Stop Censoring Sexual Discourse at NUS
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I refer to the petition titled "Stop Promoting Violent Sex at NUS" at rb.gy/gkjwqs .
The petition states that "There is no educational value for such a weekly discussion (on sex and masturbation) because these dialogues only stimulate sexual fantasies."
As a concerned member of the public, I would like to categorically refute this and start a counter-petition.
Sexuality is central to humanity - it's why we even exist. Discussing these issues would enable us to understand the topic on a deeper level - especially on consent and interpersonal boundaries. It's more than to 'only stimulate sexual fantasies'. This is what I conceive LTAS to be about - discourse on sexuality to educate the student population on sexuality and to also provide voices to students to talk about such matters that they won't be able to do so outside Tembusu College. More importantly, it's about providing safe spaces to talk about such issues.
NUS students are not children. They are adults. Some of them have even taken up arms for our country. If they are deemed old enough to shoot a rifle, then they are old enough to engage in respectful and consensual discourse on sex. Nobody in the College is forcing students to attend these talks. Nor is the College enforcing its students to adopt a certain point of view. Students are old enough and completely free to decide whether they want to attend these talks or not.
On the 0101 studio session - if the petition starters were aware, rope bondage can be non-violent. If this is the kind of rope bondage that LTAS was to educate the student body about, then the petitioner's argument on 'dangerous' and 'life-threatening' content falls. Having a facilitator who has done such activities in a non-violent way can potentially guide newcomers on how this can be done in a safe, non-violent way.
Everyone should be free in this country to decide where they want to stand on LGBT issues. But what we cannot condone as a society would be to indulge in cancel culture and censor discourse on such issues. The exchange of views and speech is integral to our societal evolution. The Internet can be one place to do that, but it is easy to take discussions out of context when they are not held in a face-to-face manner.
To end off this counter-petition, I refer to the Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, Edwin Tong's statement on Singapore to adopt a more "mediatory approach" to discussing sensitive issues and resolving differences (https://www.straitstimes.com/politics/less-confrontation-more-mediation-when-talking-about-sensitive-issues-edwin-tong ). I hope the aforementioned petition's starters would see the value in that and contact the relevant students concerned before shutting them and their activities down.
As a member of the public, I can say that NUS's handling of sexual issues could be better. This - the setting up of channels for discourse on such matters - is one thing they're doing right. If you close this down, then you risk allowing more sexually unaware individuals and sexual predators to thrive. I do not want to live in a society with more sexual predators coming from one of the world's premier institutions from my own country. I want to live in a society where I can talk about such issues freely and also listen to the marginalized communities on their take on such issues.
The concerned institutions should protect their students and their space to be comfortable and not be harassed.
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