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Re: A Question for you to Ponder

OK, but seriously ....

> Why is it that women in the West take to this hobby
> of keeping fish tanks while those in the East don't?

KL, Singapore is a small country. The US and Canada
collectively have a much larger population. I think that
statistically, the female/male ratio of aquarists might
only be slightly larger in North America. But I'm just
guessing here ....

Maybe the question should be, why are there fewer
women (East & West) interested in the aquarium
hobby? And as long as we're asking that question,
why are there more women nurses and teachers than
men? Why are there so few women astronomers or
combat pilots? Part of it, I think, is due to the cultural
stereotyping that has permeated many societies for
a very long time. And I'm delighted to see those
"boundaries" gradually dissolving!

> The only 2 Singaporean women I know who can tell the difference
> between a Corydora and a Cryptorcoryne ...

Huh? There's a difference?

> My daughters show little interest in my fish tanks and my wife
> puts up with my hobby because she thinks its better to have a
> husband who stays home and fiddles with his tanks than one
> who goes out to karaoke lounges every night.

But what if the karaoke lounges had fish tanks?

I still think you're dealing with a small sample of people.
And kids often don't take on their parent's interests.
My mother wanted me to be a proper little lady who could
cook, sew and play the piano perfectly like her. Instead she
wound up with an eccentric whacko with an obsession for
astronomy, birds and fish.

>A friend says that it's got
> something to do with wanting to be in control.  He says that, unlike
> women, we men are control freaks.

Not so. I know a lot of women who are control freaks.
Like me.

> We want to set up our own
> little worlds in our tanks where every living thing inside lives or
> dies depending on what we do.

We are gods to our fish, I suppose. But I don't quite feel
that way. I find it very therapeutic to build perfect little
worlds for the creatures in my care. With all the sadness
on this planet today, especially since September 11, I've
been so grateful to have this hobby.

Art therapy is a wonderful way to deal with trauma, and
is often used with children. There is something intangibly
fulfilling about artistic expression that allows us to convey
feelings that we cannot put in words. Keeping planted
aquariums, I think, is very much like art therapy for
grown-ups. It challenges us intellectually, and allows us to
create a beautiful little "world" in a real world where there
are no easy solutions to wars and suffering. It helps us feel
just a little bit less helpless.

> Fish, unlike
> other pets like cats and dogs, cannot interact with their owners.

Wait till you meet my little brats! They're masters of
non-verbal communication and they have me
wrapped around their little fins!

> A lady living in Canada says she thinks it's because Asian women
> tend to be very family-oriented.  They devote all their spare time to
> their families, leaving no free time for fish tanks.  Maybe that would

> be true to a certain extent but it doesn't explain why single women
> here take to other hobbies but not keeping fish tanks.  The fact that
> many women here take to gardening but not to aquatic gardening is
> also another mystery.

I don't think it's about being "family-oriented" or having
not enough spare time. My mom (in Malaysia, right next
door to Singapore) raised a family and had a full-time job,
yet she always found time to express herself with exquisite
creativity in her hobbies (needlework and cooking). Many
of her friends were the same way. Women in North America
are just as devoted to their families as women in the East.
And they also have creative outlets (hobbies). Having being
raised in the East and having lived half my life in the West,
I feel qualified to make that observation.

But back to your question about why there are so few women
aquarists in the "East?" You're dealing with a small sample of
people in Singapore. For someone to become interested in a
hobby, he or she has to be exposed to it. Except for a few women
who wander into pet stores to keep their kids happy, how many
Singaporean women really know about the fun in aquarium-
keeping? Hypothetically, if you could assemble all the women
of Singapore into one place and give a fascinating and
passionate presentation about  your hobby, I suspect you'll
have a bunch of them hanging around after your talk to ask
more questions. The spark has been lit, and they're interested.
Now, the effect is not always immediate -- my mom used to
keep a lovely aquarium but I never paid attention to it as a
kid. Now, 20+ years later, I've caught the bug.

> I have my own theory.  I think it's got something to do with being
> liberated.

But what is your definition of being liberated? I see little
difference in the collective attitudes and core values of
middle-class women in your part of the world and where
I live, here in Baltimore. Now, if you want to make a
comparison with women under the Taliban rule, that's a
different matter. I doubt any of them are keeping aquariums.

>  Please put
> it down to bad English and poor communication skills.

You express yourself very well. Don't ever question that.  :-)

Folks, when you have a chance, check out this website.
... all the plants, fish and beauty in nature that has ever lived too

- shireen

Shireen Gonzaga
whimbrel at home_com