Monday, November 7, 2011

Sexual Attitudes in Singapore

Singaporeans are very puritanical. This is strange because prostitution is legal here (and they import large numbers of "entertainers" for that purpose). In fact, there is somewhere referred to as "Four Floors of Whores". They don't have a strong religious prohibition against premarital sex or other "deviant" forms of sexual behavior either (since there isn't a dominant religion here; in fact, 17% have no religion whatsoever).

Nonetheless, standards of sexual morality are pretty high. It is uncommon to see displays of public affection (and a photo of a couple having a passionate kiss garnered a huge number of negative comments when published in the newspaper recently). Nudity is also not acceptable. Abercrombie and Fitch (the clothes company that always uses half naked men to sell their products) had an advertisement on Orchard Road (the main shopping district). It was removed after a citizens' group protested that it was immodest (and think of the children!!!). Having children out of wedlock is very disapproved of, and uncommon. Homosexuality is actually illegal (although this is not really enforced). And of course maids (and other migrant workers) are not supposed to have sex, let alone reproduce.

I think this sign is funny because it refers to sexual harassment as "outrage of modesty", which is a common phrase here (one objection to the kissing couple was that a schoolgirl was in the same train car: what an outrage to modesty!). I have not noticed that groping is a problem here (at least not like Japan!), although since I usually am carrying a baby I am not the proper demographic.

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