Tim Supramaniam – “It’s her baby, it’s her decision, she’s the one that has to give birth”

How do you self define?

I am a straight male.

What does feminism mean to you?

Equality for both genders, and bringing women up to the same level as men because there are many instances and scenarios where women are not treated equally to men. So it’s about bringing women up so they have an equal status to men in those fields.

What do the words “woman” and “man” mean to you?

Woman and man would be the genders you identify with as an adult. If we were talking about male or female, it would be the sex you are born with. So I mean, someone born as a female could identify as a man once they’ve grown up.

When did you become aware of your gender?

As long as I can remember. I’ve always known because I’ve been brought up as a boy. I know it’s different for some people but I’ve never felt any different or uncomfortable with that.

Do you ever feel unsafe due to your gender?

No.

Do you feel treated differently by men and women?

In school, I felt I got on better with girls, just because I found that I’m very talkative. I like talking to people for ages and ages. I don’t feel it as much now because I’m at uni and being in sports teams and stuff, that changed because you feel like you’re a part of something with other men. At school, it would often get competitive with other guys. It would always be the case that one guy was trying to be cooler than the other. Everyone’s always competing. Whereas with girls, you wouldn’t feel like there’s much of an agenda. Nowadays, I do have very close friends that are guys, but I do feel it’s easier to open up to women.

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Photo Credit: Aysha Panter

What do you think are the positive ways that the world views women?

Well throughout history, women have always been viewed as nurturing, caring and so on. Part of that is because they give birth, and historically have tended to have far more of an involvement in bringing up children than men have, even today. So, nowadays women are being viewed as more intelligent, and there’s a higher percentage of women going to university than men, in developed countries anyway. In developing countries a lot of women don’t even go to school, but I’d say at my school, I always thought of girls being more intelligent and hard-working than guys. They were more focused and committed at doing well with their studies. On a global scale, I feel like that’s becoming more apparent as well. Far more women have been able to go to school in the last few decades, and whether or not you believe in their policies, women like Margaret Thatcher, Theresa May, and Hilary Clinton for example, obviously have competence and intelligence to be in the positions they are now.

Did you encounter any obstacles on your path to manhood?

I don’t know about girls so much because I am not one, but growing up there was always pressure to do well and to succeed. That might just be the environment I grew up in, but a lot was expected of me. There was a lot of competition with other people even growing with family members, siblings, cousins etc.

Are you pro-life or pro-choice, and why?

I can understand both sides of the argument, having been brought up in a religious family, but also having exposure to different forms of the Christian religion. So my granddad was a Methodist, and I can’t remember what my grandma was, but she was very involved in the Church, and I know she had an Anglican Protestant background. My ex-girlfriend was Catholic. So I’ve had exposure to different denominations, also among my friends that live in Singapore. There is a certain stage where it does become inhumane to abort, but I think if it’s done early enough, it is the woman’s choice. It’s still her body. It’s her baby, it’s her decision, she’s the one that has to give birth. Unless she gives it up for adoption but that’s a huge burden. So, I would say I am pro-choice to a certain extent. So like if it’s very late in the pregnancy then I don’t think it’s right, unless it’s going to kill the mother. But I mean as awful as it is to say, there’s often no reason why women couldn’t still have children in the future. Her well-being is more important than the baby’s, from a scientific point of view.

What are your feelings about contraception?

It’s a good thing because what you see in less developed countries or very religious areas, like in Brazil, parts of Africa, the Philippines for example; is that you get these massive families and their parents aren’t able to give them a proper upbringing or education due to overpopulation. In the Philippines no one has jobs or uni degrees because there aren’t any available. The lack of contraceptives due to Catholic teachings in Africa has led to the spread of AIDS. People will still be having sex whether they’re using contraceptives or not, so I think it a good way to keep the population under control and to stop the spread of diseases. I think for most people as well, it’s their choice what they do with their body, so why not make it safer? I know there is the argument that it may encourage people to do it more, which is true, but there still needs to be some kind of access otherwise diseases will spread.

What are your thoughts on marriage and or monogamy?

It’s becoming less of a thing. I think marriage comes from religious ideals but you’ve always had that throughout history. Ideas about homosexuality have changed, but we’ve always had this idea of people being in a couple. Too many people do rush into it these days, which is a shame because it’s one of the ultimate commitments and declarations of love. It’s about proving how much you care for someone, and how much you believe in this relationship that you have. I wouldn’t get married anytime soon, but hopefully one day. For some people it’s just not for them, and I’d rather they didn’t get married than be unhappy or cheating on their partner. If they come to their own arrangement within a marriage then that’s their own decision. Like if it becomes a polygamous or open marriage it’s up to them, they can do what they want.

 

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Photo Credit: Aysha Panter

What are your thoughts on parenthood?

Well the ideal scenario is to have both parents around and present throughout the child’s upbringing. Whether this be a man and a woman, or two men or two women, a child does need two parents, or two parental figures. It’s very important that they are present. People need to fulfill that role because if there’s one parent it can be too skewed to one side. That’s not to say that there aren’t any amazing people who only had one parent, but it’s so much more difficult for everyone. In my family my mum was always the nurturing, caring one and my dad would be the stricter one. Very traditional I suppose. My dad wasn’t around as much because he’d work long hours and be on business trips 100 days a year. He’d be working 12 to 16 hours in the office everyday so I wouldn’t always have him around much. He was also a lot stricter and the breadwinner. This is just in my family that my dad was the breadwinner, whereas my mum was the one I could go to with anything, for example “How should I go to dad with this?”, “Should I say this?” and she’d always be the one to go to for advice. I found it easier to open up to her. Growing up I’d say I was closer to my mum because she’s take the time to get to know what was going on in my life, like what I was interested in. She’d know who all these footballers are even though she’d have no background or interest in football, just because I’d talk about it. She’d always listen to me and I think that’s important as a parent. You need at least one parent who is very approachable and very caring. One has to be a bit stricter to get things done. You need a balance.

Do you think your sex education was sufficient?

I had it in 3 or 4 different schools so I suppose, yeah I would say it was mostly sufficient. It was about mostly the physical, biological parts . Not so much the others until later. I can’t remember how much I actually found out growing up with friends, people my age and how much through school. I do remember it started when I was like 9 or 10 in England, we watched a video of just some woman walking into a room and dropping her dressing gown. Then she turned around and she walked out or something and everyone was laughing and sneering, and that was for the guys. The girls had their own equivalent, which was probably a guy walking in. In England at a prep school- it was private, I guess quite a posh school- one of my friends, broke into the girls bathroom and bought tampons and chucked them all over the class so the teachers had to give the girls a talk. They were very committed, they didn’t realise it was a prank. I would say it was sufficient, although it was less prevalent in Singapore because of the Methodist background. They didn’t go much into the consequences and all that.

Has your sexuality ever been used against you?

No. Well, I mean I’m a straight male.

 

In which situations do you feel safe to speak your mind or stand up for yourself?

I feel it easier if I’m with a group of people who I know, or who have my back. Or if perhaps, I’m on my own it can be harder to speak up. I think for most people it would be the same. If I saw something very wrong, especially if it was physically hurting someone, then I would get involved. I suppose if it was vocal, I’d be less likely to get involved if I had kindred spirits.

Do you feel satisfied with how women are depicted, in film, TV and advertising?

Within advertising it’s very, very sexual. There’s a difference between how they’re depicted in film and TV and how they’re depicted in print. For example Scarlett Johanson who plays Black Widow in Avengers is a badass woman who takes down all these people, mostly men. She’s not a super hero but she’s super intelligent. But you look at the cover photo, and you’ve got Thor and The Hulk doing all these manly poses, amd then you’ve got her and I think she’s got her back turned and her ass facing the camera. She’s sexualised and it doesn’t really fit her character in the film, so somebody made a parody poster that had all the men doing that same pose, which was really funny. I’m not satisfied because it’s overly sexualised, and I don’t know whether it’s a good thing, but men are becoming overly sexualised as well so I guess it’s more even.

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Photo Credit: Aysha Panter

How do you feel about products marketed to women?

A lot of the time, it goes back to the modelling thing. You really want to look like this model and it can be quite unrealistic. Other times they tend to avoid topics, for example if it’s to do with sanitary pads and stuff, it’s got a woman roller-skating and walking her dog. They should be a bit more realistic and have a girl in bed with ice-cream watching a film or something.

What are your biggest fears?

Falling from heights, and I suppose not being appreciated.

What are your greatest accomplishments?

I have no idea. There’s many small things rather than a big thing. I guess for me, I’m glad I get involved in everything. I’m more of a jack-of-all-trades, rather than a master of a few. So I don’t have these things I’m amazing at, I just have some things I’m quite good at because I can’t focus on one thing. I suppose I feel accomplished when I feel like I’ve used my time well. Like this summer for example, I climbed Kilimanjaro and traveled Asia,so I made use of the time that was given to me. I also feel accomplished when I’ve been able to make a difference and make my parents proud.

What image do you think you project on a day-to-day basis?

I hear all kinds of different things. “You’re that idiot that always walks around with a lacrosse stick.” Nah, I’d like to think I’m very friendly and approachable. I think people know I’m a bit of a weirdo, a bit of an idiot that’s always messing around or whatever. A person not afraid to make a fool of himself. I hope people see me as friendly and approachable and someone who’s nice that they can always talk to. Also someone who’s good at what he does.

What image would you like to project in an ideal world, absolving social expectations? 

I’d like my juniors who still have a while to get to the stage of life where I am, to say “I want to be like this person”. I want to be an example for people, I want to be the ideal role model for my 15 year old self.

What are your most positive relationships?

I’d say, with my mum, my brother, my grandma and then my close friends.

What do you love about yourself?

I don’t know. One thing I love is that most of the time, I have the faith and hope that I will be able to stay really positive and think “it doesn’t matter what’s happening right now, it will turn out ok”. I like that I have the mentality to keep going, and I hope that may be able to encourage people to feel the same way.

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Photo Credit: Aysha Panter

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