As we come to the midpoint of the Concerned Citizens Programme, Kristian mulls over the numerous possibilities in which he can consolidate and present his research on masculinity, and opens up about the inherent challenges in organising safe spaces for inclusive dialogue. What are the strategies we can employ to create an environment for open and candid discussions about race and gender? How can we encourage active and effective participation when it comes to discussing undiscussable issues? More importantly, what does a safe space look like for male/masc-identifying minority-race individuals?
shit in my head:
I have numerous ideas in my head that have yet to be externalised. I have thoughts swirling and swirling and they only keep growing and growing as I talk to more and more people about my project. The next thing for me to do is to run a few dialogue sessions and to see what comes out of those.
dialogues ah i think cannot:
I am struggling, admittedly, to figure out what I want my final product to look like. Initially, the plan was to run a series of dialogues on Singaporean masculinity—which is still a very viable end-product. But I don’t know ah. It seems esoteric and honestly, uninteresting to me now. The dialogues will still be run, different kinds of dialogue structures will still be tested out. But I think the final product needs to take another form. Maybe it’s because I’m skeptical of how Singaporeans will engage with dialogue, of what kinds of Singaporeans will engage with a dialogue. And undeniably, to some extent, it is on me to lower the barriers of access—to make it less ‘Western’, less ‘liberal’, less virtue-signally, less progress, less don’t-know-what-else-people-think-something-like-this would be. But right now, it seems impossible for me to visualise a space in which Singaporean men would be encouraged to use their bodies to figure out how their gender plays a role in different spaces; for them to actually see challenging gender as a revolutionary praxis. I don’t want the space to be cerebral and disembodied—which can quickly happen in most dialogue spaces—call me a pessimist but how do I get Singaporean men to be comfortable with regulating their bodies less? Moreover, translating that in an accessible way seems tough.
Regardless, archiving will be very important for these trial dialogues that I’ll be running. But maybe there is some way for me to use the data that comes out from these dialogues as stimuli for the final installation. This would then mean that I’d have to look seriously into the ways I want to record these sessions. Do I video record them? Exclusively audio record?
I am most familiar with creative non-fiction and another idea was to collate thoughts, sharings, lessons from these dialogues and weave them into some sort of narrative. This is a lot of work. Compiling, writing, editing, re-editing, printing, publishing. But it seems like a missed opportunity for me to not try and use this project to grow and expand my writing. How much is out there about Singaporean masculinity? I don’t think that much. This could really be interesting. But the timespan is incredibly short, the scope seems too big or too small depending on how you look at it so this seems somewhat impossible. Tough la tough.
I am also interested in so many different strands of masculinity. Are there ways for men to talk about being survivors of sexual assault? What does that look like? What do men say, how do they feel? What do we do about misogynistic corporate culture and finance bros and male socialising? How do we end that? Why do men feel like they can run topless, why must they always summarise, why must they take up so much space in rooms, where does that assurance come from and how do we challenge that self-worth? What about NS and the kinds of masculinities that are crystalised in that space? What about masculinity and mental health, how do we get men to do more emotional labour?