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Materialistic Singaporean women, or are they just realistic?

Women often get the flak for being materialistic, according to a recent study conducted by Professor Norman Li from the Singapore Management University (SMU). For the study, 400 psychology students from SMU as well as the Northern Illinois University in the United States were surveyed.

The results? Female students from SMU sought most for social status when looking for a dating partner. In contrast, the American counterparts ranked social status as the third criterion while looking for a dating partner. As a result, Singaporean women were then inferred to be comparatively materialistic from the results of the survey.

What really makes a person materialistic? From the things they desire and chase after? If I want a Louis Vuitton bag now and a Gucci wallet next month, am I very materialistic? Or do I really just want to pamper myself?

Admittedly, this research is putting the female population in Singapore in a bad light, partly due to blatantly-written headlines – for example, 'S’pore girls are materialistic: SMU study' – by a number of online portals who reported on the research.

But rather than blame it on the materialistic nature of Singaporean women, why not consider the widely-discussed topic during the recent General Elections 2011 – the high cost of living here?

A friend who is getting married later this year told me he has to wait three years before his Build-To-Order (BTO) flat would be ready. Those who are unlucky and can't afford to wait for the cheaper option of HDB flats or do not want HDB to dictate when they get married have few choices: Live with your parents, rent an apartment or buy a resale. And the recent uproar with regard to a record-setting priced DBSS flats in Tampines made me worry more. Just how expensive are the flats going to be when it’s my turn to buy one? Will my partner and I be able to afford a home?  

In an interview with The Straits Times, Prof Li echoed my thoughts that what on the surface might seem materialistic could actually be women being realistic. With rising education levels and earning power of the physically weaker sex, women could be looking for men who can match up to them or be better than them financially.

While I have friends who often purchase luxury goods, I view it as a reward for their hard work rather than as a satisfaction of material wants. After all, it is also not a crime to buy an expensive bag if I have the means to splurge. And as people have stronger financial means to spend on expensive goods, their social standing is perceived to be raised as well.

So here is where my line is drawn between being materialistic and realistic: While I find concern that money is viewed to be of high importance, it is impractical to disregard the need for it to maintain the social standing that the once-considered weaker sex has strived to achieve.

I say, it is alright to be materialistic while being realistic, but it is simply not realistic to be materialistic, isn't it?
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