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Ng Jun Sen
Tuesday, Oct 14, 2014

Singapore

Complications over 'UNcomplicated' workshop

The New Paper | Ng Jun Sen | Tuesday, Oct 14, 2014

When Hwa Chong Institution student Agatha Tan put up a Facebook post on Tuesday lambasting her school's sex-ed workshop for being 'sexist' and 'bigoted' on Tuesday, the post went viral.

Ng Jun Sen takes a look at what happened.

WHAT:

A relationship and sexuality workshop that left a bad taste in people's mouths as netizens reacted to what appeared to be rather simplistic material about men and women.

FLASH POINTS:

The New Paper on Sunday speaks to six participants at the workshop that was meant for all JC1 students in the junior college.

At the heart of the matter for the students is how the material portrayed the sexes.

JC1 student James says: "They drew the outline of two brains, representing a boy's and a girl's. In the boy's brain, they wrote things like video games and other stuff. But in the girl's brain, they drew spaghetti."

He explains that the facilitators were trying to show that the female thought processes are usually "all over the place".

Some laughed it off but James believes many female students were offended.

A female student, who prefers to be known as Alice, questions the approach. "I thought it was a strange way of explaining it. It felt like I was not made up of the same stuff as the boys."

A female student who declined to be named says: "It was one-sided and stereotypical. The talk seemed like they were trying to make me think I'm inferior."

She recalls a segment in which a facilitator asked if it was possible for men and women to be best friends with each other.

Says the student: "We all gave her a unanimous yes, it is possible. I know many good male friends myself, so it has to be true."

But the facilitator said that was wrong and a "best friend relationship" cannot happen between the genders.

"She said if a guy and a girl hit it off, it is known as a 'friendationship' - a fusion of 'friends' and 'relationship'," says the student.

"Basically, it means more than just friends. Not everyone was happy about this because it seems so untrue."

Says James: "The girls feel like they are portrayed as oversensitive while the guys are shown to be cool and calm."

Other students at the workshop felt that gay and lesbian issues were not addressed.

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