jhameia: ME! (Call To Arms)
So last night I was writing to an AP reporter who wanted some commentary from me on how Obama winning would affect other countries, especially mine. I answered the best I could, because in no way can I speak for my country, especially since our racial politics are much different than America's.

This morning while at work I had it open to CNN's page waiting for the state ballot initiatives come in. The numbers weren't looking good. But not all the precincts had reported in, so I was willing to give Americans the benefit of the doubt. Surely they wouldn't allow personal "ew yucks" to make them vote away the rights of others. That would betray the fundamental core of American values.

But they did. Oh god they did. They used their democracy, that ideology meant to bring out the best in people, to hurt others, their own neighbours, and possibly their own kin, their own fellow Americans. They made their message to homosexual Americans clear: you're not human enough in my eyes to have this right to marry.

Right now, my heart aches for my LGBTi friends in America who have essentially been told that they're not human enough to deserve the basic right to marry and have children to have, hold and raise.

From Feministe's Thomas:

Today is a day of both triumphs and disasters. When we went to bed last night, We were not saved, if maybe a little more than We had been the day before. And this morning We are more broken than We were when We went to bed. But today as yesterday, We fail, and We fall short, and We do the wrong thing, and our country is broken. So I’m not celebrating. And that the ways We fail often benefit me personally isn’t a comfort — it’s a rebuke of my complicity. Every day I benefit from it I cheat people who’ve never wronged me; who I’ve never met.

I’m going downstairs now to the drugstore near my office, and I’m going to get some black electrical tape, and I’m going to wear it over my wedding band, and I’m going to tell people that what happened is wrong. I need to do whatever I can to fix this, so that when my kids are old enough to ask, I have a better answer than “No We Can’t.”

This morning, while watching CTV News, one of the reporters asked, "are the Secret Service taking extra measures to protect president elect Obama?"

It reminded me of the cold hard truth that Obama may be the first black president in U.S. history, but that in no way renders racism null and void. That it was the collective votes of all persons of colour (white, yellow, black, brown, etc) getting together to vote, and whether or not we like it, there still is a demographic of racist white people who will do everything they can to hold others down.

From Tim Wise, guest-blogging at Racialicious:

And so it is back to work. Oh yes, we can savor the moment for a while, for a few days, perhaps a week. But well before inauguration day we will need to be back on the job, in the community, in the streets, where democracy is made, demanding equity and justice in places where it hasn’t been seen in decades, if ever. Because for all the talk of hope and change, there is nothing–absolutely, positively nothing–about real change that is inevitable. And hope, absent real pressure and forward motion to actualize one’s dreams, is sterile and even dangerous. Hope, absent commitment is the enemy of change, capable of translating to a giving away of one’s agency, to a relinquishing of the need to do more than just show up every few years and push a button or pull a lever.

This means hooking up now with the grass roots organizations in the communities where we live, prioritizing their struggles, joining and serving with their constituents, following leaders grounded in the community who are accountable not to Barack Obama, but the people who helped elect him. Let Obama follow, while the people lead, in other words.

For we who are white it means going back into our white spaces and challenging our brothers and sisters, parents, neighbors, colleagues and friends–and ourselves–on the racial biases that still too often permeate their and our lives, and making sure they know that the success of one man of color does not equate to the eradication of systemic racial inequity.

So are we ready for the heavy lifting? This was, after all, merely the warmup exercise, somewhat akin to stretching before a really long run. Or perhaps it was the first lap, but either way, now the baton has been handed to you, to us. We must not, cannot, afford to drop it. There is too much at stake.

The reporter last night asked me how this would reflect on racial polity in Malaysia - would it inspire it? Would Obama's presidency inspire Malaysians to look at their politics and identify the racism within? My answer was more complex than he probably wanted, but for more, this election was more than race - it was about the civil right of women to claim control of their bodies, and it was about the civil rights of LGBTi to be able to partake in an institution that comforts, consoles, and inspires many.

Frankly? In Malaysia, we haven't even STARTED to talk about either of those yet. We don't talk about abortion rights - we don't even want to acknowledge the existance of sexuality. We don't want to talk about gay rights - we prefer to mock Anwar Ibrahim's indiscretions, as if anal sex was a dirty little secret that we should all point and laugh at. We're hardly fucking touching these issues, and frankly? These are the two issues which are more dear to me than the issue of race in Malaysia. And I'm sure f-listers of mine are frustrated with Malaysia's glossing over of other issues important to them, too.

But America, we are watching, and your petty squabbles lead the way for the rest of us. I'm going to take the lessons I learnt from watching arguments on Feministe, Feministing, Pandagon and Shakesville, take them home to Malaysia, and set about trying to educate away the racism, sexism and homophobia of those unlucky enough to cross me. America is a huge country and all these people are connected through various communities, grassroot organizations, campaigns, and other whatnot that amounts to so many teaspons working their way through the large pile of oppression that has been building for centuries.

If any of my fellow Malaysians are reading this blog, I want to hear from you: would you bother wielding a teaspoon with me to clean our own waterworks? Or is it too hard, and we should just move away to places which would appreciate us more? And for good measure: Did Obama's win affect you at all?
jhameia: ME! (Call To Arms)
I have always loved that one shot of him standing in front of the tanks. The first time I saw the picture was in a magazine, and my dad explained to me why it was significant. And I didn't quite grasp it - it was cool and really brave, but it was only when I was much older, much more capable of appreciating the enormity of his actions, that it hit me how incredible this moment must have been.

I never realized that there was actually a video clip of this moment. I never knew, until now, that not only did he confront these tanks - when they tried to drive around him, he moved in front of them. The tank moved around him again, and he moved in front of it again. He waved them away. He got up and spoke to the driver. Then he got back down, and blocked the tank one more time, before he was hustled away by other onlookers.

He was so anonymous that no one knows who he is even until today. No one knows his name, except maybe those who knew him then. He probably wasn't even trying to be heroic; just someone who was sick and tired of all the violence going on in his country, heartsick from the student protests that ended in sheer violence the day before, frustrated and on his way home from grocery shopping or on the way to work.

Maybe it was stupid. Maybe he would have run away if the tank had seriously tried to run him over. But you know what? It would DEFINITELY have been stupid if the tank had run him over. Because then it would have shown the cowardice of the tank driver, in the giant tank, running over a helpless person.

But he wasn't so helpless after all, I suppose....
jhameia: ME! (Call To Arms)
I'm taking the ASIST course, a sort of psychological first-aid suicide intervention certification which is not really useful for what I'm going to do with my degree, but will probably be useful in the long run.

Right now, I'm facing the uncomfortable self-analysis that, while I already do some of what the course teaches, my way of speaking is fucking lousy face-to-face (I've done some little counselling online) and I'm afraid of coming off as a callous sort of person. I'm not, obviously, but saying, "taking pills is a messy way to die" is decidedly not really the best way to go about it.

I really like this class though. It's making me remember a lot of things that helped transform me from a self-absorbed little twit into a much more compassionate person.

I don't think suicide is wrong, per se. I think if a person goes into it rationally, has very calmly decided that they would like to die and take matters of their own death into their own hands, they should be allowed to do so. People should be allowed to pick their death. My dad, for example, would like to be allowed to wander off into the woods when he's very old and near death (ala I Heard The Owl Call My Name).

But lots of people DON'T think things through rationally - suicide is more about "I HAVE BIG PROBLEMS AND I CAN'T FIND A SOLUTION" and as a result, I don't think these people actually WANT to die... they're just seeing all these insurmountable obstacles as a big hulking problem, and because they can't see a way to break it all down into more manageable bits, the pressure of it all crushes them. If you take the blinders off (as the teacher says), they start seeing that they don't actually want to die.

I'm not saying this as a person who wants to speak for suicidal people and I know there's no universal experience, so I say, if a person has really, truly thought through everything and isn't dying because of something that can be fixed that they would like to fix it (not wanting to fix some shit is not fine by me, but it's at least honest and I can respect that but obviously I have to think about that), then they should be allowed to die. It's their body, so it's a bit ridiculous passing judgement on them and taking control of them as if they can't do anything for themselves. (It's like passing a law banning abortion and blaming the doctors for it because apparently pregnant women are NEVER rational to think through things themselves.)

I'm saying this as a person who's been suicidal, and through some logical runarounds and a bit of tough love from a lot of online friends who really helped me open up and be honest, and I think that's one of the reasons why suicide seems like such a good idea: if you're isolated, then there's really not much holding you back. If a community was close-knit and it was in everyone's interest to invest in everyone else's emotional health, then I doubt suicide would happen (hell, I doubt depression would happen). But we don't live in communities where each depend on each other anymore. If I were to die today, I'm not leaving behind a gap which stops an entire institution or system from working; the gap would be emotional and it wouldn't stop the world from running.

But really, it just helps to be able to have someone to talk to without being judgemental or being, even worse, dismissive. To know your concerns are important even to a stranger is really important.

Year: 2003

Sitting in TGIF while a friend confided to me some deeply personal history - dropped it in a sigle sentence while staring me straight in the face. I looked back, and gave a tiny nod, but kept my face straight.

She smiled suddenly and leant towards me, reaching for my arm. "Jaymee, I AM SO GLAD you didn't react!!"

I don't know if I've ever intervened and changed a person's mind about killing themselves before... not in the real, serious, emergency sort of way. I've talked to others about their suicidal tendencies online (my perspective is that I would rather have them ranting their ass off at me online than off in the washroom cutting themselves), helping people get perspective. I've been told before what a good help I've been, and I wonder, if that had happened face-to-face, would I have been as effective? Or would I have driven them the other way?

It sort of hurts to think about it.
jhameia: ME! (Illuminated Idea)
So, Sweet Valley Twins are coming back. Not only are they coming back, but they have some updates.

Here're some readings on it from:
Racialicious, Feministing, and the Dairi Burger.

Here's a nifty little image which demonstrates the main differences between the old 1980's version and the new one:


There are, of course, so many things wrong with Sweet Valley, coming from an adult perspective, that one could get started on. For example, how fucking idiotic some of those girls are. How silly adolescents behave. That's starters. As you grow older and stop to think about it (well, hopefully), you realize these girls are terribly, terribly racist.

Then there's the size 6.

It's been upsetting to read how SV has influenced so many girls to become anorexic. Now, I'm not going to say that SV made them that way - they probably had enough problems on their own that if not for SV, something else would've driven them to anorexia.

But the discussions at Feministing and Racialicious (particularly the latter) got me to thinking about the kinds of books I've read, and how they're influenced my perception on racial issues. For some reason, I'm quite sure most of the books I've read had pretty heteronormative, single-race couples. If I read anything with more than one race of people in it, it was either a preachy sort of book, or it was predominantly minority-based (Color Purple, being one example. I read that during lunch break in the Taylor's College library and cried at the end).

But I DO remember one book from my childhood quite clearly. On the front cover, there was a Malay girl standing in the middle, with a Chinese girl on one side of her, and an Indian girl on the other side. While obviously, the Malay girl is dominant, I remember illustrations from the book where they were depicted walking to school together, and holding hands, or doing things together.

So no, I never read no stinkin' Sweet Vally High books in high school...

In secondary school, I was reading actual romance novels, by Johanna Lindsey mostly, but I also tried to expand my reading material. One of the other authours I tried to read was Julie Garwoods' For the Roses, and while I didn't really very many, For The Roses stood out for me.

The book begins with four street urchins in some deadbeat American city getting together and finding a baby girl in a basket. They take an oath to go out West together and stick together as brothers for the rest of their lives. While this isn't totally interesting in itself, I feel the need to point out that the eldest of the boys is black, aptly called Adam, and his mother is called Mama Rose - all the other boys feel an affinity immediately. Another boy's mother is called Mary. So they call the foundling "Mary Rose" and make a solemn oath to stick together and make a good life "for the roses".

Mary Rose grows up your typical beauty and she's discovered by Harrison Stanford that she's the child of an aristocratic London couple (as this is how most foundling novels work out) and she has to deal with being herself in a city where everyone expects to behave a certain way and bla bla bla. That's not important.

What's important, at least in the context of this entry, is that Adam, the eldest brother, is being accused of murder towards the end of the book, and Stanford steps foward to defend him. Adam's accusers all try to use his blackness against him, but his family know him too well. The town, however, is slowly being turned by the racist propoganda, until Stanford points out, quite rightly, that Adam has done his fair share in contributing to the town and in being a good neighbour.

There aren't more romance novels out there which feature black or yellow characters, which I think is a shame. I think "One Red Rose" which features Adam and his hookup story (let's face it, that's really all these romance novels are about... hooking up) is the only one in my entire memory with a black couple in the forefront.

If there're any romance novels you can think of which feature minority characters, please pass the suggestion! I'd love to sink into some good ol' fashioned romance-novel smut.

Oh, and by the way, I never read no Danielle Steele either. I peeped into a few of her novels - *yawn!*
jhameia: ME! (Illuminated Idea)
So, with the whole Eliot Spitzer scandal and all, there's been reignited discussion again on sex work and whether a person can advocate for sex work and still be feminist (or equalist, or progressive, or what-have-you).

Now, I understand it when people say that prostitution shouldn't be legalized more on economics - the economics required to maintain the cleanliness, fairness and basic human rights of the sex industry would be enormous. I mean, look at those big capitalist corporations which turn out corrupt - it would take a LOT of power-restructuring and labour to prevent shit from happening.

I have a problem when people argue against prostitution on the basis of morality, because more often than not, it just diminishes a woman - that the most precious thing a woman has is her body, and thus she should do all that she can to preserve it and not spread it around. It's pretty much dictating what a woman can or cannot do with her own body (and not just women, but men too), and this kind of tripe is found in a LOT of discourse, from the feminist to the progressive to the religious.

And look, if a woman likes sex, likes having sex, and likes sleeping with different men in order to gain an income, what should she be stopped from doing it? She's providing a service, which is obviously appreciated. Why make prostitution illegal then? Seems like most of the problems with prostitution doesn't stem from the prostitutes themselves - they stem from the clients: clients who don't see the prostitutes as people, but as objects to be hurt, demeaned and abused.

Abusing a prostitute for being a prostitute is like abusing a kid in a minimum wage job - both are powerless to stop it, both often work it because there's little else they'd rather do (or can do), and most importantly, both are still human beings, no matter what the job they do. They're not the ones exploiting people - they're the ones being exploited. If a sex worker wants to exploit hirself, rather than subject hirself to being overworked by some boss, then that's pretty much at their discretion, right? They're not hurting anybody, and they open themselves to being hurt. And it's stupid to say stuff like "of course they're going to be hurt; they put themselves in positions where they will be".


If I get hurt by someone, it's not because I was asking for it; it's because that someone who hurt me? HURT ME. Let's put responsibility where it belongs: people wouldn't get hurt if there weren't people out there who get off on hurting others.

Back to the politics of the body. If I want to rent my body out (I wanted to say "sell" but then I realized, even if I did sell it, it's still attached to my brain and thus me, and thus, still mine), why should I get shunned for it? Why should I be accused of "not respecting myself"?

There are three things which should be ours: our body, our mind and our spirit.

People are constantly trying to manipulate or control our minds - look at the rhetoric of the politicians, the guilt-tripping of family and friends, the education we receive. And we let this happen.

Our spirits, too, are at risk when we work hard jobs that are mind-numbing, dead-end, boring, without respite and we get no respect from our employers. On a regular basis, people out there are having their spirits broken in a multitude of ways.

So if we can allow our minds to be manipulated and our spirits to be broken by other people, why the hell can't we rent out our bodies to be used by others as well, as long as it is on our own terms?
jhameia: ME! (Default)
Okay, I was actually thinking about this last night while doing some grooming (yes, a lot of things can go through one's mind while waiting for depilatory creams to do their work). I was thinking about how we refer to certain things that I suppose are alive in their own way, but to me, they seem driven towards goals that I'm not sure are sustainable.

Like, the economy.

I see a lot of this. "This is good for the economy."

"Economic growth is good."

"The economy is currently in recession."

"The economy is unstable right now."

It's like the economy has a personality of its own. I'm surprised we haven't said things like "the economy's really cranky today" or even "the economy is currently taking a pee break." (Okay, I'm joking. I know why we don't say stuff like that.)

Sometimes, though, it feels like we're talking about the economy as something separate from human beings, but last I checked, isn't the economy driven by human beings?

So why do I feel that when something's "good for the economy" it's not necessarily "good for the people"?
jhameia: ME! (Default)
Dolls: little representations of fictional characters (Barbie and the like) designed for playtime for, stereotypically, little girls.

Little girls and boys will use dolls to enact stories, different dolls playing different roles within any sequence. As a result, dolls get a lot of use, do a lot of acting for their humans.

Action figures: little representations of fictional characters (Batman and the like) which are designed to boost their stereotypically male owner's esteem and designed solely for display.

I know there are those like He-Man which are designed for active use, but often when one thinks "action figure", one doesn't necessarily associate it with "playtime".

So why dolls so characterized as passive when obviously they're a hell lot more active than these "action figures"?
jhameia: ME! (Joline)
I just thought of a question that arose from some articles which make for really good reading and with other people on the redefinition of masculinity and why it just hasn't happened yet even though feminists are working their butts off to redefine femininity to help break us free of traditional roles... as much work as we do, men aren't doing anything to break themselves free of traditional roles either! But, as a guy I spoke to about this said the other day, "men are changing, it's just a really quiet, slow revolution." (Okay, he didn't exactly say that, but something really close!)

So, here's my question:

If men spent as much time on sex as they are currently doing in redefining their masculinity, would you enjoy it, or get bored first?"
jhameia: ME! (Call To Arms)
It's Jan 28th. Twenty years ago, Canada overturned its anti-abortion laws, and abortion is legal! Hurrah!

Here're some related readings (looks like it'll be updated a lot):
- Wiki article on Dr. Henry Morgentaler, the first doctor to open an abortion clinic and to speak openly about changing the laws. He performed illegal abortions and was prosecuted. Jan 28th celebrates the end of his state-sanctioned persecution and the birth of legal abortion in Canada.
- Dr. Morgentaler's Toronto abortion clinic has the tagline that inspired today's post title: "Every mother a willing mother, every child a wanted child". It also asks people to donate funds to help spread accessibility of abortion all over Canada. Dr. Morgentaler is working on opening abortion clinics in Canada's north.
- A Globe and Mail article on how much more Canada has to go in achieving its pro-choice ideals. It's got this fantastic quote from Madam Justice Bertha Wilson: "It is not just a medical decision. It is a profound social and ethical one as well. It asserts that a woman's capacity to reproduce is to be subject not to her control, but to that of the state." Realizing this injustice, since then women in Canada are now free to their reproductive rights without state interference.
- 10 Reasons to Support Reproductive Rights by Jill Fillipovic over at Feministe, written on "Roe Day", that is the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade in the States. There, you will also find the neat picture which inspired the title of this blog. I may put it in a sticky post, just 'cos.
- Article on Group News Blog on the new strategy of abortion: RU-486 which allows women to get an abortion directly from doctors without the hassle of passing through hordes of pickets screaming "ABORTION IS MURDER" at her... Mrs. Robinson mulls on the ramifications of anti-choicers who may not have public institutions to attack with the advent of this drug.

And onto the blogging for choice! )
jhameia: ME! (Joline)
I love children, okay? Let's make that clear - I like newborns and infants, but not toddlers (it's the time of life when they realize that getting physical is kinda cool, and I dislike the resultant bruises as a result of their abuse), and I like it when they start to articulate themselves. Everything is new, for a while, and then they get to the age where they think they know everything, or grow this really annoying sense of entitlement.

It doesn't really get much better later on, of course. And of course, it's not all that much better with adults either. I have a really sophisticated way of articulating myself and some really specialized knowledge on what ought to be general shit, so talking with people on a really equal level is difficult because I tend to look even more deeply into a subject than most people do. When I meet someone else who also does the same, it's also hard because I end up feeling rather inferior.

Down in Singapore, I stayed with my cousin. She lives in a three bedroom HDB flat, typical of an average Singaporean, with three children aged 11, 8 and 3, and an infant. I did not speak to the oldest at all except to lay down a disciplinarian smackdown that's really her job. I only spoke to the second child because I went out shopping with her and her mother for her birthday party, which was the weekend I was down. I also did her makeup the last day I was there because she was going to someone else's party. The third was possibly the most annoying.

What is it about children who don't take a nap when they should, in the afternoon, knowing full well that they're going to end up really grumpy in the evening? This third child did that. Not only did she refuse her nap, but in the evening when she got really tired, she got really upset, and started crying and demanding roti prata. Or she demanded roti prata and when she was refused because she had to go to bed, she got upset, and started crying. Either way, she got what she wanted, and she was still crying. I don't think a day went by during my stay without this particular child getting upset over some really dumb shit. I wouldn't put up with that sort of behaviour myself - neither did my parents; my mom would ignore me if I pulled that shit, or outscream me, and my dad would make fun of me. It's very hard staying upset when your dad is mimicking your moronicism.

Threats are not just made in my house - they are carried out, and it made me a bit frustrated to have my cousin keep saying, "stop playing your game, stop playing your game" over and over, like a broken record, and he pretended he couldn't hear until I went over and grabbed his game, brought it over to where she was sitting, and he went all "I was saving that game!" Sure you were, buddy. Now save it in front of me and GO DO WHAT YOUR MOTHER SAYS. It really annoys me to see children behave so badly when their mothers are so nice to them and encourage them instead of criticize them full-time, the way my mom does.

It's not that I never get along with kids. Last December, my uncle from Kelantan came to visit, and I spent some time shopping with his MILF wife and two daughters - by MILF, I mean exactly what it sounds like - that woman did not look a DAY over 35, and her body was so ridiculously toned and fantastic from yoga... it's like having Madonna in your family. She does yoga, and she's taught yoga classes for a living on the side even though her husband supports the family. She was in town to take a yoga seminar too. Okay, so she's a traditional housewife but at least she's not like, dead bored or anything.

Anyway, the younger girl, a more outspoken, percocious sort of girl, took a shine to me, I suppose. My dad remarked on it one day, and I don't know if her hero worship of me was beneficial to either of her. She was supposed to sleep in the same room as me, but in the middle of the night she'd up and go sleep with her family anyway. One night when she came into the room, I was reading, quite intently, The Vindication of the Rights of Women, by Wollstonecraft (I was writing my literature review on the book), and she asked me stuff like "what are you reading" and "why do you read so much". Questions that sound silly on the surface, but are quite valid, I thought, and I answered them the best I could, and when she asked about my book, I explained to her, in as watered-down terms as possible, how Wollstonecraft is considered the first feminist, and why feminism is so important to girls, and what it means in day-to-day life (like, don't take shit from guys just because you're a girl, and don't do certain things just because you're a girl, do it because you really want to).

She gave me this wide-eyed look that had a myriad of tones to it, from "wow, I'm speechless" to "wtf are you talking about?" (I told my brother about this and mimicked her expression; he laughed his fucking head off.) A success? I don't know. Don't think so...

Perhaps my problem is because I have a very different language from the children I interact with. I expect children to be curious about the same things I used to be. I expect them to explore difficulties of fitting in, and to explore possibilities beyond superficial friendships. I like to encourage them to use their intellect. Which is not a good idea to do with anybody below the age of 16, it seems.

(Of course, it's not a good idea to do with most people of any age, either.)

I would love to have a child when I grow older. Children, as BitchPhD points out, are a natural, biological consequence of life (when you're regularly having sex with someone of the opposite sex). I do have strong maternal instincts. But if I'm going to have children, I'm going to have it in a community where I have strong intellectual support, so I can both love my child... and still have smart people to talk to.
jhameia: ME! (Call To Arms)
Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] pecunium for highlighting this post, appealing to US citizens to vote.

I don't have any heartbreaking stories like that. I sort of wish I did.

But yeah, a lot of things should break your heart. Why? Because it meant you were hoping for something bigger, something better, and you didn't get it, and your heart should be broken, because if it isn't, then maybe, just maybe, it just wasn't big enough to dream for.

New Year's Resolution: Take this year's SMUSA elections seriously again.

Because just maybe, my vote might help a candidate get in who could spearhead / continue significant changes for the students who come after me.

Politics should break hearts. Because politics is negotiation of who gets power-over, and the wrong person getting power-over is the abusive one who inteferes with other people's freedom-from. When our freedoms are threatened, the last thing we should do is cower in the corner. We should stand up and fight with our hearts bare.

Because hearts, when filled with the desire for justice, for the preservation of people's freedom, for peace, for the curbing of tyranny, for a brighter, more caring, more loving society - hearts that are filled with love for humanity - are the best armour we poor souls can have.
jhameia: ME! (Illuminated Idea)
So I took the bus down to Singapore and rather quickly found out how much I really dislike taking the bus. I much prefer the night train. At least then I could actually lie down 90' and not the sham of pretending to lay down. When I lay down, I really like laying down. I also got sick rather quickly. Either way, I got to Copthorne Orchid and found my cousin rather easily, and was taken to her flat in Bishan.

I haven't lived in Singapore since '92, and I had forgotten how most of the housing there is reliant on apartment blocks, several of them close to each other, most of them identical. Even after three days I had difficulty figuring out where her apartment was. It's a good thing I didn't go out to town myself those days. The difference between my comfy middle-class terraced house and her equally-comfy-but-a-little-crowded-and-less-showy flat was immediately clear. Her place is smaller, obviously. She doesn't have a bathroom with a tub, nor even a shower stall. Then again, the bathroom I used to share with my brother didn't use to have a shower stall either, but we never shared it with the laundry. There are small mattresses laying around because sometimes the kids want to sleep on the floor, and Cindy and her husband, Patrick, also sometimes sleep on the floor and/or on the couches in the living room. It was a bit odd to me... I'm used to the idea of having a guest sleep in my living room, but not family members, not on a regular basis.

I forget how really small/large Singapore is. For my Canadian friends, it's probably the size of Toronto plus some outlaying areas. It's just as Asian as Malaysia, but more Chinese-centric. The food's mostly the same. The MRT is always smooth, and the buses are superior to Malaysia's.

I had dinner out pretty much every evening I was there. I didn't have breakfast, and lunch was with the photographers (except on Sunday). Initially I had planned to return on Monday, but I realized it would've been a waste of an entire day to spend it on the bus.

Read more... )
jhameia: ME! (Call To Arms)
Sexist Humor No Laughing Matter, Researcher Says

Of course, this is shit we all know already, but if you don't, you ought to take a look-see )

I'll be the first to admit that I'm pretty fuckin' racist, and I'll use humour to diffuse the intensity of any prejudice I feel. It's to the credit of the people I read and listen to that I don't allow my sense of humour to cloud my sense of justice.

Just because something's funny doesn't make it right.
jhameia: ME! (Call To Arms)
I like to lay low on the fact that I'm a feminist. Mostly because it usually doesn't matter. I live my life according to how I feel it should be lived, and I don't let anybody, male or female, bully me into making decisions I don't want to make.

As a result, I'm fortunate to have never known men that I felt were capable of raping me. Most male friends are intimidated by me as a result of my assertion, both personal and sexual. When people see that they can't joke about disrespectful sex around me, they back off... and I'm usually left alone as a result. So my true friends are those who're respectful when it comes to sex, assertive without being obnoxious about sex.

So let's talk about V-Day. Basically a day to bolster the campaign fighting violence against women in all its forms, whether political or sexual (and political violence manifests itself in sexual forms). The Vagina Monologues is part of the V-Day campaign.

I disagree with some of the terms used on the V-Day website. Stuff like "vagina warriors". I have no problem with the word "vagina" but I have a HUGE problem with the word "warrior." The word "war" has caused so much trouble. It's a patriarchal word, "war" is. It entails two or more opponents who cannot settle their differences amicably.

Feminism, to me, isn't a war for women's rights. It's a lifestyle. It's a set of beliefs that aims towards a more loving, kinder community - for better relationships between men and women - for equality of the sexes, where men aren't held back by what the ideal macho man is, and women are held back by what the perfect woman is. Because patriarchy hurts men too: under patriarchy, men are taught that violence is the only way to get things done. That beating down the ones you love is okay. That hurting other people is okay.

It's not okay, and most men usually know that it's not okay. So why does it still happen? Why do we still see high statistics of rape happening all over the place? And it's not just the disenfranchised men who're doing the raping. Even those in power are raping too.

Feminism seeks to empower women, so we can stand up for ourselves sexually, so we won't be afraid of men's strength and power when it comes to physical violence. It means that if a man tries to batter me, I report him to the police for assault and I DO NOT BACK DOWN from fear of reprisal. Feminism seeks to enable women to find their inner power that has been beaten down into the depths of their psyches by psycho patriarchy.

But feminism also empowers men to be who they want to be without caring about what the ideal patriarchal man is like. Where patriarchy says "don't take no for an answer because that's disrespectful to you", feminism empowers men to feel secure in themselves when a woman does say no, because it doesn't mean she disrespects him, it just means she doesn't want to have sex with him. Patriarchy ties men to their sexuality: a man is defined by his ability to score sex, to lord sexual power over women. Feminism empowers men to think beyond their hyper-sexuality - it's okay to just hang out as friends, as equals, and it's okay, because there's more to a man than his erection and his ability to fuck a woman all night.

Men are integral to feminism's cause, and most don't even realize it. People are always saying feminism is about crazy women trying to be men. That's not true. We don't want to be men. We want to be women, on our own terms. We don't want to be told what it means to be a woman by a man. We want to be women and be proud of our womanhood, our intelligence, our sexuality, without it being ruled over by men. If I'm smart, I'm smart because I'm empowered enough to educate myself. If I'm sexual, it's not because I'm being pressured to have sex.

We are trying to redefine masculinity and femininity without the violent framework that patriarchy gives us. This redefinition is what makes most people nervous: "a man is a man because of X, and if you take X away, what's going to define him as a man?" Same goes for woman.

We need to move away from this thinking, because too many people are getting upset and overly-possessive of these gender traits... which weren't necessarily theirs in the first place.

So when men are feminists, standing up for their own right to redefine their gender without resorting to the violent framework, it's something worth applauding.

And thus, I present to you this site: Men Can Stop Rape.org.

I'm tempted to order their posters due to their inspiring content. There're different series for different situations that can lead to rape, and their captions are simple, but powerful:

Our Strength is Not For Hurting

Bystander Series:
Our strength is not for hurting. So when men disrespect women, it's NOT RIGHT.

There's the Drugs & Alcohol series:
My strength is not for hurting. So when she was too drunk to decide, I BACKED OFF.

And alternately:
My strength is not for hurting. So when I was too drunk to decide, I BACKED OFF.

In the Consent & Respect series:
My strength is not for hurting. So when I got mixed signals, I ASKED HER WHAT SHE WANTED.

My strength is not for hurting. So when I wanted her, I asked her, and I TOOK NO FOR AN ANSWER.

There's even one that covers homosexual rape:
My strength is not for hurting. So when I wanted to and he didn't, WE DIDN'T.

The posters all feature young men of various ethnicities - symbolic of the new generation of male feminists and of how global this issue is.

When men are feminists, when men believe in sexual equality, when men no longer strive to control the reproductive rights of women, both men and women can stop rape together.

Together, whether male or female or in between, whether bi, gay, les, trans, we can stand up and say NO to sexual violence, NO to psychological terrorism, NO to harmful ideals. We'll feel more free to say NO when we're being hurt, and we'll feel better when someone else says NO to us.

When NO means NO, and stays that way, we can avoid all the stupid headgames that boys and girls like to play on each other and there will be no more lies, no more heartache, no more insecurity because everything is so ambiguous. When we can say NO and actually mean it, then YES will be all the more meaningful.
jhameia: ME! (Illuminated Idea)
Now that I've got the angst out of my system for a bit, let's talk a bit about shoes.

A Shoe Story )
jhameia: ME! (Illuminated Idea)
I was reading Derrida again last night. Well, not just Derrida. While Sean immersed himself in the world of the Sandman (as well he should, he's overdue), I once again picked up my book on David Bowie, reading the chapter on his commodification. For those who ever followed Mr. Bowie's career, you'd notice how stark his changes in musical directions go, whether or not he's spear-heading a non-mainstream movement, or following his nose on mainstream trends.

Decentering )
jhameia: ME! (Joline)
There are a lot of stories going around about people being mean and cruel and selfish, and while it's true that there're people like that, I think we tend to focus more on the bad than the good. I'm not sure what the reason for this phenomenom... I guess it never comes up in conversation to talk about the good things that happen to us - it sounds more like bragging. But when it comes to complaints, everybody wants to share the misery. The more pathetic you are, the more sympathy you get. The happier your life is, it seems, the more people ignore you - I guess people who lead happy lives aren't all that interesting? Is that why we like to watch TV?

Anyway, I was thinking of an encounter I had in the States. The JFK airport is easily one of the worst airports I've ever passed through, because when Sam and I arrived, it was dead in the night, nothing was open, and we had to spend several hours before anything opened so we could catch the next flight. Call me spoiled by KLIA, but if I have to stay overnight at an airport, I don't want to have to take a bus to a hotel, I should be able to sleep at the airport comfortably and have easy access to some food. Seriously, not even a single 24-hour MacDonald's in a USA airport?

Our luggage had been left behind at Hong Kong since there wasn't enough time in between flights for our baggage to go through, so they came into Halifax at the next flight.... after customs had rifled through AND stolen several items. Sam lost her entire hard drive, several electronic items, and a new backpack. I lost jewellery. It was really hard on us, especially considering how much crap we get going into the States with sour-looking officials staring hard at our passports and junk.

We bitched about it a great deal.

But it wasn't all bad. Sam and I found a corner to spend the night in, which was close to some custodial closets, I imagine, and we huddled against our carry-on bags for comfort.

There was a black man in a maroon uniform who passed us a couple of times, and everytime he passed by I'd try to give him a smile. He never smiled back, and frankly, he was pretty scary to look at... stereotypical strong, silent, not thuggish but dangerous. He walked with a stiff gait and his back was straight like he was all business. I was kinda afraid he'd turn us out of our corner.

A couple of hours after we'd settled into the corner, he passed by again, this time carrying several blankets. As he passed by our corner, he stopped, and without saying a single work, held out two blankets. He didn't even turn to us, just stood there and stuck out his arm with the blankets. Barely even turned his head, kinda more looked at us out the corner of his eye.

I said thanks, and then he just walked away.

And that was it. Just one kind person giving me two blankets because we were shivering in the corner, in the country notorious for rude people.

What's the big deal? one might ask. Kindness is a big deal. Good-heartedness is a big deal.

We make big deals out of shitty jobs, shitty people, awful situations, but we forget to remember and be thankful for the good things that happen to us. Why are problems so much more important than resolutions?

I hope I never forget him. We are all heroes in moments of life, and he was the hero of a moment in mine.
jhameia: ME! (Illuminated Idea)
So I watched one of the best Star Trek: Enterprise episodes I've seen in a while, and I pretty much spent half of it crying (not a bad thing, it's GOOD).

I couldn't care less to remember what the episode is, but in it, Trip (my second favourite character after Malcolm) falls into a coma and he needs replacement neural cells. The only way to do this is by giving a symbiote whose lifespan would be 15 days Trip's DNA, and using the neural cells from this "clone".

There've always been several questions with this sort of technology - one of the issues, of course, being that growing a child for the sake of cell donation has always been questionable. There've been many instances where parents have a child because an already existing child is suffering from some condition for which they can't find a matching donor of cells. Having a child purely for the sake of another sounds a bit extreme and I don't think there's ever been such a thing... most families I see do this also value this new child as much and welcome it as a new addition to the family. I very much prefer seeing a child be born for the sake of medical benefit than carelessness and irresponsibility.

The clone of Trip is named Sim, which I think is such an interesting pick - Sim for 'simulated'. 'Simulacra' was the first word that came to mind (which doesn't make sense.... Sim IS a copy WITH an original). A mini, faster-paced version of Trip, just like all those Sim- games we play.

In four days, Sim is the same physical age as Trip, and he has all of Trip's memories, as well as his own of his four days of existance. He talks about Trip's life like it's his own, and he contributes in his own way. He confesses his, or Trip's (he's not sure himself) feelings for T'Pol, and of course, then comes the time when everyone realizes not only can he not live for more than 15 days (without an experimental enzyme), if they go through with the operation he'll die instead of living his full 15 days.

There're several philosophical questions raised here. For instance, if a copy of Trip was made, and has his memories, his DNA, despite the "real" Trip lying in a coma in the same ship, what, then, is Sim's existance? Is he Trip? Or is he Sim? Or Simulation-Trip? Does he count as a human, or is he a 15-day symbiote?

What constitutes as real, versus "fake"? Is Sim "fake", and is his existance "invalid" simply because he's a copy? You can't even say he's a "copy" because he has his own memories which distinguish him from Trip - does he then constitute as his own individual?

It's a bit like the boat dilemma... in this case, the owner of a boat has it in the care of someone else. Over the years, the caretaker replaces parts of the boat as it rots away until the "original" boat is gone. When the owner comes back, is it still the same boat? Or is it a whole new boat entirely?

It's a HUGE ethical dilemma and I think it's a valid debate to consider when thinking about the possibilities of cloning. First we have to consider what IS an individual before going off making an entire new one from scratch. Secondly, if a clone can be considered an individual, would it be right to cultivate one just for the sole purpose of killing him/her for the progenitor's sake?

What is the sum of a person's life?

Or a "copy"?
jhameia: ME! (Call To Arms)
So recently I've been watching a lot of TV. Especially Star Trek. I'm not really a Trekkie, but that's how it goes. For a while, it was a daisy chain of a lot of science fiction shows:

3pm: Star Trek: Original Series
4pm: Star Trek: The Next Generation
5pm: (I usually switch over to Disney/Family channel for the Proud Family
6pm: Star Trek: Enterprise
7pm: Star Trek: Voyager
8pm: (This used to be Andromeda, now it's Relic Hunter so I switch over to Teletoon for some pretty cool cartoons)
9pm: Stargate SG-1 (lately I've been watching 6teen instead)

I do like science fiction because I like imagining what humans would be like in a different setting than ours. When we quit having hangups with each other, how do we deal with other species in the known universe? How do we deal with a foreign that's not just from the other side of a continent, or a border or a planet, from the other side of a galaxy?

Watching TV is usually a mindless activity on the part of so many people - which is a HUGE shame, considering the kinds of questions that the scenarios shown can raise. When a particular character behaves a certain way and faces certain troubles BECAUSE of their own actions, don't you want to question what they could have done to avoid their problems? Don't you feel "I would've done that differently" or "they should have done that" - even BEFORE the problem crops up?

It's incredible how our problems are portrayed on TV so exaggeratedly, and we're SEEING it.... we know the consequences of certain actions, but we are still none the wiser for it. It's confusing. We've seen that people are capable of more than what they think, but it's still okay to not work for what they want (and to talk incessantly about it) and assume that's their lot in life. On TV we see so many options and alternatives for living, and we don't think that WE can do that for ourselves.

Instead of learning lessons from the hardships of others, we glue ourselves to the TV and just watch as if we're objective observers, there to live the lives of others because we're too lazy to live our own, on our own terms. Instead we live by the terms of the artists and directors who portray "real life" as if it's the way to live, because we don't dare set the parameters on our own lives. We can know a TV character inside out, but would we dare look at ourselves with such scrutiny?

Among the cooler cartoons I've seen (and let's admit, some cartoons these days, while over-dramatic and ridiculously exaggerated, can be really fun, because they're just that ludicrous) is 6teen, which is kinda like Friends, but for a younger audience. It's like Friends in that there're several plots over-lapping each other, and each character has a specific kind of dynamic with any other given character. It's actually kind of mature for the type of audience they're looking at, which is really cool. Of course, there's some melodramtic childishness which you just KNOW could have been avoided if the character had any sense or, Heaven forbid, asked someone adult instead of trying to fix the problem with stupid solutions.

There are different ways of dealing with different things and experiences - some better than others (not necessarily right or wrong). Books and television shows which chronicle such experiences can teach us this. (I'm saying TV because this is the main medium of entertainment these days.) What I don't understand is.... how does it work that people can watch TV for hours on and end STILL BE SO DAMN STUPID? I know TV isn't exactly intellectually stimulating (some of it is downright insulting in how stupid it is).

Reality TV shows are usually no fun unless the end result is positive - so stuff on TLC like Take Home Chef and Miami Ink are incredibly fun. What Not To Wear personally horrifies me, because I can't believe how it's apparently necessary to humiliate people in front of national TV into changing their style. I mean, if everybody hates what you wear, you'd think SOMEONE would say it instead of shutting up. I enjoy the shopping and makeup tips, but I don't agree with the philosophy that a person HAS to spend time looking good all the time. (I wear makeup only once a month on average, assuming I have to reason to.) But I DO learn from the show, so when I do my shopping, I know what to buy for myself instead of constantly floundering around, because I KNOW what's out there now, and how to match things.

Science Fiction, the space exploration type with many aliens in particular, is supposed to ask questions of humanity as a whole, not just as several factioned groups, not just individuals, what their position in the universe will be when faced with an extremely different culture. It's supposed to be educational, on a subtle level - when we think education, sometimes we think "going to school" and "learning something" - but you don't need to be fed some facts to learn something: you just need to learn how to ask questions.

And that, I think is the failure of the masses who watch mainstream media.

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