22 Feb 2005

Singapore girls - a challenge to love

Yet again the finger of patriarchy points at the female...

Star, Malaysia
February 13, 2005

Insight Down South By Seah Chiang Nee

EDUCATED and financially independent, the new Singaporean woman is running into a wall of male traditions that is leaving some holes in their relationship, including marriage.
The trend had been building up over a couple of decades. In few other countries have women made larger strides in education and careers than in Singapore.

During the past few decades they have caught up with, and even overtaken, men in fields they had once dominated.

In university, women still outnumber men 55-45 with many moving strongly into subjects like media, mathematics, law and engineering, among others.

Recently girls won seven of the top 11 awards for A-level Physics, which had long been a boys’ domain.

Island-wide, women have moved into the highest ranks of the corporate world and commanded artillery units or police divisions, as well as trained jetfighter pilots. Ten women, aged 20-40, are planning to climb Mount Everest.

In short, the new female is able, confident and more than holding up half the heavens, but not getting equal success in their relationship with men.

This is running smack into a traditional male value of wanting to be seen wearing the pants, causing a growing “incompatibility”.

To continue reading...


bloodied said...

"the fingers of patriarchy" you say? is it the "desired" feminine traits potraited or the very marriage system itself?

i found this article rather balanced, a balm in fact, compared to the pro feminist articles by our local newspaper (especially TNP's article on vietnam brides). neither gender is at fault for failing to reach the social ideal of sexual stereotypes, imo

McbloodyDermott! said...

This happens to some extent everywhere. It may seem more acute here because girls have done as well if not better. That means there's less discrimination. At least that is my experience from living in 4 countries for long periods.

2Vamp said...

my 2 cents worth :

i just think that women here have embraced all there is to have. and to some extent, local (singaporean) men haven't quite kept up with the times.

might be cultural. might be mindset. but later generations will have to become more used to a vocal other half, they eventually ease up on the me-man-you-woman thingie, and hopefully start treating them like *partners* in a life journey, instead of baby- & dinner-making items.

have dated both locals and expats. and i can tell you, most firmly, that there is a difference.

bloodied said...

a rare piece of news (probably pro-family propaganda) from our local newspaper applauding singaporean men:


maybe we are too used to self bashing to have realised that imports does not necessary have "quality assured" stamped onto them and local goods are substandards. very much cold war mentality.

soci said...

I think the title of the article is clearly pointing the finger of blame at females, and the only 'balanced' section is this single paragraph,
"The other is the man sticking to a traditional view that it is his right as head to leave the babies and household work to his working wife. One in two women here have a job."
One paragraph out of so many is hardly balanced.

I tend to side with 2vamp and argue that it takes two to cause the breakdown of a relationship. Men seeem to have been left in the dust. The old traditional values no longer apply to the contemporary setting and structure of male-female relationships. It is no longer a question of male dominating the female, something a lot of men don't see, but a partnership between two equals. Requiring negotiation and open communication. Women have taken on their half of the 'goal orientated' breadwinner role', the men need to take on their half of the 'emotional care-giver role'.

soci said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Yes, you should if they're disrespectful remarks.


Anonymous said...

If you can, block these rude people from entering your website.


soci said...

I feel that they demean themselves as opposed to the person it is aimed at.

bloodied said...

an article on americans facing the same problem on foreign wives

"This is running smack into a traditional male value of wanting to be seen wearing the pants, causing a growing “incompatibility”. "
this paragraphs too.

yes this article do shine the spotlights on women in general, not in their failings, but rather the justifications and quotes of men who had married foreign brides.

i agree that everything should be considered in any disagreement (dialetic be damned) and in this case, both the female and the male.

however, imho, women and men could be equal, but never the same, our biological setups down to our chromosomes dictated so. the problems mentioned in the article are not that men are left in the dust by socio-evolution, but expectations unmet by both sexes.

Agagooga said...

Leaving them here shows how idiotic they are. Let them incriminate themselves!

soci said...

the lack of any really ability to communicate seems to indicate a young male.

So i will leave it on, and hopefully they will post again with more evidence of their lack of ability to communicate effectively.

bloodied said...

hahahhahahaha... yes i am, cheers

soci said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
bloodied said...

for goodness sake, no! i was responding to the "young male" thingie.

soci said...

Its not really a problem unique to Singapore. Divorce is still increasing and some argue there is a flight from marriage globally and in south east asia, including Singapore.

Here's a link to some research based on South-East and East Asia.

soci said...

ok, sorry bloodied. The biology argument seems to be hitting the headlines at Harvard University. Some professor is being lynched by the thought police.

bloodied said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
bloodied said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
bloodied said...

oops, sorry! could you delete the double entry and this as well?

Anonymous said...

To Princess:

Your repeated calls for people to stop being rude and offensive shows you don't get the meaning of what this blog is about. Democracy is apparently about the right to offend.

So what if some one left a rude comment? People can judge for themselves the (dis) merit of the content. As long as we're not violent towards each other, then we're not doing anything wrong.

Buddhist teachings have nothing to do with this, so I scratch my head when you quote them.

The fact that you respond when people comment shows that you are not treating all this as transience, and you too, are capable of getting hot and bothered about issues.

(I'm not the anon who left the rude comment. I'm the one who posted the first comment at "democracy is not a tea-party")

friskodude said...


Could you please delete the trolls and senseless comments on your site? I'd like to link to your posts, but really don't want to subject anyone else to flaming and trolls. thanks. Carl

Anonymous said...

To anonymous 3.34am

Do you see any of the ministers in the parliament debate in singapore debating in this manner, saying "Mcdermott, you sure love to stir shit up, you fat twat !!!!!"?

If you think religion does not play a role in society, then why does Weber's theory touches on this issue on religion?

soci said...

Lets not feed the trolls

Canopy said...

There seems to be this strange assumption that Singaporean women are getting more and more intelligent while Singaporean men are remaining ignorant slobs who are unsuitable matches for the women. While it is true that women are much more educated now than in the past, aren’t the men also more educated? As Singapore develops, how can it be that only one gender makes great progress?

Anyway, from what I’ve seen, the younger generation of men seem to want more than a maid cum child bearer. They are looking for soulmates. And they consider a common language important for communication between the spouses. My friend said he wouldn’t mind marrying a woman from China since he can speak Chinese(of course, not a mail-order bride, but someone he acually got to know), but he wouldn’t choose one from Vietnam or Thailand because he wouldn’t even be able to make friends with them.

soci said...

Yes Canopy there are a lot of good men and women out there trying to make their relationships work, not all men are ignorant slobs. Yes men are more educated in terms of achieving a degree but this merely prepares men to be the main bread winner and remove any idea that they are main care givers to their wives, children and elderly relatives. And essentially I think we all want to be loved, to love and to care for each other.

But the statistical trend is that in Singapore there is a shift away from marriage and an increasing divorce rate. See this article if you have time. http://www.populationasia.org/

In fact I see this increasing divorce rate and decline in marriage rates as evidence that love and marriage have become even more important for the individual. Feeling loved is so important that people will go through marriage and divorce and then re-marriage in order to feel emotionally connected to a soul mate.

Reality Check said...

Oh come on, please cut the crap.

That old, weary cliched line of "Singapore men want submissive housewives" / "Singapore men can't keep up" is just another piece of tiresome propaganda trotted out as a defence for Singapore women who love dating white men but need to convince themselves that they're not SPGs.

The line is utterly predictable, completely uninspired and, most importantly, a complete falsehood.

Singapore men want women who are both intelligent and nice ("nice" meaning "not bitchy"). Too bad for them, so many Singapore women seem to switch themselves to "bitch" mode when with Singapore men. Show them a caucasian, *any* caucasian, and they switch to "demure little flower" mode.

Strange phenomenon, that. Singapore women feel they should be as mean as possible with Singapore men, but become completely submissive when with a caucasian.

Anonymous said...

Well done reality check that managed to be sexist and racist in the one comment. The idea that people somehow change personalities depending on the race or colour of skin of those in close vacinity seems absurd, or the rant of someone suffering from a recent relationship breakdown.

Anonymous said...

I think the point being made was precisely that certain Singaporean women tend to be quite racist.

I don't see how sexism comes in - if what Reality Check wrote was sexist, then so is any comment that in any way praises women but does not praise men. Many comments already posted would fall into that category.

Labelling and mudslinging may seem to you to be good ways to undermine an argument that you don't agree with, but you're quite wrong.

Anonymous said...

Yet again the finger of patriarchy points at the female...

Anonymous said...

So, whenever someone says something negative about some women (not even all women, but some women), then that's the "finger of patriarchy"? Oh yeah, I see your logic.

That must mean that a lot of previous comments must have been the "finger of militant feminist extremism".

McbloodyDermott! said...

There are more than one Anonymous here. Sign up blogger like me. I'm too old to keep track.

Princess, stop complaining.

bloodied said...

this arguement always seems to burst into flames whenever it is posted.

i agree with mcdermott's view on the increased value of love behind the divorce rates. never have we, as humans, been able to access so many interpretations on it(from tv to novels).

mcdermott, has the above thesis been officially researched yet? if so, can you point me in the right direction as to where to find it among the numerous articles?

soci said...

Ulrich Beck has written a few articles on it. In particular on 'Love'.

soci said...

see The Normal Chaos of Love (with E. Beck-Gernsheim, 1995

soci said...

Here's a little quote
Search for Intimacy

One of the overall characteristics of marriage in Britain today is that it is based on the idea of romantic love, an idea which is a distinctive characteristic of modern culture but which takes on the appearance of being ‘natural’ and timeless. The chapter on Family in Giddens highlights studies which show that younger couples, whether married or cohabiting, stress their bond as a commitment freely given whilst their parents generation stress the significance of obligation and duties. The work of German sociologists Ulrich Beck and Elisabeth Beck-Gernsheim is discussed in some length on pages 178-80, which you should have read by now. They conclude that love in contemporary culture is paradoxical: on the one hand, romantic love linked to notions of personal growth has more importance than ever before, on the other hand, institutions such as marriage and parenthood are now so fragmented and diverse that there are few clear guidelines for how to achieve and sustain loving relationships. Our intimate relationships are freed from old constraints creating new opportunities and new pitfalls. We occupy a social world characterised, as the title of their book suggests, by The Normal Chaos of Love:

It is no longer possible to pronounce in some binding way what family, marriage, parenthood, sexuality or love mean, what they should or could be…Love is becoming a blank that the lovers must fill in themselves, across the widening trenches of biography, even if they are directed by lyrics of pop songs, advertisements, pornographic scripts, light fiction or psychoanalysis…

Time –honoured norms are fading and losing their power to determine behaviour. What used to be carried out as a matter of course now has to be discussed, justified, negotiated and agreed, and for that very reason it can always be cancelled. In search of intimacy the actors turn out to be their own critics, directors and audience, acting, watching and discussing it, unable to agree on the rules for achieving it as fast as they are needed. The rules constantly prove to be wrong, unjust and therefore merely provisional. In such circumstances it seems almost like salvation to take refuge in rigidities, in new/old black-and-white thinking…

[Ulrich Beck, and Elisabeth Beck-Gernsheim (1995) The Normal Chaos of Love, Oxford: Polity, pp5, 7]

bloodied said...

so can i assume that the squabblings are actually a consensus forming between the genders by defining the rules and power relations within the institutions?

"directed by lyrics of pop songs, advertisements, pornographic scripts, light fiction or psychoanalysis…"
taken from the above,
can i interpret this as that the catalyst for this change is increased media exposure?

soci said...

I wouldn't argue that there was one singular cause, the media is one among many.

And as for the 'squabblings' being consensus forming, I would agree. But could also led to someone leaving the relationship assuming that they can.