On Wednesday (30 Jun), Channel News Asia (CNA) published a commentary piece entitled “Are university-educated women in Singapore asking too much for marriage?”, which has spurred debate among netizens, many of whom argued that the article’s headline seems to allude that women should settle for less than they deserve.
The article, penned by a freelance writer Tracy Lee, highlighted a finding from the latest Singapore Population Census data which indicates that singlehood has become increasingly common for highly-educated women and men with lower educational qualifications.
Citing the data, it noted that 21.1 per cent of men aged 40 to 49 who did not complete secondary school were single last year, compared with 12.3 per cent of men in the same age group who went to university.
Meanwhile, 8.7 per cent of women aged 40 to 49 who did not complete secondary school were single last year, while 18.7 per cent of women in the same age group who went to university were single.
The writer also cited “The Adapted Mind: Evolutionary Psychology and the Generation of Culture” book, which suggests that women would value their mate based on economic status, willingness to invest in relationships, security and control of resources.
This explains why men with lower educational qualifications and may be more likely to have lower-paying jobs, remain single, especially in a country where the cost of living is high, said the writer.
Ms Lee added that dual-career couples formed the largest group among married couples, with 52.5 per cent last year, an increase from 47.1 per cent in 2010.
In comparison, one in five university-educated women in their 40s is single.
“What gives? Are they too picky, too busy, too independent, too intimidating?” she noted.
To have a better understanding of why highly-educated women in their 40s remain single, the author reached out to some of her friends who are “single, tertiary-educated 40-something careerwoman”.
A 48-year-old media consultant, who was only identified as Hwee, told Ms Lee that she can be difficult to handle even though she has no problem in getting dates or entering long-term relationships.
Hwee proclaimed herself as someone who is mostly “fun to be with, low-maintenance and chill”, but her past relationships ended due to “ideological differences” between her and her past boyfriends.
“Since my 20s, I’ve had guys tell me that I’m too outspoken, too independent, too intimidating,’’ she said, adding that there were other reasons why her past relationships did not work out.
Although she eventually found someone who admires her independent mind at the age of 45, Hwee expressed that she is not ready to be married as it may hold back her career.
She told the author: “I feel in marriage and motherhood, the woman gets the short end of the stick. It can hold back her career, while burdening her with the lion’s share of household responsibilities.”
A 43-year-old project manager, named Dee, shared a similar thought and ended her five long-term relationships due to her not wanting to get married.
“She says she doesn’t have an ideal guy, and is open to dating someone who earns less than her – she’s done that before. But she’s had a fair share of the proverbial frogs in the dating scene,” the author described Dee.
Meanwhile, a senior advertising executive in her early 40s named Melanie, noted that her poor relationships in the past had taught her not to settle for a guy who cannot meet the expectations that she has listed out.
She listed someone who is not abusive or cheater, ideally two to five years older, experienced working overseas, decent looking, financially stable, respectful to parents, willing to have open conversations, sociable, confident, carries himself well, and able to accept Melanie’s job.
Referring to the list, the writer questioned if Melanie would accept that potential dates may find her demands “a high bar” which could lead to her being “forever single”, to which Melanie responded that she would rather be single and happy, than “attached but irritated”.
Netizens argued that getting married is one’s own choice to make, criticised CNA’s headline for being biased
Penning their thoughts under the comments section of CNA’s Facebook post, many netizens pointed out that it is a person’s own choice whether to remain single or get married, and that singlehood should not be painted as a “sad and negative outcome” in life.
One netizen wrote: “Marriage is great, singlehood is great. Marriage can be tiresome, singlehood can be tiresome. There really needs to be a move away from this obsession with painting singlehood as a sad and negative outcome to life.”
“It’s a choice these days. Even guys also can choose to not get married. As you become affluent, you will have expectations, and it’s not easy for another human being to fit into your expectations,” said another Facebook user.
A handful of netizens criticised the article’s headline for being biased against women, as it seems to allude that women should settle for less than they deserve just to get married.
One netizen wrote: “If a guy is unmarried he’s a bachelor, if a woman is unmarried, it’s society’s problem… ”
Another netizen commented: “What do you mean by ‘asking too much’? So it’s unreasonable for women to voice out their opinions in a relationship and find partners who can understand them?”