I am a baby-making machine
OCTOBER 16 — Some days it’s hard to shake off the feeling that all you are is merely a cog in the machine.
As humans we tend to value our individuality and identity — we like to feel special, but sometimes politicians tend not to share these values it seems.
Most recently it was Singapore’s Senior Minister of State Josephine Teo whose comments urging Singaporeans to reproduce as much and as early as possible left my ovaries feeling more like a national resource rather than part of my body.
While local daily The Straits Times welcomed Teo’s comments as feisty (after all she dared to use “risqué” words like menstruate and sex!), the reality was her comments were parochial and even patriarchal.
Defending the government’s schemes which prioritise housing for couples with children and swatting off the suggestion that surely any couple planning to have a child should be on the priority list for HDB (Public Housing) flats,Teo insisted only proven breeders should be at the top of HDB waiting lists.
Trying just isn’t good enough, only results count as they can’t stick a camera in your bedroom to see how hard you are trying.
“What if they can’t conceive? Take back the flat from them? How do you know they really tried to conceive? Can we check whether they use contraceptives? Cannot, right?” she said.
What? When did child bearing become another test in a nation already obsessed with exams and competitions?
An HDB flat while classified as “public housing” starts at around $300,000 (RM906,390). Once an affordable home was a birth right for every Singaporean; on marriage all citizens were eligible to purchase these flats putting very little cash down.
Today, however, HDB prices are a lot less affordable (approaching $1 million in some cases) and waiting lists are long with the government using the flats (which they build, price and ultimately own) as incentives for furthering their social engineering projects.
I can’t decide. Is my government telling me my desire to lead a fulfilling life in Singapore (which I dare say would include an affordable place of my own) is now no longer only linked to my willingness and ability to be married before a certain age but also linked to my ability to pop out children?
Or is my government saying the prudence and planning that is involved in buying and building a home before starting a family is actually unnecessary?
Teo also urged women to have children as early as possible as there’s no way to know if you are fertile until you try. “Maybe you have a major cyst,” she said (surprisingly callous about a diagnosis that can cause a lot of heartbreak) at which point aside from suffering from a medical condition, you’d also not be priority for housing.
And for those who claim they need a home before they embark on the road to parenthood because the sexy-times needs the space, the Minister of State handily clarified: “You need a very small space to have sex.”
This last comment has set the Internet ablaze as people with their eyebrows raised began offering hilarious scenarios of young couples furiously copulating in crowded, shared households with parents and in-laws standing by and cheering them on with juice.
Since the uproar, Teo has posted on her Facebook; “My interview might not have captured everything in the way I intended.”
So, let’s give her the benefit of the doubt and put the jokes aside only to categorically state: We aren’t farm animals to rut on the command of the government just in case anybody was mistaken.
* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.