Today, I chatted briefly with my friend Daniel, and we were discussing about this viral article on the Singapore’s Art Scene and on the topic of using a controversial title as a click bait.
It’s truly unfortunate how journalists these days like to sensationalize things–but then again, who can blame them? People are generally bored, and if it helps move papers, then sensationalism can’t be avoided, can it! Anyway, the article was about how this Singaporean artist Ong Keng Sen felt “embarrassed” when he talks about Singapore to his overseas colleagues. Honestly, Ong isn’t the only artist I’d met overseas who have felt less than proud about Singapore. Quite a lot of others have felt embarrassed too–due mainly to our (lack thereof) human rights laws and one-party rule.
But even then, that is not the point. The point was that Ong was talking about the problem of the Singaporean “meritocratic” system, a system which focuses strongly on quantitative measures and being pragmatic, so much so that we compromise on a potential vibrant arts scene. And when I saw the original post on Channel Newsasia’s facebook, there were so many angry comments against Ong, thinking that he’s a traitor who hates Singaporeans. But honestly he isn’t against Singaporeans, he’s just pointing out the cons of the Singaporean system–those angry people obviously didn’t even read the article, having just read the title and gotten ridiculously angry because they were perhaps insecure.
I then told Daniel about the article I wrote on Finland which went viral–same issue. A minority (Thank God) of foreigners actually completely missed my point about the Finnish system, because they didn’t read the article and just read only the title.
I also casually mentioned that after the article went viral, a lot of gentlemen started adding me on Facebook and Linkedin. My initial theory behind this phenomenon was that I suspected that gender equality in Finland is a myth–that is, business thought leaders are still predominantly males, and these thought-leaders are the people who added me. So I asked Daniel:
“I wonder why the people who added me are only guys and not ladies?” I asked.
“Because you’re an exotic Asian who scolds in a way they actually understood,” Daniel suggested–
“That is, A CREATURE!!!“
Haha! I am fascinated by the usage of the word “creature”–what an interesting perspective!! The Boyfriend calls me “Olio” sometimes–which means “creature” in Finnish. When I was in Norway my pretty lady hosts also referred to me as “a curious kitten”. And some of my Finnish/Japanese friends like to refer to me as a “puppy”–in Japanese, I also have a nickname of “wan-chan“, which happens to mean “puppy” as well. (Because my first name is Wan Wei and an affectionate way of calling your friend is [first name] + ‘chan’). So you see, I’m not new to being a creature to most of my non-Singaporean friends.
Daniel also gave a possible explanation which I found very interesting–
“So they added you because they think … “Wah this unique and interesting creature who speaks English…. Add!”
It’s quite funny, isn’t it?
Orientalism and stereotypes of Asian women are prevalent today too, aren’t they? For example, if you’re Asian, would you ever see an Asian guy as a creature? I personally won’t; I’d see the gentleman as a gentleman, but that is because I’m Asian myself. If you’re a Finn, would you see a Finnish lady as a creature? I don’t think you would, too!
However, what happens if you’re of a different race or ethnicity? For example–as a Singaporean-Chinese, do I see my Finnish boyfriend as a “creature”? Actually, sometimes! I always wonder why he has green eyes. Don’t you think it’s funny that a cute guy is affectionate, has green eyes and nice ash-blonde hair??
Sounds like a cat right!!! ♡♡♡♡♡
Is it healthy to be in a relationship with “a creature”? I think yes–because it keeps you fascinated. I’d been with my boyfriend for 4.5+ years already and I never get bored by just looking at him.
And also, when you treat someone you love as a “creature”, it is actually exonerating. I mean, a “creature” sets your loved ones apart from gender stereotypes and the many, many restrictions and expectations of gender. Such as expectations of equality, or adherence to traditional gender roles, etc. When you or your loved one are “creatures” to each other, terms are more open and there might be more kindness and forgiveness in the relationship.
Do you blame your cat for not sweeping the floor? No right?
Cute creatures exist to be loved! So I guess, sometimes being stereotyped and “de-humanized” affectionately isn’t too bad. Being a “creature” can only be hurtful, when people underestimate your abilities and start to be mean towards you. I guess ultimately, a framing is just a framing–the attitude behind how you view a person is more important than whatever Non-Human you link him or her to. For instance, sometimes my gay friends would have people calling them “freaks”–and I think this is not a nice thing to call anyone just because of their sexual orientation, because this term has the potential of hurting them. The intention behind that name is simply malice. It’s simply nasty!
Food for thought–it’s actually rather surprising to think that not all stereotypes are bad. Overall, I guess I’m okay being called a creature, as long as it doesn’t affect my professional abilities to get things executed, heehee!
Gotta go sleep, good night! 🙂