Beyond the Singapore Girl
- Explores the gendering of national subjects in Singapore.
- Describes how gender difference has been represented and now is challenged in public discourses.
- Deals with issues of masculinity as well as femininity.
The branding of Singapore International Airlines with the image of a beautiful, petite and servile ‘Oriental’ woman dressed in figure-hugging sarong-kebaya is one of the world’s longest running and most successful advertising campaigns. But this image does not simply advertise a service; it is part of a global and national regime of symbolic constructions of gender that today is seen as outdated and sexist, and bearing little relation to modern Singapore where women have good access to education and increased life choices resulting from engagement in the wage economy. The nation’s economic success has been a force for their liberation. One catastrophic consequence of women’s changed lives has been the plunge in fertility rates.
Singapore has one of the world’s lowest despite energetic government campaigns encouraging women to have more babies – and men to be more ‘masculine’. The failure of these campaigns and rethinking of the Singapore Girl highlight a key premise of this book: there are limits to the power of discursive constructions of gender in the national interest.
Rethinking the Singapore Girl • Imagining the Nation • Public Spaces of Discourse • A Word on Critical Strategies • The Limits of Narrative Control
1. Narrating the Nation 17
Masculine Nation • Creating Modern Subjects • Vulnerable Nation • Global Citizens
2. Family and Nation 43
Creating the Capitalist Family • The Nation and Family as Discursive Objects • The Female Body and the Unsettling of Nation
3. The Politics of Fertility 61
Decreasing Reproduction to Increase Production: the ‘Stop at Two’ Campaign • Quality vs Quantity • Have Three or More if You Can Afford It
4. Romancing Singapore 85
Selling Marriage and Parenthood • The Romance of Nation – Family and Capital • No Sex, Please – We’re Singaporean
5. Resisting the Hardsell 113
Pragmatism vs Love • The Paradox of Romance • Beyond Babies
6. The New Singapore Woman 139
Bad Subjects • Taming the New Singapore Woman • Peeling Prawns – Recovering the Asian Woman
7. The Crisis of Representation 163
Loss of Narrative Authority • Reinscribing Men – The New Singapore Man • Feminised Nation
Chris Hudson is a research leader in the Globalization and Culture Program in the Global Cities Research Institute and Associate Professor of Asian Media and Culture at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia.
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- Feb. 29 2016
After a year of 48-hour days and frantic juggling, first copies of the printed volume of End of Empire: 100 Days in 1945 that Changed Asia and the World, edited by David P. Chandler, Robert Cribb and Li Narangoa, finally reached the NIAS Press office this morning.