One of the worst-kept secrets of bustling, prosperous Singapore is the birth dearth which threatens to undermine both its economy and sense of nationhood in the decades ahead. The birth rate stands at a miserably low 1.29 children per woman — one of the lowest in the world and far below the 2.1 level needed to replace the population.
A few weeks ago Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew highlighted once again the nation’s fertility woes , suggesting that we take some lessons from Sweden, where government funding of generous parental work leave and other family-friendly policies shores up a birth rate that, at 1.67, is higher than in much of Europe. At the same time the work-life balance approach keeps women in the workforce.
Singapore’s problem goes back almost 60 years to the mid-twentieth century belief that population control was essential to economic development, not to mention balancing the ethnic composition of the population. Following independence in 1965, the government instituted a birth control policy that lasted two decades. The birth rate came tumbling down, although much faster among educated women than among the poor and uneducated. Since the 1980s there has been a variety of policies to boost fertility, first among the educated sectors but now among all Singaporeans.
Reversing the low fertility trend is not proving to be an easy mission. In 2007, only 39,940 children were born, just two thirds of the 60,000 required for “replacement”. Yet in the frenzy of discussion that ensued, one statistic seemed to have been forgotten: our abortion rates. In 2006, one out of four, or 12,000 babies were aborted. For a country that prides itself on hard nosed pragmatism, and a devotion to statistics and similar apparatus, such amnesia is baffling.
For one thing, it would seem that Singaporeans are not warming up to the various contraceptive paraphernalia easily available. Nor are they testifying that their sex lives have been enhanced by the use of contraceptives. A woman interviewed by the Whisper Project in 2006 felt that “her husband did not like the artificial feel of a condom, and the Pill and other methods meant she had to go see her doctor for a prescription, and she did not like strangers questioning her about her sexual habits.”
Yeah. Like this is a no brainer. I wouldn’t like the feel of a condom either. Must suck to be a man having sex with a condom.
Secondly, while Singaporeans may not actually be using contraceptives, they have largely severed the connection between babies and intercourse. As such, people begin to talk about babies as if they are accidental occurrences. Abortion is thus seen as the next logical step in the birth control apparatus.
Indeed, couples who use natural methods of fertility management, attest to the fact that they find their sex lives satisfying. A mother of six even blogged about her experience. “If you can have sex anytime, anywhere and any how, the sense of excitement will diminish over the years. During this period of waiting, our sexual passion is simmering like a good pot of stew slowly stewing over a fire. When the fertile period is over, it is fun time. We can enjoy sex freely without the worry of any health concerns or side effects [from contraceptives].” Indeed, the periods of abstinence required by the couple would demonstrate to each other that they are both virtuous masters of their passions. Sex immediately takes on a deeper meaning and is not simply a masturbatory experience to relieve sexual urges. (Source)
That’s what contraception is: an enhanced form of masturbation. On the other hand, men and women who seek to master their bodies and discipline themselves in their desires find out that sex becomes more pleasurable and more meaningful. In addition to this, men and women learn to develop better communication and signs of affection during those periods when they wish to avoid pregnancy. In doing so, they make themselves masters over their own bodies and urges instead of the other way around. Unfortunately today, the condomaniacs have no room for discipline and patience in the arena of sex even though they readily demand it in other areas of social interaction.