A plagiarized sex-ed textbook presented to Singapore junior college students by Focus on the Family volunteers left student Agatha Tan aghast, so she penned an open letter to her principal including photos of some of the more grossly offensive pages.
The book promoted rape culture, instructing young men that women really mean yes when they say no; as well as sexism and homophobia. When students called the Focus on the Family instructor on this, they were dismissed and told to keep silent. The text is rife with objectionable material, including passages that imply that girls that they are to blame if they are raped while wearing clothing that tempts men into sexual thoughts.
Tan's letter is excellent work -- well-presented, well-thought-through, and articulate. It has been widely shared inside and outside of Singapore.
The most alarming thing I read in the booklet provided was that “A guy can’t not want to look” and that what a girl is wearing matters only “lest she become an “eye magnet” that cannot be avoided” (see attached photos of pages 27-28). There are two main problems with this –firstly, that guys are apparently incapable of controlling themselves or their hormones at all, and this is excusable because it’s in their natures, and second, that as a girl, when I dress, I should be thinking of what guys think rather than what I think.
FotF would have you believe that guys are slaves to their hormones and therefore girls should take their unwanted attention in their stride. When a “scantily-clad” girl walks past, for instance, a guy is sure to take notice because “no man with a pulse could have done otherwise” (page 26). It is precisely this kind of attitude that makes mothers warn their daughters not to wear short skirts and walk along the street alone at night, instead of warning their sons to be decent human beings and keep their eyes to themselves instead of appraising the female form like they own it. Certainly, we live in a male dominated world, and for this reason, guys do tend to get away with more. Yet that they do get away with more does not mean that they should. FotF, however, seems to believe that anything a guy does is excusable just because he is a guy. It is worrying that this is the message being imparted to students who are frequently told that they are they the future of the nation.
In my opinion, FotF’s portrayal of guys with regards to their raging hormones not only makes them seem pathetic, but again reduces girls to their role as supporters of their male counterparts. The booklet states that “Many guys feel neither the ability nor the responsibility to stop the sexual progression with [girls]”, and thus they “need your help to protect both of you” (page 28). I felt it disgusting that, for one, FotF has reduced guys to nothing but their hormones, and for two, instead, then, of suggesting that we should cultivate a sense of responsibility in guys with regards to respecting boundaries, FotF suggested that girls therefore need to support guys so that they are able to play heroes and guardians. Why should girls have to learn to help guys play guardian rather than learn how to protect themselves?
So I wrote an open letter to my principal about last week's sex ed [Agatha Tan/Facebook]