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Sun, Feb 22, 2009
The Star/ANN
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She holds up 'half the heaven'

Globalisation has changed the face of society, so much so that today's Singapore Girl has closed the gap with her sister in the West, in her sexual mores, too.

IN GOOD times or bad, the emerging New Singapore Woman out-performs the man in many areas – and more than holds up “half the heaven” (as Mao Zedong once said of China).

During the past decade or two, this young confident, better-educated and increasingly independent-minded person has become as sophisticated as her sister in the West.

But there has also been a controversial part of the transformation; her sexual values, too, have closed the gap with other global cities.

Recent events have shown just how much society, and our women, have been changed by modernisation, including the following:

1. As if taking a cue from the US, a 32-year-old school teacher and mother pleaded guilty to having sex on six occasions with her student aged 15. She has made history by becoming the first Singaporean woman to be charged with having sex with a minor.

2. TV and radio celebrity Jamie Yeo, 31, recently blogged about how she lost her virginity at 18, and other intimate details of how she found pleasure at six.

In a message no one’s grandmother would likely have voiced, Jamie told the men: “It is your duty to romance us, even if we’re fussy, picky and annoying. For we are also beautiful, sexy, loving and endearing, and don’t forget, you need us. We bear you children.”

3. Parents reacted angrily when a 32-year-old primary school teacher posted photos of herself in G-string bikinis that were accessible to her pupils. Her defence: Teachers, too, are entitled to live their own private lives.

Nowadays chat-sites frequently carry discussions about married women having affairs with their office colleagues, a trend that was virtually unheard of 20 years ago.

One report estimated that one in seven married women has had affairs at least once in her lifetime.

“My male colleague told me that he prefers married women because there won’t be strings attached ... and these flings are more exciting,” a blogger related.

Before I proceed, I must hasten to say that two-timing is a predominantly male game, which happens much less often among wives. Neither is promiscuity confined to youths. In fact, the older adults are probably more guilty.

Secondly, in case anyone should misread this, Singapore society (of all races) remains broadly serious, conservative and religious.

However, the increasing global influences in recent decades have eroded traditional values among a growing minority of young people – particularly women.

What was viewed as “immoral” by their grandmothers is considered “normal” by many girls and boys today.

In a recent web posting, Randolph remarked: “I spoke to a relative who used to be a taxi driver stationed at the Mandarin Hotel for more than 20 years.

“He told me that whenever there were US marines here there would be so many girls to pick up early in the morning for trips to NUS (National University of Singapore) hostel.”

He appears worried about the trend. “We must stop this degeneration caused by policies that displace families and the proper upbringing of our children and future generation.”

A Dr Lee wrote about his experience of living for five years at NUS Residence Halls: “Co-inhibiting and intimacy are often sights at all NTU (Nanyang Technological University) and NUS residence halls.”

The boys and girls were placed on separate floors, he said. “You’d see half-naked guys running around the girls’ floor in the middle of the night. Some couples don’t even close their doors when making out.’’

In a way it was good, Dr Lee added, “because most couples I know ended up marrying and having kids, which is good for reproduction health and numbers”.

The interactive Straits Times reported about a girl prostituting herself online “in order to support her family”. Its informant said: “Online soliciting is increasingly common in Singapore.”

The report added: “Singaporean websites with sexually explicit content were also brought into the media spotlight in recent months. Cases include explicit posts on an air stewardess’ blog.”

The teenage girl who offered sexual services named the price: S$200 (RM478) per 45-minute affair. Several racy photos alleging to be her were posted.

Newspapers sometimes carry news of the clubbing habits of the younger set, while counsellors have expressed concern about the rise in teenage drinking.

There had been instances when fashionable young women were seen lying drunk on the street outside Yuppie bars covered in vomit.

To be sure, they’re far from being an everyday habit, but excessive drinking among women is growing.

Melissa Lim, centre director of Students Care Service (Yishun), has urged parents to talk about sexuality with their children to reduce unwanted pregnancy and venereal disease.

“There’s definitely a trend of younger children experimenting with sex, pornography and online sex chats,” she said.

In some ways, Singapore is reaping what it has sown. Forty years of prudish, high-pressure living had produced an unexciting society when it came to sex.

Most parents avoid educating their children about it, leaving them to find out – and experiment – from less desirable teachers.

Is the new world good or bad? Great, say many youths, since they believe there’s nothing wrong about a little fun now and then.

The vast majority of parents think otherwise. This trend is already dealing a blow to the sanctity of marriage and the family.

When it comes to sexual initiative, the Singapore woman apparently tops Asia – just as she excels in other fields.

Some 18% of the women here initiate sex, a higher proportion than anywhere else in the continent, according to a Time magazine survey.


Editor's note: The previous picture has been replaced as it did not accurately portray the contents of this article.

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