I was thinking about this question because of something that happened earlier today. I woke up briefly in the morning and I thought I heard the maid crying. I’m sick, though, so I rolled over and went back to sleep. Later, I found out that there had been a problem.
She had recently bought a laptop computer. It was her first so I had to give her a few pointers, and she seemed really excited by things like Yahoo! Messenger and Facebook. This morning, she was on Facebook chatting with someone she had met. Apparently the guy was really into her. Then she told him what she does as a profession.
In her own words, “…then he ridiculed me and rejected me like a dog.”
Is it really that serious? A woman brought to tears and rejected out of hand just because of what she does for a living? She’s a maid, not a prostitute.
Let me quote something I wrote just recently:
As another example, maids in Singapore are typically foreign laborers and it’s not uncommon to hear someone say, “You look like my Filipina maid”, with a voice full of derision and disrespect. While being a maid is by no means a glorious job, these women accepted an opportunity to better themselves by earning more money in a foreign country, far from their homes. To me, that shows a desire to progress and improve and is far from being a fault. Also, I’m not really clear what makes these people think that maids are inherently ugly, except that perhaps they associate profession with looks, class, and appeal. Or perhaps the average Singaporean equates attractiveness with the amount of a persons’ paycheck? I’d also like to highlight that this common saying emphasizes many Singaporeans’ real belief that they are better than foreign laborers, just because of where they’re from.
I really can’t express enough how disgusting and ridiculous this superior mentality is. A person’s value is not based on what job position they hold, or how many years they went to school. If you get along with someone, why shut them down just because of what job they hold? Our maid is one of the sweetest, kindest people I’ve ever met. Ethnicity and education have nothing to do with that.
This is Singapore, not Nazi Germany. This country was built up by a collective of peoples from all over Asia and is today a fairly multicultural center. There are people from all over the world living in Singapore. So why is it there are still these ridiculous ideas that some people should be shunned based on where they’re from? A lot of Westerners would shun Singaporeans because they’re from Asia, and dismiss educational certificates because they’re from a second-rate country. Wouldn’t feel nice to be on the receiving end would it?
Also, just being born in an somewhat affluent country doesn’t mean you’re better than someone from a poorer country. It just doesn’t work that way. A difference in the value of a nation’s currency doesn’t indicate a difference in the value of the people. Singapore is just lucky. That’s all. The country is in a good location to make money from shipping, and the government instituted imported labor policies that allowed Singapore to become a wealthy nation. Imported labor. Ya, those same people that are being mocked and ridiculed are the people that made Singapore what it is.
I hadn’t planned on revisiting this topic, but after this fiasco with our maid, I had to speak up again.
The whole “We’re better than you because you’re not one of us” thing didn’t work for Nazi Germany. It didn’t work for Japan. It’s not going to work for Singapore either.