Wednesday, January 10, 2007

to be...

It has been exactly a month and a half since I’ve taken time off real work and started my probationary “new job” of being a taitai. One of the “KPIs” I’ve set is to clear all old junk in anticipation of the “promotion” ahead i.e. baby and a “new” life called mummyhood. One of the sub-tasks involves deleting old emails no longer needed.

I’d like to share this email I wrote to some close friends back in my singleton days, a couple of years ago (yes, it’s amazing how far back my emails go!!) :

Mail all these years of studying, keeping myself busy and trying to achieve so much hasn't really brought with it the satisfaction i thought it would. i guess what it really boils down to is me being embarrassed to say that at the end of the day, all i really want deep down is to have a hunk of a devoted husband, be a good wife, be a loving mother and just laze about all day - going shopping, taking up photography, travelling, reading etc. and doing all the so-called mundane stuff like pick up the dry-cleaning, do the groceries, take the kids to school etc.

some people call it a housewife, others prefer to call it 'woman of leisure'. the article below calls it tai tai.

you see, more than ever now, the struggle in this vicious rat race just doesn't appeal to me at all. so whatever you may call it, yes that's what i wanna be and though some may still say it's sad, i'm no longer embarrassed to say that! on and i'm pretty sure some of you'll agree with me....sigh...


The last 100 years have been golden ones for the female sex really. During that span of time we got the vote, got the right to go to schools and added university degrees and Oxford PhDs to the list of 'Women Can Do' without slaughtering, maiming or killing anybody.

Well, okay ... maybe a bit of illegal protesting and bra burning. Lately, we've chalked up more milestones in the business world as Hewlett Packard became the first big name tech player to appoint a woman CEO and according to news reports, more than 27% of new businesses being launched are being headed by women.

The result of all this history is that women of today's generation have grown up with strong ideas about being career women. In secondary school canteens, we dreamt of careers as lawyers, accountants and engineers, earning pots of money and somewhere along the way, meeting the suitably qualified tertiary educated Prince Charming who drove a nice middle class car.

The thought of becoming a housewife was filed away under 'Stupid Harebrained Things Which Only Dumb Females Consider Doing'. Five years, a university degree and a couple of years working experience later, some of us are finding that gulp, we take it all back. Really...all we want is to be tai-tais...

The truth is that working is a drudgery. Having a boss is like having PMS except it's every working day of the week (and that's 5 days a week x 4 weeks a month x 12 months a year).

Nine to five hours are a miserable experience. Paperwork is asinine, endless and sometimes, verges on pointlessness. And oh yes, finding new ways to be idle without being caught probably should be national employee pastime No 1.

For gifts last year, we gave each other copies of Dilbert's The Joy of Work for laughs. Bringing home the bacon doesn't have a magical satisfying feel any more because you're too tired and brain dead to even contemplate frying it yourself.

You consider throwing yourself into your work and becoming one of those amazing females who makes the cover of Women @ Work but decide after taking into consideration the total loss of personal time, absolute lack of a social life and general all round hard work you need to do to achieve that goal, coupled with the glass ceiling factor, finding a good husband who will bring home not just bacon but the whole damned pig seems the easier and faster road to good times.

Cd_pcp_ima_taitai02 Longing for tai-taidom doesn't mean swapping the university parchment for the 'same drudgery, different context' of housework and brood-rearing. Tai-taidom is about having a maid tackle all those tiresome chores and going out to coffee, high tea and shopping with your schoolmates and girlfriends.

It's about gym workouts with a personal trainer, having facials and pamper sessions at the masseuse.

It's being able to go on a vacation at the drop of a hat without having to apply for leave, wait for it to be approved and then have your boss whine about how it's a bad time to be taking time off.

Tai-taidom doesn't have to be dull either.

After all, as a lady of leisure, you will have time to undertake all the hobbies, interests and skill improvements that you always wanted to do but never had the time or money to. Read all those books you meant to read all those years ago but never found the time. Travel and see the world. Learn how to sing, play a musical instrument - write a sex and shopping novel.

Tai-taidom is the chance to discover and exploit your hidden talents and well, find self-improvement. Take typing classes.

Wait a second – weren't these the sort of exploits of gentile young ladies of the Elizabethan 18th Century? The play a musical instrument and learn how to sing is almost straight out of the pages of Jane Austen's books isn't it?

Tai-taidom is a step backwards for women surely? (Elizabeth Candy Staunton would be rolling in a grave over this one, you think?)

Yes and no.

Modern tai-tais have probably got it much better since corsets were condemned and well, Elizabeth Bennett would certainly have appreciated having the vote and being given the chance to go to university and as well as marry Mr Darcy and be lady of leisure at some large house with sprawling grounds.

Modern tai-tais aren't tai-tais by virtue of their gender or because they can't be anything else - they're tai-tais by choice.

And being a tai-tai doesn't mean all the equality we fought for and the right to sit at the table and express your views while pounding the table with your immaculately manicured nails just vanishes overnight.

Rather, it's having the best of both types of worlds that women have experienced.

Which brings us of course to the one fly in the whole becoming a tai-tai ointment. Alas, achieving tai-taidom is somewhat a more tenuous uphill task.

If you thought winning the vote was a toughie, wait till you get to finding a decent good husband who makes enough money for you to live the life of a tai-tai. Need we repeat again how good men are hard to find? Even the cads and bounders are hard to come by these days. Tai-taidom is an elusive fairy tale ending that like Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, is the exception rather than the rule.

The moral of the story at the end of the day? Screw the knight in shining armour or liberated sensitive new age man - just gimme a husband who can afford to keep me in the style and manner in which I would like to be accustomed to...and I will cook all his meals and let him put up his feet when he comes home...

Tai-taidom, here I come!


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