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Men from the community reflect on tough questions they’re expected to tackle at some point in their lives

by Natasha

What men must answer today.

By Amornrat Sidhu

The world is in a constant state of change. Just ask any older person, whether it’s a sibling or a grandparent, and you’ll inevitably hear: “In my time…,” which is an easy way to remember how situations, attitudes, and thought processes have evolved and will continue evolving. As time continues to pass rapidly, the question presents itself: which customs and attitudes have we held on to, updated, or let go of completely? I speak to men in the community who weigh in on the tough questions they’re expected to answer at some point in their lives.

Jasdeep Singh (image featured above)
Businessman, 33 years old

In this day and age, is there still a need for chivalry? For example, getting the bill on the first date, or holding the door open for a woman.

In my opinion, chivalry is still relevant today in certain social situations. It’s seen as an ‘old’ virtue, but one that teaches men how to respect and treat women. Certain acts, however, are outdated and irrelevant, such as ordering food on a woman’s behalf or paying all the bills. The notion of equality and independence that women desire have rendered some acts of chivalry obsolete. However, acts like holding the door open for a woman still goes a long way. I also think modern-day chivalry has evolved to include things like not texting while on a date in order to show you still hold the traits of being a true gentleman. There’s a popular phrase that goes: “A real woman can go through anything on her own, but a real man won’t let her,” and this is a philosophy I like to follow.

Niran Phinichkusolchit
Businessman, 30 years old

In this day and age, is it fair to expect your wife to change her last name to yours?

Having the same last name definitely does not equate to a stronger or more resilient relationship. Yet, I still wanted my wife to use my last name, if only for nothing more than its romanticism. However, I’ve come to realise that it’s not entirely necessary these days, and actually, in my case, it was more inconvenient! My name is 16 letters long, so calling hospitals and other institutions has always been frustrating. ‘P’ as in Poland, ‘H’ as in Hong Kong, ‘I’ as in India…x16, you get the gist! My wife’s last name is 12 letters long, so she has also had her share of annoyances. To request her to ‘upgrade’ her last name to an even longer last name would have been unfair. If my name were Lee or Park, perhaps I would have insisted a bit harder. Luckily, we have identical initials and similar first Indian and Thai names, so we already feel connected enough!

Tharin Sethi
Business Executive, 26 years old

Is it taboo for a couple to want to live separately from the in-laws after marriage?

I do not believe that it’s taboo to live separately, or want to live separately from the in-laws after marriage. In fact, I would go as far as saying that some Zoomers and Millennials perceive living with in-laws as the taboo. However, it would be naïve of me to project my beliefs across all members of our Thai-Indian society. The reality is that each family, couple, and individual, are likely to have their own preference in this regard, and I may be considered more liberal-leaning because my preference is to live separately. Now, whether that is logistically possible due to finances, family dynamics, and my priorities at the time, is a different question altogether. My family and I continue to have ongoing discussions about this regard, and I will, of course, consider what my partner’s preference is in the future too, before we make any decisions!

Arthit Sachamahithinant 
Recent Graduate, 24 years old

Is it necessary for men to know how to cook, iron or other stereotypically ‘feminine’ tasks?

Although times are different now, there are still many who believe that “women belong in the kitchen”. But personally, I believe that men should be able to help out with household duties. Back in the day, when men were primarily the breadwinners and women took care of the home, you could somewhat understand where gender stereotypes were coming from and how they stuck. However, now that many men and women have careers, it’s important for men to show a level of flexibility and helpfulness at home. I am currently developing my cooking skills and I do the grocery shopping. I believe it’s important for men to develop these skills to not only lighten the workload for their partners, but to do their part in fostering a happy home. Having said that, EVERYONE should develop skills like doing your own laundry, cooking your own food and so on, as you should be able to take care of yourself when push comes to shove.

Amit Sachdev
Entrepreneur, 31 years old

In this day and age, should Indian men expect their wives to contribute to household expenses, tuition fees, and more if they are working?

There shouldn’t be a level of expectation, but a level of understanding. Your wife is your teammate. You have to be on the same page and decide how to progress financially together. This, of course, would look differently in all households, where there is one clear breadwinner or two contributors but for different aspects based on income, priorities, and other factors. With that being said, personally I am not a place yet where I would feel comfortable with my partner being the breadwinner, as I still feel responsible for providing for myself and my family. However, I do understand that two-income households are now becoming necessary and the norm, and I believe that however a couple wants to handle their finances is their business and their right.

Inderpal Singh Sidhu
Businessman, 31 years old

In this day and age, is it necessary to get a marriage license or is a religious wedding ceremony sufficient?

Personally, I don’t think getting a marriage license is necessary. If you do not believe in the laws or the stipulations put forth by the wedding ceremony itself, then don’t get married. However, I do understand the benefits of a marriage license, especially if someone is relocating for the relationship, like my wife. We needed it for my wife’s residence permit, but she also felt more secure with our relationship put on paper as she was the one relocating to build a life from scratch. Moreover, with the appearance of COVID-19, the marriage license has been particularly handy because the government and other institutions legally recognise us as a family unit, and this makes travel to and residing in each other’s countries much easier.

The Verdict

While the questions posed are very general, the opinions demonstrate how people may believe differently to you, which represents an ongoing process of growth and adaptation in our beliefs and experiences as a community. Overall, it seems that while men have changed according to the times, there is still a small attachment to doing things the ‘old’ way, whether it is due to financial reasons, romanticism, tradition, or comfort. However, there’s a clear appreciation of the other’s perspectives and flexibility in attitudes. But, that still begs the question…

How would YOU answer?

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