To Malaysia, With Love: "So, When Are You Going to Get Married Ah?"
Updated: Aug 6, 2018
Photo Credit: Our nuffie, Susan Yong
That was the first time I ever got scolded by a stranger on the LRT, and I doubt it’s going to be
It’s 2018, and women are still being harangued toget married as quickly as possible. Despite the rapid modernisation of our society, there are still traditional and cultural expectations to deal with.
As a product of an extremely mixed interracial marriage (between my parents, they have got 7 races in total), I am lucky enough to escape cultural pressure from my parents. It is thanks to my Eurasian heritage that I was raised with a mix of Western and Asian values, more so the former than the latter. This helped stave off pressure a great deal, but it doesn’t stop pressure coming from society itself. A fact that was vexingly and hilariously proven by
my experience on the LRT.
Photo Credit: Our Nuffie, Nicole Tan
There are many others as well. A few of the most recent being conversations with different
Uber drivers, all of whom upon learning of my heritage and single status, made comments.
“I wonder who you’ll marry…” one said jokingly, aware of the racial divide that extends to dating and marriage. “At your age too. You’d have to marry a foreigner.”
While this is a vast generalisation, it is true that there is an expectation for women to marry by a certain age- and if a woman stays single beyond that age, she is somehow perceived as unhappy or incomplete. God forbid she chooses to stay unmarried as well.
I’m not saying that marriage, or at least companionship, isn’t important. It is. It just shouldn’t
be used as a standard to define women. In more extreme cases, there are parents who, upon realising their daughter is getting a bit too “old”, would find ways to push her into marriage.
It can come in the form of not allowing her access to her own hard-earned money, harassing
her to marry their chosen suitor (even if he’s unsuitable) or controlling certain aspects of
her life. Does she want to travel? Or to fulfill her dream? Well, too bad. Not until she’s married.
Photo Credit: Our nuffie, Susan Yong
Is marriage so important that it’s worth ruining your own daughter’s life for?
There is something frightening about this mindset that I don’t want to think about, but
it is there. And it is something single, and especially career-minded single women deal
with at least to some degree.
The most ironic thing about this situation is that it is often those who try to enforce
this way of living that have very unhappy marriages. The same can be said for those
who give into it.
Perhaps I’m simply shooting myself in the foot, or perhaps it’s because I know there
is a way of living that goes beyond cultural bindings that I’m choosing to postpone
marriage. I know who I am, and I know how much I’d hate myself and or anyone who
gets in the way of my ambition. Yes, it’s a scary thing to do in marriage-oriented Asia,
but it’s better to be alone than to be married and unhappy. And it’s definitely better to
be alone than to be with the wrong person.
I choose myself, and I implore women who have dreams of their own to do the same
Whether you want to marry early, or postpone it to further your career, or to stay
unmarried, you deserve to have the life you want.
BEHIND THE COLUMN
To Malaysia, with Love is brought to you by our very own Digital Content Writer, Melissa Kartini. When not occupied with her multitude of interests, she tries to partake in charity work and events as frequently as possible. She is also a Contributor and Writing Consultant of Think-LAH!, a project that aims to raise awareness for social issues that exist in the world.