Response to article "Hwa Chong alumni launch online petition against relationship workshop"

By Tessa Ho

NOTE: The actual petition can be viewed in full HERE.

Happened to attend the very same workshop this morning and would beg to differ.

The student mentioned that the booklet was bigoted and full of gender stereotypes. However the trainers made it very clear beforehand that these were only ''general sweeping statements'' that might not necessarily apply to all 100% of us.

Yes, these gender stereotypes may not hold true for 100% of us but it would be fair to say that it does apply to a majority of the people that were attending the workshop.

When conducting a workshop like that that for the mass student population one would have to take into consideration on what they could teach that holds the most relevance/would be useful for these students and in this case it makes sense to generalise and mention certain stereotypes that a majority of students could identify and relate to, allowing at least a majority of them to learn and effectively take away something from the workshop. This particular student mentions one example on how the book states that Gals, ‘need to be loved’, ‘can be emotional’, ‘want security’…

The book actually goes into detail to mention how ‘’even if your relationship is great, your girlfriend likely has a fundamental insecurity about your love….’’ Although this is undeniably a sweeping statement and yes, perhaps we have seen how this may not always hold true but just from mere observation I think many of us would agree that it is a common occurrence that holds true in many relationships today.

Not every gender stereotype mentioned by the book may have been applicable but the key message that the trainers were trying to drive at was not so much the specific details of every single gender stereotype mentioned as perhaps this student might have been so firmly fixated on throughout the workshop but rather a broader perspective on how the two genders think differently and that clear communication is vital to maintaining a healthy relationship. Personally that was a very valuable lesson that I took away from the workshop.

Furthermore, the student seems to imply that gender stereotypes was all that was covered in the 4 hours we spent “They spent their four hours with us discussing things such as what a girl ‘really means’ when she says something else, as opposed to guys who are ‘direct’ and ‘always mean what they say’…However the portion on gender stereotypes(titled “unravel”) was only 1 out of 4 topics covered and the 3 other topics covered(titled “unique”, “unite” and “underline”) addressed many other issues such as the importance of drawing boundaries in a relationship and how it is not just about finding the ‘right’ one but rather also about preparing and being the ‘right’ one. These are wise words of advice I will certainly hold dear should I enter into a relationship in the future.

Overall I felt that the " It's (Un)Complicated” workshop was the most relevant, informative and useful relationship workshop that I’ve attended throughout my schooling years and I firmly applaud Focus on the Family Singapore for the effective work it does in building stronger relationships and families in Singapore.

This was first published on Tessa Ho's Facebook wall on October 7 2014.


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