Let’s Face it: There is Racism in Singapore’s Dating Scene

“I like to date White Men. They’re just better that understanding women”

“Chinese men don’t know how to treat women well”

Those were some of the printable statements I heard over lunch recently, while seated next to 2 very well-dressed, rather good-looking, but rather loud women. Having heard their thoughts, they struck me as 2 very well-educated, but unwise people.

Many people will dismiss them as some kind of SPG, but after thinking about it, that would be an oversimplification of the matter. As I ate my (very tasty) Oyakodon, I thought about what they truly meant by those statements, and why they thought the way they did, and two things popped up – our lingering colonialism, and how that affects our perception of race.

What Happened in 1819 changed perceptions of race

These 2 things dovetail into 1 (rather complicated) concept: That our ex-colonial masters segregated us by race, attached (still) unproven non-physical attributes to race, and we are still experiencing the effects in our perception of race. In the context of the recent Presidential (Non-)Election, New Naratif’s video explains this, very well.

We defer to, and attribute, behavioural traits to race. I recognise that different racial groups behave differently and have certain, specific behaviours that seem to stem from their race. However, if you put new born babies of different skin colours next to each other, they all behave in similar manners – they cry, they want to drink milk and they need lots of nap time. That is to say that when the mental slate is clean and blank, race plays no part. The colour of our skin plays zero part in our own behaviours.

Therefore, race does not guide social or dating behaviour, culture does. Whether the person is Chinese, Caucasian, Indian, Malay or mixed blood, it is his/her background, social connections and familial upbringing that drives his/her behaviour. Once you drop your ethnocentricity, you realise a person isn’t skin colour or genetics. A person is what they do and how they do what they do.

Does Education Play A Part?

Someone asked my if Education has any role in this:

“Does education play a part or in the future be an impactful means to resolve this issue?”

As a person of Chinese descent, and one who works in a Chinese-dominated workplace, I find that education needs to change from a “everything is hunky dory” to “If you’re part of the dominant racial population almost anywhere, you’re advantaged”

How so? Well, this video explains in rather clear detail how privilege works.

School isn’t the solution either

It is only part of the entire solution. Education does help, but the people we trust the most aren’t our teachers. That’s where our friends and family impact our perception. Consistent exposure comes from those closest to us – People who we relate to, our relatives and closest friends. As a Chinese person, I have lost track of the number of times I’ve heard someone make a comment that erroneously relates a person’s race to their behavioural attributes. At various offices and amongst people we’re close to, we tend to share what we consider immutable truths, even if they aren’t true.

So what’s the solution?

Well, I have a solution. Anytime you hear this:

“[Race] are always [Behaviour]”

You stop and ask yourself if EVERY SINGLE one person of that mentioned race displays that behavioural trait. So… if you hear:

“Chinese people are greedy/like to gamble”

then ask yourself if every single Chinese person you know is like that. Same goes for “Malays are..” or “Indians are…” or “Ang Mohs are…”, even if it is a perceived positive trait. 

Do this, and you might come to realise that there is no absolute truism when it comes to race.

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