Mariam Yuan | 19 July 2012 |
SINGAPORE: She is an 18-year-old university student in Singapore and her first year is over. She sits calmly, talking about her experiences, what she learned and who she met.
For most young college students, relationships are always high on the list. She talked about how many of the “boys” would try and ask her out. At parties, she said they would all dance and get “close.” She even went out with a few of them on dates.
“Sure, we had a good time and it was nice,” said Lee-Anne. She told Bikyamasr.com that while she was “drawn to relationships with men and really enjoyed what we did, but I am so disgusted by what I am reading these days.”
She was referring to the recent series published by AsiaOne.com that detailed “sex addiction” in the country.
“We are all sexual and that, but to basically portray women as sluts and people who can’t control themselves was unfortunate and it just continues the objectification of women in our society,” she argued.
For her, and her group of friends at a cafe overlooking the island country, there was no real mention of male issues with sex.
Lee-Anne’s friend, Jumana pointed that the idea that “sex addiction” is something real and needs to be battled by women just “shows the double-standards that we live in here. Where was the discussion about men hiring sex workers, or rape or sexual assault? Is this not part of the whole “sex addiction” idea, or do these not count?”
The issue for them is how the series was promoted. In one headline, AsiaOne.com writes how a woman had a “random 4some with three men” in what the young girls argued was an “attempt to get men to read it, looking for juicy details I am sure.”
Jumana, who volunteers her time in the summer working with a local women’s shelter that helps former sex workers integrate back into society, told Bikyamasr.com that for her, the issue is not about sex, but about women “not being given equal standing by society.”
“Look at how we are treated. We are used as objects for men to have and conquer as they want. We are sexually assaulted, used for business deals and forced to do things we don’t want to do in order to please men,” she said.
At the heart of the issue, the focus on women has been angering, partly because they don’t buy into the idea that sex addiction is a real disease.
“We are all sexual people and we enjoy sex, this is the fact. Having sex with our loved one is what people really want. We all could be diagnosed with sex addiction if we aren’t getting enough, right?” Jumana added. “The articles were written to shame and blame women for enjoying whatever they want to do in their personal and private lives.”
Some psychiatrists agree with the girls.
A few blocks from Singapore’s business center, Yang Fuek sits in his office, listening to a patient discuss her struggle with depression. He waits patiently as she details how she feels down, not wanting to go to work, meet people and friends, and how “all I want to do is sleep.”
Yang then talks about the future, goals and how to move forward with the young woman’s life. He tells her that “depression is normal. We all struggle with the ups and downs of life.”
For him, a psychiatrist of 17 years, “depression is one of the most common problems facing Singaporeans.” But what about sex addiction?
“Sure, I get a few people who come in and complain that they want to have sex all the time and that this is ruining their life,” he told Bikyamasr.com, “but the reality is that for the vast majority of these people who claim sex addiction is that they are really depressed, or simply unhappy in their current relationship. They are not getting the sexual response they want from their partner, so they search elsewhere.”
When shown the numerous reports in AsiaOne.com on Tuesday, Yang laughed them off as an “attempt to create an issue where one does not exist.”
He pointed to the cases reported, arguing that they are simply “men and women who want an excuse to sleep with others. That’s fine, but making it a medical problem is just not the case. In the majority of the medical world, and in psychology in particular, we understand that humans are sexual beings, but we live in societies and restraint is needed.”
For him, and others in his profession, he said that using sex as a medical excuse for abusive behavior is nothing new, but should be examined closer.
“Sex addiction is a relatively new concept. Media is pushing it more and more these days, but most of the time, if not all the time, there are other, more important factors that go into this behavior,” he argued.
Ask Marlon Thomas, a British expatriate living in Singapore who is now recently divorced because his wife had had numerous affairs.
“She said she was the victim of sex addiction, but now that she is again happily married, she told me recently that she doesn’t go looking for new partners,” he admitted.
“For me, it was just that we fell out of love and were no longer having sex, so she went elsewhere. It wasn’t an addiction, it was unhappiness and a desire to be fulfilled. I understand it and am not angry anymore,” he told Bikyamasr.com.
The AsiaOne.com reports go into detail about how the “affliction” affects people, putting them in precarious positions and affecting their family life and their work.
But Yang, and other psychiatrists Bikyamasr.com spoke to, argued that sex addiction is a “creation of the media in order to sell and get readers. We believe there are numerous other factors that go into sexual desires and a need to go outside someone’s current situation. So we must be weary of the reporting on this ‘disease’ if we as a society want to understand sex.”