Space, sex, society, nordic men, chicken and eggs. What do they have in common? Not very much, except for Josephine Teo’s take on Singapore’s ageing population problem.
If you have’t heard, The Straits Times published an article a couple of days ago regarding an interview with Josephine Teo. Fast forward a few hours, everyone and their aunts have taken a jab at the esteemed Senior Minister of State regarding the forthrightness of her statement.
Apart from the frank and crude nature of her statement, this isn’t news. Essentially, someone important just said sex and we’re all ears.
“Instead of addressing the bottomline and pressing on the issue at hand, which is what this dialogue is about – ageing population, land scarcity, debating policy and societal development – we pay attention to the delivery and deliverer, because she said sex.”
The inherent issue here is the one we have with practicality. In essence, this is a link in the chain that is the rhetoric of Singapore politics thus far. Politician makes statement, public cries foul, accuses politician of losing touch, and everyone who has access to the spectacle gets a good chuckle. And fair enough, some of the esteemed do seem rather distant.
Instead of addressing the bottomline and pressing on the issue at hand, which is what this dialogue is about – ageing population, land scarcity, debating policy and societal development – we pay attention to the delivery and deliverer, because she said sex.
“… no one likes being told we need to procreate in dank alleys or to just go at it in the kitchen/dining room/balcony cum lift landing behind a wafer of a curtain while grandma is cooking dinner just because Singapore needs you to.”
Yes, I agree, the lady is quite frankly rather… frank, and it’s not hard to get offended. It’s not hard to imagine Josephine Teo as this insensitive aristocrat mocking us plebs from her ivory tower, commanding us condescendingly in her man pants. And rightly so, no one likes being told we need to procreate in dank alleys or to just go at it in the kitchen/dining room/balcony cum lift landing behind a wafer of a curtain while grandma is cooking dinner just because Singapore needs you to. I’m not one to take lessons from, but that’s not how you turn anyone on, let alone a country.
Yet I digress, the issues. We need to address the issues. I could talk about the dwindling population size, the Parenthood Priority Scheme application process, statistics regarding all the other grievances of Singapore life and the impending threat of extinction that looms over our heads. But – and this is a big six and half inches but – that would actually contribute in a substantial way, which isn’t exactly my intention here. I just wanted to point out that procreating, or at least the process of procreating, is supposed to be enjoyable, unless I’m getting that wrong. Surely no one fancies the idea of bearing the burden of a national crisis, much less having their BTO application held hostage while performing coitus, unless of course, I’m getting that wrong too.
“It’s uncomfortable, awkward and you know if the conversation goes on, you’ll get unsolicited tips you could never unhear.”
The big throbbing heart of the problem is this – you can’t fix an ageing population problem by systemically killing boners. While it’s more amusing to kick up a fuss about elbowroom for sex I wish I was getting, let’s not get blindsided by irrelevant issues regarding living space, and focus on the possibility of legalised voyeurism.
Another reason for the public outcry, I suspect, might just be because sex in itself is sacred to us. That having a rational and pragmatic discussion on how to facilitate socially responsible sex and childbearing is not something we want to discuss, because that just isn’t comfortable. For anyone. And while I suppose it is generally agreed that repopulating is somewhat of a duty, this is practically the equivalent of talking to Mum and Dad about grandkids. It’s uncomfortable, awkward and you know if the conversation goes on, you’ll get unsolicited tips you could never unhear.
Personally, if financial security wasn’t an issue, I wouldn’t want to reproduce just because society needs my unbelievably mediocre genes to circulate the gene pool. I certainly wouldn’t do it for the sake of getting priority on an apartment. I would, however, be okay with reproducing if I have found someone I don’t mind spending extensive amounts of time with. Because I was told that is kind of important if you want to start a healthy, functional family, responsibly. Unless, of course, I got that wrong too.
Cover image somewhat by Denis Gavrilenco