News and Opinions

Contradiction IV: Adrianna Tan

Written by (Guest Writers) on . Posted in Events

Why I am Still a Feminist

by Adrianna Tan

I am still a feminist because I am no longer ashamed of saying I am one. I have grown tired for apologizing for so many of the things I am: for being liberal, lesbian, anti-Bush and anti-war, a Christian that hates the fundamentalists. Anymore to apologize for, and I may have to apologize for being Chinese.

I was feminist before I was lesbian. I was feminist before I was liberal. I was feminist before I knew feminism had become synonymous with �bra burning� and �aggressive� (I like my bras too much, and I prefer to be passive-aggressive). I was feminist the moment I was acutely aware that being a girl meant there were many things I could not do, and so much more I was expected to.

The first feminist I knew was my father, who taught me I must never bow to the demands of any man, and must never let any man suppress my intellect or free will. He must have known I was a feminist from the time I was 4, when, I did not believe the distribution of potato chips was fair and equal, and demanded he demonstrate by bringing out actual weighing scales, that I had as much as my male brothers and cousins.

In primary school, I was an avid soccer player. About as good as the boys, the boys told me. I played every recess time and after school, every day. I was the midfielder with stamina, who was fast as well and was everywhere and anywhere on the pitch at all times. Good enough, that the boys thought nothing of inserting me into their ambitious tournament plans for the next few years: we were a team. I started the first match in the tournament with the brand new soccer boots I paid for myself. At half time, the referee � his name was Mr Azman � said I couldn�t play, ever again. Even though this was an informal tournament in school, with no rulebook or precedents, he said that�s just the way it is: no girls allowed.

By the time I was 18, I thought I already had a pretty good grip on the �girl� issue. During one class debate, a member of the opposition made a disparaging remark about how sometimes rape victims �were just asking for it�. Livid, I made a comment which led him to say: �Let�s go outside, I�ll show you how good it is to be raped.� This same person is on his way to becoming a lawyer, and I fear.

I�m turning 21 this year and while I don�t play soccer anymore, as a photographer I�m told �they want guys, because they look more like photographers�, as a Mac Evangelist in retail I�m told they �want to consult the guys�, even though I know as much. Guys still hit on my girlfriend in front of me because I evidently don�t count and I�m not the real thing; if I�m opinionated, I�m being either aggressive or emotional, and if I�m stoic, I�m heartless.

As a member of the majority race and male, you may not believe it when I say that sexism is alive and well, because you have never encountered it. You see female managers and female CEOs, females in positions above you, and you fear for your male superiority. What you don�t see is the sacrifice only women are made to make when they choose career, how they could be similarly qualified and similarly excellent or better leaders, yet climb slower and earn less, how if they are assertive they are aggressive female bosses, how if they are not then they are ineffectual leaders and submissive. What you don�t see is how she had to fight hard for most things that come easily to you.

As a member of the majority race and male, you sat next to me in school today at the library cafe, talking about how your girlfriend is not as loud as pornstars when you �fuck her�, wondering if that�s because �she doesn�t know how to express her pleasure�, then your friends all started talking about blowjobs and said in no unclear terms, that the world revolves around �your cocks�.

I will continue to be a feminist until the day my classmates are not seen as objects, whose pleasure is necessarily held up against porn industry ideals, until the day their pleasure is not dictated by the selfish dicks they date.

As a member of the majority race and male, you fathered one of my closest friends. When your daughter complained to you that she used to be touched inappropriately by your friend�s son, when your daughter discussed with you the topic of male infidelity, you laughed and said, �We�re men, we�re like that.�

I will continue to be a feminist until the day every father stands up for their daughter�s rights, the way my father does.

As a member of the majority race and male, everything you might be culpable for is �because she asked for it.� Can�t have children? She must be infertile. Want to use condoms? Only if she pays for it. She doesn�t seem to like sex with you? There must be something wrong with her. Pregnant? She sleeps around. Sex video spreads on the internet? It�s her morals. Lesbian? They haven�t met the right man, and you just might be the one.

I will continue to be a feminist until the day my friends� fathers stop explaining away their affairs based upon what their wives supposedly lack.

So when you say, those feminists, in the same breath as those nazis, those communists, those crazy bra burning women, you need to know that the object of our hatred is never men � it is what some men do to us.

I will continue to be a feminist until the day my uncle in the flesh and blood stops being an asshole, and his immigrant wife is not afraid to divorce him and press charges.

I will continue to be a feminist until it is realized that while it is best for every child to have his mother and father, if the father is a dangerous man he has to be kept away from her beautiful young children before he does any permanent damage.

I will continue to be a feminist until it is realized the existence of many good men does not mean it is irrelevant to be a feminist. They are our fathers, our boyfriends and husbands, our sons. All it takes is just one man, that isn�t good, to destroy the lives of too many women around the world, and among us now.

This is why I will remain a feminist, I�m not apologetic for it, I won�t burn my bra, I don�t hate you, and no, you can�t watch either.

Contradiction IV: Zhuang Yisa

Written by (Guest Writers) on . Posted in Events

We shall be publishing the works read by the speakers at Contradiction IV in a series. We thank all the writers for allowing us to do so!

Both these poems are by Zhuang Yisa.

The Tough Guys

It is a serious matter. This spying
from behind a shower curtain,
across the ginger corridor of desire.

It is real business, and only real men
do it: show me what you have, and what I show you
will leave a bittersweet aftertaste

in your mouth. An open mouth
begs the question: what makes us real, as men?
You steal a glance

in the sauna, at the stud’s
towel-clad reserve, to observe the stoic,
unreciprocated silence

that might answer the question for you.
Ask and thee shall receive. A hunter’s credo.
The waiting isn’t ritual; it is mental.

Out of the gym we carry weights.
We are the tough guys. We are the soldiers,
the husbands, the fianc�s,

the boyfriends and the secret lovers
bracing our souls, to march on under
a sky willed cloudless into monochrome, blue as soap

held in a dispenser, pressed disinterestedly by so many hands.

Dog Lover

The best breeders love their dogs
to the point of exclusion

of even the slightest possibility of loving
another human. They are at one

with their dogs; they cannot tell what is worth loving
beyond the merits of their own species

except, perhaps, this potential in the rest: the ease
of being manipulated, bought over

by blind devotion to the superiority
of their breed. Knowing this,

I followed you home. Knowing
what I knew then, I put a leash

over every resistance
in my body, and put it in a cage; I pushed the key

into your hand, then lay next to you: we spent the night
in the hot stench of dogs

not knowing if the night would outlive either of us
should we bare our teeth and bark.

Indignation 2008: A Closure

Written by sayoni on . Posted in Events

Indignation 2008 season is now over – all good things must come to an end – and at the end of yet another successful pride month, Sayoni would like to thank all its supporters and volunteers who have worked tirelessly to make our events possible. We would like to thank, as well, all the people who turned up at the events and made it vibrant.

Here’s wishing for another year of progress!

Outline of “Brain Surgery” talk

Written by AnJ on . Posted in Events

Here’s the outline for “Brain Surgery: What’s in the minds of homophobes?”

How the term “homophobia” came about:
In 1972, at the onset of the stonewall rebellion [July 1969], George Weinberg coined �homophobia�. He defined it as �the dread of being at close quarters with homosexuals.. The revulsion toward homosexuals and often the desire to inflict punishment as retribution�. Mark Freedman later described it as �an extreme rage and fear reaction to homosexuals�. Poet Audre Lorde�s definition in 1978 was, �fear of feelings of love for members of one�s own sex and therefore hatred of those feelings in others�.

The definition of “homophobia”:
Homophobia has little in common with other types of phobia. It should be seen in the framework of prejudice (attitudes) and discrimination (behaviors). Researchers who published papers in recent years generally define it along the lines of prejudice, hatred or contempt towards lesbian and gay people [with extension to other sexual minorities].


“Common types” of homophobes:
In these few slides, i put down examples that i have read of, seen, heard of or experienced e.g. gay bashers.


Wright, Adams and Bernat’s homophobia scale:
You can access the scale from here. There are other scales measuring homophobia such as “The Attitudes Toward Gay Men Subscale” and “The attitudes towards lesbian women subscale”.
*Please note that scales are not just any set of questions put together. Scales are developed and rigorously tested by statisticians so that they measure what they are supposed to measure. Not just by face validity [i.e. the questions "look okay"], but with convergent and divergent validity [it correlates highly with other scales measuring similar things and correlates lowly with scales that measures dissimilar things], consistency [the items are tapping onto the same concept] etc. One item does not give you a meaningful score, answers to all items in a scale are required to compute a score. Not every researcher uses scales… simply because scales are not developed for every concept out there.*


Profile of the homophobe:

Next, i discussed the article which was used in the anti-repeal of 377A.
The reference:
Detenber, B. H., Genite, M., Ku, M. K. Y., Ong, C. P. L., Tong, H. Y., & Yeow, M. L. H. (2007). Singaporeans� attitudes towards lesbians and gay men and their tolerance of media portrayals of homosexuality. Internal journal of public opinion, 19(3), 367-379.

From this article, someone made the conclusion that Singapore is not ready for the repeal of 377A [377A criminalize sex between gay men] because 68.6% expressed negative attitudes, 22.9% expressed positive attitudes, 8.5% were neutral. The participants for this study were acquired randomly and the demographics profile was similar to that of the general population.

But if you read the study for yourself, the study is actually seeking predictors of negative attitudes towards lesbian and gay people. Guess what they found?

There are 3 tables in the journal article. Table 1 displayed results showing predictors. Using correlation, they found that age [older], income [lower], education [lower], conformity to norms [more conformist] and intrinsic religious orientation [versus extrinsic religious orientation] correlate highly with poor attitudes towards LG people. The highest correlation going to intrinsic religious orientation [IRO]. Intrinsic religious orientation is defined as “seeing religion as a driving force in life”.

Using regression, which estimates the unique contribution of each predictor, marital status [these people were significantly older] and IRO were the strongest predictors.

In the second table, the researchers showed that Christians scored the highest in IRO, followed by Muslims, Buddhists and free-thinkers. In the third and last table, the researchers showed that Christians and Muslims were less tolerant compared to Buddhists and freethinkers.

Essentially, the researchers are saying that intrinsic religious orientation is the biggest predictor of negative attitudes towards LG people. And they showed that people of certain religions were more likely to be intrinsically religious and hence more likely to be anti-gay.

Adding to the study above [continuing on the profile of the homophobe]:

1. Male
Majority of gay bashers are in their teens or early twenties. Some have said that anti-gay violence is a control of manhood. Researchers have also shown that men who endorse homophobic and sexist items are likely to endorse hegemonic masculinity items.

2. Heterosexist
Heterosexism is the belief in the superiority of heterosexuals or heterosexuality evidenced in the exclusion, by omission or design, or non heterosexual persons in policies, procedures, events or activities.

3. Misogynistic
Researchers found links between homophobic violence and violence against young women. Those with traditional gender role attitudes tend to express higher levels of homophobia.

4. Authoritarian
Authoritarians have been described as “self righteous individuals who maintain a strong acceptance of traditional values and norms, possess a general willingness to submit to authority, and display a general tendency to aggress against others (especially those who threaten their conventional and traditional values)”.

It has been suggested that there is an underlying trait called “Conservatism”. Conservatism is linked to �national strength and order�. Order, discipline and striving to be successful and powerful. Outcomes of behavior important. Societal norms should be obeyed.

Conservatism has been linked to racism [e.g. lack of support for benefits for Australian Aborigines], sexism [e.g. lack of support for increased job options for women], greater acceptance of rape myth [i.e. rape victims deserve to be raped], lack of support for income redistribution, religious intolerance, homophobia etc.


Homophobia may lead to violence.

A study:
Homophobia and physical aggression toward homosexual and heterosexual individuals. Journal of Abnormal Psychology. 110(1), 179-187.

Basically participants played a game in which winners administer shocks to losers. Shock intensity and shock duration were measured.

The gist of this study is easy to understand. Aggression against gay people may be powered by anger-hostility [angry, irritable, hostile, scornful, disgusted and loathing] and anxiety. Negative affect [afraid, ashamed, distressed, guilty, jittery, nervous, scared, upset...] was not found to be a contributing factor.

Some people pointed out that non-homophobic participants end up shocking their opponents more. Well, the difference for non-homophobic participants is very small like 0.16 seconds. For homophobic participants, the difference is about 1.00, which is many times more. Homophobic participants not only shock “homosexual” confederate more, they also shock the “heterosexual” confederate longer and harder than their non-homophobic participants counterparts [using mean].


Combating homophobia

No one is born homophobic… homophobia is learned. Through direct observation, imitation… participation in rewarding interactions and experience of differential treatment.

And after it is learned, homophobia is sustained by the functions it serves. The functional approach says that people hold attitudes because of the psychological function or need that they satisfy. For example: to make sense of the world, to relate and maintain relationships with others, to protect the self from own homoerotic feelings, to maximize rewards and minimize punishments.

Some ways of combating homophobia:

1. Pointing out inconsistencies
E.g. Correcting myths
[Those who perceive the issue as extremely important to themselves are unlikely to change.]

2. Introducing new perspectives
E.g. Introducing gay friends if that’s an area that they are not sure about. It’s somewhat like correcting myths in a non-verbal way.

3. Providing substantiated information
Only works for those who are willing to think or assess the quality of their perspective’s assumptions and arguments carefully.

4. The contact hypothesis
Equal status contact between gay and non-gay people.

5. The media

The reference:
Remembering Gay/Lesbian Media Characters: Can Ellen and Will Improve Attitudes toward Homosexuals? Bonds-Raacke, Cady, Schlegel, Harris & Firebaugh (2007)

In the experiment, one group of participants was asked to recall a positive portrayal of a gay/lesbian character on TV or movie, while another group was asked to recall a negative portrayal. Will [from Will and Grace] and Ellen Degeneres were mentioned most frequently. When a character was portrayed positively, participants perceived character’s friends as more accepting of her/his homosexuality. It was also found that attitudes towards gay men improved through positive portrayal priming.


* Special thanks to Kai for coming up with the graphics for this talk; to pleinelune for being a dedicated mouse-clicker; to Kelly for organizing this; Alex Au for the catchy title of the talk [i first entitled it blandly as "homophobia"]; photographers [humph and edshutter] and to everyone from Irene’s gang of helpers who came down to run the event… last of all, friends who supported me one way or another. Thank you.

Sign up to receive announcements and updates