How to win an EOGM and lotsa friends
May 4, 2009
So Josie and her Pussycats have been slapped down. The Christian community is reeling in half shame, half relief. The liberals are having drunken sex, the conservatives are crossing themselves, and we’re all happy that Singapore civil society is not always about whether or not it’s ok to eat sharks’ fin soup. Oh the excitement, the thrill, the sight of thousands of women screaming and jostling at a non-SALE event.
The lull after the AWARE EOGM is like the ennui that comes after the end of the EPL season. What do we do now? Who’s going to entertain us? How are we going to fill up the echoing void we call life? Perhaps we can ponder over the invaluable lessons this big catfight has thrown up. After all, retrospection is best done as early as possible, right before hindsight sets in.
Things could have been very different. If the vote went the other way we would be looking at a very conservative AWARE. So where did Josie and her Pussycats go wrong? Five easy lessons on how not to lose an EOGM and win many many friends.
Leave your teddy bear at home
Religious beliefs and private morality are like worn-out urine-stained teddy bears from your childhood. It provides comfort and assurance. It gives you that warm feeling that can only be replicated when a Catholic priest touches your bum. But you don’t go about carrying your old teddy bears to the office or dinner parties. Like teddy bears, religious morality should be kept at home or the church, and not paraded like you’re a 5 year old child all over again. By all means, play with your teddy bear at home. Feed it, talk to it, stroke it, hug it, pray with it, but don’t wave its arm at me and ask me to say ‘hi’ to it.
Be open about your girlfriends
Having six members of your exco coming from the same church is not a tactical takeover. It’s a classical psychoanalytical explanation for lesbianism. Look, you share the same background, come from the same ethnic group, you glance furtively at each other, you all dress alike, you deny you know each other, you protect each other, you yell at others who yell at one of you… let’s face it, Freud will tell you to get off his couch and stop wasting his time. Now, there’s nothing wrong with having girl cliques. The ‘old guard’ is a well known girl clique. But be open about it.
Don’t sell fear
The key galvanizing point in this whole saga was that AWARE was promoting lesbianism and homosexuality in schools. The fear was that there would be “an entire generation of lesbians”. It’s a bit like saying teaching mathematics in school will lead to an entire generation of mathematicians. But that’s the Christian right for you, small on reason, big on fear. Religion is basically the selling of two valuable commodities – fear and guilt. If you can launder these two emotions in tandem, people gladly do anything you ask.
In truth, the sex education programme by AWARE was devised with the consultation of teachers and religious leaders. But this fact was an inconvenient truth for the Christian right. Furthermore, the quoted passages about keeping the term ‘homosexuality’, ‘sexy’ and ‘lesbianism’ neutral were not even in the actual syllabus but from the instructor’s guide which students had no access to. Finally, as one sex educator observed, teachers spent 30 minutes talking about abstinence and only about 2 minutes on homosexuality, but guess which whips the Christian right into a frenzy?
Your Pastor must not be living in La-la Land
Church of our Saviour Pastor Derek Hong was quoted as saying “It’s not a crusade against the people but there’s a line that God has drawn for us, and we don’t want our nation crossing that line.” Well, Pastor Numbnuts, Christians in Singapore only make up 14.9 per cent of the population, so your God is hardly in the majority. To believe that your Christian God has drawn a line in the sand for Buddhists, Taoists, Muslims and atheists is nothing short of arrogant. Our friend was this close to having the Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act shoved up where the sun don’t shine.
Your puppet master must not, preferably, be a psycho
I think God has a Thio Su Mien complex. Is there anyone quite as breathtakingly egoistic and self-centred as the Nutty Professor? I mean calling yourself ‘Feminist Mentor’ should be a crime against imagination. Pretty soon everyone’s going to use the term to denote authority, even ministers! Oh, ok scratch that.
But the lesson here is simple. If you want to orchestrate a takeover, make sure your puppet master is not completely psycho. She believed she could not ‘surface’ in the early stages and she believes this battle is nothing less than a spiritual warfare between Good and Evil, and that the Devil is behind Constance Singham, Braema Mathi, Dana Lam and the rest of the ‘old guard’. But worse of all, she actually believes that her successful career makes her a feminist.
Illusions of grandeur are nothing new. Napoleon, Hitler, Moses, parking wardens, they all suffer from it. It’s a personality defect that’s all too common. But when it’s coupled to another equally common defect – the belief that one is absolutely 100 per cent unrelentingly morally right, it becomes a very dangerous combination. Dr Thio is not uncommon in believing she is great. She is not uncommon in believing she is on the right side of morality; all Christians feel that way. She only became such a public caricature when she exhibited both defects simultaneously.
It’s no exaggeration to say that Josie and her Pussycats lost public sympathy because of two personalities – Derek Hong and Thio Su Mien. The emergence of these two people effectively swung public opinion against the ‘new exco’. Dr John Chew, head of the National Council of Churches, was forced come out and distance the Christian faith from Hong, while thanks to Thio’s “respect your elders” outburst, Khaw Boon Wan’s silly suggestion to ship our parents to JB actually sounds reasonable.
At the end of the day, when Josie and Kittycats look back, they would do well to realise that they’ve been arrogant, misguided and utterly intolerant. But unfortunately, as with all folks who believe they are doing God’s work on earth, they’ll think that the sinners of Singapore are hardened of heart and just aren’t ready to embrace the word of God. Amen.