ST Forum: Offensive to call people ‘sexually challenged’

23 May 2009
Straits Times Print Forum

Offensive to call people ‘sexually challenged’

I read Dr Thio Su Mien’s letter on Monday (‘Gay activists a key constituency of Aware’) with a curious mix of appalled bemusement.

Referring to the ‘activist homosexual group’ that was present at the recent extraordinary general meeting of the Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware) in support of the old guard, Dr Thio stated: ‘Many sexually challenged women were among the most vocal and vociferous supporters of the old guard’.

I have never heard the phrase ‘sexually challenged women’ before.

At face value, the phrase appears to suggest that a�woman is somehow a second-rate female if she is sexually inclined towards her own gender.

As we all know, the word ‘challenged’ is often used in association with a particular disability, such as ‘visually challenged’ or ‘mentally challenged’.

Dr Thio’s juxtaposition of the word ‘challenged’ with a woman’s sexuality suggests that such women are sexually incompetent, flawed, defective or incomplete, which renders her remark rude and offensive.

Jamie Alicia Nonis (Ms)

Bionic power?

Dr Thio Su Mien’s claim on Monday (‘Gay activists a key constituency of Aware’) that homosexual groups were out in full force supporting the old guard at Aware’s extraordinary general meeting (EGM) is baffling. We know now that Aware’s membership surged from 200 to 3,000 only in the days leading up to the EGM, and I was among those in the surge of 2,800 new sign-ups. I find her observation baffling because I don’t remember having to declare my sexuality when I registered. How then can Dr Thio assert that ‘homosexual activists’ have become a significant constituency of Aware? Was it by just looking at them? I struck up friendships with other members in my hour-long queue and with others in the hall. None struck me as ‘sexually challenged’; unless Dr Thio, apart from proclaiming herself a feminist mentor, has bionic powers in discerning a person’s sexual orientation as well.

Ms Wong Sook-Yee


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