...I love debacle even more!!
TODAY Newspaper, 26 August 2005
THE bold suggestion by reader Wilson Wong ("Time to replace marriage with a cohabitation contract?", Aug 23) that the physical element in fidelity can be decoupled from the emotional has generated the controversy he predicted it would.
Also predictable, but most disappointing, was that none of the men whose reactions were published had any stomach to address the far more significant point made by the same reader — that marriage offers nothing to Singapore men.
Sexist double-standards apply even before marriage.
Women are seen as savvy for insisting that prospective husbands must earn enough to foot the bills, never mind that this reflects a materialistic, selfish and sexist mindset. Men who want wives who are docile are, on the other hand, derided for being insecure and sexist.
Upon marriage, men are expected to be the main providers. Naturally, then, the bigger share of nurturing and care-giving should fall on women.
Yet, men have had to put up with a female chauvinistic ideology that "spins" this division of labour as a manifestation of the oppression of women by men.
A man's role in providing is easily quantifiable, in terms of dollars and cents, with women having ready recourse in the form of the maintenance summons.
What, on the other hand, can a man do if his spouse is an indifferent wife or mother? What can he do if his spouse is seldom interested in physical contact but demands fidelity as a matter of right?
Beyond filing for divorce, Singapore men can do absolutely nothing.
Filing for divorce isn't easy for men, as the system and society are too ready to blame our gender for the breakdown of marriages. Given the general conditioning by female chauvinistic influences to see men as rogues, will such complaints by men get a fair hearing?
Our division of matrimonial assets in divorce is sexist and unfair towards men.
Wives are primary care-givers and secondary providers, while men are main providers and secondary care-givers. In deciding on the division of matrimonial assets, the woman's financial contributions are rightly considered.
However, even the most indifferent wife and mother will be able to rely on a virtual presumption by the Courts that she had made substantial non-financial contributions.
The point is, both spouses have borne the stress and sacrifice in discharging their roles, so why should a wife be awarded a premium for being the primary care-giver, when the husband gets none for faithfully discharging his role as main provider?
And for all the talk about asking men to do more housework, a husband who has done just that will have a hard time proving it in court.
The practice of almost automatically awarding sole custody of any child of the marriage to the wife is also sexist, outdated and unfair to men.
The bond formed with a child by living with him or her daily is likely to be a lot closer than anything achievable with access only on weekends, no matter how hard a man tries. Effectively, divorce means that a man loses his children to his wife.
The much-welcome decision by a High Court judge to award joint custody will hopefully portend a more enlightened trend.
Of course, a wife is entitled to maintenance from her husband for herself, which is separate from maintenance for the children.
The question that men and the media in this country don't seem to have the guts to ask often enough is why the modern, confident, independent woman is not half as enthusiastic about removing what should be seen as a patronising provision of the law as she is about demanding equal benefits.
Let's face it: For Singapore men, marriage stinks. And the gathering female chauvinist campaign — that which forces men to do more housework while women retain the right to decide whether they want to reciprocate by paying more of the bills — stinks to high heaven.
But it seems to me that unless Singapore men find the guts to stand up and demand fair treatment for themselves, they will deserve only the scraps the female chauvinists deign to give.