Singlehood is not a disease

Women like Ms Ng Ping Ping (left) face challenges common to successful single women, says reader Jaclyn Toh Ai Lin.
Women like Ms Ng Ping Ping (above) face challenges common to successful single women, says reader Jaclyn Toh Ai Lin.PHOTO: MIKE LEE FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

The article, Men Dare Not Date Her (Life, July 19), and the accompanying readers' comments online highlight the challenges that continue to face successful, independent single women in Singapore.

The comments Ms Ng Ping Ping received from her male friends indicate that misogyny is still alive and well.

As a fellow career woman who enjoys every bit of my work and lifestyle, I empathise with Ms Ng.

Why should we shy away from working hard and trying to come out on top? If we have the ability and a strong work ethic, we should aim to be the best.

Women are still judged by external feminine attributes despite all our intangible personal and professional achievements. We face conflicting messages every day. Society equates femininity with  passivity  and obedience. Women who display male traits such as assertiveness and drive are derided as having lost their femininity and are supposed to feel hollow for it.

Perhaps men would be better off honing their own achieve- ments and improving their self- esteem instead of expecting women to fluff their fragile egos.

Single women are fair game for public scrutiny on all aspects of personality and lifestyle to explain their singlehood, as if it were a disease.  Sensationalist headlines and gleeful reporting on the liquor, holiday resorts and bedsheets that Ms Ng enjoys demeans women who work hard and rightfully want to enjoy the fruits of their labour.

An equally successful man enjoying life in the same manner would not be newsworthy. Neither would he be expected to give up his standard of living for the sake of having a family.

What then of women who have remained single intentionally or through circumstance?

As society grows and changes, we need to reconcile lifestyle choices that may not fit the traditional mould.

Dr Jaclyn Toh Ai Lin

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 01, 2015, with the headline 'Singlehood is not a disease'. Subscribe