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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Have You Never Been Twenty?

I don't consider myself very full of social conscience. My days are happily filled with little domestic joys which I find meaningful and rich. My 2 years' worth of blogposts are filled with the inane peanut issues of food, plants and children. And I am happy that way.

Nonetheless, I feel compelled to speak up and defend the true victims in the George Yeo & Jack Neo saga. I want to encourage every woman with daughters to speak up in some way or another because these daughters will get to twenty soon... or are already there.

Wendy Chong did no wrong. Like an insect she was caught in a web of a mature spider. Jack Neo was an aggressive predator. It was not a one-off mistake nor a night of passion. His was a pattern of consistent predatory behavior on girls barely out of their teens. He used his wealth and position to groom girls for his own sexual gratification.

The ugly man in a hawker centre nearby leers at The Daughter with crooked teeth. He smiles at no one else but her. He jostles his colleagues aside so that he can be the one to serve her. He jokes with The Daughter. He teases her. He makes her laugh. She... innocent... thinks it is all in good fun.

It is not, because whilst he is trying his best to hit on her, I am watching his eyes. And they shine with same lust I recognise in the eyes of too many men who have hit on me in the past.

The Daughter is not yet 17.

I don't react at all because he is nothing but a server in a hawker centre. He has neither the position nor the power to bring his fantasies to life. And he is ugly. He is no threat and therefore I do nothing. Besides, it may be good to allow this weak virus of a man to inoculate and strengthen the defence systems of The Daughter such that when a true threat appears, she can fight it off.

I do nothing, but I say with as much contempt as I can muster "That one has the hots for you, girl!" She looks at me in disbelief. And she says "Mom! It's not right to be so conceited as to think that every man who smiles at me is in love with me." And then I say brutally, "It is not love. It's lust. It leads to penetration and sex." By now, The Daughter is too grossed out to even want to pursue the conversation.

Girls get hit on by mature men way before they reach 20. If you will, their sexual education already begins. If it so happens that she associates the leery lust with true love then that sets the stage for further sexual grooming as she moves into her 20s. With God's help, I hope to prevent the development of that unhealthy association.

At age 20, I had upfront indecent propositions by men of every age, and in every social class. There have been variously a university professor (sex for grades), a grandfatherly Vietnam war veteran I chatted with on a bus (let's book a room, I'll pay), my first driving instructor (let's do it in this car), a neighbour (who spiked my Coke on an evening out with other neighbours)... oh countless! And there was even a wino/tramp/beggar who sat behind me at a bus stop surreptitiously stroking my hair.

At one point, I considered making myself look like a slob... and then I found a better way. Contempt. There is nothing like a woman's sneering laugh to make an erection shrivel up and drop off.

In my 30s, it was even worse because in professional relationships you cannot sneer! There was a boss. There were 2 CEOs of listed companies. There was a wacko who called me every 2nd day at work because he missed the sound of my voice... and many others. You get used to it like you get used to a fly. You can't swat it so you live with it, and you develop coping strategies.

You learn to openly talk about your husband and how great he is. You learn never to accept dinner invitations. Always lunch in a bright restaurant with a lot of people. You refuse all alcoholic drinks. When travelling, you meet male colleagues downstairs in the lobby, never at the door of your room. You learn to manage the physical environment so that the environment, not you, imposes barriers to intimacy. You pretend that you don't get any of the broad hints that come your way. You smile politely and cut short conversations way before it gets where you don't want. You don't smile unnecessarily. You make a mental note to yourself that men between the ages of 40 and 55 are very aggressive in their approach. You learn about the male mid-life crisis and you make up your mind to preserve your own beauty for as long as you can to protect your husband from the indignities of mid-life crises.

And when you have to... you use contempt... and lay on the sarcasm.I told one person "Good grief! You're so old! Can you even get it up?!" But you need a certain amount of viciousness to say that. I somehow wonder if The Daughter can be vicious enough to adequately defend herself. For sure, Wendy Chong was not vicious enough.

What you DON'T do is to be any less attractive. You DON'T put on a veil or dress in shapeless clothes... or cut your hair. Or stop wearing tank tops. Women have a right to look good, and men need to learn self-control. There are other ways to stop a man in his tracks.

It seemed more bearable when it was me... and not The Daughter. A ball of anger gathers in the bottom of my stomach when I see the ugly man at the hawker centre. But I pretend I see nothing so that The Daughter can experience first hand and be prepared.

Of course I want grandchildren. For that we need a suitable YOUNG man with all the right qualities... and the correct attitude towards her. Of course, lust figures in a courtship to some extent... but unless one can be assured that there is a responsible contract (may not be marriage) that binds the two to a common destiny - to have and to hold till death do them part - then the risk is always there that a young girl be used for sex and thrown away after.

George Yeo has extended public support for The Wife and for Jack. What have they lost? Some endorsement deals? The Wife, it seems, has been a silent accomplice all these years. What would happen if I died and The Daughter lost a loving mother's guidance? Would someone somewhere sexually groom The Daughter too? Would he succeed?

Will she be someone's piece of meat?


Open Kitchen Concept said...

I can understand how u feel.. esp as a mother of a beautiful young lady. On the other hand though.. there really are many nice, decent men out there. Unfortunately, there are also big bad wolves around..

petunialee said...

Of course there are... I pray that the one she finds will be one like that.

abbkoh said...

You have many good insightful points for the society at large to reflect on, plus the gift of writing in a clear and cogent manner. Suggest you write to the ST forum page?

petunialee said...

abbkoh - Thank you for the encouragement. ST has a social responsibility to report news... but it also has the social responsibility to uphold harmony in our society. It treads a fine but important balance. It will not publish my pieces on George Yeo as is.

The only chance I have of making a difference is to speak in my own voice here.

It doesn't matter if there aren't as many readers. I do my part and put up my words... and I will leave it to God to make things happen.

By the way, real Christians don't talk about retribution as Jack Neo seems to have done. We believe in God's grace, not in retribution. He is not a true Christian. George Yeo has nursed a snake to his bosom.