By Ashley T.
Recently, TechInAsia featured a new dating app for the Singapore market called Ivory. The anonymous developers of the app say it is for the ambitious and the high-achievers (and even denied on Twitter that it’s for elites) – but let’s call a spade a spade. This is an app for the elite of Singapore, and a platform to connect the future power couples of the country. In fact, as someone who would consider herself part of this community, I’m surprised something like this has not been created before!
Amidst all the controversy, I did a little soul searching and asked myself if an idea like that was really that exclusionary, narcissistic and prohibitive. Companies choose the most elite candidates for a job. If you were flying on a plane, you would want an elite pilot. Our government functions remarkably well with an elite and well-oiled team. Then why the fuss, when someone who is capable and willing of an elite partner – whether looks wise, academically, professionally, athletically, or whatever your niche may be – demands someone of her caliber match her? If I can be perfectly honest here, I do not conceivably see myself ever dating someone who studied in an ITE or went to a neighborhood secondary school. This is someone you are going to spend a large portion of your precious time with – possibly even the rest of your life!
Blame it on the rigid meritocracy that is culturally endemic to our island, or the ruthless pragmatism of Asiatic culture. The solution, in my honest opinion, should not be to seek ways to normalize the playing field for men who are less worthy; it should be to consistently raise the bar so only the best of the best propagate, and lead the country to greater horizons in the future. Several of our politicians admired such selectivity in this arena, and very famously (and rightly so) believed that human beings are not created equally. Born either out of this or something similar came policies like the Graduate Mother’s Scheme.
Before I digress too much into policy, let me bring it back to those who’re scratching their heads or fuming at their keyboards for my frank commentary. Women like me, and men, have always preferred to date within their own kind. Whether that may be through a religion or an ethnicity or a linguistic group or nationality, it has always been the case.
In Singapore, I truly believe we have benefited from a certain kind of homogeneity culturally – given certain idiosyncrasies between our different sub-cultures generally Singaporeans are woven from the same fabric. The distinction I believe, comes to play along economic lines and academic lines. A girl like me from Bukit Timah, who went to a convent school, and then to a top Junior College, and a top university in the United States, was exposed mostly to peers of either the same economic background or academic background. Therein lies my partner preference.
Let’s learn to look at elitism through a fresh lens of hope and ambition as opposed to detraction and animosity. So to whoever made that dating app, I say kudos! I hope I make it in!