Malay men more romantic than Chinese men

From ‘Do Malay husbands know something that Chinese husbands don’t?’, 15 Aug 2012, ST Forum

(Ivan Goh): THE total fertility rate of Malay Singaporeans last year was 1.64, followed by Indian Singaporeans at 1.09 and Chinese Singaporeans at 1.08 (“Get married, have babies”; Sunday).

Most incentives – maternity leave, maid levies and discounted taxes – are aimed at women, and may be working better for the Malays than for the Chinese. Perhaps the Government should find out why Malay women are more willing to have babies.

Are Malay men more romantic, persuasive and less stressed out by life’s perceived demands than Chinese men? Do Malay couples have a more viable network of caregivers?

I would like to believe that a man with confidence is attractive to women. He can better influence his wife to have more babies, especially if he believes he can adequately provide for the family. How can Chinese Singaporean men attain more confidence? In this modern age, the ability to provide translates into how much a man earns and his job security.

Greater confidence may well encourage Singaporean men to take the plunge earlier, and increase the potential for having babies sooner.

The statistics speak for itself and few have dared to ask why the Chinese are lagging behind our Muslim community, until the writer decided to broach a sensitive topic that has always been muddied by almost-taboo factors such as educational level, genes, status, religion, culture, diet and libido. There are exceptions in both races of course, with Chinese families who produce up to quadruple the national fertility average, and Malay families who stick to one child or none at all, and it’s hard to pinpoint exactly why Malay families are, on average, bigger than Chinese ones without stumbling into some form of stereotyping and risk accusations of racism. By saying that Malay couples have ‘more free time and are less stressed’ is insinuating that they don’t ‘work as hard’. By saying that they’re ‘persuasive’ is suggesting that Malay men are born sex machines. Such arguments are loaded with negative, unhelpful connotations and without a thorough, nationwide sex survey on the habits and appetites of the typical Chinese or Malay spouse, it’s all guesswork for now. I’m pretty doubtful, though, whether the writer’s claim of the Chinese man being less adept in the skills of seduction has anything to do with our miserable TFR. In this age of reproductive technology, you can father a child as long as you can afford it, even without bothering to pleasure your wife at all. There’s also an inherent contradiction in correlating confidence with earning power and hence more babies. Surely if a man spends most of his time making money, he’d have less for the Mrs, or children.  Or he would apply his gleaming confidence and hence sex appeal anywhere else other than at home and put their entire family unit at risk.

It’s also reasonable to ask if Chinese women place more emphasis on their careers hence put off childbearing compared to Malay women, rather than whether Malay men are Lotharios and Casanovas compared to the Pee Wee Herman Chinese. A husband can sweet serenade his wife all night long but will still fail if she’s not in the mood. Maybe it’s not Chinese men who are not ‘confident’ enough, but their women who are too ‘gung-ho’ when it comes to chasing their careers, to the point that sex becomes a 2 minute formality or non-existent and babies are pushed to the bottom of the ‘to-do’ list. Maybe it’s nothing at all to do with how career-minded Chinese couples are, but a case of poor time management. Maybe being a housewife and marrying early is more socially acceptable to a Muslim family than a Chinese one. Maybe people bring more babies into the world because they were born into big fertile families themselves, with the ‘extended family network’ being an incentive for raising a child, along with the passing down of ‘baby-making’ genes, which pretty much condemns the fate of traditionally small Chinese families to a self-limiting vicious cycle.

No one would profess to have the answer and maybe no one wants to know what it is because anything that you hypothesise is bound to be discriminatory in some way or other, but picking on the Chinese male’s personality flaw is probing the bark of a tree without seeing the forest.

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