I read this book recently. Here’s a vox article about it (I like vox).
‘Being a girl’ isn’t an identity I think about often. This book was quite badly received by the public, but I quite liked it because it made me think about things I didn’t really consider before and felt it was quite apt in Singapore’s context. Basically it’s about a very privileged family and their relationship with a construction worker who hits on the daughter.
I come from a privileged background, like Heather. She doesn’t see danger in places, in people. She easily speaks to the construction worker, Bobby (so relevant to Singapore) and her father is angry. “To her attempted rapist, Heather is purity to be defiled; to her father, she is purity to be preserved; to herself, she is just … pure” (Vox, 2017). Similarly, I don’t feel afraid in Little India, and I feel annoyed when my male friends – my mother too, not about Little India, but she always talks about the dangers in the world – ask if I am. Why should they ask? Is it 1) chivalry/ ‘masculinity’ – which I think is bullshit, 2) racism, even worse, 3) is it because I’m really ignorant of the dangers of the world? Could I be like Heather, unaware of the effect I (women) have on other people (men)? I am like Heather, I want to see and be part of goodness in the world, I am unhappy sometimes at the lack of ‘good’ in the privileged people around me, but also unable to be better than I already am (*aside, thought about this over the weekend and realised the importance of community and support. I think I’m currently not in the best environment yet. It’s possible to do things that are different, alone, but I’m currently faltering?), I’m uncomfortable in a comfortable place. Indeed, are there inherently dangerous places and people in the world?
About sex though. Mark, the father, is unhappy that a construction worker, Bobby, looks ‘sexually’ at his daughter and spoke to her. (Is it a class thing? Weiner didn’t address it). I wonder about the experiences of men, and fathers. Surely they’ve objectified females before, had lustful thoughts. I wonder what their thoughts in relation to their daughters and spouses are: do they feel angry if another male thinks dirty/graphic thoughts about those females, do they empathise and understand, do they have a right to be angry? And females too: we usually don’t talk about the sexual wrong doings that females commit against men, but…? What are they? Do Filipino women make eyes at Singaporean men?
Additional links about gender:
Paedophiles. We need to look at them in a different way. They can’t control their feelings, their sexual orientation. Many of them don’t end up sexually abusing children. They may be constantly unhappy with themselves and never receive sexual fulfilment. I’m thinking about this in relation to gays (to an extent)? Gays being seen as a ‘mental illness’ in the past and we’re more accepting now, but, to what extent should we accept ‘deviant’ sexual behaviour? And also, to what extent are sexual orientations ‘natural’/innate/ ‘I always knew’: people weren’t always sexual (young children), can preferences change?
‘I’ve lived as a man and a woman – here’s what I learnt’. Love this stuff. Very interesting too. I liked the perspective brought forth: in the same era she was a male and female and hence could judge the differences both sexes faced. She didn’t talk so much about being transgender (which actually may be something she identifies more with? I don’t know).