Lynn Chen, a 32-year-old social entrepreneur, is here again to share her views on sexuality and her own recent unwed pregnancy. Marriage is on the cards though and we wish the couple all the best ahead. Lynn also maintains a blog at therealcarepeople.
Lynn: Hello… Yes I’m pregnant and it happened the usual way you end up pregnant.
Transitioning: Was it a planned one or it just happened? Is marriage on the cards then with Mr Right finally or you want to be a single mum?
Lynn: It wasn’t planned. Yes, marriage is in the pipeline.
Being a single mum takes too much guts. You have to be emotionally and psychologically very prepared – for your kid and for what you have to counter from society’s prejudices. I don’t think I am up for it. I salute women who have such courage.
Transitioning: How did your parents react when you inform them of the news since we are still quite a conservative country?
Lynn: My mom values the conservative Asian family ideal but dad is less so, in the sense of inculcating me with an independent attitude. Unlike the usual Chinese family, he has a very creative type of parenting method. But that does not mean he is definitely supportive of my choice of a ‘baby-then-wed’ style.
Surprisingly mom is openly more accepting of it. I reckon it’s because she knows a marriage is coming along as part of the package and this is probably the only way I will actually wed! In fact this baby has sped up the reconciliation of my parents and me. Relations between us have been rather nasty the past a year and half as you’ve heard/read. So all is good.
Transitioning: We have heard a lot of shot-gun marriages happening here in our country, why do you think this is so? Do you think that our fervent pubbing culture here contributes to this phenomenon?
Lynn: First of all the traditional form of marriages, ie. ‘wed-then-baby’ are seeing high rates of divorces. Some of them have kids and they will follow either parent most of the time. When they remarry, the kids come along. I see such instances manifesting at quite a substantial rate. Hopefully these kids will not face much social discrimination throughout their lives.
Looking at such a scenario in society today, with regards to the fairytale ideology of happily-forever-after, it is quite obvious that it stays as that – a fairytale. After too many failed marriages, people become are more realistic these days. Most times when marriages are on the verge of breaking down, couples with children put in more effort to try to stay married – taking that it is important for their kids to have both biological parents bringing them up together. Shot-gun marriages have a similar take in this aspect, where children are the priority and thus choose to tie the knot.
And you have to be married to get the baby bonus! Our government is openly prejudiced on this, requiring you to be married to have that entitlement. So the question is ‘abort or not’ and if not, ‘marry the asshole or not’? Something like that! How then?! Adding to having to endure the people holding onto conservative opinions breathing down the neck, you can be sure you won’t have an easy time being a single mom.
A personal incident – I went to the obstetrician’s and the nurse asked if I’m married. I said no and there was a gasp of surprise from the nurse next to her. It can be quite upsetting in the way they put it across with other people listening on in the clinic.
The pubbing culture is surely a reason for more liberated sexual expressions but I don’t think it contributes much to the number of shot-gun marriages. If you’re in on the one-night-stand types, I mean what are the chances of getting pregnant through that one time? If you’re a regular sleep-around-er, then you should be more confused who the daddy is right? Even if you are certain of his identity, try ringing up the guy and I doubt you will be having a conversation on marriage planning at all!
Transitioning: On the topic of sexuality, I have heard that most all-girls schools here have a high rate of same-gender attraction leading to lesbianism, are you personally involved too when young since you mentioned that you came from one?
Lynn: Yes, I spent 10 years in an all-girls’ school. During secondary period, puberty begins and being impressionable, adding to girls responding more towards physical expressions – like hugs, as compared to boys, same-gender attraction can be prevalent. Especially in an all-girls’ school. It doesn’t seem like anything unusual to have female to female crushes unlike mixed-gender schools (then). But many are passing phases. Most of us settle into heterosexual relationships in our adult years.
I feel same-gender attraction for men are more openly displayed in their later years. I’m not saying that men turn gay at an older age but during school days, due to peer pressure from other boys, adding to being uncertain about their sexual preferences still, they try to conform to society’s dos and don’ts more. Until adulthood. There are gay men I know who have kids but only openly expressed their liking for men later on.
Transitioning: Do you have gay or lesbian friends and what are the struggles you think they may face in our conservative society?
Lynn: The Singaporean society today is definitely much more accepting of the people who have same-sex preferences. But openly displaying their sexual preference with another still causes discomfort I’ve noticed and as much as you can tolerate; when it happens to your own child, it is another story altogether.
Many endure religious discrimination and sometimes it is not someone else’s perspective of them. It is themselves who berate their choices. They feel terrible about themselves and such disagreement within can be a struggle.
I have a good friend who is HIV-positive. For him, the media’s hounding with regards to the issues as to how he contracted the virus can be very insensitive and hurtful – as if living with physical effects of the infection upon his body and the discrimination he faces from his own circle is not bad enough. Oh, according to the law, he has to tell everyone he meets that he is HIV-positive… Duh.
On the topic of alternative gender preferences, there was a guy I knew once who chose to dress cross-gender. He had a girlfriend then. He kept his identity secret all the time I knew him. He would come to speak to me online where he dressed up and asked for my opinion as to whether it looked good. Sometimes he talked about taking to the streets but with apprehension. My advice always was that if he was prepared to face potential criticism coming from strangers and those who knew him personally with a very brave attitude, he should go for it.
It’s sad that society for the longest time allow what is really nonsense to dictate their life’s choices, making the people around them including themselves suffer unnecessarily.
Transitioning: Recently, there is a lot of media publicity on high profiled government officers getting caught with their pants down literally, why do you think this happens in our conservative society?
Lynn: This has always been happening! It is only because we have the aid of technology – mini-video cams (for hiding purposes), mobile-phone cameras, laptop cameras and digital transmission at breakneck speed, to help the public better see that nobody is perfect!
Why? Because people are exhibitionists who like to be photographed in private acts or that a monogamous sex life has itself its ongoing set of problems like boredom, psychological issues affecting desires, mismatched style perhaps… etc etc etc?
Transitioning: Are we not having enough sex in the bedroom for the married couples that many men and women have to seek sexual liaisons outside?
Lynn: I don’t know! I can’t speak for all married couples! Like I said sexual issues are much reliant on other factors too, like happiness between couples. A simple explanation will be that most of us don’t want to hump everyone we see right? Sexual attraction is subjective and thus hugely psychological.
Outside sexual liaisons need not be a result of less bedroom activity between couples. They can be transactional. Monetary exchanges are more obvious. Then there are those that happen for career advantages and I know such have been happening in Singapore for a long time! No, I’ve never been a part of it.
Transitioning: Recently, The Straits Times reported on our local men going to Batam to seek dangerous unprotected sex, what is your view on this?
Lynn: If any of the men are reading this, what I want to say is the following:
Next time you go for prostitution, regardless of Batam or anywhere in the world, try to look at the girl like how you look at your daughter who may one day be forced into selling her body (and soul) for whatever reason, like putting food in front of you because you are that poor. Or they may be willingly prostituting themselves even.
For because of you, there will be such a trade that is in demand of your daughter’s services, whatever her age. Be understanding that unprotected sex is your choice, like many of the men choices too, and she will highly likely contract sexually transmitted diseases and HIV even… maybe have abortions or give birth to babies whose daddies happen to be some of your friends.
Don’t ever call your daughter names if you find out that she has become one of those who serve men your kind. Or in other instances like if your daughter comes home knocked up by her boyfriend, don’t say she is a disgrace because the situation could be worse, like those you have helped by contributing to.
Self-reflection is a rare quality!
Transitioning: Lastly, since you are going to be a mum, what is your parenting style going to be like and will you be any different from our legion of kiasu educationally-driven motherly culture here?
Lynn: I didn’t want my own kids for a long time because I feel overly prepared for it. In my understanding of human character, I will expect my children to be such and such. Thus I fear I may try to exert too much control and overwhelm them leading to a backlash. But the situation has come along and I just have to do my best.
I really have to try to manage my expectations and let my kid grow as an individual. I’m not supportive of our edu system and If I can I’ll home-tutor the kid fully… but this is already being too controlling.
What is more important is good moral values, the ability to reason logic and be discerning about everything rather than be impeded by codes of conduct.
Thank you and end of interview
Editor’s note: Lynn designs her own tee shirt using nail polish – see picture above. If you are keen to purchase a tee shirt to support our voluntary work, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Each tee costs $20 and proceeds will be used to fund our voluntary work among the jobless and divorced communities. There will be a few designs to choose from and Lynn will personally paint the tee for you using nail polish. Below are three other more designs for your consideration. If you have your own slogan, Lynn can nail paint for you at a special price.