, and we cannot let Christians assume, that all that we strive to achieve during holidays –  goodwill towards mankind and peace on earth – can be monopolized by one faith alone. Ironically, perhaps the only way we can achive those ideals is to abandon such faith-centric mindsets in the first place.

Homophobes can’t handle being “the woman” July 16, 2009

Posted by laïcité in Feminism v Patriarchy, Rants, Society.
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After a few exchanges I’ve had with homophobes, I’ve found that they share one thing in common: they have an immense fear of being approached by an interested gay man, and believe that this fear is enough to justify discrimination against gays and the criminalization of homosexuality.

 

What I find so perplexing is how traumatized these men are by the mere thought of receiving unwanted male attention. You see, as a woman, receiving unwanted male attention is an annoyance so mundane that I wouldn’t even waste my breath complaining about it. Being approached by a man that you’re not interested in is a banal experience shared by almost every woman, and I have yet to meet any one who felt so offended by it to even suggest that legislation or violence against these men should be necessary. Regardless of how we feel about it – insulted, annoyed, flattered or even disgusted, we embrace the fact that these men have every right to approach us with interest, just as we have every right to politely decline.

 

Unfortunately, homophobic men do not seem to share this view. It is all too common for them to justify violence and discrimination against gays based on the fear of receiving unwanted male attention. From a feminist perspective, the reactions of these homophobes are quite troubling. Their reactions are not just reflections of homophobia, it also says a lot about how uncomfortable they are about straying from strictly enforced traditional gender roles. In it is the inherent implication that there is something undesirable about being pursued “like a woman”.

 

Traditional gender roles usually prescribe the active role of the pursuer to the man, and the passive, receiver role to the woman. In this way, being the recipient of male attention implies femininity. In the mind of a misogynistic male (and probably in a misogynistic patriarchal society), femininity is equated with weakness, and is thus undesirable. In other words, the fear that homophobes have against unwanted male attention is a socially conditioned fear that they have of being associated with submissiveness, vulnerability, weakness and other undesirable feminine traits.

 

By introducing a gay man into the equation, the misogynistic male is suddenly stripped of his sexually dominant role; that is, he is now the object of pursuit, just like a woman. It is this perceived threat to masculinity that causes the homophobe to be so offended by unwanted male attention, and fuels his attempt to reinstate his “manliness” through homophobic insults or physical attacks. Add to that the fact that men are much more socially stigmatized for gender role reversals than women are, and we can (sort of) understand why some men are so violently opposed to appearing feminine.

 

It is because of this that I am particularly wary of homophobic men. How a man views homosexuals reveals exactly what he feels about women and gender roles in sexual interactions. At the very least, a homophobe who is “traumatized” by unwanted male attention simply lacks the empathy and understanding that it is precisely the same unwanted sexual attention that we women receive and accept as an everyday occurrence. But perhaps most worrying is the intrinsic allusion that connotations of femininity are undesirable becaue they suggest inferiority. As such, homophobes and homophobia speak volumes about the individual’s (and society’s) acceptance of patriarchy and the perpetuated recognition of women being lower on the totem pole of social hierarchy.

Why bother with politics? May 25, 2009

Posted by laïcité in Feminism v Patriarchy, Philosophy, Rants, Religion.
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So here it is. First post. And already I am faced with cynicism, not just from myself but also from the general air of apathy that seems to plague the people of Singapore. It would be so convenient to submit myself to blissful political ignorance, just like so many other youths do. After all, I’m not gay, or working class, or impoverished, nor do I belong to a racial minority. There’s no reason for me to get worked up over political and social issues that would probably never directly affect me. Right?

 Wrong.

 Firstly, I am nonreligious. One would assume that it wouldn’t be much of a problem in secular Singapore, but that is sadly not the case. Too often, policies are defended and justified on the basis of reflecting the “universal” conservative opinion in Singapore, as represented by the various religions. When liberal atheists or freethinkers state their position on certain issues, we are brushed aside as representing a radical liberal minority, while other otherwise unjust and unreasonable positions (such as the justification of homosexual sex remaining criminal) are accepted on the basis of “religious reasons”. Where is our platform? Do we ironically need a “Church of Freethought” which claims to represent dogmatic liberal values (Ha!) in order to be taken seriously?

 Secondly, I am female, and many of our rights and freedoms are being contested and even denied in the name of fundamentalist religious or conservative reasons. I had never questioned the many freedoms that we Singaporean women enjoy, but the recent Aware saga involving the fundamentalist Christian takeover shook me out of my complacency. It made me realize how easily religious fundamentalists can take over an organization, and how hard won our freedoms are. Our reproductive choices, employment opportunities, protection from rape and assault and even the way in which society views women and their choices (sexual or otherwise) are so intricately linked to the activism of secular feminists, and ought to be fiercely protected in the face of religiously fueled misogyny and sexism.

 Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, I am human. Discussions about politics and philosophy are essential for a fulfilling life as a human being. In Plato’s The Apology, Socrates says:

 I say again that daily to discourse about virtue, and of those other things about which you hear me examining myself and others, is the greatest good of man, and that the unexamined life is not worth living.

 Socrates would have rather died (and he did) than cease his philosophical inquiries. I only wish I were half as devoted to the pursuit of reason and rational discussion.

 I don’t expect my opinions to change society, but at the very least, this blog would serve to preserve my sanity which is constantly under siege by frustration over irrational and intolerant views. We liberals need to show that we exist, that we are not immoral or crazy, and that we do not deserve to be pushed to the fringes of society and have our views dismissed during policymaking.

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