Singapore girl
Time to play the 'little woman'
Girls here are smarter, driven but do they better good partners than neighbouring girls? Letter in Straits Times.
Nov 4, 2004

A FEW weeks back, I was intrigued when two male friends started lambasting the Singapore female and exalting the China girl.

It was not because of the concept of cross-matching across countries. That has been going on for centuries now, and I, being half-Peranakan, should be the last to raise an eyebrow about outsourcing for mates. Rather, it was the mindset of the men that was interesting.

'China girls are so pretty and have lower expectations,' said one. Added the other:
'Singapore girls are too demanding, they have a long list of expectations.'

Each glanced at me expectantly, as if waiting for me to put up an impassioned defence of the hard-to-please Singapore woman.

I half-smiled, waiting for the 'prawn-peeling' issue to surface. This was the mode of conversation I would have expected from 50-year-old single or slighted men, but coming from the mouths of 22-year-old boys with bright futures was a stunning revelation of the mindset of the young Singaporean male.

Either they have no originality or Singapore girls are really too much to handle.

The news of the past two weeks confirmed the latter for me: Young 20-something men going to Bintan for cheap sex; 30-something men going to Vietnam for quick marriages. What is going on here?

I have been to Vietnam, and I love the place. The girls, true to form, are slim, tall and soft-spoken. Every word is punctuated with a smile, even when you are driving a hard bargain with them.

Their speech is melodious, and they work hard without complaining, carrying loads of cloth and vegetables in the market stalls and food places. Simple, gentle and hardworking, it's hard not to fall in love with them.

So too are Malaysian girls. Having friends who are dating these girls, I have observed that they are generally of the 'saccharine' variety. Neither loud nor argumentative, they pander to the boys' needs.

Not as doormats, but as cheerful assistants, who see it as their obligation to help their men without expecting anything in return. Not that they are stupid - oh, no, the Malaysian girls I know are smart and hardworking, with careers of their own.

But when it comes to matters of the heart, they play the docile, giggly girlfriend with as much aplomb as their Viet counterparts.

Again, it's easy to see where their attraction lies.

I cannot comment on the Chinese girls or the girls from Bintan, but I can contrast the Malaysian and Vietnamese girls I know with Singapore girls. We are, generally, extremely driven by ideals and emotions.

In an argument, the Singapore girl is twice as likely as her Malaysian or Vietnamese counterpart to stride away in a huff or throw water on the male's face or hold a public screaming or crying fit.

Not for this girl are soft, barely audible replies. The Singapore girl debates and argues impassionedly. She wants to win at all costs and treats her love conquests like those fought in the office arena.

She may be pretty, yes, smart, yes, but, oh, so demanding.

The Singapore girl, in short, is a challenge to love. Although she may, at the end of the day, be a supportive and faithful spouse, the barbs hiding her soft interior are daunting to the suitor.

She is materialistic, and loves being so. Shopping is a major hobby, and looking good is absolutely essential. The man is but another accessory, a helper, chauffeur, bag carrier.

Her girlfriends egg her on, smiling at one friend as her boyfriend picks her up after class each day and cheering the girl who unceremoniously dumps her cheating boyfriend in the middle of the road.

Girl power, we think unanimously. We are not going to be one of those docile wives who nod their heads and cook for you at the slightest command. We are not going to have wool pulled over our eyes by your romantic nonsense. No way. We are women of the new age, liberal, free and... single?

Somehow the whole idea of women's liberation in Singapore seems to have come at the expense of our love lives. We have assimilated Western role models of strong women without taking into account the men that are alongside us.

I have no answers, short of comforting Singapore women with the fact that pets make quite good companions.

However, for the sake of government procreation policies, I think it's imperative that a compromise be struck between the Singapore woman and man, before the Singapore born and bred woman becomes a relic of the past.

I remember an interview years ago in which a prominent local host, very much an image of the career-driven Singapore woman, said that with her then boyfriend, she played the role of the 'little woman'. Perhaps therein lies the secret weapon that Singapore women need to cultivate: a softer un-barbed personality for matters of the heart.
Wong Mei Xuan (Miss)
Straits Times
Oct 23, 2004