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Why I am Bothered by the AWARE saga
Articles - Feminism
Written by (Guest Writers)   
Wednesday, 29 April 2009 09:00

This article is written by a guest writer Bryan Choong.

Each time I talked to my friends and colleagues about the ongoing AWARE issue, they are puzzled why I have spoken with so much anger. There are a lot of women who are indifferent about the issues, and men who think this is a women’s problem. Some said that a new organisation can easily replace AWARE so why should we be so bothered by the new Exco and their non inclusive stand.

Being a gay person, I am sure many of my friends though that I am feeling so frustrated because the new Exco is anti gay and I felt threatened. Yes, the matter of fact is, I do. But let me explain why I am with the old guard. I should also clarify that I only joined as an associate member of AWARE recently but I have been very aware of what old AWARE represents. And it all started when I was 14 years old.


One night when I was 14 years old, I found myself sitting in the old New Bridge Road police station, waiting for my mother to complete her police statement. My mother has just been beaten by my father after months of verbal abuses. It was about 1am. There were no visible bruises and the policeman on duty told my mother that he could not do much to my father than to bring him down to the station and give him a verbal warning. Unless, in his own words, someone is visibly injured or dead. I was sitting next to my mother and listening to all these. My mother decided against the police going to our place to bring my father to the station. She feared that things would be worsened. For the rest of the night, my mother and myself sat outside the station. I was so worried that my mother would get a chill so I bought a cup of hot milo for her from the vending machine. That was the only thing this small built boy could do. I remember that cold night till today, that overwhelming helplessness of being a 14 years old boy who could not do anything to help his abused mother.

That was not the only time I felt that way. When I was 7 years old, after my father’s repeated beating, my mother left home without a single penny. Later she told me that she had to beg for a 10 cent from a stranger to call her sister for help. She was standing on the street with nothing except her clothes. In another occasion, I accompanied her to look for a place to stay when the abuse increased. We walked through the entire Joo Chiat area but nothing was affordable or safe enough for her to stay in. Hopeless and helpless, we went back home, which was increasingly more like a battlefield than a sanctuary. From that very young age, I learnt to be present at home whenever possible so that in case of a dangerous situation, I could shield her or do anything to protect her. Most of the time, I was disappointed that no one seemed to be able to render any assistance. I have to clarify here that my mother was not the soft asian woman you can imagine. However, she has gotten into a wrong marriage because she wanted to break away from my grandfather’s control. Unfortunately, in those days, you could walk away from your father but it was not so easy for you to walk away from your abusive husband. No one, apart from those who walked this journey before, will understand how vulnerable we felt.

The first sign of hope came when NMP Dr Kanwaljit Soin pushed for the amendment of Women Charter in 1997. I was so excited that I borrowed a copy of the Women Charter publication from the National Library and read it to my mother. We finally knew and got our rights. I watched the debate in the Parliament when NMP Soin spoke and I swear to the god that she is the only female MP whose face and name I could remember till now.

Finally, with the new Women Charter in place and the family court more empowered to do more for domestic violences, my mother decided to end the marriage when my father hit her for the last time and a Personal Protection Order was issued. Despite of the PPO, my mother’s lawyer, Ms Ellen Lee, now MP for Sembawang GRC tried so hard to ensure our safety during the divorce proceeding. She even allowed us to use her office address in Beach Road as a correspondence address so that our actual place of residence would not be exposed.

After a long legal battle, we got our lives back, leaving the years of living in constant fear and abuses behind. I regained my trust that there is justice in this world and women and children should be protected against any wrongful acts by their male family members. What Dr Soin and AWARE probably would not know is that their fight for women rights have changed the life of a boy who they never know.

I cannot tolerate the new Exco’s attempt to deny the good works by these women and AWARE. And I cannot trust them when the church they belonged to, openly stated that 'the wife is in subjection to her husband' and 'women [are] to continually deny themselves and yield the rule to men'. This statement alone makes me feel so sick, the same sick feeling I had when the policeman told me that he could not do anything.

In Singapore we are so used to take a neutral stand on everything, until it affects you. I know exactly how that feels. For you who has the right to cast your vote and decide not to do anything at all, you might regret it when you need it.

Editor’s Note: Please visit www.we-are-aware.sg for news and updates, and information on how you can help.

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 February 2010 03:29
 
One Cause For All Women
Articles - Announcements
Tuesday, 28 April 2009 10:34

 

Help save AWARE.� Vote out the new exco.

Dana Lam’s interview to save AWARE

Update : New Venue for the EGM
Suntec Exhibition Hall 402!

Don’t go to the wrong place!�� The venue in the video clips are outdated.

 
Responsa to the Press Conference by AWARE’s New Exco
Articles - Feminism
Written by Indu   
Monday, 27 April 2009 09:00
The past few days, after the new guard came out and declared their motivations and objectives, and revealed Dr Thio Su Mien to be their mentor, there have been a variety of responses from various sectors and individuals. We collect and republish for you, a selection of responses.

But first, we would like to remind all AWARE members that the EOGM on 2nd May will be held at SINGAPORE EXPO HALL 2. Official notices from AWARE states that Registration will begin at 12noon, EGM at 2p.m. Bring your NRIC for admission. Please check SAVE AWARE for the latest news.

 

Press Conference by the Old Guard

24th April 2009

We are glad that the truth is finally out. What happened at AWARE AGM on 28 March was a planned takeover by a group of women, guided by their ‘feminist mentor’ Dr Thio Su Mien, who have taken it upon themselves to, as they put it, ‘bring AWARE back to its original, very noble, objective’.

The issue is not whether AWARE has indeed strayed from its original aims. What is really at stake is the space for a diversity of views in our cosmopolitan and pluralistic society. Singapore is a multiracial, mulitreligious and multicultural society. As we progress, the diversity will grow. We have to be able to co-exist, to live with differing views on many issues.

What has happened at AWARE is a threat to Singapore’s pluralistic society. A ‘feminist mentor’ takes exception to some of AWARE’s programmes, decides to monitor the organisation’s activities, and then encourages women she knows to challenge AWARE; they could have invited AWARE to a seminar to discuss the programmes; they could have written to the media.

Instead, these women joined AWARE in the few months before the AGM and then voted their representatives onto the Executive Committee ‘ without giving any indication that they were acting together. They continued with this stance until Thursday when they finally told the truth.

The cannot be the way forward for Singapore. We cannot have people acting like moral vigilantes running around and taking over established organisations. If Dr Thio and her mentees feel that AWARE has strayed from its original aims, or that some of the programmes are unsuitable, then go ahead and criticize AWARE, but do so openly.

Better still, form their own organization to offer parallel programmes with what they see as the right messages, and let the public choose which they prefer. Their motives and actions will then be visible to all. There will be transparency and accountability.

Video of press conference

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 February 2010 03:28
 
A tale of two events: how they have completely lost the plot
Articles - Feminism
Written by (Guest Writers)   
Thursday, 23 April 2009 09:00

Originally published on the Glass Castle – written by Jolene

The new AWARE Exco have completely lost the plot. Two events they organised last night are of note. First, they had the locks on AWARE’s office changed, summarily firing staff and disrupting the use of the centre as a space for counselling abused women (emphases mine):

Dana Lam, former AWARE president, said: “I walked in and there were three burly men sitting at the counter. It’s not something we encounter at AWARE because it’s a women’s centre and we are giving counselling sessions to women who have been abused.

“The men have apparently been instructed by the president to change the lock in the centre. There is a vote of no-confidence going on here. By right, they have no right to make any changes. I am worried for my materials- 25 years of research material, including confidential material.”

Did the new Exco make any alternative provision for abused women who might have been seeking, or relying on the services, provided at AWARE? Who knows? Did they even care?

Other things were probably on their mind, as they also spoke at a news conference, the second event of note. On the same evening that services to abused women were being disrupted on their order, you see, they spoke of restoring AWARE to “its original noble cause” (emphases mine):

The new exco said AWARE had become a single purpose organisation overly concerned with promoting lesbianism.

They repeatedly raised examples, like how the old guard had backed a lesbian film screening in 2007 and organised a lesbian-friendly Mother’s Day event in 2006. And they wanted to bring the association back to what they say is its original noble cause.

Let me get this straight (being straight is important, you see). A few days ago, Josie Lau told us on television that the reason she wanted to take control of AWARE was because it had become too “diversified” and needs more “focus”. But now the problem, the reason justifying the takeover, is that AWARE should be stopped from becoming a “single-purpose organisation”. Just taking both their statements at face value is making my brain hurt.

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 February 2010 03:27
 
Save AWARE! Gender equality for all! – Petition
Articles - Announcements
Written by sayoni   
Wednesday, 22 April 2009 10:36

Save AWARE! Gender equality for all! – Petition

As Singaporeans overseas we are very concerned about the take-over of the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) on 28 March 2009 by a group of people, whose values are opposed to what AWARE stands for. For nearly 25 years, AWARE has worked to advance gender equality for all women in Singapore, regardless of race, religion, or sexuality. Through its many contributions, AWARE has significantly enhanced women�s capacity to make informed choices over their bodies and their lives.

We support the Save AWARE Campaign (http://www.we-are-aware.sg) on the following grounds:

1. Media reports indicate that the newcomers, now on AWARE�s new Executive Committee, are, at best, ignorant of AWARE�s mission and, at worst, ideologically opposed to this.

2. There are clear indications from media reports that the take-over was by a group with affiliations to known fundamentalist organisations � notably, Church of Our Saviour and Focus on the Family (as well as possibly Liberty League and Exodus International). As reported in the Straits Times (18 April 2009), six of the eleven current Ex-Co members attend the Church of Our Saviour, which has publicly stated its position on women�s role and status. In the document �God�s Order for the Family�, posted as a resource on the Church�s website , it is openly stated that �the wife is in subjection to her husband� and �women [are] to continually deny themselves and yield the rule to men�. This document states: �feminist movements�are not according to God’s order�. Rather, �His will for a young women is to do four things: (1) marry, (2) bear children, (3) guide the house, (4) not be a reproach to her husband.� It is highly unlikely, to say the least, that members of a church promoting such values would champion gender equality for all women in all spheres of life. Rather, it is more likely that this fundamentalist group would engage in an exercise of defining who qualifies as a �woman� and who does not. If so, this would be diametrically opposed to AWARE�s inclusion of all women as having the right to gender equality, be they gay or straight, married or unmarried, mothers or not, employed or not, Christian or not.

3. Various blog writers have pointed out that this hostile take-over is a warning sign of fundamentalist ambitions that may extend far beyond AWARE. The question has been raised several times why fundamentalists have been motivated to take over a secular organisation like AWARE. Is it to �confuse others into believing that these agendas are supported by an organisation which is concerned with women�s best interests from a feminist and humanist point of view, rather than a Christian fundamentalist point of view�? (http://www.glass-castle.org) Is this the thin end of a wedge that may subsequently affect other secular civic organizations and perhaps even beyond?

4. The new Ex-Co has not communicated with the rank and file membership of AWARE, despite the public controversy that has broken out, leaving members to learn about AWARE from media reports. It has sacked all the current heads of the AWARE sub-committees, including the summary dismissal of Braema Mathi, Chairperson of AWARE�s CEDAW Committee. (CEDAW is the UN Convention for the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women.) It has refused to disclose specific plans, despite repeated questioning by journalists. The recently elected President, Claire Nazar, resigned after 11 days, because of what she described as the new Ex-Co�s �Stormtrooper tactics� (The Straits Times, 19 April 2009). All these acts and omissions are symptomatic of the duplicity and disingenuousness that underlie this take-over by stealth.

5. This was confirmed in the recent letter to AWARE members written by the Immediate Past President, Constance Singam, who noted that �although the team [the new Ex-Co] had publicly said that they would honour Aware�s founders and build on the good work of past members, their private behaviour suggested otherwise.� �In private meetings, the exco showed a complete lack of respect for me, ignoring my advice and keeping me out of an exco meeting when I had the right to be there, as stated in the Constitution,� she wrote (The Straits Times 19 April 2009).

We, the undersigned, support the Save AWARE Campaign as a collective endeavour to reclaim AWARE as a vehicle to advance women�s rights to gender equality and individual choices.

We call on the fundamentalist group who have taken over to respect AWARE�s vision of �gender equality for all� and its mission �to identify areas for improvement in gender equality, encourage positive change; and support women in realizing their highest potential.� As reported by The Straits Times (10 April 2009), when this new group was asked at the recent Annual General Meeting if they believe in equality, �they kept repeating they were there to support women and to make sure they got ahead and got all the opportunities given to them.� We call on this group to quit AWARE as soon as possible, if they cannot uphold its foundational vision and mission.

We call on all Singaporeans and permanent residents concerned with the continuing existence of a secular civil society in Singapore to support the Save AWARE Campaign.

(Note: Signatories should be Singaporean citizens and permanent residents, of any gender. Please provide your name as stated in your NRIC with your NRIC number and your current country of residence.)

Save AWARE! Gender equality for all! – Petition

 
Sayoni Summer Camp: 3 Days Left to Sign up!
Articles - Sayoni Summer Camp
Written by sayoni   
Thursday, 09 April 2009 09:00


There are only 3 days left to register for Sayoni Summer Camp 2009! Prices start at only $270 inclusive of 2 way ferry tickets, 3D2N resort stay and all meals. If you are thinking of joining us this very special Labour Day weekend, please make sure that you sign up now!

Only 8 places left, so don’t miss out on this great opportunity for a fun-filled and meaningful vacation.

Visit www.sayoni.com/ssc09 and register immediately!

Last Updated on Sunday, 06 June 2010 08:22
 
Letters to Ling: Blurring the Lines
Articles - Advice Column
Written by ling   
Sunday, 29 March 2009 11:41

 

Facing a problem with your life, your sexuality, relationship, family et cetera? Write in to our advice columnist, Ling, with your problem. All emails are confidential and your anonymity will be preserved.

Dear Ling

I am in my mid-20s and have been heterosexual, or so I believe.

Recently, I took up a course and my teacher is a female. I wasn’t attracted to her initially, but over time, as I attended more lessons, I felt something. I like to chat with her, I like the way she laughs and smiles, I like her mannerisms. She is a sporty and tanned woman who is older than me by a few years. She has short hair and behaves quite like a tomboy.

We chat a lot during lessons, so over time, we got to know each other better. Both of us are pretty open so we chat about almost everything under the sun, from pets to family. She also gave me her number so that whenever I have queries about the course, I can text her and she would always reply. Sometimes we would make small talk over SMS as well.

During one of our chats, I decided to find out if she was attached. She paused for quite a while before telling me that she doesn’t intend to get married. She said that she prefers a carefree lifestyle and gave me a bunch of reasons why she was not suited to marriage life. At the end of the day, I failed to derive an answer and so am still unsure if she’s straight or gay.

Are there any tell-tale signs/ traits that would indicate to me that she’s not straight? Would I be able to hint to her about my feelings?

I’m also concerned that I may be barking up the wrong tree and offend her if I make any wrong assumptions. It would then affect our student-teacher relationship, which I do not hope to encroach. I still wish to complete the course under her guidance and supervision.

Confused Student

Last Updated on Tuesday, 16 February 2010 08:57
 
Review: The L Word Season 6
Articles - Entertainment
Written by Indu   
Sunday, 22 March 2009 09:00

So here it is. The end. The finale of the series that has alternately kept on the edge of our seats, swear in despair, rush to the nearest bar to get a drink at the end of 13 episodes only to wait for the next season to begin, cry, laugh and generally provide a good fodder for gossip and some good old-fashioned bitchfest.

The reason this season review is two weeks late, is because I had to consult a therapist for the acute and schizophrenic feelings of loss and relief. It is kinda like ending a very bad/abusive relationship that just gets worse by the day – you are so glad it has ended (and it certainly feels nice not to be beaten up all the time) but at the same time, you have been with the woman for 5 years and letting go is hard, and you miss being around her.

So, here’s a season review, as tough as it was to write.

Warning: spoilers ahead!

This season is quite possibly the worst season in the entire series. It is like Ilene Chaiken decided that this was the last season, they can throw everything out the window and write whatever crap they wanted, make it as bad as possible so that they can wean us off the show. It is a pity because it started off as a really good series, with witty, sharp, raw writing and likeable characters (of course it had its fair share of criticism, mostly to do with representation). Representation, however, became the least of its issues later as the writers got infected with the dreaded What Happened Yesterday Is Irrelevant (WHYII), characters were routinely transplanted with new personalities (hey, maybe that’s where Joss Whedon got the idea for Dollhouse), and in some cases, got abducted by aliens and were never spoken of again (anyone remember Mark? Papi? Yeah I didn’t think so).

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 February 2010 01:21
 
The L Word Season 6: Viewer Reactions
Articles - Entertainment
Written by sayoni   
Thursday, 19 March 2009 09:00

Sice it is the final season, we are letting our faithful viewers of The L Word let loose on their emotions about the final season, as it progressed episode by episode [the entire thread can be found here]. A season review is forthcoming as soon as this writer recovers from the punch the series finale dealt her.

Warning: spoilers ahead!

Was it me or does Pam Grier’s contract read “limited lines only and must contain the phrase ‘baby girl’ at least 5 times per episode.”?

badriah

Get Dylan her hair cut back.
Get Max her facial hair cut back.
Stop putting ultra red lipstick on Bette.
Get Jenny killed. Faster.

O’Ren

I think, if not for the fact that I would rather kill myself than watch another episode of the L Word, the Shenny scenes are part of what makes the L Word a wee bit worth watching. It’s not really a drama without those two.

But I’d like to live a little longer, so I’d rather not watch the L Word

Antoinette

I will add the L Word as one of the 7 Wonders of the Lesbian World.

Wonder number 1: Why lesbians still watch The L Word when they always complain about how shitty the show is written along with bad acting from some characters (Max, Nikki Stevens, etc).

Anyways I’ve only just finished watching episode 4. And I want Dylan and Helena back together you may disagree all you want but the two of them are hot together. Ignore all the talking parts and fast forward to the good parts. (yes there are good parts on the L Word even though some say it’s just a myth).

Kudos to Shane for holding on to her sanity when she found her bedroom has been swallowed by Jenny’s brain and turned into Jenny’s very own f**ked-up-playground-crime-scene-for-another-bad-story-to-be-written-by-her. Shane finds herself in the worst place possible… Edgar Allan Poe’s story… no wait that is paradise.

The only way to save Max is to kill her. Let’s face it… Ilene has never been kind to Max. The moment Moira came in with her midwestern butchy-ness, she’s been made fun off. When she decided she wanted balls, she’s been made fun off. When Moira became Max he was made fun off. Even Alice was discriminating against transsexuals (WTF?). Max didn’t want to cut off his tits coz his gf helped get them to come to life. He had a bf. Got knocked up. Seriously just get random strangers to come up to him and beat the crap outta him. Kill him off. Nothing against transsexuals but give that dude some dignity.

Alice, Tasha and Jamie…. HOTTTTT! I like how the whole washing the dishes part is like a little foreplay for a threesome. The way jamie touched Tasha’s shoulder and Alice went over to kiss the other shoulder. Then Jamie hugged Alice then Tasha. The way Alice looks at Jamie and the way Tasha looks at Jamie. Jamie is like the missing link in the relationship.

Bette going back to galleries… hmm… back with her old love interest (we all know Bette likes to bang her co-workers)… Angelica needs children’s aid real soon.

Kit and Drag… They probably paid a lot of money for the Hit Club so they need to show that place no matter how small or how redundant the scene is. We get it… Kit swore off men. So she will sleep with a drag queen. Kit is into Drags… drag kings… queens… men, women… (remember papi?). See this is why alchoholics should not stop drinking. Their life will get f**ked up.

Bring Dawn Denbo back, put her in a wrestling ring, pour oil on her and throw Joyce in with her. Non-stop hot action (something that is lacking from this drama coz L Word is secretly a lesbian porn).

Badriah

Dylan looks really ugly in this season!

I totally adore their love scene at helena’s beach house for the first time. Maybe in this episode they are trying to create the same fire but its just … so so! no doubt the chemistry is still there!

pink_is_in

issit just me, or did this week’s episode of the l word hit new levels of crazy? the willy wonka baby shower was kinda creepy, and jenny really needs a straitjacket.

doubtedly

Yeah, they made us all voyeurs with Jamie taking off her clothes and Alice and Tasha having sex. Very kinky. Can anyone tell me why Jamie is sticking around them to this extent? But omg, that body.

nei

Ep 7 left me so depressed that I think I need to call Jon Stewart and perform a personal re-enactment of the episode for me. I cried at the Tasha-Alice-Jamie bits, and I almost threw something at the TV when Bette and Tina’s birth mother didn’t arrive (though I kinda saw that coming)

pleinelune

I think it’s better than they don’t come up with last episode if it’s going to be like THAT!

pikachu

So are they going to reveal how Jenny died?!

Anj

 
Event: Sayoni Summer Camp ‘09
Articles - Sayoni Summer Camp
Written by sayoni   
Sunday, 08 March 2009 09:00

Sayoni Summer Camp is a 3-day/2-nights camp specifically for queer women in or around Singapore. We will be having our first run on 1st-3rd May 2009.

We aim to provide a fun-filled and meaningful experience for all campers. Our goal is to promote self-development and growth, with a focus on encouraging campers’ self-exploration and understanding of their relationship with the world around them.

At SSC ‘09, expect to be transported to a beautiful beachside resort in Indonesia. Away from the bustle of city life, enjoy indoor and outdoor activities including workshops and water games. Challenge your body and engage your mind with a series of activities -- surrounded by a great bunch of queer women and Sayonites committed to your well-being.

For more information, please visit our website.

Last Updated on Sunday, 06 June 2010 08:24
 
Event: Sayoni Third Anniverary Party
Articles - Events
Written by sayoni   
Sunday, 01 March 2009 09:00

 
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