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Saturday, November 30, 2013

History Making in Singapore: Who is Producing the Knowledge? (2/2)

(Continued from Part 1)

History Making in Singapore: Who is Producing the Knowledge?

"The poverty of historiography is well illustrated by the selected bibliography of Singaporean historical sources produced by the library of the National University of Singapore; in a volume of over 200 pages, the section entitled ‘historiography’ included only five items...

Syed Hussein Alatas, a Malay scholar, has also discussed the difficulties facing history writing in Singapore. For him, sources were the main problem. He pointed to difficulties with dating Malay materials and to the bias of colonial sources. In his conclusion, he called for historians of Singapore to have a strong sense of objectivity and morality, arguing that reading the ‘wrong’ sorts of sources will corrupt the historian. ‘If you consider the works of a writer who does not have that foundation of morality as a source of historical insight,’ he cautioned, ‘then the history you receive would be a distorted one’. He refers here to Raffles, whom he considers to have written ‘biased’ accounts of Singapore’s early colonial history. Yet it is difficult to write about Singapore without reference to its colonial heritage; exposure to sources with views that reflect their time need to be engaged with rather than ignored because they are polemical.

The problem with sources in Singapore is less Alatas’s fear of contamination by immoral historians and more the censorship by the Singapore government of some archival sources, particularly more recent materials. Even when sources are not at issue, those who are working on Singaporean history show a reluctance to consider post-independence sources, as they are deemed too sensitive and a potentially risky area of research. Consequently, recent research has tended to focus more on the colonial era, merger with Malaysia and then separation...

Singaporean history remains marginal to academic endeavours in Singapore, even in history departments. The most useful analyses of Singaporean historiography often appear as asides by Singaporean scholars, in the course of other research...

Two political comments highlight the shift that has occurred: Rajaratnam’s 1970s statement that ‘knowing where you are going is more important than knowing where you came from,’ and Lee Kuan Yew’s aforementioned proclamation of 1998, ‘Before you discuss your future, remember how we got here’...

History has changed from an antagonist to the state, into a tool of pacification, whilst actually remaining the same. History is of interest to the state precisely because of its usefulness. As a nation building tool, history can, as Benedict Anderson noted, help to construct or validate a myth of origins for the national community. Initial nation building efforts attempted to down play history. Independent Singapore was beset with potential ethnic tensions. A series of race riots in the 1960s made this threat explicit. Many of the early actions of the PAP government were focused on avoiding further racial divisions. The PAP argued that any focus on the past would facilitate greater ethnic tension and was thus threatening and destructive. Nevertheless the project of nation building required a cohesive identity and so the PAP sought to invent that identity.

In constructing a collective past for the nation the PAP has fostered what Heng Chee Chan and Hans-Dieter Evers see as ‘regressive identity’ based on the revival of proud traditions. A ‘return to the golden past’ approach was inappropriate. The PAP was unable to return to the ethnic heritage of its population... instead the PAP focused on themes of survival and struggle and by doing so submerged history. Lian Kwen Fee sees the official view of pre-1975 as being that of a ‘collective amnesia was…most appropriate for Singapore’. The PAP utilized cultural constructions of the past to emphasize the threat of racial tension in this way emphasizing the shared experience of building the nation. The PAP links the past and fear.

The PAP has always accepted a version of events that include colonization. Colonialism is an essential part of the PAP’s rhetoric about economic development. What is new is that since the 1990s the PAP has accepted that Singaporeans have more entrenched ethnic identities. Education policies concerned with mother-tongue language learning and the inclusion of Confucian values in the moral education curriculum are part of this desire to cultivate Singapore as an inherently ‘Asian’ nation. ‘Asianess’ has become significant for the PAP and this requires the inclusion of cultural heritage in the understanding of history.

The official story told of Singapore’s history revolves around race, in particular the threat of racial chaos: the British instituted a policy of divide and rule, which kept ethnic communities apart, but which was good for the economy. When the Japanese occupied Singapore during the Pacific War (1941-5) they treated all Singaporeans badly, which partially unified the populace. At the end of the war there was racial chaos. Merger with Malaysia was needed to stop this. Singapore’s expulsion from the Federation of Malaysia was the greatest threat it faced. There was great potential for rioting, forestalled by the PAP. In this version, the threat of racial violence is in both the present and future and the PAP are the only ones who can prevent it erupting.

Constructing and essentializing the past in this fashion does two important things. First it establishes the necessity of the PAP; secondly it establishes that there is no tension currently. The possibility of tensions is never far away and there are constant reminders. Threat and struggle are the two dominant themes the PAP promotes in its understanding of Singapore’s history, and events and issues are manipulated to fit with this model. Anxiety about the future can be stressed and linked to specific historical understandings of events.

Although the British occupied Singapore for over a hundred years, colonization has been homogenized in the official history into three essentialized experiences: the British race policy of divide and rule, the race discourse of the ‘lazy native’ and the provision of necessary infrastructure. Like the British’s achievements in providing the essential infrastructure, the PAP’s main achievements similarly have been furnishing the necessary infrastructure. Many would argue that the PAP has also kept in place myths about the ‘lazy native,’ which have been re-deployed in, for example, discussions of criminality. The PAP brands colonialism as primarily being about divide and rule yet their own rule can be typified in these terms, albeit it in slightly more subtle ways...

The Singaporean state responded to the rise in nostalgia by trying to co-opt it for nationalist purposes. In transforming nostalgia from something that could potentially undermine the policies and rhetoric of development, to a positive part of a broader and multilayered nation building project, the state is acting in a typically adaptive mode...

[On Yesterday.sg] The banner for the web-page depicts seven historic items—a black and white cut out image of a young Chinese girl, a sepia photograph of a British family, a colour image of glass Fanta bottle, a painted pair of palm trees, a colour photograph of a red VW Beatle, a black and white image of a Chinese Shophouse, and a representation of a film reel and projector. Few of these images are exclusively Singaporean. The shophouse, slightly indistinct at the back of the images, does show washing being hung out on poles, but it is hard to make arguments of specificity for Fanta and VW. There is an obvious absence of historical images of Malays and Indians and a privileging of the colonial image...

Beyond the immediate nation building agenda, the Singaporean state has also found a powerful tool for depoliticizing memory and nostalgia. If nostalgia can be transformed into a collection of images, of shared experiences, it is no longer about wishing the pace of life was slower or that the contemporary way of life was more like that of the 1970s...

Cherian George made the suggestion that the quintessential Singapore T-shirt—‘Singapore: A Fine City,’ a reference to the copious fines and punishments—should be replaced by ‘Singapore: Work in Progress.’112 This is a comment on the constant construction, up-grading and re-invention that takes place in Singapore. ‘The cost of all of this,’ George noted, ‘is an unsettling impermanence. Singaporeans will build and build, faster and more efficiently than other cities, but Singapore will never be finished.’ Physical changes bring about a constantly new environment. In this sense Singapore is always a new city. The language of development and progress is very much a part of the re-building project. The government frames these changes in terms of progress. ‘We are upgrading to serve you better,’ is one example. In response to this, some Singaporeans have sought to slow the pace of physical change through the preservation of buildings...

On the one hand the Urban Redevelopment Authority called for direct public participation: ‘we need you (the public) to play your part. Please share your views, opinions and ideas to help refine the plans’. On the other hand, neighbourhoods were destroyed and buildings with more recent, that is 1970s, significance, like the National Library, were not deemed worth of preservation. Conservation must produce national unity and fiscal rewards. The state is keen to channel nostalgia into appropriate public spaces"

Links - 30th November 2013

"Patriarchy, routinely blamed for everything, produced the birth control pill, which did more to free contemporary women than feminism itself." - Camille Paglia


Report: London no safer for all its CCTV cameras - "there's been little or no change in London's crime rates since they were more widely installed in the mid 1980s... The civil rights group Liberty estimates that the average Londoner is captured on camera around 300 times a day while BBW claims Britain has 20 percent of the world’s CCTV cameras and only 1 percent of the world’s population. There is a perception that the cameras reduce the crime rate, but there is no evidence for that, say activists. “The Met police have said that in 2008, only one crime was solved for every 1,000 CCTV cameras,” says Carr... "I have colleagues from East Germany who came to London and were shocked by the number of cameras""

Asian Women Get the Most Attention When Online Dating - "The site found that Asian women get messaged the most by all men except for Asian men, who like Hispanic women best. That's all right though; Asian women respond to Asian men the least as well. Black women are the least likely to get a message from anyone and white men are preferred over all races – except by black women. A slightly more scientific study just released in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that utilized online dating data from OkCupid reports that "users from all racial backgrounds are equally likely or more likely to cross a racial boundary when reciprocating than when initiating romantic contact," meaning that if someone is messaged by someone of a different race, there's a high chance they'll message that person back – higher than the likelihood they would have reached out to someone of a different race on their own terms. And once that exchange occurs, there's a window of time when that messaging impacts their own thinking positively, and there's a higher chance they will message someone of a different race"

Online daters often willing to cross racial lines - "Lewis finds the strongest within-race contact among Asians and the weakest among whites. However, if someone of a different race contacts an Asian woman, she is more likely to contact another non-Asian... Lundquist finds gay white men and heterosexual white women are the least likely to cross racial boundaries. The most likely are heterosexual white men and lesbian white women... "The big thing we're learning is the difference between stated preference and actual behavior, and that's a big deal – both as a business and someone interested in human behavior," he says. An earlier study he conducted into age preferences led to website changes after men who said they only preferred younger women actually were equally likely to respond online to women of varying ages"
As a good economist I believe in looking at revealed preferences

Powdered coffee 'creamer' isn't food, it's processed chemicals - "When powdered coffee creamers first came onto the scene back in the 1950s, they actually contained real dehydrated cream and sugar, which made them a convenient, non-perishable source of cream for coffee. Over time, however, manufacturers began to phase out the cream, and replace it with things like processed vegetables oils, stabilizers, chemical sweeteners, and other additives that were less expensive and that more easily dissolved in coffee."

Chillin - The People's Funny Pictures Blog - Quora

Censorship and stupidity from “free-thinking-feminists” - "‘Surly Amy’ — blogger for the Skepchick network and creator of ‘Surly-ramics’ jewelry — has recently appeared on the August 5, 2012 episode of Amanda Marcotte’s “RH Reality Check” podcast, to discuss feminism within the atheist movement. Of particular interest in this short podcast were Amy’s comments on her experience at The Amazing Meeting (TAM) and thoughts on anti-harassment policies at atheist/skeptic conferences. During the discussion, Amy had said that she — and presumably other feminists in the atheist community (she uses the word ‘we’), wants conferences to have rules restricting particular types of jewelry people wear. For instance, Amy says atheist/skeptic conferences should have policies which restrict “fake jewelry” which is “intentionally offending.”"

misogynist-trolls-memories - "Sarah Jaffe’s “Memories of My Misogynist Trolls*” piece on Jezebel. The only thing the much discussed pieces seems to indicate is that if you pick disagreements with people they will yell at you. Just as people have been doing with other people essentially since the dawn of time... You went up to a guy you didn’t know, and before saying any pleasantries whatsoever, accused him of being ill informed when he was expressing his opinion, privately, to his friends. When he tried to explain his opinion to you, you nearly snorted, and made a blanket assumption about him and his politics, and were then shocked – shocked! – that this guy you had never met, in a bar, who you’d just belittled, yelled at you. Presumably you were shocked by this because you had no way to anticipate that if you demean people you don’t know publicly, they might get angry... Interestingly, if the genders in this story were reversed, I would think that this was a story about misogyny... This is certainly a story about gender, but not the way Jaffe thinks it is... You’re a feminist because you don’t like men yelling at you? That is not a reason to be a feminist. That is a reason to join a role playing community with a strong emphasis upon chivalry. Being a woman and being a feminist does not give you a free pass to go around antagonizing strangers with no repercussions. Feeling shaky and victimized afterwards certainly doesn’t make you a feminist hero, it makes you a person who does not anticipate other people’s responses well. There is, to my memory, no episode of the Mary Tyler Moore show where she goads a guy into a bar fight and then, after he is ejected, sits at a table, tearily murmuring “I’m a feminist. A feminist” to her friends... Saying your opinions about things in public is not an odd or remarkable thing to do. It is what men have been doing for centuries. But, likewise, men have been being yelled at for centuries. It’s still going on"

Is rape different? - "Freedom of speech is one of the human rights granted to citizens in progressive countries. We consider it important. As such, it was shocking to see feminists@law rallying a protest to the London School of Economics (LSE) Department of Law’s recent debate called “Is Rape Different?” It should concern academia that feminist lawyers don’t support free speech. They seem to hold myths about freedom. The October 30th, 2013 debate was led by Helen Reece, based on an article she wrote concerning deeply flawed rape myth studies and other feminist rhetoric which currently informs the law... The short story — the feminists feel they lost the debate. We all know what happens when a feminist feels bad: The world must stop and do something to fix it... Normally, when a university lecture or event is protested it is a singular speaker who the protesters claim are disseminating “hate speech”. This was not a lecture, it was a debate in which four competing points of view were given equal time. Even Jay-Z seems to understand free speech better than feminist lawyers. “We change people through conversation, not through censorship.” It’s a sad state of affairs when a rapper would make a better lawyer than a feminist trained in law... The rape myth surveys that she de-constructed in her initial article were all peer reviewed. That such shoddy academic work can not only pass peer review but become incorporated into decisions about legal reform is reason for alarm. The need for freedom of speech in academia is best proven by the existence of unsupported feminist rhetoric as the accepted worldview.

Yes, for the Millionth Time: You Can Be Fired for This — Crooked Timber - "the American workplace is one of the most coercive institutions around. It’s a place where, whatever the niceties and pieties of our allegedly tolerant culture may be, bosses and supervisors get to act out—and on—their most regressive anxieties and fears. It’s a playground of cultural and political recidivism, where men and women (but more often men) are given the tools to inflict and enforce their beliefs, their style, their values upon their employees... in most American workplaces, the boss can fire any brony who loves My Little Pony. It’s totally legal"

Stop clowning around! Police urge public to ignore creepy clowns after sightings across UK - "Police have vowed to track down pranksters dressing up as clowns and offer them "strong words of advice" - but added that dressing up as a clown is not actually illegal... Pictures of a man dressed as a creepy clown and stalking the streets of Northampton went viral earlier this year becoming a global internet sensation... Supt Carl Edwards speaking to the BBC said: "Firstly, I'd like to stress that it isn't against the law to dress up as a clown. "Nobody has been assaulted and it appears that the people involved are waiting for a passer-by to be startled by their appearance and run away, and then the clown runs after them for a short distance.""

Couples that drink together, stay together - "Surprisingly, if both partners drank equally heavy than their chances of splitting up were no higher than couples that didn’t drink at all. “Our results indicate that it is the difference between the couple’s drinking habits, rather than the drinking itself, that leads to marital dissatisfaction, separation and divorce”"

This Guy's Live-Tweets Of His Neighbor's Breakup Are Hilarious And Heartbreaking

(Math) Exercise, Dividers Of Theoden » Funny & Interesting Student, Teacher, Parent, & Staff School Stories – Not Always Learning - "Professor: “Forth, and fear no problems! Solve! Solve, students of calculus! Points shall be taken, scores shall be splintered! A pencil day! A red-ink day! Until three thirty!”
(The professor pulls out a pencil, holding it out like a sword, and runs down the first row holding it out. Students hold up their pencils, hitting his as he passes.)
Professor: “Solve now! Solve now! Solve to good grades and the class ending! MAAATH!”"

Alison DeNisco: Dating: Women May Care More Than Men Who's Taller - "A 2008 study of 382 undergraduates in the journal Personality and Individual Differences found that both sexes preferred relationships where the woman was shorter than the man. Curiously, the research also showed that women enforced the norm more strongly than men. Twenty-three percent of men but only four percent of women said they were open to a relationship in which the woman was taller... ABC News conducted an unscientific experiment to explore how willing women were to date shorter men. They lined up several short men next to tall men, and asked women to choose a date. They gave the short men exceptional résumés, including those for a doctor and millionaire venture capitalist. Despite their glowing qualities, the women always chose the taller men. Some said they would only choose the shortest of the bunch if they learned the taller men were murders or child molesters. Some relationship trends are showing a reversal of traditional gender roles, like the rise in breadwinning mothers and stay-at-home fathers, according to a study in the journalWomen and Language. Yet dating in the U.S. has remained highly gender-typed in over the past 35 years, according to a 2011 study in the journal Sex Roles. Heterosexual dating followed traditional gender roles for beliefs and expectations, as well as interpersonal actions. Though there was some variation in terms of more women initiating dates, it was not widespread enough to challenge the dominant roles... researchers examined 547 personal ads... despite what preference they expressed, women preferred a physically fit partner, while most men indicated that a number of body sizes would be acceptable"

Attractive women expect their date to pay for dinner because they're worth it - "Pretty women are less likely than plain Janes to offer to contribute towards the bill on a first date, research shows. But they are not worried about the expense - it is likely to be because they believe their date should pay for the pleasure of being with them"

Chinese Store Clerk Gives Zero F**ks About Being Robbed - "While to the police it might have seemed like the store clerk might be in cahoots with the robber, they actually were able to remove her from the suspect list. Instead, the actual suspects were a boyfriend and girlfriend couple that was subsequently arrested. As it turns out, one of the them was a former employee of the convenience store who had quit after being robbed once at knife point."

AWARE's Sexuality Education Doublethink - "AWARE regards all cultural or religious beliefs and perspectives should be respected because they are as "just as valid", on the other, it repeatedly slammed the "faith-based group of women" and the "fundamentalist group" in its report. It has shown us how doublethink is done in practice. Hence, Singaporeans would do well to beware of AWARE and keep their children away from the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of AWARE's sexuality education programme. This is especially so since AWARE presupposes an Orwellian state-centric idea which places primary responsibility for education of children on the State rather than on parents"

Friday, November 29, 2013

History Making in Singapore: Who is Producing the Knowledge? (1/2)

History Making in Singapore: Who is Producing the Knowledge?

"‘Before you discuss your future,’ Lee Kuan Yew exhorted the citizens of Singapore in 1998, ‘remember how we got here.’ This statement heralded a dramatic departure from the previous animosity of the Singaporean government towards the study of history. During the 1960s and 1970s, the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) was overtly hostile to history, fearing its potential to divide Singaporean society. In the 1980s, this hostility gave way to ambivalence and, by the 1990s, the PAP had been forced to address a growing interest in and nostalgia for, the past. Singaporeans—in letters to the editor, in poems and newspaper columns—started publicly expressing a sense of nostalgia. For most, it was the 1970s that was being remembered. The significance of this lies precisely in the period of time. Nostalgia was not being expressed for pre-independence Singapore, or even newly-independent Singapore. By the 1970s Singapore had already experienced many of the advantages of economic development.

For a state devoted to economic development, in which ‘people are the only resource’, and physical resources minimal, nostalgia for the 1970s was an inherent criticism of the fast pace of change and the goals of that state...

Drawing on the work of Benedetto Croce (1866-1952), Marc Ferro maintained that the study of history ‘pinpoints the problems of its own times more fully even than those of the era about which it is supposed to be concerned’. In drawing attention to the difficulties facing Singaporean historiography, this chapter raises issues concerning the study of Singapore more broadly. The failure of Singaporean society to theorize, or come to terms with, its own past, constitutes opaqueness in the study of Singapore...

Early histories of Singapore were, unsurprisingly, produced by the colonizers. Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles (1781-1826) himself wrote what could be seen as Singapore’s first history, although it is actually an autobiography...

In Raffles’ view, Singapore is brought into existence by his actions: the story of Singapore is thus the story of Raffles...

If for colonial writers Raffles was the great man, for Modern Singapore Lee has become the equivalent. Lee, himself, has written two autobiographies that mirror the approach Raffles took... Phillip Holden has written that the ‘continued memorialisation’ of an imperial founder in a postcolonial society is unique to Singapore. He suggested that Raffles’ place in contemporary Singapore should be understood in the context of ‘a genealogy of his historicisation within the narrative of Singapore’s history’. By this he means that just as Raffles understood himself as establishing a new order, so too did Lee. In this sense Raffles and Lee can be read as the same kind of great men.

The history of Singapore has often been told in terms of the life of Lee Kuan Yew, not least by the man himself. A number of detailed accounts of Lee’s life published by Alex Josey conflate Singapore’s national history with Lee’s personal history. Lee Kuan Yew: The Man and His Ideas, similarly draws the national and the personal into a single narrative. Holden argued that these texts are attempts to ‘build a national mythology’ and contrasted them with T.J.S. George’s account and James Minchin’s more critical biography...

It is, however, problematic to tell a national story through the life-story of an individual, regardless of how significant that character is. As Lysa Hong argued, ‘Singapore’s history cannot be simply reduced to an account of his [Lee’s] career or a study of his pronouncements, as he himself has done’. Biography and autobiography provide an incomplete picture of a national history. Hong maintains that ‘the notion that Singapore is no more than what Lee Kuan Yew wants it to be lies at the heart of endeavours to unmask the man whose name is almost synonymous with the assertive city- state’...

Lee is not unique in identifying his life with his nation’s life. Kwame Nkrumah after all, named his autobiography Ghana, claiming that the story of his life was the story of the life of the nation.

The political biographies and autobiographies of Lee have a specific social function, that is, to reinforce the national narrative. Lee’s autobiographies have been represented as Singapore’s national history. Their inclusion in the national education curriculum is evidence of their place as ‘a form of hegemonic popular historiography’. The autobiographies have become central to the scripting of Singapore’s national history. A national history that is linear ‘in which a unified actor—the nation—moves forward in time and conquers uncharted territories’...

For Singapore the national narrative remains ‘unrealized and projected into the future’...

In calling his autobiography ‘The Singapore Story’ Lee effectively claimed that his experiences and actions are analogous to, or even synonymous with those of Singapore. The experiences of the elite are thus incorrectly presented as the experiences of all Singaporeans. This version of history is highly exclusionary.

Referring to the first part of his autobiography Lee acknowledged that it might be subjective in parts, because he had not kept a diary during the 1950s and 1960s. The implication, of course, is that his diary would have been completely objective, had he but kept one. Lee unquestionably sees himself as not just the ‘Father of the Nation’ and thus responsible for the state, but as the very essence of the nation. He made the extraordinary statement: ‘Even from my sick bed, even if you are going to lower me into the grave and I feel that something is going wrong, I will get up.’ Singaporean history under the PAP works to make such a statement unremarkable.

It is said that in 1942 during the Japanese Occupation of Singapore, a Japanese soldier hit the young Lee, who spoke back to him, questioned his authority and then ran away. Sometimes described as the founding moment of independent Singapore, this incident has iconographic significance. No longer, it is claimed, would Lee accept colonialism in any form. The Japanese occupation, Lee asserted, prompted him to become a lawyer and fight for justice and to see Singapore independent. The construction of this event proposes a very particular understanding of history, offering the conclusion that a single action by an individual can form a nation. In this sense, Lee is not only writing national history, he is endorsing an approach to history that began with a colonial project and emphasizes a linear progression, navigated by great men.

Taking Robert Yeo’s play, The Eye of History, as his example, William Peterson argued that Raffles and Lee are often conflated as great leaders and great men... In the context of the play ‘Raffles equates Singapore’ is extended to ‘Raffles equals Lee Kuan Yew equals Singapore’. In The Eye of History, Raffles is characterized as a great man who had a vision for Singapore, albeit a colonial and imperialist one. According to Peterson, ‘by demonstrating that Lee has fulfilled a sacred national dream, Yeo upholds one of the great myths that provides a foundation for the nation of Singapore’,46 that of realizing a dream...

Yeo had Raffles speculate about a worse future: ‘who knows what will happen if someone else should come along, some anti-history, anti- British demagogue and altogether denies my part in the founding of Singapore’. Lee is very much a product of colonialism, educated in a British tradition. He is often described as ‘a Chinese mirror of the perfect Anglo leader’. Holden described Lee’s autobiographies as works of mourning, in which British Imperial masculinity is simultaneously celebrated and mourned. While Lee is anti-history in the sense that he wishes to control public understandings of history, he is pro-history when it constitutes colonial history. He readily accepted the necessity and benefits of British colonialism that Yeo has Raffles articulate...

The PAP argued that history is best told by its participants. Lee claimed that it is not possible for academics to write the history of Singapore in the 1950s and 1960s, as ‘history does not happen in clean cut units’. He believes that ‘it is after forces let loose in tumultuous events have run their course that the historian comes along … and narrates them in clear-cut chapters’. As it is unclear when it will be acceptable for historians to narrate Singapore’s history, ‘legitimate’ history dictates a ‘great men important events’ approach, since the ‘participants’ are such men. Understanding history in these terms excludes historians and defines as illegitimate any recent history not written by participants.

Lee’s son and current prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, also has a very specific understanding of the past, evident in his claim that the National Education programme, introduced in 1997, could not be propaganda because ‘if it’s truth and facts, then it is objective’. In the same context he maintained that The Singapore Story, a Ministry of Information and the Arts (MITA) publication, was based on ‘historical fact’. ‘We are not talking about an idealised legendary account or a founding myth,’ he said but about ‘objective history, seen from a Singaporean standpoint’.

These attitudes have left a scar on the practice of history writing in Singapore. Hong described the two most notable Singaporean historians, S Rajaratnam and Devan Nair as the ‘midwives of the Singaporean nation- state’. She noted that their greatest contribution to Singaporean history was to set the template for the writing of history in the future. This template had several features. The first is a theme of struggle, which dominates how Singapore is understood—with reference to past and current struggles and those struggles that are yet to emerge. The second is an emphasis on the role played by great men and a focus on great events, inherited as we have seen from a colonial discourse. As a template it provides limited scope for exploring social history, the experience of women and minorities, or examining events with regards to categories such as gender, class and race.

For historians, both Nair and Rajaratnam were remarkably ambivalent about the past. Nair argued that looking to the past for inspiration was both dangerous and backward. In his view, industrialization, together with the associated modernization and progress, divided history into those who look to the past and those who look to the future. He argued that for Singaporeans the past was a poor guide, stating that ‘Unlike the pre-modern man who dreamed of the world he had left, modern man must dream of the world he will make’. History was thus defined as the antithesis of modernity and of future-looking peoples.

Rajaratnam saw history as a linear narrative that could be perverted by ‘wrong’ choices. The rise of opposition politician J. B. Jeyaretnam, posed a threat, in Rajaratnam’s view, to the very course of history and he argued that if Jeyaretnam or other members of the opposition were successful then a ‘different history’ would begin for Singapore. His anti-opposition stance should come as no surprise from a man who described his role as a historian as being a ‘public relations man’ for the PAP, ‘the chap who projects the PAP’s image’. Public relations, in this context, should be understood as providing a positive spin on the past, evidenced by Rajaratnam’s comment in 1990 that, ‘Being Singaporean means forgetting all that stands in the way of one’s Singaporean commitment’...

Although the PAP has endeavoured to avoid ethnic ghettos, certain places are read in terms of ethnicity. Serangoon Road, for example, represents Singaporean Indianess. In producing a pictorial history of Serangoon Road, Siddique and Purushotam are typically depicting and reducing history to heritage, ethnic identity, and place...

Histories of ethnic groups, particularly ethnic minorities, are common and tend to trace the development of the community and stress their contribution to Singapore society. The function of these accounts is to locate minorities within a broader Singaporean framework and as such pose little threat to Singaporean historical orthodoxy. While past hardships are described, the general tone of minority histories in Singapore is positive, stressing community and economic contribution"

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Is Singapore an Orwellian State?

Gabriel Seah's answer to Singapore: Is Singapore an Orwellian State? - Quora

"Let us examine the characteristics of an Orwellian State.

Wikipedia sums it up well (Orwellian). I have numbered each point for easy reference:

The adjective Orwellian refers to these behaviours of The Party, especially when the Party is the State (1):
  • Invasion of personal privacy, either directly physically or indirectly by surveillance. (2)
  • State control of its citizens' daily life, as in a "Big Brother" society. (3)
  • Official encouragement of policies contributing to the socio-economic disintegration of the family. (4)
  • The adoration of state leaders and their Party. (5)
  • The encouragement of "doublethink",  whereby the population must learn to embrace inconsistent concepts  without dissent, e.g. giving up liberty for freedom. Similar terms used  are "doublespeak", and "newspeak". (6)
  • The revision of history in the favour of the State's interpretation of it. (7)
  • A (generally) dystopian future. (8)
  • The use of euphemism to describe an agency, program or other concept, especially when the  name denotes the opposite of what is actually occurring. E.g. a  department that wages war is called the "Ministry of Peace" (9)

To some extent, all countries practise some of these, but Singapore qualifies more than most liberal democracies (of which Singapore is not one). Be that as it may, it still isn't a real Orwellian State.

1. In Singapore, the Party is the State, that is sure.

The People's Action Party (PAP) has controlled Singapore since 1959, which makes 54 years as of 2013. As far as I can recall, the longest ruling party ever was the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) in Mexico which ruled for 71 years.

There is a symbiotic relationship between the Civil Service and the PAP, with the latter recruiting many Members of Parliament from the former and some writers arguing that it is actually the former which has co-opted the latter.

Since this is a question about Singapore politics, let's have the obligatory quote from LKY:

“I make no apologies that the PAP is the Government and the Government is the PAP.” - Lee Kuan Yew

2. There is certainly an invasion of personal privacy in Singapore.

For one, there is no right to privacy in Singapore (The Singapore Law Review).

However, the place with the most CCTVs in the world is not Singapore but London (Report: London no safer for all its CCTV cameras).

The state does not (or at least does not seem to) spy on individuals. Some might consider that a national identity card (and number) and centralised records constitute an invasion of privacy but I don't - information is not shared willy-nilly, but it is certainly in your interests most of the time to consent to share it (for example, to qualify for medical subsidies for hospitalisation you need to consent to have your income records shared with the Ministry of Health since there is means-testing).

3. The state certainly influences its citizens' lives, but this is more soft paternalism than hard control.

There are many campaigns (e.g. to stop littering, to speak Mandarin, to be courteous) but these do not force people to do things (unless you think advertising is in and of itself coercive).

At a more significant level, there are policies to influence citizens into doing various things. For example to qualify for less-exorbitant public housing, you generally need to be married to a fellow citizen (Buying A New Flat). If you are a single mother, you also get less statutory maternity leave than if you are lawfully married to the parent of the child (Maternity Leave). These policies are meant to strongly encourage marriage.

There're also various laws which restrict behavior. There is only one place you can protest without being arrested (Speakers' Corner, and even then you can't talk about possibly controversial racial or religious topics), you cannot gather in public (Police issue warning against possible public gathering), all media is licensed and censored (One Rule to Rule Them All: a Study of Singapore Censorship), newspapers need to be licensed (Newspaper Permit) and the dominant media companies are government-controlled (Page on Article19) and the Internet has token censorship with 100 sites being blocked (Singapore: What are the banned websites in Singapore?).

Technically there is the danger of perpetual detention without a trial, but in practice this isn't used often enough to be a real issue (Law allowing detention without trial extended) (in brutal dictatorships, people do get detained without a trial but this is widely known both domestically and internationally).

4. Instead of the socio-economic disintegration of the family, policies encourage and strengthen the family.

Some might argue that Singapore promotes only one model - the heterosexual nuclear family, but even if this is the case at least official policy doesn't contribute to its disintegration. In any event, the definition of "family" is nebulous (is a single person a family?).

5. There is certainly a cult of personality of One Man.

Take this extract from a letter published in the National Broadsheet:

Why is such a  great man like you called just Mr Lee Kuan Yew - so ordinary? Just like  anyone on the street? From today onwards, we should call you "Your  Excellency, Founding Father Lee Kuan Yew". But this is still not good  enough, so I hope everyone can pitch in to help to find a salutation  before your name to acknowledge everything you have done for Singapore.  We should have a contest to choose a special salutation for you, as a  special birthday present because Singapore owes you so much.

(Lee Kuan Yew turns 90: We owe you so much)

We are also told that his "unwavering and total dedication to Singapore" is something "we can, and need to, aspire towards" (Page on Todayonline). This from the mouth of the Education Minister at at a conference marking his 90th birthday

I remember in many years, the National Day Parade (the official parade-celebration) would feature a clip of The Man crying as he announced Singapore's independence (we were kicked out from Malaysia). This clip was also repeatedly played to us when we were in school.

It is telling that Lee's memoirs are called "The Singapore Story" - in other words, Singapore is One Man's story.

6., 9. I cannot think of examples of doublethink. Some might say that this is a sign of how effective the doublethink is.

Doublespeak and newspeak are present, but really this is no different from in other countries. There is a "Media Development Authority" which is in charge of censorship.

But then, in most countries (as in Singapore) there is no Ministry of War - only a Ministry of Defence. Of course, if everyone were just defending themselves there wouldn't be any need for anyone to defend themselves, but so there.

7. Singapore does control history to favour its interpretation, at least in the formal education system. In Singapore's first 3 decades, the State was first actively hostile and then ambivalent about history (Page on Nzasia). However since then it has been actively managed.

All states seek to imbue students with a national myth and narrative, and history textbooks are a common point of contention in many countries. Yet, it is significant that "National Education" is a state-mandated part of the national curriculum which has to be integrated into all subjects, and "Social Studies" is a compulsory subject.

As mentioned in point 5, the role of The Great Man is emphasised in the state version of history, with His History being equated to that of The Nation. Indeed, his autobiographies are part of the national education curriculum. Beyond that, rather uniquely for an ex-colony, British colonialism is portrayed quite benignly, and arguably even glorified.

Probably the most significant way in which a State view of history is promulgated is the perpetually-invoked spectre of racial-religious tensions. Despite the last racial riots occurring in 1969 (44 years ago, as of the time of writing), various racial riots are always cited to back the claim that racial-religious tensions can tear the country apart.

This is an astounding rewriting of history given how minor and few in number the riots were. On searching both Wikipedia and The National Library Board's Infopedia, I found a total of 3 racial riots in living memory (since the start of the 20th century): the Maria Hertogh Riots (1950, 18 deaths), the 1964 communal riots (22 deaths) and the 1969 race riots (the only one since Independence, with 4 dead). That's 44 deaths in total - over 3 separate riots. In 1970 total population was 2.1 million (The Population of Singapore / Saw Swee-Hock) so that accounts for a stunning 0.0021% of the population. Again, this was over 3 riots.

In contrast, the 1992 Los Angeles Race Riots resulted in 53 deaths (LA Riot Deaths) which amounts to 0.00058% of the population of LA County in the year (General Population by City 1990-1994). If three of these riots had occured, the death toll would've been 0.0017% of the population - comparable to the death toll in Singapore's racial riots. Yet in the National Narrative Singapore's race riots are given wildly disproportionate importance.

Given that the causes of the riots were complicated rather than simply being racial/religious in nature (e.g. the Maria Hertogh riots were anti-colonial), their portrayal by the State as simply being "race riots" is a distortion. Again, all states do this, but in Singapore it is especially tied into political ideology (for example, the controversial 2001 Japanese textbooks which glossed over World War II were used by only 0.03% of junior high students [Examining the Japanese History Textbook Controversies]).

Keywords: Race Riots, racial riots, deaths, Los Angeles, Rodney King

8. This point is too broad to properly evaluate, but generally Singapore is quite successful and well-regarded internationally. If there is any dystopia, it is one of success, indulgence and excess, layered over inequality and parochialism."

Star Trek Facepalm

"does patrick stewart know he is a meme?"
"3 days ago he posted an image of himself in a bathtub dressed as a lobster. I'm rather sure he is trying to expand his presence online."

Links - 28th November 2013

Unwilling to burden family with medical bills, 95 year old samsui woman commits suicide.

Give women more time, support and choices - "Interestingly, in more than 20 years of practice, not one of my patients who made the choice to keep her baby after counselling ever came back to tell me she regretted her decision. Women need to be provided with ample information about the medical and emotional aspects of abortion, as well as the alternatives available, for their decision to be an informed one. A "cooling-off" period of 48 hours between the counselling session and the procedure is grossly insufficient. A woman or a couple should be given at least one to two weeks to weigh their options so that the choice they ultimately make is as well considered as possible. One of the most painfully poignant moments in my life took place when I came across a woman with an infertility problem who tearfully said: "Doc, I had an abortion when I was younger. And I think I might have aborted the only baby my womb would ever bear.""
This person was accused of being a fundie, of providing misinformation and of being part of an organised campaign (and a wedge for an abortion ban). Presumably we should run a factory line and give all women who ask for abortions one immediately without any time, support or choices.

Reproductive history patterns and long-term mortality rates: a Danish, population-based record linkage study - "Risk of death was more than six times greater among women who had never been pregnant compared with those who only had birth(s). Increased risks of death were 45%, 114% and 191% for 1, 2 and 3 abortions, respectively, compared with no abortions after controlling for other reproductive outcomes and last pregnancy age"

Fourth graders learn to own their ‘white privilege’ – thanks to Common Core-aligned lesson - " 4th graders are looking into their souls to see their “white privilege.”"

Check my privilege? I have, thanks. You’re still wrong - "This week, I bring you a dispatch from the frontline of pseudo-intellectual, metropolitan navel-gazing. This is, after all, what you pay me for... ‘I am a feminist!’ declares somebody, via a book or blog or Tumblr or tweet. ‘Aha!’ retort others, ever vigilant for this sort of thing. ‘But have you canvassed the views of Somalian refugees who are weekending female impersonators in Anglesea?’ ‘Um, no?’ replies our proto-feminist. ‘Check your privilege!’ retort the angry denizens of cyberspace. ‘You are a tool of the patriarchy! Go to hell!’... this instinct — to shriek ‘check your privilege!’ at anybody who says anything and then consider this the end of an argument — is pernicious, and spreading, to the extent that it’s only a matter of time before somebody does it in a newspaper that isn’t the Guardian. More importantly, it’s simply screamingly annoying when people piously employ arguments they don’t understand at all. Wrongness I can stomach. Incoherence of wrongness, not so much... it has become faddish among people who don’t read books or essays but merely tweets and internet comments, and thus don’t know what they are talking about. So what you end up is with a kind of minority Top Trumps, and a sort of spreading, infectious belief that the more box-tickingly disadvantaged a person is, the wiser, kinder and more all-seeing they must be. And it’s stupid. In truth, as anybody who has ever been mugged can tell you, society’s most disadvantaged can be right bastards. Indeed, they’re often right bastards to each other. Certainly, mainstream society might harbour issues with, say, Islamic fundamentalists and post-op transsexuals for similar reactionary conservative reasons. But this does not entail, much as the dumb left might wish it did, that these two groups are thus each other’s natural allies. I mean, come on. Think more. Sometimes, your enemy’s enemy is even worse than him... The fact that ‘Check your privilege!’ has even become a thing is symptomatic of the modern tragedy of the British left. This is what happens to a political movement when it gets colonised by sanctimonious, humourless, self-loathing middle-class hypocrites, perhaps of just the sort I’d be myself if I were devoid of any irony, wit or self-knowledge"

Big Business as a supporter of anti-racism – Noam Chomsky - "establishment conservatives are “anti-racists” who say that “race doesn’t matter.” To the plutocracy, a human being is not a creature with a mind, a culture, or any kind of identity, but simply a unit of production and consumption. Therefore race naturally “doesn’t matter” to those who think in strictly economic terms. Because of that, Multinational corporations are usually amongst the biggest supporters of anti-racism you will find anywhere. Its important to understand the link between late capitalism and antiracism, how we went from being producer to consumer societies."

The peculiar idea that you shouldn't discriminate against the disabled. - "In the term now ending, the Supreme Court issued three decisions limiting the reach of the Americans With Disabilities Act. My favorite is Toyota v. Williams, holding that carpal tunnel syndrome did not qualify as a disability for a woman who worked on an automobile assembly line... Trying to interpret a law that expects people to be abled and disabled simultaneously, the court plunges into a festival of Talmudic distinctions. Is "working" a "major life activity"? Do we mean working in a "specific job" or working in a "broad range of jobs"? What about "performing manual tasks"? Is that a "major life activity"? Can it be "specific," or does it need to be a "broad range" like "working"? (The justices' uncertainty about whether working is a major life activity makes you think it must be very pleasant to be a Supreme Court justice)... For millions of years until the ADA was enacted in 1990, discriminating in favor of ability was thought to be a good thing. It still is, most of the time... The ADA, in fact, neatly exposes the weakness and confusion of "equal opportunity"—the concept invoked in support of all our anti-discrimination laws. The closer we come to eliminating discrimination based on race or sex, etc., the more important innate ability will become in assigning people their stations in life. And if we ever were to eliminate all differences in outcome based on differences in ability, that would not be equal opportunity. That would look more like equality, period. Or, to use the pejorative term, "equality of result.""

Jason Richwine Hispanics and IQs: The Heritage Foundation scholar began researching race and intelligence at Harvard. - "A three-member panel at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government accepted Richwine’s thesis, titled “IQ and Immigration Policy.” In it, Richwine provided statistical evidence that Hispanic immigrants, even after several generations, had lower IQs than non-Hispanic whites... This week, Heritage released a damning estimate of the immigration bill, co-authored by Richwine. The new study was all about cost, totally eliding the IQ issues that Richwine had mastered, but it didn’t matter after Washington Post reporter Dylan Matthews found the dissertation... Immigration reform’s political enemies know—and can’t stand—that racial theorists are cheering them on from the cheap seats. They know that the left wants to exploit that—why else do so many cameras sprout up whenever Minutemen appear on the border, or when Pat Buchanan comes out of post-post-post retirement to write another book about the “death of the West?” Academics aren’t so concerned with the politics. But they know all too well the risks that come with research connecting IQ and race... “His mistake is that he wrote about a taboo subject,” Charles Murray told the New Republic yesterday. “And to write about IQ and race or ethnicity is to take a very good chance of destroying your career""

How Diversity Punishes Asians, Poor Whites and Lots of Others - "the same institutions that give no special consideration to poor white applicants boast about their commitment to "diversity" and give enormous admissions breaks to blacks, even to those from relatively affluent homes... except for the very wealthiest institutions like Harvard and Princeton, private colleges and universities are reluctant to admit students who cannot afford their high tuitions. And since they have a limited amount of money to give out for scholarship aid, they reserve this money to lure those who can be counted in their enrollment statistics as diversity-enhancing "racial minorities." Poor whites are apparently given little weight as enhancers of campus diversity, while poor non-whites count twice in the diversity tally, once as racial minorities and a second time as socio-economically deprived... Besides the bias against lower-class whites, the private colleges in the Espenshade/Radford study seem to display what might be called an urban/Blue State bias against rural and Red State occupations and values... Participation in such Red State activities as high school ROTC, 4-H clubs, or the Future Farmers of America was found to reduce very substantially a student's chances of gaining admission to the competitive private colleges in the NSCE database on an all-other-things-considered basis. The admissions disadvantage was greatest for those in leadership positions in these activities or those winning honors and awards. "Being an officer or winning awards" for such career-oriented activities as junior ROTC, 4-H, or Future Farmers of America, say Espenshade and Radford, "has a significantly negative association with admission outcomes at highly selective institutions." Excelling in these activities "is associated with 60 or 65 percent lower odds of admission"... Military veterans and aspiring military officers, like poor whites and future American farmers, are clearly not what most competitive private colleges have in mind when they speak of the need for "diversity""

Researchers: Colleges should count gays, but fake homosexuals remain significant problem - "Students pretending to be gay in order to gain admittance to top universities is a real phenomenon"
I think this is called 'straight privilege'. Ditto for faking your ethnicity

University of Delaware: Students Required to Undergo Ideological Reeducation - The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education - FIRE - "Following an intense campaign led by FIRE and national media attention, the University of Delaware dropped an ideological reeducation program that was referred to in the university's own materials as a "treatment" for students' incorrect attitudes and beliefs. The program's stated goal was for the approximately 7,000 students in Delaware's residence halls to adopt highly specific university-approved views on politics, race, sexuality, sociology, moral philosophy, and environmentalism. The residence life education program made mandatory, among other things, one-on-one meetings between students and their Resident Assistants (RAs) where students were asked intrusive questions, such as "When did you discover your sexual identity?""

Fisher v. University of Texas decision at the Supreme Court: Affimative action at universities should switch to class-based preferences. - "a student who is socioeconomically disadvantaged, in a variety of ways, scores on average 399 points lower on the SAT than a wealthy student. By contrast, the average SAT difference between African-American and white students of the same socioeconomic status is only 56 points.* In other words, the SAT class gap is seven times as large as the SAT race gap... What happens to racial diversity when colleges stop using racial preferences in admissions? The numbers of minority students don’t necessarily drop"

Moral and citizenship education as statecraft in Singapore: a curriculum critique - "the Civics and Moral Education programme is more a matter of training students to absorb pragmatic values deemed to be important for Singapore to achieve social cohesion and economic success, rather than moral education as the development of intrinsic commitment to and habituation in the practice of values, defended on autonomous moral considerations and not mere national expediency"
This is in the 'Journal of Moral Education'. There is such a journal.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Men and women take home different regrets after sex

Sexual Regret: Evidence for Evolved Sex Differences

"Regret and anticipated regret enhance decision quality by helping people avoid making and repeating mistakes Some of people’s most intense regrets concern sexual decisions. We hypothesized evolved sex differences in women’s and men’s experiences of sexual regret. Because of women’s higher obligatory costs of reproduction throughout evolutionary history, we hypothesized that sexual actions, particularly those involving casual sex, would be regretted more intensely by women than by men. In contrast, because missed sexual opportunities historically carried higher reproductive fitness costs for men than for women, we hypothesized that poorly chosen sexual inactions would be regretted more by men than by women. Across three studies (Ns=200, 395, and 24,230), we tested these hypotheses using free responses, written scenarios, detailed checklists, and Internet sampling to achieve participant diversity, including diversity in sexual orientation. Across all data sources, results supported predicted psychological sex differences and these differences were localized in casual sex contexts. These findings are consistent with the notion that the psychology of sexual regret was shaped by recurrent sex differences in selection pressures operating over deep time...

When the participants were asked to describe one memorable regret in their lives, the most commonly cited form of regret involved ‘‘romance’’ (love, sex, dating or marriage; Morrison & Roese, 2011). Romantic regrets are likely to include many different experiences– getting a divorce, marrying the ‘‘wrong person,’’ having an affair, not pursuing someone special, having casual sex with the wrong partner, losing one’s virginity too early or too late, and so forth. Although the study found that women were more likely than men to describe a romantic regret...

We examined two hypothesized differences between men and women. First, women more than men will regret poorly chosen sexual actions (doing something and later wishing they had not). Second, men more than women will regret poorly chosen sexual inactions (not doing something and later wishing they had). We expected that these proposed sex differences in regret would be particularly large when the consequences of sexual decisions were linked with fitness costs (i.e., costs associated with decrements in reproductive success) that historically differed markedly for women and men. We also examined whether sex differences in sexual regret varied across sexual orientations, which allowed us to examine whether regrets are affected primarily by one’s own sex or by the sex of one’s partners...

In U.S. adult samples, women were more likely than men to regret losing their virginity too early and having premarital sex whereas men were more likely than women to regret not losing it early enough and not having premarital sex...

Almost all prior research has focused on the frequency but not the intensity of sexual regret. This is a significant omission, because frequency-based sex differences in some regrets could be either masked or enhanced by differences in the base rates of opportunity for the relevant sexual experiences. For instance, if men perceive having fewer opportunities for casual sex than women do, men might report fewer total instances of inaction regret, even if they are more likely to regret each particular instance of sexual inaction...

Assessment of whether non-heterosexuals differ from heterosexuals in their pattern of regrets is important for disentangling the effects of one’s own sex from the effects of the sex of one’s partners, which helps to pinpoint the factors affecting differences in regrets between individuals...

The effect sizes for these sex differences were very large (ranging from .80 to 1.82), as is expected given that women and men are thought to have faced substantially different evolutionary selection pressures in these particular domains (Buss, 1995; Symons, 1979). These sex differences were larger than those documented in earlier sexual regret research that did not emphasize casual sex to the same extent as the vignettes used here (Roese et al., 2006; range of d reported=.21–.94). In sum, the findings suggest that regrets concerning casual sex are a locus of particularly robust sex differences.

In contrast to the casual sex vignettes, the romantic opportunity vignettes largely showed no sex differences, underscoring the fact that sex differences in regrets vary by domain, even within the overall category of mating-relevant regrets... Women did rate their own anticipated action regret–getting involved in a relationship they later regretted–higher than did men (female M=4.8, male M=3.7), t(192)=3.43, p=.001; d=.50...

The goal of Study 2 was to extend these findings in two ways. First, we moved beyond the undergraduate sample to consider action and inaction regrets among other adults. Second, we examined a variety of regrets where sex differences were expected and also a variety of regrets where no differences were expected. The goal of this design was to examine whether sex differences are particularly strong in domains that relate to hypothesized fitness costs and benefits that historically differed for men and women...

Based on Hypothesis 1, we expected that women would be more likely than men to regret casual sex encounters. Based on Hypothesis 2, we also expected that men would be more likely than women to regret not pursuing or not engaging in casual sex as well as delaying sex in an existing committed relationship. In other cases, such as contracting an STD or having sex with a coworker, which can carry high costs for both women and men, we did not advance predictions about sex differences...

Notably, none of the 39 sexual action regrets were more common for men than for women and only one of the 30 sexual inaction regrets was more common for women than for men. This regret was ‘‘not engaging in sexual activity with someone only because I did not want to appear promiscuous’’; 16% of women in comparison to 8% of men reported this regret, v2(1, N=395)=6.23, p=.014. This difference possibly reflects the fact that women are more likely than men to worry about appearing promiscuous (Crawford & Popp, 2003). Because women are more likely than men to face negative consequences to their reputation for engaging in casual sex, they may make more sexual decisions in which reputational concerns are an issue...

We highlight the regrets that were most often reported in the ‘‘top five’’by women (Table 1) and by men (Table 2). Few of the top regrets overlapped between women and men and the top regrets that showed no sex difference (e.g., having unprotected sex) were those for which we did not have predictions about sex differences. A noteworthy and common regret that showed no significant sex difference was cheating on one’s partner, with 23% of women and 18% of men listing it as one of their five strongest regrets. Possibly, the lack of a sex difference here is a consequence of the fact that discovered infidelity carries extremely high costs for both sexes, including the possibility of relationship dissolution (Betzig, 1989).

As shown in Table 1, action regrets in the context of uncommitted sex dominated women’s top five lists. These included having a one-night stand, having sex with a stranger, and having sex with someone who falsely promised commitment. These results provide additional fine-grained support for Hypothesis 1, which states that sexual actions involving a lack of commitment will be those that women are particularly likely to regret.

Women’s top regrets also included having sex with a physically unattractive partner and women (17 %) were more likely than men (10 %) to list this as one of their strongest regrets. This result might seem somewhat counterintuitive, given the expectation that men place a greater premium than do women on physical attractiveness in potential mates (Buss & Schmitt, 1993). However, this result is consistent with two other replicable findings. First, women substantially increase their standards for attractiveness for casual sex partners (Buss & Schmitt, 1993; Kenrick et al., 1993; Li & Kenrick, 2006), possibly to gain genetic benefits for offspring. Second, men dramatically lower their standards in short-term mating contexts, including standards for physical attractiveness, and hence are less likely to regret casual sex with an unattractive partner. Although men do value physical appearance in potential mates, a low-cost sexual encounter with an unattractive partner historically would have still afforded a valuable reproductive opportunity that might offset collateral costs such as reputational damage.

In contrast to the women’s list, Table 2 shows that men’s aggregated ‘‘top five’’ list largely consisted of regrets predicted by Hypothesis 2. These include missing casual sex opportunities, not having sex early enough in a relationship, staying in a bad relationship and missing sexual opportunities as a result, and expending effort in pursuing someone whom they thought would have sex with them but did not (Table 2, Item 8). This last regret is a notable juxtaposition to the result that women regretted having sex with someone who they thought would enter into a relationship with them but did not (Table 1, Item 8). In essence, whereas women regretted being ‘‘led on’’romantically, men regretted being‘‘led on’’sexually...

Men’s regret about unsuccessfully pursuing sexual opportunities is noteworthy for another reason. In contrast to the majority of regrets that men experienced more often than did women, this was not an inaction regret; yet, its greater prevalence for men follows from the logic of Hypothesis 2. According to Hypothesis 2, men regret sexual decisions that result in lost sexual opportunities. In this case, a poorly chosen action resulted in an opportunity cost, such that men were unable to pursue sexual opportunities with other women...

In this large and diverse sample of adults, the patterns of sex differences replicatedStudies1and2andreplicated across sexual orientations as well, although the sex difference was sometimes smaller among non-heterosexual participants. Compared to each of the three groups of men, each of the three groups of women reported higher sexual action regret and lower sexual inaction regret. Nevertheless, sexual orientation did predict the magnitude of the regrets: lesbian and bisexual women had lower casual sex action regrets and higher casual sex inaction regrets compared to heterosexual women. It is possible that these differences by sexual orientation may result from the fact that the reproductive and social consequences differ between sexual encounters with other women versus with men...

It is noteworthy that we did not find marked sex differences in other regrets, including romantic nonsexual regrets (Study 1) and various other regrets (Study 2). Likewise, the extant literature on regret has not found sex differences in regretting actions and inactions in general (Gilovich & Medvec, 1994; Landman, 1987). Therefore, regret concerning sexual actions and inactions in the context of casual sex appears to be a special case in which there are marked sex differences in regret, supporting the two central evolutionary psychological hypotheses advanced...

The finding in Study 3 that lesbian and bisexual women regretted casual sex actions less and regretted inactions more than did heterosexual women is consistent with at least two of these factors affecting regret: women who have sex with women do not worry about pregnancy and women who have casual sex with women could have greater sexual satisfaction than women who have casual sex with men. Therefore, these factors could help to explain differences between regrets experienced by lesbian and bisexual women, on the one hand, and heterosexual women on the other."

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Why I am not a feminist

"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split" - Robert E. Howard


Gabriel Seah's answer to Feminism: Why are you not a feminist? - Quora

"I believe in gender equality, but I am not a feminist. Primarily, this is because feminism (not in theory, but in practice) is not about gender equality.

Many people agree with me, which is why a 2013 poll found that "just 20 percent of Americans -- including 23 percent of women and 16 percent of men -- consider themselves feminists... asked if they believe that "men and women should be social, political, and economic equals," 82 percent of the survey respondents said they did, and just 9 percent said they did not" (Poll: Don't Call Me This (Even If It's True))

Camille Paglia sums up this apparently contradiction well: "You go out in the street, most women on the street have contempt for feminists. Why? It's because of the excesses of feminism"

Feminism is extremely problematic, but here are my main beefs with it (of course there're many sorts of feminists, but this is the general flavour of the contemporary movement that I've encountered, from those who openly and loudly identify as feminist; this also applies mainly to feminism in developed countries).

In summary,

1) Feminism is anti-male
2) Much of the feminist agenda is based on false facts
3) Feminism disrespects women
4) Feminism is obsessed about trivialities
5) Feminists are rude and unable to disagree gracefully

In detail:

1) Feminism is anti-male

Sure, feminists always say that what they are against is patriarchy, and not men. However, just as gay activists point out that "hate the sin, love the sinner" is problematic with respect to homosexuality (since there is an inevitable identification of the homosexual with homosexuality), men are inevitably associated with patriarchy.

Feminism loves to look at men at the top of society (politicians, CEOs, top earners etc) but ignore the men at the bottom (e.g. criminals, those who die early, successful suicides; at most ascribing their problems - like everything else wrong with the world - to 'patriarchy'). It seems to me that a group being over-represented at the bottom is a much worse problem than one being over-represented at the top (indeed, the over-representation of blacks in prison is taken as evidence of 'racism', even if the over-representation of men there is not considered sexism), yet feminists steadfastly only look at the latter (despite most claiming to believe in gender equality[1]).

[1] - Of course, a few feminists see no problem with this, saying that feminists should only fight for women's rights (one such I used to know proclaimed that it was problematic for a man to lecture a woman about feminism), but this seems unfashionable nowadays and most feminists pay at least lip service to gender equality for both sexes.

As a male, I inevitably get the term 'male privilege' thrown at me whenever I point out problems with feminism; the mere fact that I am a male means any disagreements I have with feminism are invalid. This is similar to how the Victorians considered women to be incapable of reason (albeit in a usually more limited domain - gender issues). This way of dismissing anything I might have to say is both disrespectful of me as a person and men as a whole, while also being intellectually dishonest, which is yet another problem with feminism - its lack of reflexivity (self-interrogation and questioning of assumptions); basically feminists have an air of infallibility.

Perhaps the most harmful manifestation of feminism's anti-male bias is seen in war. 97% of international NGOs studied didn't even mention male rape in war and some actively campaign to silence discussion of the issue, for fear that it could hurt women[The rape of men] and the deaths of male civilians in war is ignored, because everyone is focusing on women and children[Innocent Women And Children: Gender, Norms And the Protection of Civilians (Gender in a Global/Local World)].

We also have the White Ribbon Campaign which urges men to end violence against women - ignoring the fact that almost half of domestic violence victims are men[More than 40% of domestic violence victims are male, report reveals]. The campaign is symptomatic of a wider attitude which views women as victims and men as offenders (which is ironically itself anti-woman).

In November 2013, the feminist group in Singapore, AWARE, was proud that it got the Singapore Armed Forces to ban the lyrics of a popular marching song[SAF stopping the singing of ‘misogynist’ lyrics from marching song: AWARE]:

Booking out, see my girlfriend
Saw her with another man
Kill the man, rape my girlfriend
With my rifle and my buddy and me

They described their concern that soldiers "were bonding over misogynist lyrics about committing sexual violence against women". Note what they ignored: the fact that the man is killed (which I think is worse than being raped). So apparently it's okay to bond over violent lyrics about killing men - just not over those about raping women.

2) Much of the feminist agenda is based on false facts

One of feminists' favourite topics is the gender wage gap. However, they usually use the headline figure and then complain about discrimination, whereas more careful analysis reveals that when you compensate for various factors, the gap becomes small[Gender Wage Gap May Be Much Smaller Than Most Think]. In light of this, the designation of April 17 as "Equal Pay Day"[On Equal Pay Day, NOW Calls For Closing of Gender Wage Gap] (the day when women have to work until to earn as much as a man in the previous year) is deeply misguided at best and pernicious misinformation at worst.

Feminists claim that only 2% of rape accusations are false, but this is a dodgy figure with no reliable basis[The Truth behind Legal Dominance Feminism's Two Percent False Rape Claim].

Sometimes, there is deliberate lying. In the UK, it became common wisdom that the conviction rate for rape was six per cent, but this was misrepresentation of the statistics by treating rape differently from all other crimes (Rape conviction rate figures 'misleading').

It is telling that talking about facts can be considered a Bad Thing - a so-called "Derailing Tactic"(Derail Using Intellectualism - Derailing For Dummies).

3) Feminism disrespects women

This is primarily seen with pornography and prostitution, where most feminists deem that women are unable to consent to those activities. Some feminists also look down on homemakers[I Choose My Choice!] despite feminism supposedly being about choice. Women who disagree with feminism are also accused of false consciousness, of internalising the dominant paradigm (though usually not in those words)

It is telling that feminists hate Sarah Palin, Margaret Thatcher and other conservative women so much. Feminism claims to be about gender equality, but it only supports women who push a feminist agenda. Otherwise, you are viewed as a traitor to the cause. It is one thing to say that we need women in power (for equity reasons, to bring diversity into decision making etc.). It is another to say that we need people in power to push the feminist agenda. And wanting women in power to push the feminist agenda is even worse.

4) Feminism is obsessed about trivialities

In the developed world, feminists love to dig up trivial issues and pretend that they are major problems.

Besides being factually wrong (or at least questionable) assertions, these divert energy from real problems and are insulting to those who actually have real problems.

As Hanna Rosin puts it, "The closer women get to real power, the more they cling to the idea that they are powerless" (Feminists, Accept It. The Patriarchy Is Dead).

The AWARE triumph mentioned above is a good example. When feminists spend their time going after inconsequential matters such as song lyrics, you know that feminism is irrelevant. One is also inclined to ask: using the same logic, don't violent video games lead to violent crime? Not many people seriously argue this nowadays, and the moral panic about video game violence has ebbed (unless you are Jack Thompson).

As with the boy who cried wolf, the ruckus kicked up over trivialities just discredits feminism in the eyes of most, as we can see from the numbers supporting gender equality who do not call themselves feminist.

5) Feminists are rude and unable to disagree gracefully

As a final minor point, feminists like to call names and hurl accusations at those they disagree with, block them or censor them (Why has feminism become obsessed with censoring 'the enemy'?  - Telegraph).

This doesn't reflect well on them and the movement.


In conclusion, there are some valid points that feminists have, but they are overshadowed by the baggage and irrelevancies of the whole movement.

Two wrongs don't make a right.

If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail."

Links - 26th November 2013

Mannequins Give Shape to a Venezuelan Fantasy - NYTimes.com - "Venezuelan women were increasingly using plastic surgery to transform their bodies, yet the mannequins in clothing stores did not reflect these new, often extreme proportions. So he went back to his workshop and created the kind of woman he thought the public wanted — one with a bulging bosom and cantilevered buttocks, a wasp waist and long legs, a fiberglass fantasy, Venezuelan style. The shape was augmented, and so were sales... the beauty queens’ fame helped fuel a fascination with cosmetic surgery and procedures like breast implants, tummy tucks, nose jobs and injections to firm the buttocks. Osmel Sousa, the longtime head of the Miss Venezuela pageant, takes credit for the trend. He recommended a nose job for Venezuela’s first Miss Universe, which he says made her victory possible more than three decades ago. “When there is a defect, I correct it,” Mr. Sousa said. “If it can be easily fixed with surgery, then why not do it?” For Mr. Sousa, beauty really is skin deep: “I say that inner beauty doesn’t exist. That’s something that unpretty women invented to justify themselves”... The little data available indicates that Venezuelan women do not get plastic surgery more than their counterparts in many other countries... “Beauty is perfection, to try to perfect yourself more and more every day,” Ms. Mieles said. “That’s how people see it here.”"

Obituary of the life-less - The People's Funny Pictures Blog - Quora

Sex workers using anti-HIV drugs instead of condoms - "emergency use of PEP is not the best way to go about it, he says. Instead it would be better for prostitutes to take a type of antiretroviral designed to be taken before exposure to HIV - known as Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)."

The condom conundrum: how to persuade Africa's prostitutes to practice safe sex - "“If a man uses a condom, the women will ask him ‘Are you sick?’ If a woman uses one, he will ask her ‘Are you having other men?’ Most people have negative attitudes to condoms. There is very little use by couples”"

Casual Sexual Relationships and Mental Health in Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood - "Casual sexual relationships are relatively common in emerging adulthood. Yet the mental health implications of engaging in these relationships are unclear; past research has found negative associations, positive associations, or no association with mental health. In addition, little research has accounted for mental health status prior to entering casual sexual relationships. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (N = 12,401), we measured mental health prior to engaging in casual sexual relationships and subsequent mental health after engaging in these relationships. We found that suicidal ideation and depressive symptoms in adolescence were associated with entrance into casual sexual relationships in emerging adulthood. Furthermore, casual sexual relationships were associated with an increased likelihood of reporting suicidal ideation in emerging adulthood."

AMARE launches official complaint against SMRT’s violent ad against men | New Nation - "the public transport operator has been showcasing a subway advertisement for many years that clearly shows an act of violence against men. The woman in the ad, who has a shoe fetish, is seen beaming with glee at her shoes like Imelda Marcos, while the man behind her is subjugated and suffering in silence. Akshun Bayday, president of the men’s rights group, said: “It took us men a long time to speak up against this kind of violence because we have over the years been silenced into fear.” “A lot of this kind of messaging saying violence against men is alright has been normalised to the extent we don’t think twice about it. But not anymore.”"

Government Weighs Permitting Cellphone Calls on Planes - "Rules against making cellphone calls during airline flights are "outdated," and it's time to change them, federal regulators said Thursday, drawing immediate howls of protest from flight attendants, airline officials and others... In October, the Federal Aviation Administration lifted restrictions on the use of most personal electronic devices during takeoffs and landings, but not cellphone calls, which fall under the FCC. The FAA long had barred the use of electronic devices below 10,000 feet because of concern they could cause electronic interference with aircraft systems during landings, the phase of flight when accidents are most likely to occur. The FAA based its decision to ease the restrictions based on recommendations from an industry advisory group, which said use of tablets, music players and other devices doesn't cause dangerous interference on modern airliners"
Finally, a superstition dies

Penis church, vagina stadium: Can genital-shaped architecture really be accidental?

This kid is going to be one hell of a witty person when she grows up.

Scott Borg's answer to Japanese Culture: How have the fundamental principles of Japanese culture changed in the seventy years since Ruth Benedict attempted to explain its distinctiveness and coherence in her book The Chrysanthemum and the Sword? - Quora - "It is deeply insulting to the Japanese to suppose that they operate with a hodgepodge of beliefs that have no inner consistency or depth. Yet this is what is implied by people who claim you can't generalize about Japanese culture. If a culture is self-consistent and has any degree of philosophical depth, then it should be possible to articulate the principles that give it coherence... Discussions of this subject are further complicated in the West by the special burdens faced by expatriate Japanese. Westerners feel they should accord special respect to comments on this subject by people of Japanese descent. This is partly just racism. The assumption is that if you look Japanese you should be an especially reliable informant about things Japanese. Yet even if Japanese expatriates lived long enough in Japan to have absorbed Japanese culture deeply, they have many emotions to overcome and many agendas to put aside before then can speak accurately about this subject. There is, for expatriate Japanese, a great temptation to avoid acknowledging things about Japanese culture that would alienate Westerners and that many expatriate Japanese have come to find embarrassing. There is a temptation to defend Japanese culture, even at the cost of accuracy. There is a tendency to substitute for the Japan that still exists, a wished-for Japan of the future, a Japan of "our generation," a Japan that might one day exist, but doesn't quite yet. There is a tendency to protest too much, when an observation feels disconcertingly true. There is above all the temptation to feel superior to the limitations of a writer of the recent past. This last temptation is itself, of course, a kind of ethnocentricity and temporal-centricity. The result can be a mixture of self-righteous indignation and smugness that is not very helpful."
Blind anti-stereotyping zealotry actually insults the groups you think you are defending

The Assguardians - The People's Funny Pictures Blog - Quora

'Self-aiming' rifle turns novices into expert snipers

Timeline Photos - Welcome to the Internet - "Someone really didn't think this out at the JFK memorial."

Bleeding Feminism: Internalized Misogyny: "I'm Not Like Most Girls!" - "girl-hate. It's so rampant that it's contributed to the stereotype that all girls are catty and horrible and some of us have started insisting that we're "not like other girls" to separate ourselves from all these generalizations, saying that we'd rather hang out with boys, because "boys have less drama". Here's the thing, though: homogenizing the entire female gender down to one or two negative stereotypes is sexist. When girls perpetuate it, it's called "internalized misogyny". And sadly, I've found that girls are guilty of perpetuating misogyny almost as often as men are"
If a girl saying she's not like other girls is (internalised) misogyny, slamming men for 'privilege' is (internalised) misandry

Why has feminism become obsessed with censoring 'the enemy'? - "There is a good reason, says Professor Feona Attwood, co-editor of the academic journal Porn Studies, for the resurgence of these pro-censorship campaigns. It is easier for puritans to focus on online porn, lap dancing or sex work rather than “material problems” such as poverty or education... the underlying message of Object and UK Feminista’s campaign is problematic; they are telling young feminists to fight to ban people from consuming media which portray them as pneumatic sex objects, rather than fight the message.

Kenyans chase down and catch goat-killing cheetahs

Against Feminisms | Quiet Riot Girl - "When I make my case against feminism, whether it be in a reasonable, rational manner or an exasperated, angry tone, I am challenging the basis of ALL FEMINIST THEORY. People say to me, ‘you can’t generalise like that’ ‘feminism is not a monolithic group’ ‘there are many branches of feminism’ ‘feminism is a broad church’ ‘feminism is not a club’... here is my rationale for why I oppose ALL and EVERY FEMINIST THEORY. If you are a feminist but do not subscribe to any of these assumptions/beliefs, then let me know. But I expect there is not one feminist who doesn’t broadly speaking accept these tenets:
1) Feminism is based on an assumption that overall, men as a group hold power in society and this power, damages women as a group.
2) The above assumption, no matter what feminists say, relies on a belief in and a reinforcement of the essentialist binary view of gender...
3) This means that in order to present these assumptions as ‘fact’, men are demonised by feminism as a whole...
4) The focus on men’s power over women in ‘patriarchal’ society ignores other divisions between people and is essentially, ‘heteronormative’...
5) Feminism does not allow for these above challenges to be made to it without it having a hissy fit or banning its critics from websites/fora or saying ‘but you don’t understand’ or ‘feminism is not monolithic’. Feminism cannot stand up to critique.
6) Feminism is based on self-interest"

S'porean women have height issues when finding dates - "70 per cent of the women surveyed said they will not date a shorter man. This is despite the fact that the Singaporean men surveyed said they are happy to date a taller woman. The survey also found that Singaporean women also prefer to date a man who is better educated and have higher salaries as compared to them. While such results may appear to show that Singaporean women are demanding, Lunch Actually CEO Violet Lim explained the reason for her female clients' requirements. She said: "I think it is understandable that women have high requirements when it comes to dating because as women are getting more educated and doing better for themselves when it comes to their career, they feel that they have achieved a certain comfort level in their life, and they are not willing to compromise on their quality of living.""
I doubt we would get this justification if it were the men who were demanding
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