Friday, August 24, 2012

Men You Should Never Date

This article is currently "trending" on my Facebook homepage. Just from the headline ("Women You Should Never Date"), even before I clicked on it, I knew it was going to irritate me. And I was right. Though the author seems to be trying to avoid generalisations ("Firstly, not all women nag"), the article is still pretty fill of stereotyped problems that woman apparently have. 

So, I wrote an article in response. It's nearly identical to the MensXP article, with the gender flipped and a few lines added/editted/removed. I removed and edited a "category", and added a new one. What other problems in guys should we notice and avoid? Let me know what you think!


Ladies, this article is one you should take a print out of and carry in your pocket at all times simply because it will give you a very vivid picture of the kind of men you MUST NOT DATE. I am sure at some stage in your life you must have fallen for the wrong guy and then shed many-a-tear over him. In case you have been lucky and escaped such trauma, congratulations!

You must keep the distance if and when you come across men with traits as described below.

1. The Possessive/Obsessive Stalker

He gets upset the moment you look at another man and gets jealous when you talk to another man? He doesn’t like you having close guy friends and questions you incessantly about them? He likes it when you wear his favourite outfit but minds it if you don’t wear what he likes and wants you to wear? He doesn’t like you going out with your friends without him? He doesn't take no for an answer?

If the answer to the above questions is a yes then you NEED to NOT see him ever again. Some men get possessive, obsessive and dominating to the point that they suffocate you and thus stunt your growth as a human being. You cannot and should not become his shadow or a person of his liking alone. Protect your identity and guard your self-respect by giving him the boot.

2. The Attention Seeker

Many men like to get as much attention as possible from their girlfriends. But some men make a nasty habit out of it. They want to be the centre of your life and hate it when the attention shifts. They don’t like you going out with your friends without them. They don’t like you having a life that doesn’t involve them. Let’s be practical. It is wrong of your boyfriend to want to be the centre of your life for an indefinite period of time. After all, you have friends, family, work which deserve your attention as well, that you want to give attention to. As soon as you realise he is asking way too much of your time and that he is crawling into your personal space, ask him to back off. If the problem persists after repeated warnings, it is advisable for you to back off.

3. The Hero Complex
Some men love to be the hero in a girl’s life. It might work when you want him to help, but other times, it can encroach on your independence and make you feel like you can’t take care of yourself. He might pay for you more often than you are want (if ever), or buy you things though you’re not comfortable with accepting gifts. He might insist on carrying things you’re perfectly happy carrying yourself, or do you favours that you don’t want. Don’t let him take over problems you want to solve yourself, or help out unnecessarily.

4. The Material and Selfish Boy
If he’s only after your money, he’s no good. If he only wants sex and a “good time”, he’s no good (unless that’s what you want too). If he is only after emotional counseling for himself, then he is no good. He will distance himself from you when he finds another woman he is attracted to or when your pocket or emotional strength weakens. Building ties with him is futile and so is expecting a give-and-take, equal relationship.

And I’ll add a crucially important one:

5. The Sexist Boy
If he makes broad generalizations about women, stay away. If he tries to dominate you or the relationship just because he’s a man, stay away. If he expects you to do what he says and not contradict or argue, stay away. If he has expectations of you based on you being a woman, stay away. If he subscribes to and believes in stereotypes, stay away. If he expects you to prioritise his career over yours just because he’s a man, stay away.  If he ever makes you feel small or inferior because he thinks the choices you made are not in line with “what a woman should do”, kick him in the balls and then stay away.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Tips for Unemployment

A few days days ago, while moving to my second temporary housing in three months, the reality of my situation hit me suddenly, like horrible realisations tend to do. I’m a college graduate who’s finished nearly seven months without a permanent job. My roommate and I were carrying our stuff three blocks down the road, moving by ourselves since we’re too broke to hire a van or movers. I was dragging a suitcase by one hand and carrying a pillow, a purple stuffed elephant I call Dumbo, and, ironically enough, my graduation gown in the other.

I graduated in January as an international student in Singapore, and was 
naive enough to expect to get a job immediately. Now, seven months later, with a rejected work permit application for the job I did get and few signs of another job, I’m still living off my parents in a city with very high living expenses. I’m an unemployed college graduate, nearly broke, and living in an apartment with ten other people (and a dog whose existence my landlord refuses to admit to).

I could so easily panic.

Instead, walking down the road with my arms full of stuffed toys, pillows and graduation gowns, I found myself giggling at the ridiculousness of my situation. Singing sad songs to force myself into an appropriate melancholy didn’t work, so I gave up and planned this piece in my head instead.

Unemployment is hard. I wasn’t a bad student in college – I have decent grades, as many skills as a fresh graduate could be expected to have, and several (unpaid) internships on my résumé. My résumé doesn’t have any typos or grammar mistakes, my cover letters are all customised and enthusiastic, and I genuinely am enthusiastic about a lot of the jobs I apply for. Given the fact that a large part of the Class of 2012 of my university is also similarly unemployed, I can conclude that my lack of income is not entirely my fault for partying too much or skipping too many classes over the past four years. Yet, I spent most of my graduation ceremony feeling jealous of the students who talked about their upcoming promising careers and scoffing at the Dean when he mentioned a “close to 100% employment rate” in his oh-so-inspiring-but-actually-a-marketing-pitch speech.

So, since this period is hard for me and for everyone else going through a similar situation, I thought it was a good idea to compile a list of things I have found to be helpful. They help me to not panic and lose my mind, or feel so scared that I’m literally frozen and unable to do anything productive. I hope these “tips”, from one unemployed person to another, will help others in my situation. (Warning: these are not tips on how to get a job. I clearly don’t have the answer to that question yet.

1) Appreciate and celebrate the small wins. My roommate and I found housing on the last possible day – we were going to be homeless in another few hours. The room is cramped and has no windows, and we’re sharing a tiny bathroom with at least 5 other people, including two guys who don’t know how to aim. But still, it was a huge relief to have found a place to stay, and once we unpacked as much stuff as possible, put up our posters and bought a new bulb for my good-mood-lamp, the room is quite nice. So, though we’re both unemployed and interview-less, this small win helped us feel better. Appreciate the small wins, even when it feels like they have no real impact on your life in light of the big problems – the smallest wins help you be more positive.

2) Be positive. I know you must have heard this from a hundred different people in 27 different ways, but seriously, staying optimistic is the only way to keep at the bleak task of looking for and applying for jobs. I did a fairly good job of staying positive, even after the first company that made me a job offer called two days later to cancel said offer. But my sunshine-y outlook took a big hit the day my work visa application for my second (and nearly perfect) job got rejected. I sobbed on the phone to my mom for half an hour, bought a horrendously overpriced ticket home, and was on a flight that very evening. I spent three weeks at home as an absolute vegetable, doing nothing to help myself. I finally did snap out of it, but I lost a valuable month of job hunting and spent much more money than I could afford. Believing that something will work out if you keep trying will help you keep trying and hence make something work out eventually. Stay positive, even if the elusive “something” is taking longer to come along than you would like.

3) Do non-job-hunting things. I know it feels horribly guilty to enjoy a drink with some friends, especially when every beer at a bar can mean one less meal the next day. I know it feels worse to talk about non-job-hunting stuff, or to laugh and have fun (gasp!) when you don’t have a job. But you really, really need to take a break and enjoy other activities. My dad advocates going for a run – something about endorphins and adrenalin apparently make you feel better. As a criminally lazy person, I haven’t yet tested his theory, but it’s probably true. If running is your thing, go for it. Or go for a movie, or a drink, or a party (even better if it’s a house party with free alcohol!). Look for cheap/free options, such as a free movie night or a simple walk with a friend. Give yourself a break and do something that doesn’t require you to worry about your job.

4) Do something productive every day. It is so easy to spend hour after mindless hour watching an endless stream of Grey’s Anatomy episodes. They’re distracting, relaxing, and let you focus on some fictional character’s crappy life rather than yours. You start by promising yourself just a one hour respite, and before you know it, you’ve finished that season of Grey’s Anatomy and both seasons of Blue Bloods over three days.

Don’t get caught in this trap. Make sure you do something productive everyday – it’ll make you feel so much better at the end of the day. You have to, of course, spend several hours on the job hunt every day. If you reach the point where you simply cannot look at another job description, find something else to do. I spend several hours reading the news from different sources – makes me feel awesomely smart later! You could write something (rant about unemployment!). Or learn something – in the age of the internet, there really is no excuse for putting off that one thing you always meant to learn to do. In my experience, doing at least one good thing in a day significantly helps me not feel like a complete loser.

5) Find others. You are not alone in this. I know that talking to friends who have seemingly perfect lives is often a painful experience of jealousy, anger, and subsequent guilt, and can leave you feeling worse than before. Talk to them anyway. Blaming friends for having a better time in life is not acceptable. But at the same time, find people going through the same stuff. In my case, it helps that most of my friends are in the same workless situation. If yours are not, turn to the internet. There are countless blogs and websites where people have written about their unemployment, and it helps to know that you’re not the only one – someone else has felt everything you feel, and might be able to help through advice, tips or support.

I’m sure there are many other things you could do too – a tub of Ben & Jerry’s always makes me cheer up. The effect of alcohol on my mood fluctuates drastically – vodka combined with the right music might put me into a wild party mood, but the same in another context has left me a sobbing mess, strategising ways to finally find Hogwarts and “leave this cruel world behind” and accusing every favourite Harry Potter character of having “magicked” their way into a career.

But anyway, these are my top five tips, and I hope they help. If there is something crucially important that I am missing out on, please do let me know. Happy hunting!

Friday, April 20, 2012

I Need Feminism Because..

This blog on tumblr is pretty awesome. And it got me thinking about something I've wanted to write for a long time, but been too lazy to - one thing that I really detest about sexism.

I think absolutely everything about sexism is wrong. I can't choose one aspect that is "wronger" than the others. I've been lucky - personally, I haven't faced much sexism. But lately, the one thing that is really affecting me personally and I am really starting to detest is the tendency of people to attribute a lot of things a woman does to her gender.

"She doesn't like sports? Of course, she's a girl!" "She doesn't like beer? Of course, girls don't." "She wants to get married and have kids? That's what girls want!" "You're fighting with a friend/boyfriend? You're a girl, must be PMS." "Of course you like cooking/shopping/cleaning/talking on the phone/trying on clothes/using make-up, you're a girl!"

I've seen this attitude a lot lately, in men and in women. Attributing everything to "being a girl" not only offends and stereotypes women as a whole, but also discounts me as a person with personal beliefs and thoughts and desires that do not stem from "being a girl". And the thing that makes me the most uncomfortable about this attitude is the obligation I feel to modify my own behaviour! If I want to go shopping, I try not to mention it to people I know will crack a you're-such-a-girl joke. I avoid using make-up even though I'd like to put some, just to break a stereotype. I try to minimise the time I take to get ready, because if I'm late, it's not just my fault, it's the fault of all women. And if I ever do skip dessert or try to cut calories, I excuse it as being full or not in the mood, because god forbid my efforts to lose weight prove to some jackass that all women want to be "thin and beautiful".

At the same time, I catch myself feeling "proud" of things that I like/do that break stereotypes. For example, I don't want to get married and have children. I feel the need to make sure everyone knows that, just so they know that there are women out there who want different things. I feel proud of not wanting children, because I feel I'm breaking a stereotype. I like beer, I don't want a boyfriend, I like one night stands, I'm not too fond of pink, I follow politics, I dislike cooking and on and on and on. These are not things that should inspire either pride or shame. Liking pink is not something a feminist should be ashamed of, just as not liking pink is not something a feminist should be proud of. By feeling proud of the ways I break stereotypes, I'm feeding the stereotypes and making women who are different feel worse.

A friend once told me that she wants to have lots of children and grandchildren. And she immediately apologised for being such a "bad feminist". She felt bad for wanting the "conventional" things. Another friend said the same thing when she told me she wants to get married and start a family early. That is not the point of feminism! Feminism says that women are free to choose what they want without being hampered by their gender. You can choose to have seven kids or no kids, to get married at 23 or 30 or never, to use lots of make-up or none at all, to wear only pink or no pink, to like sports or hate sports, to drink beer or drink Cosmopolitans. We should do what we want out of free choice, and without our personal choices reflecting on our gender as a whole.

So, for the Who Needs Feminism blog: I need feminism because I want to be proud of my choices because they're the right ones for me, not because they break a stupid sexist stereotype of women.

Monday, January 16, 2012


She is a journalist
During protests and movements
During elections and Emergencies
During poverty and abuse
During war and violence
During arrests and investigations
She is the truth.

She is a writer
Of realistic characters in realistic worlds
Of partying students and dreamy intellectuals
Of stories of friendship and ambition
Of murder mysteries and action-packed thrillers
Stories to get lost in
She captures you.

She is a musician
Uncontrollable, irresistible
Intense, all-consuming
Overwhelming melodies.
Real feelings, true stories
You will always remember
The first time you heard her play.

She works in the government
She listens, she cares
She researches and studies
She takes a stand, the right one
She investigates and prosecutes
She implements policy and programmes
She is change.

The Suit

I found a formal jacket yesterday
After looking in every shop I know
Smart, black, two buttons
And it fit perfectly.

They stitch custom suits too
So I got measured for a skirt
And a matching jacket
In sharp, icy grey.

I’ll have the suit on Saturday
I have the enthusiasm now
I’m ready to start a career
All I need is a job.