It’s difficult not to ignore the demographic of local Singaporean women dating foreign men in Singapore. Every couple of months, I go to the popular drinking night spot club street in Singapore. Whenever I’m there, I’m flooded with the expat crowd from the central business district. It’s hard not to notice them, it’s also hard not to notice the Asian woman wrapping her hands around a Caucasian male.
Asian masculinity is a topic I’m interested in since getting into the self development space.
There are inevitable questions that pop out: Are Singaporean men sexually undesirable? Are Singaporean men boring losers?
I did some Googling on the internet’s general sentiment on this subject. I found out our popular blogger Xia Xue’s opinionon the state of Singaporean men. She goes on a rant on how Singaporean men needs a certain amount introspection, start adding value to society, stop whining about the government, stop posting on forums and stop reference colloquial sexual terms when it comes to sex.
Spoiler: She ended up marrying a foreigner.
There is also another long article by a foreigner living in Singapore titled: ‘what’s wrong with Singaporean men’.
He argued that 1) Singaporean men aren’t independent because they don’t move out of home 2) Singaporean men are sexist and are stuck in the last century 3) Singaporean men are stingy on dates 4) Singaporean men dress poorly and put no effort into their appearance 5) Singaporean men look great on paper but are poor dates.
Unfortunately, being a Singaporean male myself, I agree with some of their points.
The Case Against: Singaporean Men are Not Boring Losers
So if Singaporean men are completely losers, does that mean that Singaporean women aren’t choosing Singaporean women as dating partners at all?
Interestingly, I found statistics that the majority of Singaporean women are still marrying Singaporean men. There’s even a journal article attempting to disprove the portrayal of Singaporean men that marry abroad as ‘losers’ or failures. If you’re trying to disprove something, especially through a rigorous scientific study, there may be some truth to it. Right?
However, you could argue marriage can be viewed as a rational and economical choice. It doesn’t really demonstrate the sexual desirability of Singaporean men. There are even evolutionary theories that suggests that women choose long term commitment with men because of long term safety, security and not because they are sexually attractive.
I’m not going to debate you on the multiple of evolutionary theories on this, but you get the rough drift.
Well, my personal belief is that Singaporean men are NOT complete losers in life. The majority of the Singaporean male population goes through mandatory two years of military training and the majority of us are formally educated.
That ultimately, isn’t a ‘loser’s mentality’.
I’ll quote Singapore’s first Prime Minister’s Lee Kuan Yew’s on this:
“You know the Singaporean. He is a hard-working, industrious, rugged individual. Or we would not have made the grade. But let us also recognise that he is a champion grumbler.”
From my experience, Singaporean men are a great at putting in the hours and grinding it out.
However, I think a lot of us measure up pretty poorly in other areas, especially when it comes to certain masculine traits: being assertive, being outspoken and having independent thinking.
Our Culture: The State of Singaporean Masculinity
I’m a Singaporean male bred and born from the heartlands in Singapore. I’m not born into a privileged family. I stayed in a HDB, a public flat the majority of my life, received a typical Singaporean education. Throughout the years, I’ve travelled and lived in other cultures from South East Asia, United States and Europe up to months at a go.
Here’s my critique.
Singaporean men are ‘boring losers’ when it comes to standing up for their own ideals and values. However, this is the opportunity cost of a relatively conservative Asian culture, not to mention that free speech is known to be compromised in Singapore.
- Our Life Choices
Our life choices are often dictated by the judgment and opinions of society. This includes our friends, our family and society expectations in general. We never bothered to differentiate ourselves in a manner that might be different from a societal norm. This plays out in our career choices as well.
Singaporean men often choose the more ‘safe choices’ of being an accountant, a lawyer or a doctor as their career choice. You often also hear people lament that the arts, music scene in Singapore is a dead end, and there’s no money in art of music.
There is also a huge cultural pressure of males to be financially successful. Hence, we often sacrifice our own ideals and values for the sake of financial success. When you adjust your behaviour to follow suit with society with the fear of being seen as different, or standing out, those aren’t exactly courageous traits.
I was always interested in entrepreneurship and told myself I would end up going into business since I was a teenager.
However, I hesitated to launch this business as a dating coach for years because I was afraid of the controversiality of teaching men how to attract women. If I had been honest with myself, it was the fear of being unique and different that held me back.
- Singaporean Men and Relationships
I often hear my Singaporean male friends complain that they aren’t being able to bring a girl back home because he’s afraid to anger his parents.
That’s not only a form of sexual shame, but that’s also a lack of boundaries. We never truly break away and learn to be independent away from the safety and comfort of our parents home.
It’s a cultural norm in Singaporean culture to stay with Mum and Dad till you’re married. That’s because rent is known to be expensive in Singapore and almost everyone I know stays with their parents (including me). That’s a problem many Singaporean men face.
Modern Freudians believe that the defining emotional struggle for men is emotionally disassociating from the safety and care of the emotional attachment of their mother.
However, in Singapore, a lot of us still live with Mum and Dad and are emotionally dependent on them. Even the Singaporean billionaire, Min Liang Tan is proud of living with his parents.
Personal experience backs this up as well, I always notice a stark difference in motivation whenever I’m back home with my parents as compared when I’m travelling alone abroad. I always felt more free and motivated to pursue my own endeavors when I’m living alone.
- The Singaporean Education System
Thirdly, the Singaporean education system doesn’t really encourage you to stand up for yourself or think outside of the box either.
Since day one, you are spoon fed and told to just follow the system. It felt stupid to me that the sole purpose of going to University of it isn’t the actual role of learning but to get the highest grade in your examinations.
Curiosity is often sacrficed for the sake of extrinsic rewards. You’re memorizing that periodic table in chemistry class not because you give a fuck about chemistry itself, but so that you can pass your examinations.
You’re told by the government, your friends, your parents that your role here on planet earth is to fulfil your parents/society wishes of you being an accountant/lawyer/doctor/engineer and *insert your typical Asian career choice*.
I remembered that I chose to go to a Junior college just to make my mother happy. Some might see it as filial piety. In hindsight, I merely didn’t want to piss my Mum off. I would definitely be happier and flourished better in a polytechnic environment, rather than a stringent academic setting in Junior college.
- Sexual Shame in The Singaporean Culture
Asian men are stereotyped to be more shy, conservative with a general lack of masculinity. Sexual shame inflicts not just Singaporean men, but men all over the world, it’s just more so in Asia.
That’s unfortunately true to a certain extent. From my observations, the female figure in Singaporean families is often the more dominant one, making decisions in the household. I might be wrong, but it’s a general observation.
For some reason, hitting on women openly is something that you’re shamed upon in Singaporean culture. That screws up our perception of dating and relationships, creates a lot of unnecessary drama and mind games. You’re left thinking at the end of the day, how can I actually hit on her then?
Growing up, you’re conditioned not to openly discuss our emotions. Sex is often perceived as a bad thing.
I remembered that the topic of sex, relationships and emotions were NEVER discussed during family dinners when I was growing up. Needless to say, I was piss poor with my relationships with women and that single-handedly inspired my journey as a pick up artist.
This lack of emotional depth and sexual shame may lead to us Singaporean male being perceived as ‘boring’ and ‘unexpressive’.
- The 5 Cs of Singapore
There’s a pervasive invisible script that a Singaporean male has to go to a good University, please Mum and Dad, get a respectable job, purchase a HDB, pump out 2.5 kids and retire by 65 or some age that the government decides. This model used to work for our parents. That’s because that was what it was required economically for their generation at that point of time.
So what is the result of this cultural script?
Hundreds of Singaporean men working in jobs they don’t enjoy, just to keep impress people they don’t like, to earn money they don’t need and splash it on the common Singaporean 5 Cs: Condo, credit card, car, cash and country club membership.
You get a generation of successful men who are pushovers, don’t assert themselves, can’t get a date and end up embroiled with sex with mommy issues.
Historically, men attached their entire identities to their careers and professions. That’s where we’ve always derived our sense of self worth. That’s how men asserted their emotional autonomy.
However, Singapore has evolved to a society of financial luxury. This is true for many Western cultures and in Singapore. Not to mention that women have equal opportunities, work harder than men, and there even cases of women outperforming men in Math and Science.
Forward thinkers argue that in a society where men no longer can assert themselves in a traditional manner, men can no longer define themselves through these old identities anymore.
How can You Get Over These Cultural Scripts?
Okay, I may be being too harsh in my critique here, because these cultural scripts make the general Singapore population ‘boring losers?’ and not just Singaporean men.
So starting today, how can you as a Singaporean male, or any male read this site, become more sexually desirable?
- Step outside of these ‘Singaporean’ and invisible scripts
STOP being the goody two shoes Asian kid. Swearing a little won’t fucking kill you.
- Invest in yourself, learn social skills and become socially charismatic
Asians are stereotyped to be introverted, by doing the opposite you can stand out.
Social skills can be learned, and personality can be changed and develop. There’s tons of psychological research behind this. Who cares if you’re Singaporean Asian?
- Heal yourself of the shame from your childhood
Now, I’m not saying all Asians have a repressed childhood. However, there’s a general trend that most Singaporeans I talk to are pursuing careers because they want to please their Mum, Dad or whoever.
Unfortunately, if you were ever shamed for ‘being yourself’ as a child then you probably harbor some degree of shame. This shame may deliberate you not just in your social interactions, but life in general.
People who are sexually desirable often have an emotional depth to them. When you get in touch with your emotional realities, this depth will shine through your every being.
It took me half a decade of self-introspection and I can safely say for sure I get better reactions from women all over the world than I did back then.
- Take a different perspective on masculinity
It’s no longer enough to define ourselves as men through our pay check. It’s no longer enough define ourselves as Singaporean men through old fashion ideas of stoicism. That might have worked for our forefathers.
However, you can no longer define yourself as the typical Asian male or career choices if you want to be sexually attractive to women.
Every set of cultures have different rites of passage of how males assert their autonomy. However, there’s no longer any cultural norm of masculine achievement in Singapore. You and I find ourselves as the first generation of men that must create our own.
This isn’t easy. In a multitude of ways, we’re ill equipped.
Striking out on your own path and creating our own rite of passage requires courage, ambition, technical skill: all conventional masculine traits. However, it also takes introspection, emotional awareness, vulnerability and a willingness to fail. Unfortunately, traits that aren’t really taught to us in the Singaporean culture.
However, you can be the first of Singaporean men that take a different step.
Just like how our founding fathers did half a century ago.
Yi’En, C. (2012). Transnational masculinities in situ: Singaporean husbands and their international marriage experiences. Area , 44, 76-82.