street harassment and boys in my school

Honestly, I’m a very optimistic person most of the time, so I really didn’t want to write this sentence, but I’m gonna write it anyway.

I’m so disappointed in humanity.

I see loads of videos with titles like “30 minutes walking down the street as a woman in New York” or “woman responds to catcalling”. Where I come from, I don’t think street harassment or “catcalling” is that much of an issue, so to be honest, I kinda saw those videos more as clickbait than being indicative of any serious problem. At most, I saw it as something happening to people very far removed from me and my life, and I didn’t pay attention to it. Furthermore, I felt that the people in the videos often “overreacted” to their experiences- like, it’s just some guy being rude, ignore him.

This video, however, really changed my mindset. It starts off as a completely normal vlog, very aesthetically pleasing shots, super casual and relaxed vibes- then, suddenly, when Arabella (the YouTuber) and her friend sit down to some coffee and cake at a cute little picturesque cafe, we see some men in the background yelling and gesturing at them. Later, we find out that one of these men actually approached Arabella, then, when she tried to ignore him, went back to his buddies and started hurling verbal abuse and throwing objects at the two ladies.

I learnt three things from this video:

  1. Street harassment can happen to you anytime, anywhere. It was a totally normal day for Arabella- she just wanted to have a nice lunch with her girlfriend, and yet she has to deal with rowdy, drunken men at two in the afternoon trying to “get in” with a complete stranger who clearly was not comfortable with their advances.
  2. She was extremely calm and measured when discussing the issue, presenting it as it happened and acknowledging that as far as street harassment goes, it could have been worse and is worse for many people, but still refusing to take it as a joke or light-hearted incident, because it definitely was not.
  3. The women in the video were scared and couldn’t do anything because they didn’t want to antagonise the men, who, for all they knew, could have been carrying some weapon. I always used to wonder why the people being harassed never did anything, so this was a real lightbulb moment for me.

Before this, I never thought catcalling was a real problem because I was always of the opinion that people could, you know, just “brush it off”. But now I realise, after some reflection, that the real issue here is not the catcalling itself. It is the mentality behind the catcalling, the mentality that it is okay to harass someone like that on the streets and threaten someone like that on the streets. I definitely want to steer clear from saying that this is something that only happens to women and is only perpetuated by men, because I’m sure there are loads of horrible people of all sexes and races who have this horrendous mindset that it’s somehow okay to treat a human being in such a way. To me, the issue of catcalling is simply a manifestation of two deeper societal issues, which are:

  1. The inability of so many to see things from other people’s point of view.
  2. The lack of respect we have for each other as human beings.

After watching the video, I started thinking because I wanted to share my thoughts as well, but was worried that I didn’t have enough exposure to or understanding of this topic to treat it as it ought to be treated. After some consideration, however, I realised I (unfortunately) do have certain experiences that can help me relate.

Being an eighteen-year-old student who has been in a girls’ school for almost her entire academic life and only entered a mixed school last year, it was a culture shock for me to see how much the environment differed in terms of behaviour (of both boys and girls) as well as mindsets and opinions.

To be fair, a huge amount of my school’s student population comes from single-gender schools as well, so perhaps the environment in single-gender schools simply tends to breed a certain ignorance about the other sex. But honestly, some of the things I heard and brushed aside until now are just so shocking that I’m surprised I haven’t started some kind of feminist uprising in the middle of the canteen yet.

One thing that really, really shocked me was something that happened far too many times. I was, on several separate occasions, talking with some of my close guy friends, and they all asked me something that was so horrendous I had a physical reaction to it. The gist of what they all said was, “why are girls so traumatised by being raped?”

I literally cannot tell you enough how floored I was by the question. I was actually, genuinely, incredibly shocked that they even asked this question. I started explaining to them the psychological trauma it could cause, the physical pain, etc., but from what I could tell, they weren’t really willing to take me seriously and one even joked about how males wouldn’t be affected by being raped at all. One guy even disagreed with me on the grounds that he wouldn’t mind being raped by a woman. I honestly had so many problems with his response, not only because he had a fundamental misunderstanding of rape and the situations in which it occurred, but also because he somehow thought that his personal opinion allowed him to disagree with a legion of psychological and medical evidence as well as personal testimonies from victims that rape was hugely damaging to a person, no matter their sex. I also had a problem with the way that some of the guys made light of the situation, devaluing the experiences of the people traumatised by rape. One guy seemed faintly irritated that I was trying to explain to him the gravity of rape and told me to change the subject.

Another incident occurred fairly recently. My class was on our way to PE (or gym, as I believe they call it in America), and we were discussing how my friend’s (let’s call her Friend A) cousin-in-law wouldn’t let his wife (my friend’s cousin) work, and how her cousin was okay with it because she said he was “treating me like a queen”. I was exclaiming over this with my friend when one of my other female friends, Friend B, cut in with a “what’s so bad about that? He’s treating her like a queen.” Friend A and I literally spun around with WHAT did you just say??? written all over our faces. Friend B genuinely did not see any problem with the situation, and we tried our best to explain to her why it was problematic even if the cousin didn’t see it as such. I think (I hope) she understood, because that’s such a dangerous mindset to have.

The problem wasn’t that Friend A’s cousin was not working. The problem was that her husband did not allow her to work. If she had chosen not to work and her husband had agreed to this, that would have been fine. This was, however, a case of her husband not letting her work. It turned out okay for her in this specific situation because she didn’t want to work anyway, but there are so many things wrong with this kind of mindset in the husband. He may think he’s “treating her like a princess”, but all he’s doing is taking away her power of choice, her autonomy, and potentially, her financial freedom, which she as a human being has a right to. Just because his choice happens to coincide with her personal wishes does not make it the correct one.

There are so many women in the world who are trapped in a marriage because of the lack of education and opportunities for women in countries that still see women as second-class citizens. In some places, girls are still all too often seen either as financial burdens, a means of reproduction, and sex objects. This is all because of the “alpha male” mentality of how guys are the ones who provide for the household, and therefore the ones who are higher up in the social hierarchy than mere women. By not allowing his wife to work, the man is perpetuating this mindset, and will more than likely pass it on to his children, who will pass it on to theirs and so on. It’s not fair to, firstly, the woman, for obvious reasons, secondly (especially in this day and age where the cost of living is so high), the men, who will always feel pressured to be the sole provider for the family and cannot accept that his wife could be able to lighten his financial burden, and thirdly, any children they might have.

Plus, there are so many guys in my school who just have the most disgusting attitude towards females, and loads of them are from all-boys schools. One of my friends, who is extremely pretty, is basically being stalked by this guy who thinks its somehow okay to show up at her house at all hours of the day, literally sit and wait for hours with a friend on the pavement next to her house for her to show up and invite him in or even go to the field behind her house and play loud music to attract her attention when she doesn’t respond. Another guy, whom she has outright rejected, still thinks it’s okay to literally follow her around even when she’s totally ignoring him, hug herand lie to his “bros” that he’s dating her to impress them.

Oh, yeah, let’s not forget about the time this guy said that the patriarchy exists because girls all have the innate knowledge that they are inferior to males.

There are really just so many instances of irritating, misogynistic males in my school that I could easily write a 5,000 word essay about it, but I don’t have the inclination nor the time.

Summary of this post: a female is not an “item” your boast about having. There’s a difference between “suppressing” your partner and “pampering” your partner. Rape is never okay. Objectifying another human being is never okay. Respect all. Try to understand other people’s views. You are not the only person in the world whose opinion matters. 

This is why education is so important. The school environment plays a huge role in shaping people’s perceptions and opinions, and if we shy away from addressing such issues, we are basically going to perpetuate ignorance on a huge scale.

Note: this is in no way meant to target any specific sex or group of people at all. These are simply my observations and thoughts. If you have anything to say about this topic, whether you disagree or agree with anything I’m saying, please do leave a comment so we can perhaps exchange views and have a mini discussion!

Thanks for wading through this whole thing, guys. Y’all rock, seriously.

be kind.

Guys so something tiny happened like one day ago but I’m still thinking about it, so I thought I’d share. 

I was just having a group sharing session with some church mates and all of a sudden, one of them (a close friend of mine) mentions that I was the first girl who ever talked to him in church. 

We all laughed it off and I made a joke about it, but what he said really stuck with me and this is why: I had absolutely no recollection of this. We’d been friends for so long that I had kind of forgotten the “origin story”, if you will, of our friendship. And he went on to say that this friendship he formed with me was one of the reasons he was now able to feel comfortable in the church environment. 

This sounds like such a tiny little thing, but it made a big impact on me because I suddenly realised: 

Everything you do in life affects the people around you in some way. A smile, a “good morning”, a conversation started, a laugh shared- small, simple gestures, but to someone else it might mean a whole lot. I didn’t talk to that guy for any particular reason: we were both in the same camp, I was looking for a friend, and I suppose he was just there. Like I said, I have no recollection of this, but to him, it was significant as I was the first female friend (and one of the first friends) he made in church. 

To me, one of the most underrated roles is that of the supporting character. It is often he or she that starts the action in the play, while the main character merely experiences the effects of it. Scene: main character walks down the street. Stranger runs up to them to return them their wallet they’d unknowingly dropped some time back. Main character bursts into tears, having narrowly escaped losing the money to buy an engagement ring in the form of a cheque which was stored in his wallet. Scene: main character sneezes and finds himself out of tissue. Stranger hands him handkerchief. Main character wipes nose and is saved from looking like an idiot holding his nose for the entire train ride.

It’s a really important role, if you think about it. The ability to affect the story of someone else’s life. Everything we do matters, even if we don’t realise it. So be kind. Be generous. Know that you live not only as the protagonist but also the random passer-by whose presence rather than character is crucial to the development of an ongoing plot. 

Might write more about this later but am way too lazy right now.

recipe of me

FarahEdz (aka The Girl With Coffe) did this incredibly creative tag on her blog, and I was really excited to try it out, especially since it’s one of the most unique and original tags I’d seen in a while. Added bonus was the super sweet reply she gave me when I commented:

Sometimes the only bright spot in my day is the idea that there’s enough good in the world for strangers across the globe to be so chill and friendly with people they don’t even know. Gives me a little faith in humanity as a whole 🌱

Anyway, on to the tag!

It was created by Trisha Malone, and has the following rules:

  1. Tag me as the creater
  2. Tag 5 other people (i’m being nice ok). This means you can’t just say ‘i’m tired anyone do this’ (i’m looking at you leo)
  3. Be a unicorn today because optimist yo
  4. Give a method that you feel is the ‘recipe of you’. 

There isn’t actually a banner but I just did one really quickly because I like to believe I have a flair for graphic design (I don’t).

*Side note: I based this recipe on one of my favourite dishes, which is fried rice, so it’s kinda very Asian-y.*

How to make a Kai

1) Heat up 1 tablespoon of pespiration from excessive exercise into your wok. Allow to simmer. 

2) Dice up some cheerfulness. Add into wok.

3) Add in equal parts of awkwardness, optimism, and a tendency to jump to conclusions. 

4) Stir-fry all of this for at least two minutes.

5) Pour in two cups of an easy temper. Season with a dash of insecurity, and toss everything together.

6) Add a pinch of stress.

7) Take a bunch of good ideas. Make sure they’re not ripe. Dice them up and sprinkle them in.

8) Garnish with a little stubbornness. 

9) Serve with a side of laughter. 

And there you have it! A simplified recipe to make your very own Kai.

I tag:

  1. Giselle
  2. Waves of Awesomeness 
  3. Stella
  4. That Willow Girl
  5. Anyone reading this right now. Go do the tag! Do it!

    If anyone decides to do this post, do let me know! I find it super interesting and I’d love to read your posts ✨

    disappointing day, happy day

    Today was a half-and-half day.

    Bad Half

    1. Disappointing performance during canoe training.
    2. When I went back for afternoon training after lunch, there were no boats and I had to leave.
    3. Tired.
    4. Woke up so early and I hate waking up early for training.
    5. Exhausting sprint sets during training.

    Good Half

    1. Father and son at the reservoir watching rainwater water pour out of a drain. The little kid was so excited to see it. A simple sight which made me happy that this kid was still finding pleasure in the small things.
    2. Cold Milo after training!
    3. Learnt some SgSL.
    4. Made slides for church.
    5. Am in a good mood. 

    sign language!

    New personal project- learn sign language!

    I’m Singaporean so I’ll be learning SgSL, which is Singaporean Sign Language. I’m pretty glad I went to research about sign language, because I really didn’t know that there were different types of sign languages, just like there are different languages.

    I want to learn this because one of my childhood friends is learning signing in Poly, and i found it really interesting and it also made me realise how much I take being able to hear for granted. I don’t know if I’ll ever use SgSL in real life, but if I do meet someone who is deaf or has a hearing impairment, at least I can communicate with them in a way that they can easily respond to and understand, just like everyone else should be able to in their daily lives.

    Excited about this, hopefully I can keep it up!

    birthday date with myself

    I turned eighteen on the 27th. Didn’t do much on the day, but was surprised with a wonderful party by my friends at my house which was so touching. 

    Today, though, I decided to take myself on a little date and kinda just enjoy my own company for a bit. Also I wanted to get out of the house because I could slowly feel my skin grafting onto my bedsheets.

    So my mum kindly drove me to this place in town with one of my favourite bookstores, Kinokuniya, armed with my Kanken bag and $100 in angpow money kindly given to me by my grandmother.

    It was in a really upscale part of the city, and I didn’t really realise how underdressed I was until I stepped through the doors in slippers, a school shirt and shorts. 

    I was a rubber slipper girl in a Louboutin world.

    I decided to ignore this and headed straight to the bookstore and spent a solid two hours there, just reading and enjoying the books and the atmosphere in general.
    Of course, I spent most of my $100 getting some books.

    3/5 of them are by authors whose books I’ve never read before (with the exception of Jane Austen and Edgar Allen Poe), so quite happy.

    I’ll do a little run-through of the books now.

    One of my favourite authors!

    Jane Austen, Mansfield Park

    Jane Austen is one of my favourite writers- I mean, she’s up there with Dickens for me. In my opinion, she was a female writer ahead of her time- in a period of history where her sister authors were writing what were deprecatingly referred to as “novels”- a word that had very negative connotations because it referred to books that were considered “flighty” (basically, probably every romance novel today) and unworthy of being read by those who knew better, she wrote realistic and believable prose that managed to both separate itself from the over-romanticised and dramaticised love stories that saturated the market (think: The Monk) through its matter-of-fact portrayals of love and romance, while simultaneously supporting the rising genre of the “novel” which was not held in high esteem by the highly-educated and stiff-upper-lipped in English society. This is especially apparent in Northanger Abbey, which I am not ashamed to say I have read over twenty times.

    Edgar Allen Poe, Tales of Horror

    I believe there was another anthology of his called Tales of Something Else but I really can’t remember the name at the moment. It’s basically a collection of Poe’s short stories. I read some in comic version years ago in the children’s section of my library and I loved it, so I decided I would give it a try again in straight prose. 

    I’m someone who isn’t too fond of change, so I re-read the same books over and over again until they are literally in tatters. I just find it comforting to have the familiar plot play out, in the words that I’ve long memorised. Gives me a sense of security, I suppose, because in that few hours of reading I am absolutely sure of the future.

    W. Somerset Maugham, The Merry-Go-Round

    No idea who Maugham is, read the blurb, read the first paragraph, and decided I rather liked it and it was coming home with me. 

    N.B.: I was looking it up and I nearly got a heart attack when I read a review of the exact edition that I have which says that it’s not complete and the actual book is 400 pages long. Did I just get an abridged version? Quelle horreur! 

    Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

    It sounded like a very interesting premise, with a highly intelligent child and the murder of a dog involved. Although I am and can relate to neither of those elements in the novel, I found them very interesting and unique while still being realistic. I’m not usually one for high-fantasy or Sci-Fi or things like that, I like books that are based on and in real life on earth. Just personal preference, but I’m really trying to get into more fantasy novels lately like Lord of the Rings and the Song of Ice and Fire series. Plus I really liked Ready Player One which Booktube recommended to me. So I’m making progress! 

    Anthony Mara, The Tsar of Love and Techno

    I’m actually super interested in both Russian culture and history so if I see the word “Tsar” on the cover of a book I’m definitely going to check it out.

    Now, after enjoying one of my favourite meals (Vegetarian Aglio Olio from this pasta place called Once Upon a Thyme, $6), I read a bit of Mansfield Park and am now studying.

    Some might call it a boring way to spend an eighteenth, but I’ve never been one for huge birthday bashes. I do appreciate them, but mostly for the time I get to hang out with friends. Personally, the idea of having a “Sweet Sixteenth” or a really crazy, alcohol-filled “legal” birthday celebration isn’t very necessary, if you’re having one just because the movies and pop culture told you to and not because you genuinely want to. But if you want to go ahead and make your birthday special, by all means! It’s just not really for me. Everyone has their own ways of celebrating. 

    Also, as I type, the sun is shining like crazy outside but it’s also raining. The person who came up with the idea to dub dark, cloudy, gloomy days “bad weather” has obviously never been in a sunshine-y thunderstorm, because those are the worst. In a normal thunderstorm you’re at least able to snuggle in your blanket and drink hot chocolate and be all poetic about the weather. But there’s nothing poetic about a sunshine-y thunderstorm. It’s just hot and wet and you can feel the humidity on your skin- the most accurate description I can come up of what being in a sunshine-y thunderstorm is like is, that it’s kinda like being doused by a bucket of lukewarm water while stepping into equally lukewarm puddles while wearing dry socks. Plus you’re inhaling steam with every breath. And you’re sweaty.

    Basically, it really, really sucks. 

    Overall, though, it’s been an amazing day. I’m home now and I feel really happy and satisfied with what I did, and even if other people may not have chosen to spend their birthday/money on the same things that’s fine because spending some time alone made my birthday special to me

    I guess something I wanna say in this post is, don’t be afraid to hang out with yourself once in a while. If you don’t feel like you need to have an extravagant birthday party every year, if you don’t feel like you have to go out with 90278298 friends every time you leave the house, don’t do it just because it’s the “socially acceptable” thing to do.

    And yes, there is a sort of- well, I won’t say stigma, but it’s more of an unwritten societal rule that it’s weird to hang out by yourself. It’s weird to walk into a restaurant and get a table and a fancy dinner for one. Passer-bys unconsciously give people who are sitting alone pitying looks. I felt weird the first time I decided to walk into a restaurant and get a table for one as well, but after a while I realised: if I’m so dependent on other people to have fun and be happy, can I really call myself a confident person? 

    Part of learning to love yourself is learning to be alone. Sure, some thrive on company and friends and I, being a more extroverted person, certainly do. I just think that we should be able to say, “I love my friends and am blessed and thankful to have them, but I don’t need the presence of others to find myself interesting, smart, clever, or to feel appreciated or wanted, because I as a person am inherently all of those things.”

    So yeah! Some thoughts on my birthday date with myself. I hope this kind of inspires someone to take themselves out as well! Let me know if you do end up trying it 🌸